English or Italian Threaded? Crack the Code: Identify Your Bike's Bottom Bracket with Confidence

Bike bottom brackets are a crucial component that connects the crankset to the frame of the bike. There are MANY different types of bottom brackets, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. In Singapore, the most common type of bottom bracket you'll find is the threaded bottom bracket.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at the four most common types of bike bottom brackets: Threaded, Octalink, Hollowtech II, and T47. We'll also explore how to identify the threading of your square taper bottom bracket, so you'll know what tools you'll need and exactly what you're dealing with.

1. Square Taper

Image credit: Bike Radar

The threaded square taper bottom bracket is the most traditional type of bottom bracket, and has been tried and tested for many years. It typically consists of a square spindle that fits into a square hole in the bike frame, and the cranks attach to the spindle via a taper, hence the name. Each side of the bottom bracket has shells that are threaded into the frame.

Square taper bottom brackets are known for their simplicity and reliability, and are commonly found on older bikes and entry-level models as they are cheap and easy to replace. They are also relatively easy to maintain compared to the other standards in this list, as the bearings can be easily replaced.

Here's where this style of bottom bracket can become a little confusing: they come in two different threading standards: English and Italian. The threading determines the direction in which the bottom bracket cup is threaded into the frame.

To identify the threading of your square taper bottom bracket, you'll need to remove the cranks and take a look at the threads on the bottom bracket cup. If the threads are right-handed (turn clockwise to tighten), it's an English thread. If the threads are left-handed (turn counterclockwise to tighten), it's an Italian thread. It's that simple! Our Frigate belt-driven bicycle uses an English threaded bottom bracket for its simplicity and reliability.

2. Octalink Bottom Bracket (Threaded)

Image Credit: Custom Junkies

The Octalink bottom bracket is a newer type of BB that uses a splined interface to connect the spindle to the cranks. Octalink bottom brackets are known for their stiffness and durability, and are commonly used on mountain bikes. Their hardiness and stiffness are great for transfering power from your legs down your drivetrain.

The key benefits of Octalink bottom brackets is that they are less likely to suffer from creaking or other noises than square taper bottom brackets. This is especially important if you're making big jumps and drops such as when you're out on the trails. They are also easier to install and remove, as the splined interface provides a more secure connection.

These bottom brackets also come in English or Italian threaded versions.

3. Hollowtech II Bottom Bracket (AKA Press Fit)

Image credit: Ebay

The Hollowtech II bottom bracket is a type of BB that uses a press-fit system to connect the spindle to the bike frame. The spindle and bearings are encased inside the bottom bracket shell.

Press fit bottom brackets are lightweight and offer improved stiffness compared to other types of bottom brackets. Like the Octalink, they are also less prone to creaking and other noises, and are generally easier to install and remove than square taper or Octalink bottom brackets.

However, Hollowtech II bottom brackets can be more difficult to service, making them a home mechanic's nightmare. This is because the press-fit design makes it more challenging to access the bearings, making them harder to service. They are also more expensive than other types of bottom brackets, and they are only compatible with specific frame designs and materials. So good luck finding a replacement unit that fits your frame exactly!

There is no thread for press-fit bottom brackets

4. T47 Bottom Bracket

Image credit: Wheels MFG

The T47 bottom bracket is a new type of bottom bracket that uses a larger diameter (47mm), hence the name, spindle and a threaded interface to connect the spindle to the frame. T47 bottom brackets are designed to be more compatible with a wider range of frame materials and designs. T47 bottom brackets are great for easier maintenance and replacement of the bearings, as the threaded interface (like the square taper) makes it easier to access the spindle. However, T47 bottom brackets are relatively new and are more expensive compared to other types of bottom brackets.

As with the square taper, this is also is threaded and have English and Italian threaded versions.

Conclusion

It's not difficult to identify the type of bottom bracket you have with a little research and careful observation of your bicycle. The easiest way would be to compare the photos on this page to those on your bike. As always, if you need help identifying your bottom bracket standard, feel free to contact us. Happy riding!

January 30, 2023

Riding in Style: The Best Bicycles for Urban Commuting in Singapore

When it comes to commuting in Singapore, biking is arguably the best option. It is it a sustainable way to get around and it's also a great way to stay active and beat (or join in with) the heat. But with so many different types of bikes on the market, It can be a little bit confusing at times. Should I get a gravel bike? Or perhaps a road bike. What about a dutch styled bike or a mountain bike? Maybe a folding bike?? In this article, we'll take a look at the top qualities to look out for when shopping for a bike that's perfect for your urban commuting Journey.

(Image credit: Smart Local)

Comfort

One of the most important things to consider when shopping for a bike, especially when you'll be using it for your daily commute, is comfort. You'll be spending a lot of time in the saddle, and you dont want your bum to hurt. So it's important to find a bike that's comfortable to ride. This goes beyond just the saddle, but also the riding position and all your points of contact. Look for a bike with a comfortable seat and handlebars that are easy to grip, a riding position that you feel comfortable in, and pedals that suit your riding style.

Additionally, if you are looking for a bike that is easy to ride, then you should consider a hybrid bike such as the Unspokin Frigate Belt Drive Bicycle. Hybrid bikes are a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike, which makes them perfect for urban commuting. They have a comfortable riding position which is relatively upright and are easy to handle.

(Image credit: Bike Exchange)

Durability

Another important consideration when shopping for a bike is durability. You'll be using your bike on a daily basis, so it's important to find a bike that can withstand the wear and tear of daily use. Look for a bike that's made from high-quality materials, such as aluminum or steel, and that has sturdy components such as good-quality wheels and tires. To learn more about whether a steel or aluminium frame is best for you, check out our article Aluminum vs Steel: The Great Bike Frame Debate.

Lockability

(Image credit: Sports in Cycling)

In Singapore, low crime does not mean no crime. Bike theft is a common problem contrary to popular belief, so it's important to find a bike that can be locked up securely. Consider purchasing a bike that looks unique or isn't too expensive. Generally speaking, the longer you leave your bike locked outside, the more susceptible it is to bike theft. A high-quality U-lock or chain lock also definitely helps a lot. Accordingly it's also a good idea to invest in a good quality lock and to always lock your bike in a well-lit and busy area.

