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Old 7th October 2011, 10:30 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Belt-driven bicycles lands in Singapore

Belt-driven bicycles lands in Singapore



Such bikes are quieter and easier to maintain, making them a draw in an urban environment.

Victor Katheyas
Fri, Oct 07, 2011
The Business Times


BELT-DRIVEN bicycles may not be familiar to many, but The Urban Bike hopes to change that. The new company, which was registered just months ago, hopes to encourage more Singaporeans to opt for two wheels instead of four.

Indeed, that's precisely what founder and director Lem Cheng Hai did. Mr Lem, who used to (and still continues to) work as a freelance photographer, realised that his lifestyle was more sedentary than he would have liked it to be. "I needed to get some exercise," he said. "So I decided to buy a bike."

He began by cycling to his studio on weekends. After some time, cycling became much more than purely functional to him - he was starting to enjoy the activity for its own sake. Not only did he cycle more frequently, he also sourced more material on the activity from the Internet. Mr Lem learnt online about belt-driven bicycles, and was eager to try them out for himself.

The pluses

Belt-driven bicycles channel energy from the pedals to the wheels using a belt instead of a chain. This makes them attractive to cyclists who wish to commute in an urban environment. This is because they are easier to maintain, last longer and are generally quieter.

However, Mr Lem could not find a shop in Singapore that sold such belt-driven bicycles. So he decided to do what most people would not have even considered doing - make a belt-driven bicycle himself. Together with his then-photography apprentice Tiffany Koh (who is now a business partner in the company), he sourced the necessary components from both the United States and Singapore and built the bike from scratch. It was, to say the least, "an enjoyable experience", said Mr Lem.

Both Mr Lem and Ms Koh, who had previously worked in marketing, were confident that there would be a market for belt-driven bicycles in Singapore. However, they wanted somebody with considerable business expertise on board before they formed a company. Therefore, they approached Ng Eng Chuan, who had just retired as director of regional retail planning at an American MNC.

Mr Ng, who was also a photography enthusiast, knew both Mr Lem and Ms Koh as he had occasionally used their studio for photo shoots. He was already comfortable with them, "and more than comfortable with the business plan". He thought about it for a brief period and subsequently became a business partner.

Latent market

Immediately, the company forged partnerships with foreign manufacturers. First, it inked a distributorship agreement with Schindelhauer Bikes, a German company specialising in handmade belt-driven bicycles.

"Negotiations with Schindelhauer had been in the works even before we incorporated the company," said Ms Koh. Just a month later, it was approached by Australian label Base Urban to distribute its bikes in Singapore.

Ms Koh is not surprised that foreign companies courted the new company within such a short period of time. If anything, she explained, it showed that these companies recognised that there was a latent market for belt-driven bicycles in Singapore that was previously untapped.

The company did not want to limit itself to distributing other companies' bikes though. Instead, it decided to offer its own "house brand" as well. This involved partnering a factory in China to manufacture extremely light belt-driven bicycles made of titanium. "We brand these, aptly enough, as 'Urban Bikes'," said Ms Koh.

These bikes are definitely not cheap. Schindelhauers, for example, cost at least S$2,668. Therefore, "consumer acceptance is a significant challenge the company has to deal with", acknowledged Mr Ng. The solution lay in informing cyclists about the value proposition of a belt-driven bicycle, and this would take time. However, the company is confident that it has the right people, contacts and products to thrive in the future. And, even if it turns out to be an uphill climb, all three are confident that they have the right pair of wheels for the journey.

Source: http://motoring.asiaone.com/Motoring...05-303342.html

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Old 7th October 2011, 10:58 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Belt-driven bicycles lands in Singapore

normal cycling can but not mountain bike!~

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Old 19th January 2012, 12:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Belt-driven bicycles lands in Singapore

Hi... The information provided about Belt-driven bicycles are very useful. For so many days I am searching for this type of bikes can please any one can suggest where we can get the best Belt-driven bicycles in online ?

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Old 19th January 2012, 01:28 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Belt-driven bicycles lands in Singapore

wow so much for a bicycle. give me a normal mountain bike can already.

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Old 17th February 2012, 10:34 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Belt-driven bicycles lands in Singapore

$2.7k?! not feasible here, especially since bikes get stolen so easily here. so what if it's long lasting? my bike has been serving me for the past ten years already.

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