Thursday, March 29, 2012

What we can learn from Chainreactioncycles

Shopping online never got any easier
The super friendly and irrepressible Kian Lin... trying to poison me as usual
Most of us probably gone through something like this in our "cycling years".  First you buy a bicycle from your local bicycle shop. You might be lucky and unlucky to get bad service and good deal, maybe not. Then you are happy for a while, cycle around and start to change a part or another. It just happens.  You compare prices from a few shops and later on discover that if you shop is cheaper!  Well, that's how it happened for me. Bicycle parts can be had for quite a substantial difference.  Some online shops even offer free shipping and additional gift voucher if you purchases over certain amount. With google and asking the right question, you can get lots of information in a jiffy. For example the history of Chainreactioncycles ... how they started and I must say it is an amazing story!  I have bought from Chainreactioncycles multiple times and I am quite impressed by the service. When there was part missing or damage, an email sent to them and it would be responded in 1-2 days.  Now I can see more Eshops like Evans, SJS, Wiggle and many more similar are sprouting up, which means more competition, choices of items.  Hopefully it would be lower prices and better customer service.  Oh, take note if you are buying online on Singapore $400 limit or you will be hit by the goods and services tax(GST). I learned it by accident.
Having commented on bicycle onlineshops, what does it mean to the traditional brick and mortar Bicycle shop? In a Singapore context, rising business cost means that the prices are higher compared to the online. Is that the end?  I  think there is still a edge which shops must leverage. The physical presence of allows the customer to touch, look, feel and test ride the bike. For parts, you get to see it and have the part instantly. So in a way, that's trading time for money. Most importantly, I think the "magical edge" over online shops is the level of customer service/ customer experience. To that note, my personal vote goes to Kian Lin of Mybikeshop for his infectious passion for his bicycles. He even loaned his personal bike to test out the performance and this personal approach has "poisoned" countless people... me included.  Another one who comes to my mind is Simon of lifecycle. His approach on bicycle shop as a meeting place for like minded folks helps him differentiate from the usual bicycle shop mode. What is clear to me is that they are elevating the customer experience for the local cycling industry. It becomes not just a transactional behaviour but forming a relationship with the customer.  I know the internet is transforming business. The traditional bicycleshop that is. What do you think are the elements that must be done, that would sway to customers to take an online approach or choose a bicycle shop?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Changing Education Paradigms - Sir Ken Robinson

No this is not directly linked to cycling but I relate alot with this video. Watch this if u like to know more about education and why are children turned off from learning.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

1st April 2012 Bishan PCN ride and Roti prata @ Casaurina drive

Bishan park has undergone many changes and was recently opened. From the media photos, it looks very good and this coming sunday we will visit it. Do you know a German consultancy was involved in the design and planning of Bishan park? More cool information here  if you like to read more.
For food spot, it will be at the Casuarina drive roti prata which is very popular with cyclists around the area. Later on we will ride the nice and windy old Thomson road and ride around Ang Mo kio. Route is as below.  Meet/End point will be at Bishan Mrt Station, near Taxi stand. Again, we will start 0730am, expected to end by early 1130am.
Pls sign up at Lovecyclingsg forum, thanks!

Cycling at Taiwan by Chris wee and Al

Want to know what happened in Taiwan?  Here's two bloggers who wrote their experiences.
Chris account of the recent Taiwan ride up the mountains.
Bro Alvin of lovethefold account here
at top of mount Wulin
Blustery winds and dropping temperatures @ 3030M
nice cooling weather on the way up

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bike Fit video by Lynette Chiang

Lynette Chiang is an avid bike advocate, esp for Bike Friday. She was also instrumental in promoting Bike Friday bikes and connecting to real customers.  I understand now she is not with Bike Friday anymore which is a real shame. However, life carries on...  as I poked around you tube, I found some nice video she did on bike fit. It is a 3 part series which is good to watch, not so much on the best equipment but understanding the people are built differently and what to look out for to make it that much more comfortable and efficient. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Brompton and Bike friday enjoying a quiet moment

Brompton or Bike friday....
On the recent Taiwan cycling trip, I noted Mary and Derrick chose Brompton while Kimi used a Bike friday. This two brands which has fierce "loyalists" sparking long online threads that one is better than another....or is it?  I am just glad that we get to see bike fridays and Brompton riders being friends and sharing a nice time together. Let's all remember that it is just a joy to be able to cycle and cycling with a group of like minded friends are even more fun and precious.
Mary and Kimi sharing a nice time at Seven Star Bay, Hualien, Taiwan
united as one. go go LCSG!

Orrr, paaayy , soom... just like childhood days!