Safety

Safety is crucial when commuting in Singapore, so it's important to find a bike that's equipped with the right safety features. Look for a bike that has good quality brakes, both front and rear. This doesn't always mean going for disc brakes over rim brakes. While it is true that disc brakes generally have greater stopping power, a high-quality rim brake that is well-tuned and maintained will likely be more effective than a hydraulic disc brake that isn't working properly. All of our bikes at unspokin are individually assessed and checked for safety before they are made available for sale. This is regardless of whether they are new bicycles or upcycled bicycles.

Furthermore, all of our bikes can be equipped with battery-free lights by reelight that are powered by the energy in your feet. This helps keep safety as you'll never forget to turn them on or not to charge them!

Maintenance

Belt-drive bike

Finally, consider the maintenance requirements of the bike you are looking to buy. Some bikes require more maintenance than others, so it's important to find a bike that's easy to take care of. Look for a bike that has easy-to-use gears and that doesn't require too much cleaning and lubrication. For example, an internal gear hub driven bike would require way less maintenance than a deraileur system for a gear. Check out our article on internal hubs vs deraileurs if you would like to learn more. Also a belt-driven bike is generally lower maintanence as you do not need to wash and lube it after every use.

That said, if you would require any assistance with maintenance, do check out our relatively affordable bicycle maintenance services.

Conclusion

When looking for the perfect bike for urban commuting in Singapore, please consider the above factors. Keep in mind that Singapore is also generally flat. You may need more gears if you are in a particularly hilly area of Singapore, Otherwise, A good quality bike that is comfortable, easy to handle, durable, secure and low maintenance will make your daily commute much more enjoyable! Remember to also wear a helmet and follow the traffic laws for a safe and smooth ride (check out our article on lights required for bicycles under Singapore law if you want to be safe). As always, happy cycling!

January 26, 2023

Aluminum vs Steel: The Great Bike Frame Debate

Introduction: The Battle of the Bike Materials

When it comes to choosing a bike, one of the most important decisions you'll make is selecting the right frame material. And, in 2023, if we set aside carbon which is mainly for athletes who are competitive, the two front-runners in the race are aluminium and steel. But, which one is the right choice for you? Let's dive in and compare the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision to end up with that perfect bike.

Aluminium: The Lightweight Contender

Aluminium Frame Bike. Image Credit: Road CC

Aluminum is a popular choice for bike frames because it's super lightweight and strong. It's also resistant to corrosion, which is a big plus for those who live in Singapore which is both coastal and humid. Another big plus, is that aluminium is easy to work with. This means that manufacturers can create a wide variety of frame designs in different shapes. On the downside, aluminum frames can be a stiffer. This is both a benefit and a drawback of aluminium. The stiffness of an aluminium frame can lead to a harsh ride and don't absorb road vibrations as well as steel frames. That said, this rigidity also translates to better transfer of power with each pedal stroke, making the bike "more effecient". If you're looking for a bike that's easy to maneuver and won't weigh you down, aluminum might be the way to go.

A good example of a versitile aluminium bike that is a workhouse for commuting would be our very own Unspokin Belt-Driven Frigate.

Steel: The Classic Heavyweight

Classic Steel Frame Fuji Bike: Image Credit Airows

Steel has been used for bike frames for decades and for good reason. It's durable, long-lasting, and has a great ride quality known for it's "vibrancy" and "Springiness". This makes it the material of choice for quality frames such as the Atala Luna and the Tokyo Bike Classic Sport. Steel frames also have a bit of "give," this will help absorb road vibrations and make for a more comfortable ride. So what is the downside? Steel is typically heavier than aluminum, which can make it a bit harder to handle. It's also more prone to rust, so if you're using these bikes as a commuter machine, you'll need to be extra careful in Singapore and keep them dry as much as possible.

Different Shapes and Stylistic Elements

Steel vs Aluminium Frame Shape: Image Credit Mission Bicycles

 

If Aesthetics are important to you, here's where you need to pay attention. Both aluminum and steel frames come in a variety of different shapes and styles but generally they adhere to these characteristics. Aluminum frames typically have a more aerodynamic design, which can be great for road cycling or racing or if you would like to save effort while commuting (if you would like more tips on commuting by bicycle, be sure to check out our article on 9 Top Tips for Beginner Cyclists in 2023). Steel frames, on the other hand, often have a more classic and vintage look, which can be great if that's what you're after. That said, steel can also be shaped to look modern while retaining a classic charm, such as in this Marin Nicasio Gravel Bike. This is because both Aluminium and Steel materials can be shaped and manipulated in different ways to achieve a specific aesthetic.

That said, Aluminum frames are more easily shaped into sleek and modern designs, while steel frames can be shaped into more traditional and classic designs.

While aesthetics are important, frame shapes and materials also impact performance. So take into account the type of riding you'll be doing (be it off-road, on road or pavements or a mixed bag) and the look you want to achieve. Which one is the Winner?

Conclusion on whether Steel or Aluminium is right for you

In the end, the debate of aluminum vs steel bike frames is like trying to compare apples to oranges. I like eating them both, and I suspect you like them both too. Both have their own unique characteristics and it's up to you to decide which one fits your needs better. If you were to ask me the question, I would like a steel bike and an aluminum bike but I understand that not everyone has the luxury of having both. So, whether you're an aluminum enthusiast or a steel loyalist, just remember to have fun and enjoy the ride!

Don't forget to reach out to us by whatsapp or at our contact page if you would like more advise, we are always happy to help!

January 15, 2023

The Best Bike Brands in Singapore: A Guide for Cyclist Wannabes!

Living in this modern day and age, you're probably always on the lookout for the best gear . And when it comes to choosing a bicycle, it's no different. You want a reliable, high-quality ride that will take you wherever you need to go and look good while doing it. Style points are always a plus!

But with so many different brands and models to choose from, it can be tough to figure out which bike brand suits your personality, philosophies and lifestyle. That's why we've put together this guide to the most popular bicycle in Singapore so you can cut through the clutter. Whether you're a casual rider or a hardcore cyclist, or just looking to get into the scene, this article will help you find the perfect bike to meet your needs.

