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The fashion cycleRoads are the new runways for a tribe of chic cyclists, who have elevated the mode of transportation into a hipster lifestyle.May Yip24 May 2014Step into the recently opened Coast Cycles in Siglap and you would almost think you were viewing an industrial design show in a minimalist gallery. With sleek two-wheelers sitting on glossy plinths, housed within the monochromatic second floor of the shophouse space, one is tempted to ditch the roadster for a bicycle that’s easy-on-the-eye (and the environment).In recent years, bicycles have become a rarefied status symbol. Just like how driving a Mini Cooper signifies your Yummy (read “Young Urban Male”) status, the kind of bike you ride is an extension of your personality and style. And while adrenaline junkies may have been hitting the trails of Bukit Timah Reserve or Pulau Ubin for years, the recent cult of hipster cyclists tends to invest in less performance-driven, and more aesthetically pleasing city bikes for getting around town.“Cycling is definitely gaining more popularity over the years, especially city cycling,” Jolyn Chua, owner of Tokyobike Singapore, a local retail offshoot for the Japanese classic city bike maker. “Three years ago, we had to educate customers on what a city bike is and how it’s different from mountain and road bikes. But today, customers come into our store looking for a city bike. Sales have definitely increased at a steady pace over the past three years, despite more competition.”Cycle Project Store, a Tiong Bahru retailer of “fixies”, or fixed-gear bikes that are popular with urban riders, sells about five to seven bicycles a month, up from two to three purchases when it first opened in January this year. And catering to the new wave of cycling sophisticates are cool hangout spots for trend-conscious enthusiasts to flaunt their gear.“Personal interaction will always be in, and it’s a central focus for this cycling lifestyle store,” says Jansen Tan, a former national “BikeTrial” athlete and industrial designer who founded Coast Cycles, when asked if the cycling culture was a passing trend. “As an avid cyclist, I enjoy not just the ride, but the community which has been built around cycling. It is an integral part of our lives. This concept store brings together more like-minded people who appreciate cycling as a lifestyle.”At Coast Cycles, not only can you test-drive the signature Coastliner - a sleek, fuss-free model designed by Mr Tan, on a rolling trainer, you can also reward yourself with dishes like a rendang hotdog concocted by chef Willin Low, a cuppa by homegrown coffee boutique Papa Palheta, and even tunes curated by Dean Chew, co-founder of music label Darker Than Wax.“Jansen and I wanted to bring a relaxing and socially energising place to our neighbourhood, where like-minded friends can converge, and enjoy a good cup of coffee while servicing their bicycles,” says Leon Foo, owner of Papa Palheta.The concept also comes hot on the wheels - or heels - of Wheeler’s Yard, a warehouse-turned-cafe/bicycle workshop which opened last year in Balestier’s industrial district. Located on property owned by founder Tommy Ong’s family, it was previously rented out to a carpentry company for manufacturing purposes.“Before I set up Wheeler’s Yard, I noticed that the government was encouraging people to cycle and have a healthy lifestyle,” explains Mr Ong, who is also a bike enthusiast. “Since there’s a park connector behind our location, I thought it would be a good idea to use this place as a cyclist stopover, for servicing, repairs and everything to do with bicycles. And on top of that we wanted to have a cafe which would complement the atelier.”
