Owning a fixie bike is an environmentally-friendly and relatively uncommon (two things that hipsters swear by) way to get to places, even keeping its owners fit enough to don singlets and skinny jeans without looking too pudgy. Hence, it comes as no surprise that the fixed-gear bicycle is sometimes jokingly dubbed the ‘hipster chariot’.
While the fixie subculture has existed in Singapore for years—mainly in the Kampong Glam vicinity – the bikes have gained new traction in line with the present-day ‘hipster movement’. If you’re already fixie-curious or an amateur hipster looking to up your game, here’s what you need to know!
Don’t want to fork out cash for a bicycle but still want to ride one? Check out our guide to bike-sharing in Singapore.
Why the appeal?
A fixie is a single-speed bicycle with a fixed gear, meaning that once the rider starts riding, he will not be able to stop pedalling to ‘coast’. Typically, there’s no brakes either, which means the rider has to resist the cranks of the pedals with his feet in order to slow down. These difficulties and complications are attractive to hipsters as it puts them above the peasant bicycles of their mainstream counterparts.
Evidently, the fixie has more aesthetic than practical value. Hipsters mount it on the wall of their rooms, park it outside their cafe, and occasionally ride it a few blocks down to their neighbourhood park to procure an Instagram/Tumblr-worthy shot.
All quips aside though, fixed-gear bicycles can also (and should) be used for urban cycling and commuting. First popularised by bike messengers (yes, they still exist in Singapore), they were preferred for its simplicity and light-weight nature. Its mechanism allows the rider to ride backwards; an extremely useful feature for urban riders in our obstacle-laden streets.
Buying a fixie
People who are new to the scene in Singapore usually go for the more affordable off-the-rack bikes. The entry-level ones can cause as little as $200 while the more expensive ones cost upwards of $1000. We recommend a bike somewhere between $400 and $700, but then again price does not always reflect quality, so always do your research first.
Those with a fat budget might want to custom their own fixies from scratch for better aesthetics and functionality. All you need is a basic frame, which goes for around $400. From there, every component—from rims, handlebars, to wheel sets and crank sets can be assembled from a different brand.
We’ve listed some shops we like that sell quality fixed-gear bicycles and components. They all provide fantastic advice on bike customisation too. Plus, they usually sell very cool t-shirts, accessories, stickers too.
If a retro-outfitted bicycle garage in the middle of an industrial area, that also sells coffee isn’t the epitome of a hipster cafe, we don’t know what is. While not cooking up brunch for urban cyclists, Wheeler’s Yard serves as a workshop space for talented Taiwanese craftsmen who create handmade fixed-gear bike frames. The bicycles they bring in range between $1000 to 2000.
Wheeler’s Yard is located at 28 Lor Ampas, Singapore, 328781. Operating hours are from Monday: 11am – 8pm, Wednesday – Saturday: 11am – 8pm, Sunday: 9am – 8pm. See available products at their Facebook page here.
The charming fixies at the storefront of Tokyobike often draws huge admiration from passerbys, and not without reason too. The Japanese company crafts its lightweight bikes with the purpose of helping cyclists navigate city streets not unlike our own. Their simple designs employ vibrant colours and emphasise comfort over speed. Their models range from $975 to $1220.
Tokyobike is located at 38-01 Haji Lane, Singapore, 189231. Operating hours are from Tuesday – Friday: 1pm – 8pm, Saturday – Sunday: midday – 8pm. See available products at their website here.
In joint-collaboration with (and also right on top of) Tokyo Bike is its co-tenant Rivets, the first concept store in Asia for prestigious British bicycle saddle maker Brooks (dating back to 1866). Their range of saddles – basic models starting from costing between $150 to $300 will prevent a sore bottom at the end of the day. Rivets also stocks Brooks saddle bags, handle grips, messenger bags and baskets. Brooks Saddles: $148 – $527; Brooks Cycle accessories: $10 – $394; Brooks Bags: $285 – $780.
Rivets is located at 38 Haji Lane, Singapore, 189231. Operating hours are from Tuesday to Friday: 1pm-8pm; Saturday – Sunday: midday – 8pm. See available products at their Facebook page here.