The Top 3 Most Popular Bicycle Brands in Singapore

  1. Giant

Giant is a well-known and trusted brand in the cycling world, and for good reason. They have been around for decades and they offer quality for a decent price. Their bikes are known for their high-quality materials, innovative designs, and reliable performance. It's hard to beat Giant at any price point of their products. Whether you're looking for a mountain bike to tackle off-road trails or a road bike for a quick commute, Giant has a model that will suit your needs. The main drawback would be that if you are looking for something that's a little more unique, to showcase your character, you may get lost in the sea of giants. That said, you can't ever go wrong with a Giant bike.

  1. Merida

Merida is another top choice for cyclists in Singapore and around the world. They are well renowned for their wide range of high-quality bikes at budget prices. From mountain bikes to road bikes to city bikes, Merida has something for every type of rider. This brand truly offers a bang for buck.

  1. Unspokin Bikes

Although we are relatively new to the market, we like to believe that we are a beloved brand among our customers who are loyally supporting us. Known for their durable, low-maintenance and reliable bikes such as the Frigate (the most affordable belt-drive bike in Singapore) that can handle even the toughest terrain. We also do up-cycled bikes that range from mountain bikes to road bikes to hybrids, providing a wide range of options to chose from.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Bicycle

Now that you know all about some of the most popular bicycles in Singapore, you probably are wondering how to choose the perfect one. Here are some questions that can help you refine your selection process:

  • Purpose: What do you plan on using your bike for? If you are mostly going to be commuting to work or running errands around town, you might want to consider a city bike or hybrid. This would offer a way more comfortable ride. However, If you're more interested in off-road adventures, a mountain bike or a gravel bike will be more suitable. And if you're looking to go fast on the road, a road bike would be your best bet.

  • Budget: How much are you willing to spend on a new bike? Keep in mind that while you can find some great deals on cheaper bikes, you get what you pay for. Investing in a higher-quality bike from a trusted brand will likely pay off in the long run, as it will be more durable and require less maintenance. We do offer bikes at a large range of price points.

  • Size: Make sure you choose a bike that fits you properly. If the bike is too small or large, it can be uncomfortable to ride and may even be dangerous. The last thing you want is to end up with aches and pains every time you get off your bike. Most bikes come in a range of sizes, so it's important to try a few out to see which one feels the best. And when we say try out, we don't mean 5 minutes outside of the shop, really try to take it out for a longer test ride if possible.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, the best bike brand is the one that you identify with. Here at Unspokin, we identify with sustainability and driving a cycling movement. To reduce Pollution and to increase the health of everyone involved. With so many great options to choose from, it's important to take the time to find the perfect ride for you. Happy cycling!

January 04, 2023

Bicycle Lights in Singapore: A Comprehensive Guide to the Law in 2023

If you're a cyclist in Singapore or planning to cycle on your trip to Singapore, you know that visibility is key when it comes to staying safe on the roads or even on the pavements. Bike lights are not only a good way to increase your visibility, especially when riding at night or in low light conditions, it actually is mandated by the local laws. But with so many different types of lights available, it can be tough to know which ones are legal or best to use in Singapore.

That's why we've put together this comprehensive guide to the laws surrounding bicycle lights in Singapore. Whether you're a seasoned cycling pro or just starting out, we hope that this articles helps ensure that you're in compliance with the law and more importantly, staying safe on the roads.

Do I Need Lights on My Bicycle in Singapore?

Image credit: @rrhs_ride

According to the Road Traffic Act of Singapore, all bicycles must be equipped with at least one white light at the front of the bike and one red light at the rear. These lights must be used whenever the bike is being ridden between sunset and sunrise, as well as during any other times when visibility is poor (such as during heavy rain or fog).

In addition to the required white and red front and back lights, you may also choose to use additional lights on your bike to increase your visibility. Some popular options include helmet lights, which are mounted on the back of your helmet to increase your visibility from behind so that drivers and other motorists can see you clearly.

What Kind of Lights Can I Use on My Bicycle in Singapore?

The Road Traffic Act specifies that all bike lights must be "efficient" and "in good working order." This means that your lights should be bright enough to be easily seen by other road users, and should not be damaged or malfunctioning in any way.

As for the specific type of lights you can use, our laws are somewhat flexible. The required white light at the front of your bike can be flashlight or a constant light. Similarly, the required red light at the rear can also be flashing or constant.

Accordingly, both battery powered lights and battery free lights are acceptable for use!

Are There Any Lights That I Cannot Use on My Bicycle in Singapore?

Someone didn’t get the memo
Image credit: Curly Traveller

There are a few types of lights that are specifically prohibited by the Road Traffic Act of Singapore. These include:

  • Red or white lights pointing at the sides of the bike: While red lights are allowed at the rear of the bike and white lights are allowed at the front, red or white lights on the sides of the bike are not allowed. This is to prevent confusion with the required front and rear lights.

  • Blue or green lights or any other multi coloured lights: Lights that are blue or green in colour are not allowed on bicycles in Singapore! This is to prevent confusion with the lights used by emergency vehicles and to prevent confusion to other drivers.

While this is not strictly illegal, try not to use lights that are too bright - yes there is such a thing, this is so as to prevent oncoming traffic from being blinded which could be dangerous.

Choosing the best bike light for your local commute

Image credit: Capo Velo

When selecting lights for your bicycle in Singapore, there are a few key things to consider.

First, think about the conditions in which you'll be using your lights. If you frequently ride in areas with poor visibility, you'll want to choose lights that are particularly bright and easy to see. On the other hand, Singapore is mostly well lit so lights that are less powerful are typically more suitable. The whole point of having lights in Singapore is more to be seen rather than to see.

Next, consider the battery life of the lights. If you frequently take long rides or commute to work, you'll want to choose lights that are battery free such as the Reelight Nova constant light for commuters, the AMS flashing light for foldies or even the Reelight CIO flashing light for road bikes of power mid-ride.

If you prefer battery powered lights, the highly water reisistant UGO is perfect and compact if you're on a budget, and the LUX 700 will light up the path even if you're in the middle of the wilderness.

Finally, think about the durability of the lights. Some lights can be bought for cheap, but they usually won't last a tropical thunderstorm that we often have here in Singapore. Biking can be rough on equipment, so you'll want to choose lights that are built to withstand the rigors of the road. Our advise is not to cheap out on a quality set of lights, and by something that will last to reduce our wastage on this earth. Please look for lights with sturdy construction and a good track record of reliability such as our red dot winning Danish Reelight.

