Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Another perfect morning on 12 wheels

Paul, playing the ugly Singaporean, on beautiful ECP bike paths

ECP ubiquitous bike sign vs the exclusive Speed Pro

12 wheels, 6 foldies, 1 perfect morning

With over 4 million people jostling for living space in the tiny island state of Singapore, it is a real surprise to find world class spacious bike paths right here. The government is seriously serious about improving the quality of "play" in this highly stressed republic and it shows in its beautiful bike paths development program. The ones along Singapore's #1 playground, the East Coast Parkway, a 30km coastal ride from Fort Rd to Changi Village is a *must ride for all cycling enthusiasts.

I have been here numerous times and organized a breakfast ride today. Keong, a newbie to the world of foldies, came along for the ride and enjoyed himself immensely. He rode on my trusty British Brompton, then tried Seng Chor's Dahon's "Corolla" D7 and Paul's stylish Curve. I took my sexy Speed Pro. Guru Chris rode his KHS Capuccino while Roadwalker joined us too on his bump-eating Birdy Monocoque. A real melange of foldies indeed!

It rained until we arrived, and then brilliant weather. Cloudy skies, fresh cool sea breezes and coastal paths with sparse weekday traffic. This was the perfect cycling morning given for us to enjoy and we did. Great company ending with a marvellous breakfast at Changi Food Centre. Thanks everyone, and esp Chris for the nice pics as always... We WILL do this again.
Note: *On the weekends, hordes of human traffic - joggers, skaters, cyclists descend upon this park like locusts so avoid it then if you can. You have been warned.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Gliding with Birdies

Roadwalker's Birdy Monocoque

ME 109 - famous WW2 fighter... Two German Birds

With petrol prices hitting over $2 a litre in Singapore, car trips must be planned properly. I had to drop off my son at the Eastern side of the island for a cross country race. Made no sense to drive home and waste 60km so I spend the "waiting" time cycling the beautiful coastal bike path to Changi Village from ECP with 2 buddies riding Birdies. One a Classic and another the latest Monocoque model, both in pearly whites.
The Birdy is a German designed full-suspension foldy that is made by Pacific Cycles. It looks extremely stylish and well finished. The mococoque model owned by my friend Choong came with 9 speed LX components and I was thrilled to take it out for a 15km ride.
What impressed is how comfortable and plush the Birdy soaked up road bumps. No wonder many people swear by its legendary ride. Suspension setting is adjustable with the use of different colored elastomers. It also has the ability to carry front and rear panniers making it excellent for touring. I can understand why "Roadwalker" Choong has ridden over 3000km on it in just 6 months! On the flats, I hit a max of 39.5kmh and it felt very stable, though the handle post experienced some flexing. Packability is also very good, with its ability to go into a standard suitcase like my Bike Friday tikit.
The Birdy is certainly perched right up there with the best folders. It is even advertised as the "Mercedes" of origami bikes and this is reflected in its high price. At a shade below $3k - this is one expensive featherless bird. Shortcomings? The folding takes getting used to. 18" tyres, while an excellent compromise between performance and packing (can fit into Samsonite), are rare and unavailable esp in third world countries. The accessories can be costly eg rear rack a whopping $250 retail (Dahon is $70, Tikit US$50 and Surly's super rear rack $95)! And bike guru Chris Wee has an issue with its inverted cable front brake setup. But many satisfied Birdy owners are willing to overlook these compromises.
Paul, Choong and I enjoyed great conversations over Teh Tarik and a yummy Nasi Lemak breakfast at Changi Village. My "WRX" Speed Pro also had fun gliding with the 2 stylish German birds. And yes, I must as a proud father report that my son Jeremy came in 10/250 in his school's cross country race, gleaming medal and all.
A delightful birdy morning indeed by any standards!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My wonderful friend & host - Dr Peggy Yeo

Everything you want is found in Springvale Market. Everything!

The girls after a hunting/shopping trip to Springvale. Yup, the boot was filled.

The ever cutesy and super intelligent Casper

Peggy with my wife, Celia, in her brand new Corolla Hatch. Red for zesty!