Monday, March 19, 2012


An article contributed by Darren Siow 
A few months after I got my Brompton, the right side pedal began creaking. I tightened the screws but the creaking didn’t go away. A quick check around showed that this was a common issue. Recently, my left folding pedal began creaking too! As I had been used to riding with clipless pedals for many years, I took this opportunity to change the stock pedals to clipless ones. For the Brompton, I was going to use it as a commuting bike as well as for short rides around the neighbourhood to dao bao lunch, run errands etc. I wanted a pedal that would allow me to do all the activities. Searching online, I found few pedals that offered this functionality. I chanced upon the Shimano M324 and immediately bought it along with a pair of shoes which I could use on and off the bike. I like the Shimano M324 for its versatility; one side offers mountain bike style SPD cleat entry whilst the other side is a standard platform. Just right for me! (Weight weenie warning: they are about 530 grams per pair!)
The challenge I faced in replacing the pedals was the removal of the left stock Brompton pedal. The bolt that holds things in place is massive and I didn’t have any tools to match this bolt. During one of the LCSG gatherings, I spoke to someone who had also changed the stock pedals. I found out that he had used an unorthodox method to remove the pedal. So I followed suit.
 Removing the stock left Brompton pedal
I used a standard size adjustable spanner and a plier. The typical way to use a spanner is to fit the spanner at right angles to the bolt shaft. I made the adjustable spanner ‘bite’ onto the head of the bolt, parallel to the bolt instead of the correct orientation. This allowed only very little grip on the bolt. I tightened the jaws around the bolt head as much as I could. Consulting Google, I double-checked that the correct way to remove a left pedal is to rotate the bolt clockwise. With that confirmed, I gave the spanner a good swift tap with the pliers. The bolt seemed to turn but I wasn’t sure. So I gave it another tap. This time I could see the bolt turning! I was very happy and relieved that this unorthodox method worked! It helped that the stock pedal wasn’t very tight.
The picture below gives you an idea how the spanner gripped onto the bolt head.  
Left Folding Pedal, Washer, Big Bolt & Right Pedal 
Here's how the pedals looked after removed from Brompton
new left pedal
looking down from the saddle
Pearl izumi Mens' X-Alp seek IV cycling shoe 
I bought the shoes from Amazon and if you do decide to get shoes online, read the reviews first! For this model, many buyers advised that you need to order the next bigger size. I followed the advice and I’m glad to say that they were very accurate. I typically wear size US9.5 shoes, so for this pair I ordered US10, and it’s perfect!
I chose this pair of shoes because I can use them on my commute to work and then still wear them during the office day. I’m lucky that my work doesn’t require me to wear formal leather shoes. J The cleat (the metal piece that connects to the pedal) is bolted on in a recess of the shoe. This clever design was why I bought the shoes. The only thing that bugs me about walking around with this is that on certain uneven surfaces, I can feel and hear the cleat grinding against the road. On pavements and tiled surfaces, it works well.
The downside of having a non-folding left pedal is the increased size when the bike is folded. However, I know that I hardly need to transport or store my Brompton in the folded state, so I bit the bullet and switched to the clipless.
Today (18Mar2012), I went on my first ride with the clipless pedals and I have to say I love them! It makes me feel like I’m riding a real bike! :-P

Photo credits - Darren Siow

Surly Dummy in a HDB

Castor wheels found near Sungei Road area
Single U bolt and zip tie to hold everything in position, plus lots of used inner tube to prevent scratches
Some folks asked me how is it like to have a Surly Dummy in a HDB enviroment. The challenge is to lift the bike vertically up to fit into the lift. For me, I do this by rigging up 2 small roller wheels - ala Brompton style.. so that I can wheel it easily. A picture tells a thousand words.. so here is my implementation. Using not drilling. Just off the shelf U bolts and castor wheels. And it works!
Flip it up and roll into lift. Can even stand on its own!
with the easy main stand.. Dummy is stable for just sitting 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dr Janil addresses cycling as a viable form of transport to MOT