Conclusion

Using lights on your bicycle in Singapore is not only a legal requirement, but it's also an important safety measure. Remember folks, safety is always number one priority! By choosing suitable, compliant lights and using them appropriately, you can help ensure that you're visible to other road users and make the roads safer not just for you but for everyone.

January 02, 2023

Why a belt drive city bike is the best

If you're looking for a new city bike, you may be wondering which drivetrain is the best choice. Overall, most bikes run a chain, but rising in popularity in places like Europe, the belt drive is an up and coming contender. While chain drive city bikes are a popular choice, belt drive city bikes offer a number of benefits that make them an excellent option for urban cycling and more.

Low Maintenance

The main benefit of a belt drive city bike is its LOW maintenance requirements. And by low maintenance, we mean next to NO maintenance required. Unlike chain drive bikes, which require frequent lubrication and cleaning to function properly, belt drive bikes require very little maintenance. Ever wondered why that new bike you purchased felt very good initially but soon felt slow and clunky? That's because a bike's drivetrain requires constant attention if you are running a traditional chain. Our belt driven bike's belt is made of a high-strength, low-stretch carbon and does not require lubrication. This is so you won't have to worry about greasing it or cleaning it as you would with a chain. This makes belt drive bikes an ideal choice for busy commuters who don't want to spend hours maintaining their bike.

Smooth and quiet cycling

Another benefit of a belt drive city bike is its super smooth and quiet operation. The belt is much smoother and quieter than a chain, which is known to make all sorts of weird noises (especially if it is not well maintained). This makes the belt drive a great choice for city riding where you'll be surrounded by people and noise. The smooth and quiet operation of a belt drive bike also makes it more pleasant to ride, which can translate to effort saving and mental well being (a noise chain can drive you crazy). This is especially important if you're commuting long distances on your bike.

High Durability

Belt-drive bikes like the Frigate are also super duper durable. The belt is made of a high-strength carbon that's resistant to stretching and wear. Belts also last much longer than a traditional chain. A single belt can last between 15 thousand to 30 thousand kilometers. Yes you heard that right 15,000 to 30,000km!  In comparison, a single bicycle chain lasts around 3 to 4 thousand km on average. This means that even though a belt drive bike can be more expensive upfront, you can have cost savings in the long run. Additionally, you won't have to worry about replacing your belt as often.

Potential downside of belt bikes

Belt drive city bikes can be more expensive than traditional chain drive bikes. However, the long-term benefits of a belt drive bike make it well worth the initial investment. In addition to the reduced maintenance costs, you'll also be able to ride your bike more smoothly and quietly, which can make your commuting experience much more enjoyable. Accordingly, the benefits of riding a belt drive bike is really priceless.

Conclusion

A belt drive city bike is a great choice for urban cycling. Whether you're commuting to work, running errands around town, or just enjoying a leisurely ride, a belt drive bike can provide you with a smooth, quiet, and low-maintenance ride experience. So if you're after a new city bike, be sure to consider a belt drive model – There is a high chance that it might just be the best choice for you.

December 29, 2022

Slow Bicycle Movement

Slow bicycle movement, also known as "slowbiking" is a growing trend that involves riding a bicycle at a leisurely pace. It involves taking in the sights and sounds of the surroundings and really soaking everthing in. Slowbiking can be a great way to relax, unwind, and enjoy the outdoors. It definitely has a number of benefits for not just physical health, but also mental health. In this article, we will explore the concept of slowbiking in more detail and consider the various factors for why you might want to consider riding a bike every - slowly.

What is slow biking?

Slowbiking is a way of cycling that entails riding a bike at a leisurely pace and focusing on the experience rather than speed or performance. Slowbikers are not sportsmen. We typically ride our bikes on paved paths or roads, and choose routes that are scenic. We prefer to pass through interesting neighborhoods and landmarks too. Slowbiking is often associated with touring or recreational cycling, and it can be a great way to explore new areas here in Singapore or simply enjoy the outdoors that we have.

Slowbiking is a great way to relax and unwind. It can be an enjoyable activity for people of all ages and abilities. It's also a low-impact form of exercise that is easy on the joints, this makes it an awesome option to get some fresh air and sunshine. In addition, slowbiking works wonders as a social activity. Not only does it provide an opportunity to ride with friends or meet new people along the way, it is also damn fun.

Benefits of slow biking

We could go on rambling for ages on how joining the slow biking movement would be beneficial for you, but we'll limit ourselves to the following list for brevity's sake:

  • Improved cardiovascular health: Slowbiking as with all other low intensity cardio activities, helps to improve cardiovascular health by increasing heart rate and blood flow. it doesn't really matter that the intensity isn't high. The more you move the better your health usually will be. Accordingly, it can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions.

  • Weight management: Slowbiking can help to burn calories and promote weight loss. Getting around slowly on a bicycle certainly burns more calories than sitting in a car or a train. It's a great way to add some low-impact exercise to your routine, and it can be a fun way to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.

  • Stress relief: From personal experience, riding a bike does wonder for my mental health. There's something about hopping on a bicycle that makes my day feel better, and I'm sure that it would be the same for you too! Slow biking can be a great way to relax and unwind after a long day. It provides an opportunity to get outside and enjoy the beauty of nature (or at least man-made nature as we have it here in Singapore), and it can help to reduce stress and improve mental health.

Factors to consider when slowbiking

There are a few key factors to consider when slowbiking, including:

  • Safety: It's important to stay safe while slowbiking. This means wearing a helmet, following traffic laws, and being aware of your surroundings at all times. Even though you're going slow, that doesn't mean that you will not get into an accident. It's always important to be safe people.

  • Comfort: Slowbiking should be comfortable, so it's important to choose a bike (we have a collection of bikes in all shapes and sizes here at Unspokin) that fits well and has a comfortable saddle. It's also a good idea to bring along water, snacks, and any other supplies you might need to keep you comfortable on the ride. In this case, some panniers or a water bottle cage may be helpful.

  • Distance: Slowbiking is typically a leisurely activity, so it's important to choose a distance that is comfortable and manageable. This will depend on your fitness level and the terrain of the route, but it's generally a good idea to start with shorter distances and gradually increase as you become more comfortable. The more you cycle, the fitter you will get! So don't think so much about distance at first as it'll naturally and gradually build up. If you would like some tips on how to start biking when you're a beginner feel free to check out our handy article on 9 Top Tips for Beginner Cyclists in 2023.