I have made many new friends inside and outside the biking community - and good friends are indeed a real blessing. They share your joys, bear your burdens, offer wisdom and enrich your life so colourfully. It is my joy to know Peggy for quite a while and she has moved to Melbourne in 1997, settling in the beautiful suburb of Glen Waverley.

Her biking experience is limited to a stationery bike that she uses to keep fit but Peggy is the most active "retired" person I know. She sings alto in the Monash Chorale, is a qualified Funeral Director (interesting ya?) and CELTA English Teacher, accomplished pianist, author, movie buff, worship leader. sought after teacher/preacher, world traveller and mother to two wonderful doggies, Casper and Missabella. But most of all, she is a dear friend to my wife and I.
My little way of saying a big thank you for all the warm and attentive hospitality in coldish Melbourne, dearest Jie (big sister in Mandarin)! Maybe I should get a tandem bike (folding of course) to take her out for a ride one day soon...
A friend loves at all times - Proverbs 17:17

10 mins with Bike Friday Customer Evangelist

Great dinner guys!

Lynette Chiang doing her thing

Her tikit has an interesting handlebar and fast Stelvio tires!

I made it! Better late than never

Never fix 2 appointments back to back in Melbourne too closely. After a wonderful dinner with some young friends, I left for the Bike Friday's presentation at 740pm hoping to catch the 815pm at South Yarra some 4km away. Missed a train, had to connect to another line, got a bit lost walking around in the dark and finally found BWM Theater at 9pm. Yup, lots of touring bikes parked below.

There were about 70 folks and I came right in time for the end of the show lucky draw. Shucks! Anyway, had a chance to say "Hello" to Lynette and a few words to the audience about the tikit. Her slides were awesome - at least the few I saw. Spoke to an interesting lady who rides an even greener transport - horses! I had to leave pretty early as my friend Peggy was waiting for me at the Glen Waverley station at 1015pm so it was a hit and run sort of thing unfortunately.

A real pity as I wanted to learn how Lynette Chiang does her award winning bike presentation show. 10 minutes is better than none I guess...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tikit TRAIN-ing

World class trains in Melbourne, though a bit expensive

Bike rack area - appreciated but like sushi displayed for thieves pickings

Passengers appreciate how little space the tikit occupies on trains
Foldies can be carried all day without restrictions

Nat with her good bike. Most students will also have a clunker for everyday use due to theft.
With a foldie, no need for such arrangement!

Beautiful parks right in the heart of the city. River included!

Reserved specially for me, Oldy on Foldy?

It's the end of fall here in Melbourne and days are quite chilly, 7c nights and 12-14c days. Quite a welcome change from humid Singapore. Seems like the greatest challenge is to get up from bed as once under the covers all warm and cozy, its nearly impossible to crank up.

I had to meet my niece Nat, a med student at Melb Uni for lunch and she lives in the city. It was a good 30km away from where I am so it was a great experience riding to the train station and training my way there to Brunswick. The trains in Melb are bike friendly and the folded tikit certainly attracted its fair share of attention. A lady with a kid talked to me at the station, chiefly about this package with 2 wheels. Another man yakked about his son having too many bicycles, 6 in which I nodded and replied politely, that cycling is a healthy sport. Wonder what he would have said if I told him I had 8.

Nat brought me around the beautiful parks in Melb and I appreciated a lot of the cycle ways as well as bike paths. This must be one of the most bike friendly cities I've been to. She rode an impressive $2k plus road bike but my little tikit could keep up quite easily most times. Some of the paths became unsealed and Nat had to push her road bike for fear that her 120psi tires would be damaged. No such worry with the Schwalbe Marathons on the tikit!

By and large, I was quite impressed with the trains in Melb. Efficient, clean and bike friendly. They even have a special seat meant for me, I think - elderly and people with special needs. Oldy with a special need to be very mobile, without polluting! But sadly, trains are not cheap. My return fare was A$10.10 (Spore would have costs only A$2.50) but its still cheaper than driving.