cycling for all and a viable option of transport
Dr Janil address to committee of supply
"Mr. Chairman, sir,
Cycling is fast gaining popularity in Singapore. More cycling paths and facilities are being built under the $43 million dollar National Cycling Plan, cycling groups are growing in number and mass cycling events are attracting thousands of participants.
Sir, I am heartened that many more Singaporeans are taking up cycling as a sport, a leisure activity or as a mode of daily transport. Cycling has many benefits and regular cycling is known to significantly reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases. I am glad that the government is investing in resources to promote cycling. However, I feel that more that can be done.
Firstly I would like to address the issue of cycling as a form of commuting. Our roads are getting more congested and as we grow our population, at some point in the future we will have to stop increasing the number of cars. The growth in our population cannot be matched by a similar growth in the number of cars. It is unfeasible for reasons of space, congestion, and the effects on the environment. The government has correctly identified a need to encourage more people to move towards public transport. Yet, there remains a need for personal transport, and an increasing number of people are turning to cycling to fill this gap. Sometimes to get exercise, sometimes to take advantage of the flexibility it provides, and sometimes for the sheer enjoyment of it. Cycling is personal transport, there is an emotive component. Can we look ahead 20 or 25 years and see that an increase in cycling infrastructure now will not only respond to a current need, as it will frame the mindset and expectations of our society for the next generation?
Our park connector network is a fantastic initiative as it provides residents with seamless connections to different parks in Singapore. But could the network be used to address a need for utilitarian personal transport? I realize that the Park Connector network is under NParks, which is under MND, and so MOT would have a hard time looking at the routes to consider the obstacles to them becoming part of an alternative cycle commuting network. This brings me to the next point.
Cycling crosses across a number of ministries and bodies, none of whom see it as their priority. LTA, and hence MOT, looks at cycling on the roads. NParks, and hence MND, looks at the Park Connectors. SPF, and hence MHA, is responsible for the safety and enforcement issues. Sport cycling comes under the SSC and hence MCYS. URA, HDB and the Town Councils all would have a role to play in integrating cycling with other amenities, facilities and access points. For the integration with public transport LTA again gets involved together with the PTCs. Nobody wants to completely own and deal with cycling. Suggestions are usually met with a response indicating which other ministry could get involved. Whose KPI is it? Whatever the arguments of the merits of cycling, the fact is that an increasing number of people are actively engaging in cycle commuting, and this sector is not adequately overseen.
Sir, I would like to propose that we have a regulatory authority to oversee and advocate for cycling as a commuter modality, one with heft and weight. One that can take matters across ministries and stat boards to solve problems for the benefit of all, because poorly designed cycling infrastructure affects pedestrians and drivers as much as cyclists, because people will continue to cycle, and increasingly so.
There has been an assumption amongst many that Singapore is too hot and too humid to cycle in. This is clearly wrong. Look at the many “uncles” in their long pants and t-shirts that can be seen cycling with ease in Kallang, Geylang, Redhill and other areas. Look at the foreign workers who do not require high-tech lycra shorts nor expensive cycle shoes, and yet manage to commute very effectively, rarely even breaking into a sweat. Look at the number of cyclists in cities around South East Asia, cities that share our weather conditions. Look at the cyclists on our roads despite the assertion that it is not a viable mode of personal transport. It’s all a matter of expectation and conditioning.
 If we accept that this is a viable modality of personal transport that will become increasingly important as car ownership becomes less accessible, I would like to ask the Minister whether MOT will subsidize or support bike-share programmes? The argument to wait for a critical mass of cyclists first is not a sound one as cities such as Barcelona and London saw an increase in the number of trips made by bicycle after the introduction of bike sharing programs that were well integrated into the transport network. The introduction of a bike sharing programme can work to offload some of the pressure that our public transport system is under.
There have been calls for cycle lanes to be established to improve the on-road safety of cyclists. In discussing this, firstly we all have to understand that cyclists are required to ride on the road as they are banned from pavements, except in established cycling towns. One argument against bicycle lanes is that we are land-scarce. It’s hard to understand how London and Manhattan, two of the most dense and congested cities in the world can effectively implement bicycle lanes to good effect, but we cannot. Yes we are a city and not a country, but the cities that have implemented bicycle lanes have not expanded outwards into their hinterlands and countrysides in order to do so, they have merely made accommodations. Will the ministry consider reexamining this idea?
However, in lieu of bicycle lanes I have an alternative suggestion. The highway code already requires that cars overtaking a bicycle do so with a 1.5m clearance to the right of the bicycle, assuming that the cyclist is in the left-most lane. Judging this clearance can be difficult. Why don’t we make it easy for drivers to comply with the existing law by painting a line down the left-most lane, 1.7m in from the kerb. This is cheap, uses no extra land, does not require any new legislation, and most importantly does not affect the flow of traffic, as there are already cyclists in that lane, and the cars currently need to overtake them. We would simply be making it easy for all concerned to do the right thing and obey the law. In the absence of cyclists, the whole lane is available for cars. One possible objection to this idea is the Bernoulli effect, which is what happens when a large vehicle passes the cyclist at high speed, causing a pressure differential that can unbalance you. This is neither more or less likely to occur with this suggestion, the cyclists are already in that space, the drivers are already overtaking them. One of the attractions of this suggestion to me, is that it emphasizes that the road, just like our island nation, is a shared space, and we all need to share it graciously. Cyclists, just like drivers, need to follow the highway code.
Finally sir, with respect to cycle safety, the data is incontrovertible, that wearing a helmet saves lives. Together with visibility and riding responsibly, wearing helmet is a key measure in ensuring the safety of cyclists. If enforcement is an issue, this would not be the only law that is difficult to enforce, I’m not aware of any driver that has been fined for failing to provide a 1.5m clearance when overtaking a cyclist. Nevertheless I do agree with the general sentiment that education is better that legislation. Will the ministry will the ministry consider measures to increase or mandate the use of bicycle helmets?
Thank you." 
Taiwoon: I am not hopeful given that no MPs (other then Dr Janil and Mr Teo Ser Lerk cycles) that it would amount to anything. But I am glad Dr Janil has spoken up for cycling. Let's see if Singapore is ready to really to be world class.  What do you think and what would it take for Cycling to be considered as a viable form of transport?  I like to hear your views.