Conclusion on slow biking

Regardless of whether you're an absolute beginner or a seasoned cyclist. It's always generally a good idea to slow down on your bike from time to time and stop to "smell the roses". Singapore is a beautiful place to cycle, especially with the new cycling infrastructure in the park connector networks that are being built and completed every day. Slow biking has a range of benefits for our health, wellbeing and the environment. So why not give it a go?

December 26, 2022

9 Top Tips for Beginner Cyclists in 2023

Everyone was a beginner once and that includes us too here at Unspokin. That said, it would have been nice if someone had told us all of this at the very start of our bicycle journey so that we would not have had to make these mistakes ourselves. Here's our list of tips for those of you out there to make your transition from beginner to pro as smooth as possible. Let's dive into it!

1. Invest in a good helmet

A helmet is an essential piece of safety equipment for any cyclist, regardless of skill level. Look for a helmet that fits snugly, covers your entire head, and has an adjustable chin strap. If you want to cycle on the road here in Singapore, this is particularly important as it is against the law to ride a bike on the road without a helmet. 

Although the park connector network ("PCN") is improving and ever expanding in terms of connectivity, certain stretches such as Little India, Bukit Timah and Geylang will require you to dabble onto the tarmac. 

Luckily, we do have a nice selection of quality helmets from Abus that fits every budget.

2. Check your bike before you ride

Before you head out on the road or pavements, make sure to give your bike a quick once-over to ensure it's in good working order. It's a good idea to work this into your routine before hopping onto your bike every time. Spending a few seconds doing this could potentially save you much time on your commute. Make sure to check the tires for proper inflation, that the brakes are functioning properly, and ensure that all bolts and components are tightened to a reasonably safe degree.

I once had my right pedal fall out of the crank many years ago as it was lose, and I had failed to perform a check because I was in a rush. It was not fun having to cycle home with one pedal in my bike to say the lease. But hey, it makes for a good story over drinks.

3. Use proper hand signals

It's always important to let other cyclists and drivers know your intentions. The roads and pavements are a shared space. This means that we need to communicate with others of our intention on how we want to use them. Use hand signals to indicate when you're turning or changing lanes and you'll notice that your ride will start to become a lot more pleasant. Apart from signals that will help prevent accidents and make your ride safer for everyone, you could also trying waving at your fellow cyclists or giving them a nod or a smile to make their day a little brighter.

4. Stay visible but don't blind others

Whether you're cycling in the daylight or at night, always make sure you're visible to others. This means that your bike should have a pair of lights even if you don't intend to go onto the roads. This will help ensure that you're seen by drivers and other cyclists, especially at night. During the day, while lights aren't necessary and bright clothing isn't a must, you should be find as long as you don't bust out camo prints to blend into the environment.

There have been many ocassions where I had forgotten to charge my USB powered lights in the past, which is why I really recommend Reelight's battery-free bike lights. They come in a variety of configurations and mounting positions so there's a perfect one regardless of whether you're running a road bike, a city bike, a gravel bike or even a folding bike!

Importantly, make sure your lights are not so bright as to blind others. If the current pair you have is really bright, consider trying to point them lower towards the floor. Blinding oncoming traffic not only endangers others as they might crash, it endangers yourself as well as it increases the chance of a collision.

5. Learn how to fix a flat tire

Flat tires are a part and parcel of the life of any cyclist. Fret not though as they're also fairly easy to fix. Make sure you know how to change a flat tire, and always carry a spare tube and a can of Carbon Dioxide with you along with a emergency kit for when this happens. For more detailed instructions, check out our article on how to change an inner tube on a road bike.

Yes you read that right, for WHEN this happens not IF this happens. Trust us, if you commute by bike or ride regularly, this is bound to happen to you one day. The steps to fixing a flat tyre is simple if you have the right tools. Remove the tire, access the tube, change the tube, put the tire back on and pump it back up!

That said, if you have trouble doing this fret not as we provide top knotch bicycle repair services at a very reasonable price.


6. Stay hydrated

Dehydration is a common problem for cyclists, especially on longer rides under the hot Singapore sun. Make sure to bring a water bottle with you on your rides, and take frequent breaks to hydrate. This is where having a bottle cage or two will be most handy. Simply reach down at the traffic light to take a sip of water. Proper hydration will help you stay energized and focused, and it will also help prevent cramps and other muscle issues.


7. Learn how to shift gears

If your bike has gears, it's important to learn how to use them properly. Don't wait until you are on a hill to shift to a lower gear. Shift into a lower gear when you're still on the flats and anticipate an upcoming hill. Conversely, shift to a higher gear when you pick up speed riding on flat or downhill terrain. This will help you maintain a consistent speed and make your ride more efficient.

Also, don't forget to gear down at the traffic lights especially if you're running a derailleur based drivetrain. I've been guilty of this many a times when the traffic light turns red suddenly and I had to pull of an emergency break so as not to beat the read light. Unless your running an internal hub bicycle, which allows for shifting while stationary, try to anticipate traffic stops that are coming and make the appropriate shifts to a lower gear.


8. Practice proper bike-handling skills

In order to ride safely and confidently, it's important to have good bike-handling skills. That said, while cycling more will definitely help with this, some skills have to be practiced deliberately. Practice braking, turning, and navigating obstacles, track standing, signalling, cycling with one hand, eating on a bike and looking behind you in a controlled environment to improve your skills. This will help you feel more comfortable on your bike. Most importantly, it will also help you avoid accidents. Check out our article on 5 important bike skills for beginners if you would like more details on what to practice.


9. Use proper cycling posture

Maintaining proper cycling posture will help you ride more efficiently and comfortably. This also translates into a ride that is more fun! Keep your back straight and your arms relaxed. Try not to over-grip the handlebars even if it feels scary at first. The fact is that just a light touch is more than sufficient to keep you going where you need to. Make sure that your saddle fits your bum and that it's adjusted properly too, as this point of contact will affect your posture. If you aren't sure, you could always contact us for some advise. We'll be able to make adjustments to your bike (regardless of whether you bought it from us or not) or recommend you a bike that fits your unique proportions!