Foldies and trains are the way to go in Melb! Strange that I did not see any other foldies...
*UPDATE 160508 - Seems like foldies are also ok to travel on the famous Melbourne trams. Check Lynette bringing her tikit on a tram here: http://www.bikefriday.com/australia08?time=current

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Tikit travelling stealthly in regular Samsonite. No worries mate!
Oz customs were impressed

Off to Melbourne for a week - voted the world's most liveable city. Jetstar's deal of S$650 is a bargain though its via Darwin. Tikit in tow, of course. It just so happens that Bike Friday is having a presentation while I'm there, courtesy of Lynette Chiang. Will certainly try to make it.

Some cycling trips have been organised, needless to say... stay tune!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Why I chosed a Surly Long Haul Trucker for Sumatra.

I was tempted to ride one of my foldies for the Sumatran trip but was warned that the bad roads could be challenging. Looking back, it would be possible but only on 20" Big Apple tires and with exceptional hill-climbing gearing. However, when you are flying downhill at 40km/h+ and the road deterioates to this... it could be dicey. The LHT was perfect for the job. Robust, comfortable, reliable and sturdy.

This was videoed before we started the long 20km+ climb to Tele. Note the breathtaking scenery and steep mountains ahead. I feel so tired just looking at it!

Thanks Chris for the pain and the pleasure, and capturing this wonderful adventure on video. Great pic of our bikes too.

Flying without wings - Sumatra

Thanks to my 12 yo son, Jeremy, I have finally learned how to upload Youtube videos on this blog. This is one taken by Chris on the many downhills we encountered on our Sumatra Volcano trip. It was easy to hit 40-50km/h and the longest stretch we glided down was for about 8km.

Fun to fly without wings! Whee.................


Update: My old ACS buddy Ng Khee Jin, Film Director of "Feet Unbound" was very impressed with Chris' video skills. He wrote, "Who's that great cameraman who can cycle and shoot at the same time? I want to hire him."


Bike Friday Co-Founder speaks about promises...

Alan & his wife Theresa -Pic taken from Bike Friday's website

After my most recent posting about my satisfaction with promise keeping companies, I got this email from Lynette Chiang, BF's Customer Evangelist saying how Alan Scholz liked my post so much that he emailed it for all his staff to read. It was to serve as a reminder of how important it is to keep promises made to customers.

I hope he doesn't mind me posting it here as it certainly deserves some air time at least in Lovethefold. All you bike dealers out there - learn from Bike Friday please! Not for our sakes, but for yours.

This is an important and insightful look into our companies dna and mission. I decided to put it in the body of an e-mail so you would all get a chance to read it.This is not your average review. This reviews our intentions not our bikes. And its very short.This is why promises are so important! Why all our date promises are how we run our company.He must be right about (us being) successful because success for us is measured by customers like him.

Alan Scholz - Co-Founder
Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No.' Matthew 5:37

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Promise made, dissatisfaction fades...

FedEx- we live to deliver!

We live in a world of business where often the pursuit of profits is the sole focus and centrality of a company's existence and activity. With this myopic and short term view, many times moral values are conveniently cast aside, justified in the name of the almighty $. Honesty, integrity, trust and even promises made are merely cards on hand that are optional, used only if they serve to increase ROI.

I received a Fed Ex parcel recently from Bike Friday. My tikit had a few nagging problems (mentioned in earlier post) which I brought to the attention of BF's technician Hugh Larkin before my Sumatran trip. He emailed to say he would send the replacement parts and that the order is set to ship by Friday, 4/18 and it DID. The cost of the parts and postage, NO CHARGE as the bike was under warranty.

The bottom line of Bike Friday's books may be down about US$50 but this is a smart investment they made - for they have won mine, and many other customers loyalty and support for years to come. On the other hand, I have experienced bike dealers that fail to keep their promise to customer satisfaction, thereby foolishly killing many "gooses" that would lay them many golden eggs. But that is another story altogether.

A simple promise made, feelings of dissatisfaction fade. Magic. Kudos to Bike Friday again! No wonder they are so profitable and successful.