To fuel the demand from trendy cyclists for traffic-stopping gear, fashion brands are releasing bicycles as the next big accessory. At the uppermost echelons of luxe rides are two ultra-lightweight designs by French fashion house Hermes. Featuring bull calf leather saddles, handlebar grips and carry handles - fashioned by the artisans of a company, which was founded as a saddler, and a streamlined design, the carbon fibre Le Flaneur d’Hermes and Le Flaneur sportif d’Hermes bikes are destined to be coveted by the poshest of riders.“The idea of conceiving a bicycle is not new, it is inscribed in the heritage of Hermes whose first ‘metier’ was mobility on horseback,” says Francois Dore, CEO of Hermes Horizons division. “This sector has been evolving over the years and bicycles had already been included in our collections in the past. And the desire of expressing or let’s say re-expressing our vision of cycling has arisen. For that same purpose, we had to design and produce a bicycle from A to Z, without delegating a whole part to an external producer. The idea was to collaborate with professionals who master the technologies required by high level professional racing cyclists.”But if the five-figure price tag gets your bib shorts in a twist, the mid-range French fashion brand Agnes B has also collaborated with fellow French bike manufacturer Cyfac on a limited-edition bicycle for its bridge line, Sport B. While the $4,000 model was only available as a prize for a cycling competition by the brand, the label’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection, titled J’ Adore Mon Velo, was entirely influenced by cycling.“Sport B has always been designed especially for the young and sporty,” explains Felix Siow, brand manager of Agnes B Singapore. “So it is of no surprise that the main theme of the collection is inspired by cycling - which is more than just a sport: it’s a trend, a lifestyle and even a culture.”Even mass market chain Giordano is riding on the cycling craze, with a collection of cropped jersey crewneck tops, bat-wing sweaters and sporty T-shirts called The Cyclist. Meanwhile, Swiss upcycled bag brand Freitag has released new designs made for bikers. The F152 Harper, for example, is a messenger bag that hangs snugly on a rider’s back and could easily be slipped into, rather than pulled over the head. Tested by professional bike couriers, the $475 carry-all available at Orchard Gateway boutique Actually is created for “hardcore cyclists”.With such a wide range of accoutrements, commuters think nothing of splurging thousands on their stylish bikes, as well as on accessories that complement their choice of transportation.“When I first started cycling, aesthetics was a priority and so I picked the frame and later on, the bicycle components. I customised it based on what was trending,” admits Aveline Kok, a brand manager for men’s footwear. “Looking back now, it was quite a mistake, much like buying shoes that are too small or narrow for you. I ended up changing or customising most of the parts on my first bicycle - a very cheap stainless steel 20-inch Mini Velo Bicycle.”Ms Kok now owns a $2,800 foldable bicycle by London-based bicycle maker Brompton, available from local foldable bike retailer Mighty Velo. The cult manufacturer allows customers to outfit their bikes in a plethora of colour combinations, as well as permutations of handlebar shapes, gears, and lighting and luggage fittings. It has also seen profits driven by Asian demand surging nearly 50 per cent in 2012.“Today, cycling goes beyond the functional purpose it served in the past,” adds Mr Tan, whose Coastliner design is not only built to withstand the high humidity, rain and heat with rust-proof components, it can also be personalised. “It is now cool, stylish and acts as a fashion statement as well. There is a beauty and simplicity in a bicycle, especially one that is well-designed.”
Hot two-wheelersAs the cycling trend kicks into high gear, find out where you can get a fashionable and functional rideLe Flaneur d’ Hermes and Le Flaneur Sportif d’HermesHermes, #01-02A Liat TowersPrice upon applicationAS expected from a house known for its leather goods, all the contact points of both Hermes bikes are clad in leather. This includes the saddle, carry handle, luggage rack support and handle bars. Moreover, the use of a monobloc frame makes the bike appear seamless in design, hiding any weld contact points that are usually visible on other bikes. Le Flaneur d’ Hermes (photo) is available in blanc d’ espagne, charcoal and red. Le Flaneur Sportif d’ Hermes is available in blanc d’Espagne and charcoal.The Colossi 5Cycle Project Store, 55 Tiong Bahru Road, #01-53Price: $7,200THE Colossi 5 is one quirky ride. The wheels are mismatched - the front wheel has five thick spokes while the rear wheel adopts a more traditional look with multiple thin ones. Combined with the metallic blue custom-built frame, a steel-coloured handlebar, white wheels and a white saddle, the Colossi 5 is undoubtedly an eye-catching steed.Tokyobike 2014 Limited Edition SSTokyobike, 38 Haji Lane (1st floor)Price: $1,175WITH its classic handlebar and slender leather grips, the SS was described by Tokyobike Singapore’s owner Jolyn Chua as the “perfect gentleman’s bike”. The SS is the lightest Tokyobike model available here, and customers may make it their own by fixing add-ons. Customisable options include vintage headlamps, bicycle panniers and saddle bags. The Tokyobike 2014 Limited Edition SS is available in three classic colours: dark green, ivory and black.RunwellShinola, Robinsons OrchardPrice: $4,700THE Runwell prides itself in being an urban and practical bike, inspired by the French “porteur bikes” used by newspaper couriers. It has a front rack, making it useful for running errands and is virtually maintenance free due to the use of a high-end Shimano Alfine 11-speed internal gear. The Runwell is available in sunshine yellow, emerald green and London red.The CoastlinerCoast Cycles, 54 Siglap DrivePrice: $2,800THE Coastliner is a fuss-free, simple and stylish bike. Jansen Tan, owner of Coast Cycles, developed his own process of making the bike frame for The Coastliner so that all unsightly cables and wires are hidden from view. The use of a belt-driven transmission instead of the traditional drivetrain system keeps the bike clean, preventing grease stains on its rider’s legs. The Coastliner is available in four colours: matte white, satin chrome, grey and pearl white.Compiled by Chew Hui-Yan
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