Conclusion

We hope that this article for those of you just starting out your cycling journey. For the rest of you - please remember that we were all once new to this too, so let's have a positive attitude and try not to be too judgmental. More people cycling is always a good thing!

    December 24, 2022

    Internal gear hub vs derailleur - Which is right for me?

    Internal gear hubs ("IGHs") and derailleurs are both tried and tested systems for shifting gears on bikes. They each have their unique set of plus points and drawbacks. Accordingly, choosing between the two largely depends on the your specific needs and preferences. In this article, we will explore the differences between IGHs and derailleurs. We will then consider the various factors that one might consider when deciding between the two.

    What are internal gear hubs?

    First things first. What the heck are IGHs? Internal gear hubs are a type of transmission system that is enclosed within the rear hub of the bike. They consist of a series of gears and a shifting mechanism located inside the hub. IGHs are typically operated using a grip shift, a twist shift, or a trigger shift, which allows the rider to change gears. The most amazing thing, is that you can change gears both while pedaling or at a stop, something that derailleurs can't do. You may think of it like driving an "auto" bike instead of a "manual" bike.

    One of the most awesome plus points of IGHs is that they are relatively maintenance-free. Since the gears and shifting system are all enclosed inside the hub, they are sheltered safely from dirt, grime, water, and mud which means that they require little to no maintenance. In addition, internal gear hubs are generally more durable and last longer than derailleurs. This makes them a good choice for all riders who may have better things to do than wash their bike after every ride.

    Yet another advantage of IGHs is that they offer a wide range of gears. The popular options by Shimano include 3 speeds, 7 speeds and 8 speeds. This allows riders to dial in the right gears for a variety of terrain and conditions. For example, if you have live in a particularly hilly area, this would be perfect for you. In addition, internal gear hubs are generally smoother and more precise than derailleurs, which can make shifting between gears feel more seamless and effortless. For more information on internal gear hubs and great bike that uses them, checkout the Unspokin frigate's design process diagram here.

    What are derailleurs?

    Derailleurs are a type of transmission system that you probably would be most familiar with. It's that weird thing on the right side of your bike's rear or front wheel that helps your bicycle change gears. consists of a chain (such as these), a front derailleur, and a rear derailleur. The front derailleur is responsible for shifting the chain between the front chainrings, while the rear derailleur coddles the chain between the rear cogs, which helps you increase or decrease the amount of torque produced. Unlike IGHs, you can only change gears on a derailleur system while pedalling. So make sure that you shift down before stopping at that traffic light.

    Like IGHs, one of the primary advantages of derailleurs is that they offer a wide range of gears and are universally available. This means that almost any bike shop should be able to service your derailleur if it goes wonky. In addition, derailleurs are relatively lightweight and can be relatively inexpensive. This makes them an excellent choice for many riders.

    However, derailleurs also have some disadvantages. The main drawback of derailleurs is that they require way more maintenance than internal gear hubs. Derailleurs are exposed easily to dirt, grime, and water. This usuallycauses them to wear out faster and require more frequent adjustments. So unless you wash your drivetrain regularly (we provide drivetrain servicing packages for a reasonable price) and know how to fix or tune your own derailleur, you may find that costs of maintaining your bike may exceed that of using an internal gear hub. In addition, derailleurs are notoriously prone to shifting issues, such as ghost shifting or chain drop, which can be frustrating for riders. If you're looking for examples of bikes with derailleurs, we sell some cool custom builds here that we refurbish or upcycle.

    Internal gear hubs vs derailleurs: which is right for you?

    All things considered, the right drivetrain system boils down to what you are looking for in a bicycle. IGHs are a little heavier but well worth it if you have better things to do than maintaining your bike. If you love cleaning your bike everyday and know how to do basic tuning, a derailleur system works great for you.

    • Maintenance & durability: If you're looking for a low-maintenance option, bikes such as the Frigate that sports the Shimano Nexus 7 speed internal gear hub might be the better choice. They are more durable and require less upkeep than derailleurs.

    • Weight: derailleurs win in this category, but unless you're racing this usually shouldn't be the biggest concern.

    •  Cost: derailleurs may be cheaper in the short run, but more times than not, especially unless you know basic bike mechanic skills, an Internal Gear Hub saves costs in the long run!

    If you would like to learn more about the difference, write in the comments below, drop us an email or visit us in store!

    December 21, 2022

    how to efficiently bike to get groceries in Singapore

    Cycling to get groceries is great for health and sustainable for the earth

    In Singapore, people love their cars and many people will even tell you that it's impossible to live here without a car. Sure there is public transport that is pretty good, but it’s a fact that Singaporeans love cars. Why else would we pay exorbitant prices for them?

    And a good point that I bring up is grocery shopping because here in Singapore, people like to buy their groceries in a bulk one to two times per month. I'll tell you right now it's pretty dang hard to do that without a car so how do we get groceries on a bike and how can we have our bikes and eat them too? I present to you three tips for grocery shopping on a bike!

    Tip number one: cycling route planning, ideally choose a grocery store that is closest to you

    Don’t forget to take into account the amount of climbing and descending that you have to do in order to get there and back. Because if you go down a hill you'll probably going to have to go back up the hill with a bunch of groceries on your back and on your bike. However, sometimes you can cheat climbing here's the pro tip: don't climb with 20 kg of groceries on your back if you don't have to climb with 20 kg of groceries on your back.

    Take an elevator now with more weight on a bike descending can become unstable twitchy and unpredictable which just isn't safe. So try to minimize the amount of climbing and descending that you have on your route to and from the grocery store often flat routes and the shortest distance are the best. But not always. I usually shop at NTUs because of its close proximity to me but Foodie’s Supermarket food is so much better it's worth the trip.

    Tip number two: carrying capacity of your bike setup

    Know how much weight and volume that you and your bike can carry. I made this mistake but way more food than I could carry and got stranded in a cold storage parking lot. But at least I had food if you're like me and all you use is a backpack to carry your belongings when you go out riding you'll probably have to go grocery shopping 1 to 2 times per week. But this isn't really an issue because I mean I just swing by the grocery store on the way home from work and it's not a big deal. I mean it's like it's like it's on the way um so I mean it's grocery shopping. It's like you know part of the weekly routine I mean I just did I just go I just go you know this it's not it's not a big inconvenience. It's what I'm trying to say but if going grocery shopping at least once a week or even multiple times per week is a big inconvenience for you, the best way to increase your carrying capacity is to get a rack a bigger bag panniers, or a basket. This will allow you to get more groceries in one trip so you don't have to keep going back and forth on the grocery store.

