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On the right track to make biking cool
AS car prices continue to inch up north, it's never too early to start looking for alternative modes of transport to get around.
Homegrown lifestyle bicycle brand Coast Cycles might just have the solution for Shentonistas looking for an eco-friendly commute that won't leave them looking like they've just emerged from the finish line of the Tour de France when they arrive at the office.
Its CEO-founder Jansen Tan unveiled his latest creation, the Quinn cargo bicycle, at SingaPlura, earlier this week. The multi-discipline design fair, which also features other new innovative Made-in-Singapore products, runs till Sunday.
Like all the other bikes in the Coast Cycles collection, the Quinn combines fun and function into one good-looking package. Its USP lies in the ergonomically designed cargo cage which can stow a laptop, messenger or handbag; and is located in the centre instead of the front or back to ensure perfect balance for the rider. That also means saying goodbye to sweaty blotches on one's work-wear.
"We often carry a messenger bag or laptop bag by slinging it over our shoulders; however, with our year-round tropical climate and humid weather, commuting this way is quite uncomfortable. After pedalling for a few minutes, sweat results in wet spots and marks where the bag touches our clothes," Tan says of the "sticky" situation that led to the Quinn's unique design.
The former national BikeTrial athlete is a forerunner when it comes to turning biking into a lifestyle and not merely a leisure activity. That explains why Coast Cycles' retail space in Siglap is no ordinary showroom - it's a complete bikers' heaven and a hang-out which also includes the Coast and Company Cafe where one can get a Papa Palheta caffeine fix while repairs for his or her ride are being carried out in the adjoining workshop.
Tan hatched the concept for Coast Cycles in 2011 after seeing the need for "a pure lifestyle bike brand" but officially opened for business only last May in a two-storey Siglap shophouse.
"(The idea came about because) I wanted a bike that I could cycle to a cafe or kopitiam to meet my friends; and it's not cool to ride a mountain bike because of its height," he says. The result was the flagship Coastliner, a minimalist (and silent carbon belt drive) two-wheeler that won't look out of place in the centrespread of a magazine's fashion shoot.
Riding the current fatbike trend, Coast Cycles also has its own range - the Goliath and Juggernaut - which Tan says are its most popular models at the moment.
The Product and Industrial Design diploma holder designs all of them and the bikes are made in Taiwan, with about 30 per cent of the range - the more complicated models - assembled here in Singapore.
Tan says that he is looking at the cultures and trends of major cycling cities in the world like Portland and San Francisco for inspiration but his designs are always based on urban living in the region. "I design in the Asian context where the weather is usually hot and humid, the roads are narrow and tight, and people live in small apartments," he explains. "So if you look at the Quinn, for example, it's compact and you can push it into a lift without even lifting it."
Although Coast Cycles is barely a year old, Tan believes that he's on the right track with his business philosophy of not only making biking cool but also an affordable mode of personal transport. He estimates that there are about 60 Coast Cycles bikes on the road to date; future plans include introducing electric assist bicycle models into the collection.
"We believe in bringing to you ergonomically and fashionably designed bicycles that rival bespoke designs of the best in the world," he stresses. "Some may say that I am extreme, but I pursue excellence in design and materials so that the bicycles that you purchase with us are the same bicycles I would ride, every single day."
Coast Cycles is located at 54 Siglap Drive, Singapore 456176. Tel: 6681 6681. For more info, check www.coastcycles.com