Seatless In Singapore

Why would anyone buy a bicycle without seats?

Seats are too mainstream. Cool kids don’t need seats. Did you need a serious answer?

Semi serious works.

Haha. On a more serious note, if you want to know why trial bikes don’t have seats then you need to know what Bike Trials is about – getting over obstacles. Nobody uses the seat and it gets in the way, adds to the weight etc.

The first generation of trial bikes did have seats because competition rules required a seat. In response, trial bike manufacturers were making the seats tiny and riders started cutting the seat into a stump just to get by with the rules.

Eventually, the rules evolved and the seats went away altogether.

Marcus Wan looks on as team mate Lyonel Quek works his way off a boulder at Little Guilin, Singapore, December 18th, 2016
Interesting how form evolves with function.

Yeah, trials is not as old compared to the other BMX disciplines. This generation of trial riders have seen evolution of bike design, competition rules, style of riding and new skills.

What was it that drew you to the sport in the first place?

The first time I saw Trial Riding was at a demo by a visiting world champion. I was blown away by the amount of control over mind and body. Now it is my style of cycling and every time I hop on a bike I do “trialsy” things. Its hard to imagine myself doing anything else on a bike.

Give us an idea of what “Trialsy” things are. What is the objective in Trials?

The main goal of Trials is to get from point A to Point B without putting your foot on the ground. Without any bodily contact with the ground for that matter. What makes it difficult are the obstacles between the two points like rocks, tables, railings. Anything you can imagine really.

So you just jump across them?

There are two mindsets to get from A to B. There is the Street Trials style where you add things like bar spins and tail whips. Then there is the Competition style, where you minimize the number of moves and focus on efficiency.

Low Yang Ming in action at the rock garden at Little Guilin, Singapore, December 18th, 2016
How big is the scene here then?

We are old. The Trials community is an aging one! I started in 1998 and I was probably 2nd or 3rd generation? There are about 1-2 generations that came after me but that’s it. I could be wrong. Maybe, there are riders who don’t come for meet-ups.

Extreme sports is getting old. Haha. Is it a more Street trials or Competition style group here then?

Look at Danny Macaskill and Tony Hawk though! Old is gold!

Our kids won’t know these guys.

The community I know, grew up at a time where there were almost four competitions a year so I would say its more competition style riders.

Environment shaping the community then! Are the big brands supportive of the Trials community in Singapore?

In terms of community, Street Trials and Competition Trial riders see riding spots differently so we don’t mix as much as we should. We used to come together at OUB for FNR (Friday Night Rides). Back then, it was the place to be, but when it’s competition season, we go elsewhere to train.

In terms of brand support, there is Rockman Bikes, a Singapore based Trial Bikes brand and Attitude Bikes, a shop that used to run the National Trials Competition. Of course, there’s the Seatless Demo Team that does demos and organizes local rides. I should mention Jef Ng, who has a passion for growing the local cycling community. It’s hard work organizing the trial competitions so he definitely deserves  a mention.

The godfather of Singapore Trials though, is Ram. He started Attitude Bikes and got the Bike Trials International Union license to run official competitions in Singapore, bringing world class riders to our small country.

Does riding attract a lot of attention?

Well, as much as Singaporeans can give. We are a passive bunch. In the old days it was negative attention. People didn’t understand it and of course, the police would stop us, ask for I.D. and give us a lecture. I even remember being chased away with a broom. These days, it’s more positive, though. People stop to watch and applaud. Alot of them are curious about bikes with no seats. We still get stopped by the police but we know the drill and they are appreciative of that.

What’s the cost of a decent set up?

You can probably get a decent 2nd hand bike at about $500 and then go up to $4000 for the top of the line stuff. You don’t need a trial bike to get a feel for the sport though. Get any bike and try a trackstand (balancing on the spot)! It’s the first hurdle to overcome and it’s painfully annoying to learn despite how easy it looks. Once you get it, though, it feels good.

Where can we follow your adventures?

Look up the Seatless Demo Team. Facebook.com/Seatlessdemoteam

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