    Another thing to consider when you go grocery shopping on one you actually get your groceries is that you'll have increased weight and your bicycle ecosystem. That means there's going to be more downward force on your tires which means we'll be more prone to flats. So something to keep in mind is that you might want to increase your tire pressure if you are getting a lot of groceries.

    I personally prefer carrying cargo and groceries in the rear if I can’t fit it in my back pack. This is because having a basket in front of me or other carrying mechanisms obstructs my view of the road in front of me and also tends to make the steering in the cockpit feel a little sluggish.

    Tip number three: Don’t get a shopping cart, it won't fit on your bicycle

    Especially if you're carrying your groceries via backpack do not I repeat do not - don't do it – do not get a shopping cart. Pick up a basket when you walk into the store because of how space works you can't cram a shopping cart full of groceries into a backpack unless you're a wizard. I know I've tried and I found out I'm not a wizard when you go shopping have a list and stick to it be a sniper to your list. Only get the items that are on your list this helps you save money and it also helps you save precious backpack space.

    Tip number four: avoid process foods

    Lastly try to avoid processed foods not because they're bad for you but because they're heavy and they take a precious backpack space. It seems that the more processed of food is the more worthless packaging it comes with that I don't need to take home. Because of that I buy a lot of fruits and vegetables because they come with less packaging and one back Pack’s worth of fruits and vegetables is usually enough to feed me for an entire week.

    Bonus Bicycle Grocery Tip: Plan ahead

    As with all things cycling, a little planning really goes a long way. If you can plan what meals you’ll have for the entire week ahead, you’ll know what groceries you’ll need. That way, you can easily split up the amount of load you’ll need to carry on your bike from the grocery store home. For example, if you’re having a rice based meal but are low on rice, you can spend the first day getting rice from the grocery store home, and pick up the rest of the ingredients on a separate day. This will really help to make the load a lot more manageable.

    So to recap know where you're going and how know how much you can carry. Know exactly what you're going to buy you can have your bike and eat it too, and if you need a good bike for getting the groceries that can carry loads of food, we highly recommend the low maintenance belt-driven Frigate!

    December 16, 2022

    Singapore Bicycle Shop Opinions: 4 reasons why cable brakes are better than hydraulics

    Year is 2022 and many bikes are now shipping with hydraulic disc brakes. Why in the world would you still want to use a cable actuated brake? Let's talk about it in this blogpost and if you're new to the blog, welcome!

    So why on earth would you want to still spend money on cable brakes in 2022 hydraulic brakes are more widely available? They're less expensive than they used to be - why would you still want to use a cable? So these are my four reasons why I still personally prefer cable actuated brakes and why you might want to consider them as well in 2022.

    Reason number 1: Bicycle stopping power

    So the first reason is stopping power I know this sounds counterintuitive. Yes I will fully admit that hydraulic this brakes wins this category on sheer stopping power alone. But that is not to say cable disc brakes don't stop your bike. In fact most cable disc brakes I have used have the ability to lock up the wheel and really be on that much stopping power. I don't know how much more you are going to need. I think in particular in road cyclin situations and gravel road riding situations cable disc brakes are more than adequate. Anything beyond that, I think is honestly just filling this void of having to feel like you need more brake than you will actually ever use. Also, while I think absolute stopping power is definitely an important property it is actually one of many different properties. It should be the only one that you should focus on.

    Reason number 2: They help keep your bicycle low maintenance at a low cost

    So the second reason I still love cable actuated brakes is ease of maintenance and hack ability with cable brakes. A cable is a cable is a cable. Whereas with hydraulic brakes depending on the brake manufacturer you have to stock up on different kinds of fluid and there are all these other compatibility issues. Do different callipers play well with different levers? With cable actuated brakes it's pretty straightforward generally speaking any road calliper will talk to any road lever you can even get. Road brake callipers to talk with mountain bike levers with various kinds of pulleys. Or in the case of something like the Paul clamper is just changing out the lever arm. Also if you want to experiment with different kinds of gearing like the advent X the few mechanical systems that give us wide range gearing for drop our bikes. There is no other non-hydraulic equivalent for me on this blog it's a real practical decision. I've changed the drivetrain on my bike about 10 times this year and if I had to get a bleed kit or send the bike out to our workshop every time I needed new hosing because I was trying different handlebars that were wider or narrower or trying a different drivetrain we've cost me a whole bunch of down time and for most folks this would mean a small fortune - I could have had gold-plated Paul clampers for the price.

    I think if you prioritise ease of maintenance there is no black box a cable as a cable as a cable. If you don't want to wear gloves when you work on your bike or worry about spilling potentially toxic fluids and you live in the small apartment then cables are still the way they go.

    On the more timely note if you wanted to adjust your brake pads and you have a hydraulic disc brakes and you don't want to deal with it the way time is going to be absurd and even if you wanted to do it at home bleed kits are actually hard to come by right now whereas a cable as a cable is a cable readily available and easy to do and personally for me ease of maintenance and hack ability is as important as pure stopping power.

    Reason number 3: You can fix them if you encounter an issue out on a bike ride

    Another big reason I love cable actuated brakes is that they're pretty easy to adjust while on the road. Let's say you have too much gap you've been wearing down your pads you can usually just twist a couple of adjuster knobs and you're good to go. You can bring up that slack and get that nice tight lever feel that you want whereas with hydraulic disc brakes you know once they go spongy once there's too much of a pad gap there's no real on-the-fly adjustment. You either have to put in the new pad or re-bleed it at home but nothing so simple as a couple of twists on a barrel adjuster. I know for me that was a bit of a surprise I've had a couple bikes with hydraulic disc brakes and the second it got spongy or the pad gap was too much I was personally surprised to learn that there wasn't a simple way to take up that slack. Maybe either is I don't know about let me know in the comments below.

