SINGAPORE – More people have been picking up cycling as a way to keep fit during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially earlier during the year when gyms were ordered to close. Cycling in open areas minimises the chances of people congregating together for an extended time, which in turn ensures social distancing and is believed to decrease the likelihood of COVID-19 spreading.
Sales of personal bicycles had gone up during the pandemic, and bike-sharing companies such as Anywheel saw an increase in users in their ridership. Yahoo Lifestyle SEA speaks to some avid cyclists, as well as Azhar Abdullah of Treknology3 Group on their increased sales, tips for first-time cyclists, and changes in the group’s business model in the pandemic.
“We have seen a 15-20% growth for bicycle sales and repairs through the pandemic.”
In the market for more than 30 years, Treknology3 Group shares that they had seen a significant increase in personal bicycle sales during the pandemic. With the heightened risk from gathering in crowded places, cycling is now seen not just as a means of exercise but also a way of doing something enjoyable away from the crowd.
Exploring our island
For Ms Atikah Syarah Binte Ismail however, cycling is a hobby that she took up to spend more time with her family. “My parents have been cyclists for more than a decade, and I took it up only five years ago to spend more time with them. During the pandemic, our family made sure to spend our Sunday mornings cycling just for fresh air and to stay active since we’re home most of the time.”
Atikah’s family sees cycling, especially during these trying times, a way to keep their body and mind refreshed. “This pandemic affects us all mentally,” she shared, “and to destress and relax, we get out of the house and cycle. We’re always so happy to cycle long distances around the island.”
Many European governments had used the increased interest in cycling to encourage it as an alternative to public transport, hoping it would clear up their car-clogged roads for good. In Singapore, however, it has become a great way for friends to spend time together and explore different parts of the island.
Mr Jovis Ang echoes the thought: “I like cycling because it encourages you to explore our island and perhaps, discover some unknown paths. Of course, you can also walk, but cycling is faster and allows you to accomplish more within a shorter amount of time.”
Avid cyclist Nadiah Hakim feels that cycling is an activity that kills two birds with one stone. “I enjoy cycling as it is a form of activity which keeps me going and improves my overall fitness. During the pandemic, I can cycle to explore new places too.”
As a business, when the government imposed limits on the number of people allowed in physical stores, Treknology3 Group made changes to their business model to serve their customers better.
The pandemic kickstarted the group’s launch into e-commerce, setting up an online store to facilitate sales. “It has helped us to continue to generate revenue and fulfil customer needs without them being physically present at the store. This has helped us in a big way, and we will continue with the online store even after Phase 2,” Abdullah shared.
The demand for personal bicycles also saw the group having difficulties in keeping their racks stocked. Ramping up on their customer service efforts, the group made sure customers get updates on when their preferred bicycles will restock.
Popular bike models
Treknology3 Group observed that hybrid and city bikes are becoming increasingly popular, with the brand selling out all of their hybrid bicycles during the pandemic. From the various models the group carries, they shared that their best selling models are the Trek FX Hybrid Series, with new stocks coming in first quarter of 2021, and the Trek Marlin Mountain Bikes.
“Priced competitively with various models below $1,200, they suit riders using park connectors and shared paths,” Abdullah let on. “The bikes come in a variety of durable components in attractive frame colours and have a good ride feel that it is a high priority feature for new riders into the sport.”
We also checked with Abdullah on some of the tips he could give new cyclists who want to own their first bicycle.
“Get a bicycle that suits your needs as it will affect the cycling experience,” he shared. “Before even coming into the store, have an idea about where you would ride, how often you’ll be riding weekly, and what you would like to achieve from the bicycle purchase.”
Other than the price of a personal bicycle, Abdullah also reminded that additional funds need to be set aside for purchase of cycling essentials such as helmet, lights, and appropriate cycling apparel. Indeed, it is easy to forget that a sturdy bike helmet and a full set of cycling apparel can cost upwards of $300 and that bells, locks, and lights can easily chalk up a small sum.
Opening at the right time with the increased spotlight on cycling was also the 3.5km cycling and jogging path, which starts near the National Service Resort & Country Club and ends just outside of Changi Airport’s Terminal 2.
Available the Hub & Spoke pit stop on the path are various cycling-related services such as bicycle rental, DIY bicycle repair station and washing bay, bicycle parking and lockers. Part of the path is called the Jurassic Mile, which features “life-sized” displays of a myriad dinosaur species, making it a photo spot for many cyclists.
For those who want a longer route, the 15km Coastal Park Connector starts from Changi Beach Park, running along Aviation Park Road and Tanah Merah Coast Road, before ending at East Coast Park. You can access the 3.5km Changi Airport Connector from one end of the 15km cycling route.
Balancing the New Normal: