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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Two-wheel affair

It was delivering goods on a bicycle that sparked Adrian Ng's love of bikes
The Straits Times - December 24, 2011
By: Nicholas Yong
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Two-wheel affair Mr Adrian Ng and his collection of 26 bicycles. -- ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM

Given the recent woes of Singapore's transport system, a few commuters have wondered aloud, half-jokingly, if they should switch to bicycles.

If that day ever comes, Mr Adrian Ng, 37, will have a leg up on them. The father of three has 26 vintage and modern bicycles, collected over 13 years.

Made in England, Taiwan, Japan, China and the United States, they include tricycles, mountain bikes, hybrid bikes, a tandem bike and a low-glide roadster, handmade by a friend for $1,000.

Bought from bicycle, pawn and other shops here and in Malaysia, the hybrid bikes include brands such as Raleigh Sports, S-Works and Klein.

The older ones, dating from the 1950s to the 1970s, have number plates on the back, are made of steel and weigh about 15kg. Modern bikes are typically made of materials such as titanium and fibrecarbon, and weigh about 9kg.

'The British vintage bikes were like the Rolls-Royces of their time. They were built to last if you knew how to take care of them. I admire their beauty and elegance,' says Mr Ng, who cycles at least twice a week on a road bike.

'They also have built-in brakes instead of the caliper brakes that you find on modern bikes.'

His love of the two-wheelers started as a child. His family owns a 46-year- old haberdashery business in North Bridge Road, of which Mr Ng is the director. In the 1960s and 1970s, his dad used two made-in-China bikes with racks on the back to deliver fabric to customers.

Mr Ng recalls: 'He and his workers used to cycle to tailors to deliver fabric. These bikes could carry 40 to 50kg of goods, so people also used them to ferry sacks of rice. I started helping him when I was 14 or 15, and would cycle on the bikes too.'

One bicycle was stolen but the remaining one is still used to transport goods. Mr Ng notes: 'It is hard to find parking in town so we use it for daily transport.'

About a decade ago, he came across a shop selling old stuff and a rusty bicycle almost identical to the one his dad had.

He says: 'The condition was very bad as the paint was peeling and there were rust marks all over the frame, but it had a stainless-steel rim. I spent two to three hours scraping the grease off.'

After paying $200 for the bike, he sourced for parts from bicycle shops and eBay and repainted the frame. The restoration process took 11/2 years.

From then on, his collection 'ballooned', says Mr Ng, after friends started telling him about other bikes on the market. He estimates that he has spent about $60,000 buying, restoring and maintaining his bikes.

The collection is stored in his semi- detached house along Mountbatten Road as well as the family's warehouse.

He even bought and refurbished a vintage bike for his wife Joyce, 37, a piano teacher, for her birthday in May. He says wryly: 'She is supportive but I think I am testing her patience. She says if I want to buy a new bike, I have to sell one.'

He also gave his two daughters, aged eight and seven, a pair of restored vintage bikes made in Japan which cost $400 each. They are at least 40 years old. 'I want them to learn a bit of history about their grandfather and how I was brought up. You can't teach history, you have to get them to experience it,' says Mr Ng, who also has a 71/2-month-old son.

As for his favourite bicycle in his collection, he says: 'The first bicycle I bought reminds me of olden times. It is just like a newborn: You will always have special feelings for a firstborn.'

 

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