20 Waringin Park
WITH its dark wood flooring and benches shaped out of wall tiles, Creed Cycle is unlike your regular bicycle shop. The focus is on design, from the shop interior to the types of bicycles and merchandise they carry.
The newly-opened store was started by three friends who are not surprisingly also avid cyclists.
One of the partners Kevin Tan, who runs a media company, says that he and his two pals used to cycle on the roads but has since given that up. "Unfortunately Singapore isn't the safest place for cycling," he says.
His other partners are businessman Eugene Tan and counsellor Yap Ching Keong.
They may have stopped cycling on the roads but their passion for the pastime is still alive, which is why they decided to start a bicycle shop but with a strong focus on aesthetics and design. "There are many bicycle shops around, but our focus on aesthetics and design sets us apart from the others," says Mr Tan.
Creed Cycle carries two bicycle brands, Vanmoof, a Dutch brand, and Aoi.Cycle, from Taiwan; Bobike, a range of child safety bicycle seats from Holland; Yakkay, a Danish brand of bicycle helmets as well as their in house brand of bags.
"We are selective about the brands we carry, choosing brands which are very lifestyle focused," says Mr Tan.
The Vanmoof bicycles are a popular brand of city bikes in Holland. The bicycle frames are made of anodised aluminium which makes them scratch resistant. Each bicycle comes with dynamo powered built in lights from Philips, which means cyclists don't have to worry about buying extra lights or worry about the lights being stolen.
The bicycle chain on each Vanmoof is hidden behind a chain guard so users who cycle in their office clothes have no worries about getting grease on them. Having the chains covered behind a guard also means less worry about dust accumulating on them.
The bicycles, which retail from $1,288, come in two speeds and there is one with a lower frame that is great for women who want to cycle in skirts.
For Aoi.Cycle, the bicycles are considered works of art, so beautiful that customers may want to purchase one to hang up on the wall rather than ride it. Its founder Ken Aoi, who has 30 years experience in aerospace technology, meant for them to be that way. The bicycle frames are handmade from stainless steel and only 100 are made each year. "Aoi.Cycle is all about aesthetics," says Mr Tan. Each retails from $2,980.
On first glance, the Yakkay range of bicycle helmets will leave customers wondering if they are caps rather than helmets. Each helmet comes with its own cover which range from floral to stripe and checkered patterns. A helmet and cover costs $220, and customers can buy additional covers.
Mr Tan says, a large majority of their clients are men, with most purchasing a Vanmoof bike as a secondary bike to their road bikes, or for their wives.
At Creed Cycle, it is not just about selling bicycles. The three founders collaborate with Wheels 4 Hope, a not-for-profit organisation that provides low-income families and individuals with reliable and affordable transportation. For every Vanmoof bicycle sold, Creed Cycle donates a bicycle to the needy in Cambodia. Each donated bicycle is tagged with the bike owner's name.
While most of their customers already own other bicycles, the founders also want to target non-cyclists. "We want to get more people interested in cycling," says Mr Tan, who now actively cycles on park connectors than on roads.
A part of everyday life
Style Bicycles Asia
Blk 5 Everton Park, #01-22
THE sleepy Everton Park neighbourhood is not only home to hipster coffee joints, but also to Style Bicycles Asia, a bicycle retail space housed in a unit that shares space with a design firm.
Style Bicycles Asia moved here earlier this year from its previous location at Upper Thomson. It was started by Asaph Cyrus, who calls himself a "vintage collector of sorts".
Apart from vintage furniture and other knickknacks, Mr Cyrus also has a passion in vintage-style bicycles, hence he started the store.
He picked up cycling four years ago, and after riding a few types of bicycles, "I found that I preferred steel bicycles, especially those that looked vintage", he says.
He began collecting them, buying from other owners, and soon saw a possible market for such lifestyle bicycles. "I want to target those who cycle for leisure, rather than focus on racing bicycles of which there are plenty," he says.
Mr Cyrus also noticed some cafes and boutiques displaying vintage bicycles on their premises as part of their interior decor. "I was quite confident there is market demand for such bicycles," he adds.
But finding real vintage bicycles to sell is "difficult and not to mention expensive", he says. So he found the next best option - retailing vintage-style bicycles.
After a few failed attempts to find manufacturers, Mr Cyrus finally hit the jackpot with Papillionaire Bicycles, a manufacturer from Melbourne. The brand was started in 2009 by a brother and sister duo, who believe that riding a bicycle should be a part of everyday life - something that can be done whether in jeans, suit, dress or even thongs. The bicycles not only are good looking but are sturdy and safe for daily commuting.
Style Bicycles Asia is now the South-east Asian distributor for the brand. The bicycles cost from $932.
Most of the store's customers are female, with a large majority being expatriates. "I wanted to target the female consumer, since there is a gap in the market for bicycles suited for them," says Mr Cyrus.
The store also carries a range of baskets and other leather products, such as handlebar grips and saddle bags that cyclists can attach to the bicycles.
"I hope to make the store more than just a retail space, but to turn it into a hub, where commuting cyclists can also ride into the shop, take a shower, get in to their office near CBD area and pick up their bike again to cycle home at the end of the day," says Mr Cyrus.