Taiwan Da Tong Fan guo

Don't look like much but this there is so much story behind this 
Double walled.. can use as steamboat and also steam buns!

Found it!!!We found the rice cooker at this shop!!Kim looking pleased to have got the rice cooker.... we both were amazed
This is the rice cooker which all taiwanese swear by. And if they move overseas... this is what they will bring.

Taiwan Da Tong Fan guo, a set on Flickr.
Huh? why is this doing on SWBS blog? Well, this is a story about home and love. Kim reads alot, especially chinese magazines on life and culture. She related to me about this article on a rice cooker... "wah.. how interesting I thought..." She went on telling me that Da Tong Fan Guo is as Taiwan as Nasi lemak is to Singapore. When Taiwanese moved overseas for studies, work or for good. This rice cooker will be standard operation equipment. They swear by it... with my conversation with the local Taixi uncles and aunties.. They give it a high regards for durability, versatility(can do steamboat, cook porridge, steam bread etc)
We had a hard time finding the rice cooker... until a lady at the shopping centre selling Zourishi Japan rice cooker...looked around and asked us to come closer. She whispered... it is good stuff.. we don't sell but here is the address... I also use this at home. Very good!
What made my heart melt was when Kim told me.. when children goes to studies overseas... mummy will buy Da Tong Fan Guo and Magic Spoon for their children. Asians in general are not particularly open on their emotions and this practical gesture is a mummy's love for their child.
Cycling has enabled me to reach out to more friends and have so much fun. And the more I think about it ... the more I feel that it is all about relationships that makes things so much more meaningful.
This is why I like to share the Da Tong Fan guo story with you. A taste of home cooked rice will definitely warm the hearts.
PS... what is magic spoon?... hahah google and u will know

And more on Da Tong Fan Guo by my friend Hung Hsiang.簡單減肥食譜/電鍋食譜-happy-50th-anniversary-大同電鍋『50週年』tatung-cuisine-簡單電鍋de茄.html

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Taiwan cycling 2012 Frog Cafe

Speaking to Frogman.  We talked about bicycles, life and changing attitudes to life

art interpretation of Taiwan island

This have to be one of the highlights for the Taiwan cycling trip. Visiting Frog Cafe, soak in the mood and meeting Frogman himself.
Well, what so special about this cafe or guy? It all happen 2+ years ago when I just started cycling and doing the Lovecyclingsg thing. We went to Taipei and was hanging out at Eslite Book shop. My wife's favorite place in Taipei. The books are all in Chinese!!!! but as fate would have it.. I spotted Frogman photobook account of his cycling ride with his buddies around Taiwan. No able to read 100% chinese, I scanned the photos and words... It was readed in quite simple phases... one being day 3.. my ass is painful.. haha.. I can relate to that!
Yes, I bought that book home and read more. It was cycling and viewing things slowing... More importantly also about friendship with buddies. My kind of thing.
2 years passed and we went to Taiwan again... This time, I really wanted to visit the Cafe and meet him. Kim helped to email and up... but no real reply.... But we went anyway. Located in a small side alley, you will definitely miss it if not looking closely. We sat down and had coffee..momo running around making her presence felt. This is a place where ideas and dreams are shared. And then.. Frogman appeared and we chatted about the cycling scene in Singapore. Specifcally LCSG... He was quite surprised and happy to hear that. I can tell our frequency was the same. Later on, he invited us to visit his basement where he was tinkering with stuff. A laser marking printer that was making wooden plague with inspiring messages. One message was " life is like cycling up the mountain... after one.. there is another. And there will always be someone who irritates the hell out of u and say it is not possible"... This is translated literally, chinese version is more elegantly written.
Why this is biggie for me...
Frogman is one of my cycling inspiration as he was the first to share his cycling story. Not the hardest core kind but sharing his country stories, culture using Cycling. He is also one of the pivotal character who helped to shape the Taiwanese cycling movement. Just like what we are helping to shape Singapore with Lovecyclingsg.
Of course, I extended my invitation to him to ride in Singapore. To show him our homeground that is more than Orchard road or Marina bay sands.. He said... someday someday... :)