Like the great Freddie Mercury once sang, echoing the fanciful starry-eyed thoughts of ours, we’d all enjoy a good bicycle ride once in a while to wherever, whenever. A momentary escape from the hustle and bustle of the city life for some greenbelt tranquillity – this is what a cycle offers. Cities such as Amsterdam, Berlin and Copenhagen have taken that simple desire and turned it into a full-blown culture, where roads and facilities are built to accommodate it. And we want in.
Question is, as one of the puniest of nations, can we? Considering our already dense population and land use, as well as our existing interconnectedness, is this a feasible ambition?
“The cycling scene is a lot more vibrant than say, five years ago,” expresses Jansen Tan, the creator of homegrown bike craft label Coast Cycles. “More and more people are taking to cycling as a form of leisure and exercise.” Along with the steady escalation of interest come a few tangible adaptations such as supplementary bicycle paths and crossings. “Also, the average price of bicycles has dropped in recent years. So, for the same amount you pay, you can get a much better equipped bicycle,” Jansen adds.
The bottom line: Bicycles are incredibly economical, easy to maintain, and ecological. Why then aren’t these penny-pinching two-wheelers woven into our metropolitan lifestyles yet?
Safety, whilst pedalling on the main roads alongside much larger vehicles capable of higher velocities, is one reason. Blame it on intolerant drivers or reckless cyclists; the numbers of cyclist casualties are rising. Introducing separate bicycle lanes should be the best solution, but it’s not a simple endeavour to pull off in light of our shrinking capacity. And one could already hear the muffled complaints of the equatorial heat from sweaty cyclists attempting to make the long travel to work by bike. “It’s so troublesome!” they would cry, as they lament at their lack of a change of clothes or a working shower at the office.
So, perhaps, it’d be wiser to start small. By adopting what Londoners call the “Boris Bikes” plan and Parisians call the Velib system, where automated bicycle rentals are planted around the city for brief public usage, commuters could make a portion of their trips by bike with ease. And there’s your daily exercise, without too much labour or parking woes. While the Land Transport Authority worry about getting on with the programme, we could get on with our much simpler weekly recreational rides. Herein comes the more casual section of the article.
According to Jansen, these are the five considerations leisure cyclists take note of when choosing a bicycle: Comfort, aesthetics, performance, low maintenance, and portability. We took one of Jansen’s creations – the Coastliner Mini – for a spin, and tested these factors on it. Here’s our verdict.
Comfort: Although the Coastliner Mini allows for a more comfortable, upright riding position, you definitely can’t escape butt aches due to its slim, firm seat.
Aesthetics: Sleek, simple and stylish, its aluminium frame (which hides the cluttered cables) and seamless welds lend it a clean profile. It also comes in matte black and gloss white, the latter of which has a particularly smooth surface that’s irresistible to the touch.
Performance: Equipped with impeccably strong disc brakes (that don’t squeak), it gives you maximum control, even whilst traversing steep slopes. Thick tyres ensure a smooth, steady ride, despite their added weight.
Low Maintenance: Instead of a metal chain, it operates on a longer-lasting belt drive that does not require lubrication. The bicycle also boasts rust proof components, preventing breakdowns under the intense local weather.
Portability: It’s not the lightest bike, but it’s definitely storage-friendly. A unique quick flick feature, which takes a while to get used to, allows you to rotate the handle bar so that it’s parallel to the bicycle. No more fretting over narrow doors and spaces!
Mosey over to Coast Cycles at 54 Siglap Drive, Level Two, to try the Coastliner Mini ($2,450) for yourself. While you’re at it, grab a bite at their industrial-themed café downstairs.
Photo credit: Angela Low/Popspoken, Coast Cycles