The Gentlemen's Vintage
WHAT was supposed to be just another work trip in Shanghai led Watson Lee to start a new business.
The lifestyle magazine editor was in the Chinese city, when he saw a man riding on a bicycle past his cab. "He was riding a very old black utility bicycle with several boxes, weighing about 50kg, behind him. Despite the weight, the man could catch up with my cab, and I found it fascinating that someone riding a bicycle with such load could ride that fast," Mr Lee recalls.
The cab driver told him that that was a Flying Pigeon bicycle. Mr Lee began researching more on the brand. "It was then that I realised that these were the same bicycles my grandfather rode in Singapore and we nicknamed them the Ah Pek bicycle," says Mr Lee.
Back in Singapore, Mr Lee found out that popular bicycle types here are either racing bikes, foldable bikes or fixed gear bicycles. "Not many people buy vintage-style utility bicycles for commuting because of its heavy weight and steel frame, which rusts easily," he says.
He felt that there was a market for vintage-style bicycles and considered retailing them in Singapore. Besides Flying Pigeon, he identified another brand - Forever, which is one of the oldest bicycle manufacturers in China. The Gentlemen's Vintage (TGV) is also a distributor for Champion bicycles.
All three brands are made in China. "Right from the start, I decided to only sell Asian-made bicycles because they are just as good. The truth is many Western branded bicycles are also made in China," says Mr Lee.
On the company's name, Mr Lee explains that most of the bicycle models sold have 28-inch wheels, which are for taller male riders, so Chinese manufacturers called these "the Gentlemen's bicycle". "Plus these bicycles are made accordingly to the same structure and look for the past 40 years, which is considered vintage, hence my company name," he says.
Prices start from $250 for a Flying Pigeon bicycle to $750 for a ForeverC bicycle. There are also T-shirts which retail for $35.
Since TGV started six months ago, its bicycles have been popular with the expatriate crowd and young working adults. "We also have companies buying the bicycles for display and photo shoots," says Mr Lee.
The best sellers are the Forever Postman Vintage, the ForeverC Peishan and the Champion double top-bar utility bicycle.
For now, the bicycles are available only through the TGV website. For local shoppers, the wait time is from seven to 14 days. TGV also ships internationally.
"The goal is to open a physical store. I'm currently looking for a location, and hope to open a TGV shop by the end of the year," says Mr Lee, who does not consider himself a cyclist, but is doing this to promote vintage style bicycles to Singapore.
The classic bike artist
MENTION Sin Ming Industrial Estate, and images of car repair workshops come to mind. But tucked away in one of these workshops is a treasure trove of classic racing bicycles.
There are rows upon rows of bicycles, all neatly lined up, some standing on the floor while others hang from the wall. There are several Italian brand Colnago bicycles, alongside Look from France and Hetchins from the UK.
They belong to Poon Kng Joo, director of Soek Seng Motor. Better known among the cycling community as Ah Joo, the 57-year-old has been collecting such bicycles over the last four years. "I dare not count how many I have," he quips. There appears to be about 100.
His hobby began when he met a friend's father, who was a former bicycle racer. "He was retiring from racing, and I asked if he would sell me his bikes," says Mr Poon.
From buying those bikes, Mr Poon progressed to buying more from sites, such as eBay. He declines to say how much he paid for them. Mr Poon doesn't just buy them, but lovingly restores them to pristine condition. The bicycles that he has are all top end brands because, "they do take some effort and I'm a real stickler for details".
With more than 30 years experience restoring classic cars, such as Jaguars and Aston Martins, Mr Poon is a natural at restoring bicycles. "Unlike cars which come with many parts, restoring bicycles takes only a fraction of the effort," he says.
Some steel frames come with bits of paint chipped off while others have had their paint totally stripped off due to wear and tear. There are also frames that have turned rusty over time, and sometimes there are dents. For each frame, he scraps off the paint to its bare metal structure, then using a primer fills up the dents. Using his years of spray painting experience, he knows exactly what colour paints to use on the bicycle frames.
To recreate the logos on the bicycles, he has a creative team that creates decals which are then attached to the frame. "I always study the history of these brands, to better understand and appreciate them," he says.
A bicycle can take a quick three days to restore. "But some take longer, such as when there are different colour gradients or different textures," says Mr Poon, who adds that he only restores bicycles for himself, and not for customers.
Most of the bicycles are restored to their original condition, but sometimes Mr Poon turns them into works of art. For example, he has attached snake skin leather onto the frame of one bicycle.
Mr Poon is in the midst of creating a sculpture made entirely of bicycle frames stacked on each other. He hopes to have this art installation on display at the museum. In the future, he hopes to play mentor to those who have an interest in bicycle restoration.
He has had many people come to him wanting to buy his bicycles but Mr Poon has no interest in selling them.
Each Sunday, he comes back to his workshop and takes one out on the road, sometimes doing distances of 180km. "Bicycles are for riding," he says.
He adds with pride that his bicycles may not be the most expensive, "but they are definitely eye-catching".