TR Bikes are loyal proponents of the fixed-gear bicycle, supplying their customers with top-tier components and accessories from Soma Fabrications and Paul Components, and White Industries, among others. Built bicycles brands brought in include Velocity, Legnano, Niner Bikes, and Singular Cycle. Also, they are experts on fixed gear conversions and customising retro and utility-built.
TR Bikes is located at 486 Serangoon Road, Singapore, 218151. Operating hours are from Monday to Friday: midday – 7pm, Saturday: 11am – 7pm. See available products at their Facebook page here.
Cycle Project Store
What used to be an online store has turned brick-and-mortar after achieving a high demand for their custom-build services. The store is a relatively new kid in the very hip Tiong Bahru neighbourhood, providing customised designs that encompass high-performance components from a wide spectrum of dealers. If you want a bike that is completely tailored to you, this is the place to go.
Cycle Project Store is located at 55 Tiong Bahru Road, Singapore, 160055. Operating hours are Monday – Sunday: 11am – 10pm. See their custom designs at their Facebook page here.
Some places to ride
Riders using their bikes for commute will love our smooth and pot-hole-free roads. Enjoy the exhilaration of weaving through rush hour traffic jams with ease, all without paying road tax or exorbitant ERP fees. Singapore’s city streets are just as fun to navigate, and plus, urban walkways bring out the most convenient feature of fixed-gear bikes: cycling backwards.
The wide expanse of Marina Bay Sand’s Waterfront Promenade is great for cyclists. Ride over to the Bay East Gardens and if you’re feeling adventurous, all the way down the East Coast Parkway. Or you can head the other way pass The Promontory at Marina Bay and explore the CBD, perhaps coasting along the Singapore River too. This route is best taken at night to enjoy the vibrancy of Singapore’s nightlife and beautifully-lit skyscrapers!
Tiong Bahru – Mount Faber
If the hipster-clad streets of Tiong Bahru are too boring for you, there’s a less mainstream route to follow. From the MRT station, start by Lower Delta Road, cycling down before turning up and over Mount Faber. When you’ve reached the car park near the top, do some loops around the mountain or simply go back all the way down to Morse Road, but not before rewarding yourself with a cold drink at the scenic cafes on top.
Bukit Timah – Holland Village
Those familiar with the Bukit Timah area will know that it’s never a good idea to tussle with its frequently congested roads. Fortunately a long stretch of hidden parkland known as the ‘Rail Corridor’ lies just off Upper Bukit Timah Road, great for cyclists who don’t mind a little dirt track. The quiet stretch offers a pleasant countryside feel in the urban heart of Singapore. You’ll head past Holland Village, where you can stop for coffee or head right back out. This route is best enjoyed after a couple days of sun due to its rather clayey ground.
Tampines Bike Park
Located a short distance away from Tampines Mall along Avenue 9, the huge 60-acre Tampines Bike Park offers a 10-km mountain bike trail, great for fixie riders who reside in the East to get some hill-climbing practice through its challenging contour lines. Best to hurry though, for the park is due to close for development sometime in the middle of the year.
Braddell Road – Bartley Road
Elite daredevils have been known to test their guts and skills by “bombing” hills, where they rush down a steep hill on their bicycles. Riding fixies down make it all the more exhilarating due to its inability to coast. We recommend the small hilly streets lined along Braddell Road and Bartley Road, such as the popular Sommerville Road, where you can go down as fast as 50km/h!
Join the community
After purchasing your first fixie, go mingle with the small but growing community of enthusiasts in Singapore; crews like the famous crew Crank Arm Steady, who hold their regular meetings at Sup Clothing along Haji Lane. You’ll find plenty of riders in the vicinity as well. We hear they favour the teashops at the nearby Bussorah Street, where you might catch some bike messengers hanging around on weekdays after work. There are plenty of fixie groups online as well, such as Cityspoke Fixed Gear, where you can rendezvous with the people in your neighbourhood.
Having done all that, now please place it against a whitewashed wall and take a photo to upload to Instagram. You are officially the owner of a hipster chariot!
Photos courtesy of the bike outlets mentioned above