Alvin Teo talks to the owners of UNSPRUNG about how and why they went from riding mountain bikes to opening a shop of their own.
How did UNSPRUNG start for the two of you?
Unsprung started with me and my mum. I was underaged then so legally, I couldn’t start a company. Therefore technically, it was started by my mum.
This was before the dot com boom, e-commerce and social media. Mountain biking was going through a transformation where there was downhill, cross country and this whole bunch of us who were riding dirt jumps and street. There were very few proper frames back then that could take the abuse of downhill, dirt jumps and street riding. Most people were just modifying cross country bikes but they kept breaking.
So, at that point in time, Unsprung was kinda started because a-lot of the components bike shops were bringing into Singapore, were very orientated to cross country and nothing we really wanted. Therefore, we started Unsprung purely to bring in products that we and our friends wanted to use.
We started off with the brand BlkMkt, their frames and DJ components and then we got into Deity. The name Unsprung, being a suspension term, we always knew we wanted to go down the suspension route, ie full suspension racing, which is what we do as well today.
I met Ian from working at the bike store. Back then I wasn’t into mountain biking, so when I first started, I was looking for parts to upgrade my bike and that’s when he (Ian) brought me to his place and showed me all the Deity stuff. That was when I started getting interested in all things retail and I think one step let to the other and here we are today with our own store.
How did you guys come about this location?
Before we even moved here, we already knew about this place and a mutual friend of ours introduced us to Reza . One day after a ride, we were just hanging out here and casually the conversation came up: “Hei, why don’t you collaborate with this guy who’s already here distributing Yeti, Chromag, Ion etc?”.
At that time, we didn’t take it very seriously. I took it as a passing comment just because in the past, many people have said to us that Unsprung should have a store. We also really wanted to be sure that if we have a physical store, it must make sense for us, we must be able to cover the overheads.
So the thought lingered for about 6 months. During that time we hung out more here, spent more time with Reza and we had BBQ’s. Getting to know each other really helped us materialise the idea of coming together under one roof and starting this new company together.
What was the process like getting it ready?
We had a very clear idea of how we wanted the store to look and feel. So it wasn’t too difficult in the designing stages, it was just executing what we wanted without blowing the budget. We wanted to make it an expansion of what it always has been; having the rider in-front and keeping them entertained and happy. The full renovation was about a month.
Cleaning was about another 2 to 3 weeks before we started moving our items in.
Has it always been an aim of yours to move Unsprung out of your house and set up this place?
The store is part of the journey of things. The idea was always to get people to come down and hang out, whether it be at my home, at the store or at the trails. So the store made it more conducive for people to come and hang out basically.
What are your future goals for this place?
I think as long as we keep the core goal; which is welcoming people and having people come in and enjoy just hanging out, getting their bikes serviced, riding their bikes and having fun while doing all that, then the sky will be the limits. If we open more stores and people stop having fun, then there’s no point.
Sylvia, for the new customers out there, what can they expect to find at Unsprung?
When they come to us they can be really assured that the products we sell are actually things that we really want to run ourselves.
The number 1 policy for us when we stock items or determine what to order; we always ask ourselves if it’s something that we want to ride with and is it something that we want to represent? So if we really love the product and we love the people behind the company, then yeah we’ll definitely stock this product.
When people come to us, we want them to feel like they can trust us with the brands that we carry or the products that we’re trying to introduce to them.
It’s more of having that understanding that we’re riders ourselves and these are the products that we really love and we want to share it with the community.
More info about UNSPRUNG at https://www.unsprung.com.sg/
Full feature on Alvin’s website at https://www.lostphotographer.com/unsprung-stories