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Topic: "Singapore Bicycle Heroes" Series - Mr. K S Tan

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"Singapore Bicycle Heroes" Series - Mr. K S Tan

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An interview with Mr. Tan covered in Hokkien:

Q: How long have you been in this business? When did you first started?

A: My brother and I have been helping out our father's bicycle shop in Orchard Road since 1960s. After our father's passing in 1970s, we siblings managed his shop till the 1980s was when we started our own Bicycle shops. My brother setup his business at Clementi while I started mine at Owen road when i was 28 years old. Since then, I have been operating there for almost 32 years till this present day. Many of my patrons remembered that my shop as "Fu May Sin Cycles" till the late 90s. Eventually in year 2000, I changed the name of my shop to "Tan Bike Shop" after the government decided to revamp the row of shophouses along Owen road. 

Q: What kind of bicycles do you carry? Which were the more popular bicycle brands in the 80s? And cost?

A: My business involves mainly selling and servicing of road bicycles and BMX. During the 80s, road frames were retailed between SGD$400 to SGD$1,500. With high end components, each bicycle could cost up to SGD$3,500 back then. I carried mostly Italian bicycles namely, Legnano, Viner, Daccordi, Colnago, Fiorelli, Coppi, Guerciotti, Alan, Gios Torino, Masi and etc. There were some other prominent brands such as the French-made Vitus, the English-made Raleigh and the Japanese-made Bridgestone. All of them are steel road bicycles.

Q: Who bought these bicycles from you in the 80s?

A: Students and young adults made up the majority of my clients. Back in old days, there were no computer games nor many recreation activities. And so cycling was their main outdoor sport. Almost half of my bicycle sales were mainly from the working class. This group of people were into good quality bicycles.

Q: Mr. Ernesto Colnago visited your shop in the 80s. How did that happen?

A: Colnago was one of the most popular bicycles during at that time.
When Mr. Colnago came to Singapore in 1984, he immediately saw the potential of cycling market here in Singapore. Indeed, Singapore was one of the major bicycle consumer market in South East Asia. I was very delighted that Mr Colnago and the local Colnago distributor visited my retail shop as I was one of the prominent Colnago retailers in Singapore during that decade.

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Q: Any difference in today's bicycle scene as compared to the 80s and 90s?

A: Currently, I only provides servicing and maintenance of vintage and classic bicycles which I understood them really well. The current trends are leaning towards carbon bicycles and space-age technologies. People who engages my services are mostly mature crowd and vintage classic bicycle enthusiasts or collectors now.

Q: What do you wish to see in cycling scene in the future?

A: I feel that all competitive cyclist will always look for the lightest and the fastest machines. But as a hobbyist, classic and vintage steel bicycles remain at my top of the list mainly because the design is so evergreen, its restorable and mostly importantly steel is long lasting.

Mr. Tan will be retiring soon as he wishes to enjoy his life to the fullest and be "Happy! Happy!" with his grand children. Classic Vintage Cycles wish him all the best and hopefully we can catch up with him again as he still has many more stories to share.

 



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