    Reason number 4: Cable brakes are more reliable and repairable than hydraulics

    Lastly the other reason I really prefer cable this brakes is just this lack of existential doubt in things going wrong in the middle of nowhere again if you're on a remote tour, or let's say you're flying somewhere you don't have to worry about hoses getting kinked. Having a scramble to find the right braking fluid or a bike shop in a remote place that will have those specialised parts is the last thing that you would want. Whereas with a cable actuated brake generally speaking, most bike shops will carry brake cables and housing and you'll be able to fix it wherever you are. So again this lack of existential doubt is just as important to me personally as absolute stopping power again if it all depends on what you value if you're a maximiser and just want the most stopping power per buck then sure hydraulic this brakes. 

    But if you value other things like ease of maintenance hack-ability, lack of existential doubt and the ability to mix and match parts on the cheap without having to take it to a shop and spending loads of money, then cable actuated brakes still make sense in 2022 and even in the future. If you're watching this from 2070, I'd probably still think the same thing so that's what I think. Let me know what you think in the comments below do you agree or are you all-in on hydraulic.

    December 15, 2022

    How to find the perfect bicycle saddle to enjoy longer bike rides

    Keep going with finding the perfect bicycle saddle

    You feel like you've tried everything, but it seems like no matter what you do, you just can't get your rear end to be comfortable while you ride your bike. The saddle is the most important component to get right, and it can make or break how much you enjoy riding your bike. Here's how to choose the saddle that'll be best for you. 

    Life is short, but that doesn't make it shorter, so be sure to ride your bike every day. Be sure to read until the end of the article, where I'll give a few of my saddle recommendations that a lot of people find comfortable on any budget. 

    Width of your bicycle saddle

    There are three main things to keep in mind. The foremost is the width, and the shape of the saddle width of a hundred and sixty millimetres is a good width for a lot of people as that only needs to be wide enough to support your sit bones and be comfortable. One hundred sixty millimetres is a good starting point, but you can go wider or narrower depending on your riding style, riding position and physique. If you have a more upright and relaxed riding style, it's a good idea to get a flatter and wider saddle whereas if you have a more aggressive and forward leaning riding position, it's a good idea to go for something narrower and rounder. Also if your thighs are more toned and skinnier, a wide and flat saddle may be more comfortable whereas if you have huge bulky horse thighs, then a rounder saddle where your thighs won't rub up against the edge of the saddle might be more comfortable. But the question is how narrow is too narrow? How wide is too wide? 

     

    In general it's a safe bet to err on the side of a wider saddle you can get a narrower saddle but if it is too narrow then it can be painful or as wider saddles generally tend to be more comfortable. Best way to find out your ideal saddle width is to measure your sit bones and you can do that by clicking this link here the width and the shape in the saddle are the most important factors for comfort. Another important factor is how narrow the noses the nose should be narrow enough to not rub your thighs when you're pedaling and the third important feature to look out for is to make the saddle isn't too squishy. It is 100% a myth that a squishier softer saddle is more comfortable what makes us that comfortable is not how soft it is but rather how well it supports at your weight. 

    For example, if you've ever sat on a couch where it's just way too soft and you completely sink in it doesn't support you properly, and it puts pressure in all the wrong places, the same thing goes for a saddle that's too soft. So make sure that the settle that you're looking at isn't too squishy. Those are the three most important factors for a comfortable saddle having a width and a shape that's right for you having a nose that's narrow enough where it won't rub your thighs when you're pedalling and making sure that it's not too squishy. 

    Consider a cutout for your bike saddle

    But there are also some secondary factors that come into play when your saddle shopping you may be considering a cutout cutouts in the middle of the saddle to relieve pressure on your couch credits are especially good for longer rides. There usually really aren't any negative side effects to having them other than some people don't like the look of them. So if you're experiencing an unreasonable amount of gooch pain during your rides, it may be a good idea for you to get a cut out since it won't really hurt, but it could make your rides a whole lot better.

    Try Women's saddles

    Another secondary thing to consider are women's saddles. Women's saddles are generally standard saddles that are wider and have shorter noses don't let the name fool you though just because they're labeled women's doesn't mean that they're just for women. If you find that saddles are too narrow for your sit bone width, then you might want to look into getting a woman's saddle that will accommodate your needs it could just be more comfortable. A secondary thing to consider is the rails which affect the weights. There are three main different materials for saddle rails. The first is chromo steel, second is titanium, and the third of course is carbon fiber. The different rail types don't change how comfortable the saddle is they just change the weights and the price, so if you don't care too much about weights go for a chromo saddle. It will be just as comfortable as the more expensive counterparts. 

    Bike saddle reccomendations for comfortable rides

    Now here are our comfortable saddle recommendations that work for most people. Your mileage may vary, ranging from the least to the most expensive first step on the list at $30.00 is the charge spoon. It is 140 millimeters wide which is narrower and will be better for aggressive riding. With that said it's still on the wider end of race saddles, making it more comfortable it has a flat shape with rounded edges which make it comfortable for most people assuming you're not somebody with super muscular thighs or somebody with super scrawny thighs. It has a narrow nose so it won't rub your thighs while you're pedaling and it also checks off the third important feature to look for. It's not too squishy, and those three things about it make it a comfortable saddle for a lot of people and it doesn't hurt that it looks good and comes in a few different colors too.

    I've got to mention my favorite title of all time on this list and that is the Brooks c-17 cambium. At around $100 the c-17 cambium measures in at 162 millimeters wide which is part of the reason it has been the most comfortable saddle for me. What makes the cambium unique though is that it's made out of vulcanized rubber instead of plastic that most saddles are made of. Meaning that the rubber will Bend and flex to gently hammock your buttocks in your Gooch. It's just as comfortable, and I would argue that it's even more comfortable than a leather Brooks saddle it's also cheaper less maintenance doesn't take any time to break in. This is the best saddle I have ever used.

     

    Final words on choosing the right bicycle saddle for you

    Go out and try a bunch of different saddles here are a few considerations first going knowing that you're going to have to try out a bunch of different saddles before you find one that you really click with. Again saddles are the most personal component on the bike; it's influenced a lot by your riding style your ride position, your personal, physique and your tolerances for comfort. A whole bunch of other factors will make what may be right for me not be right for you. But do know that there is a saddle out there that will help you enjoy riding your bike more. 

    Also keep in mind that your saddle that you have might not actually suck. Saddle position is super important, so play with the saddle angle before you commit to purchasing a new saddle. Because even the most comfortable saddles are uncomfortable if the angle is wrong for your body the saddle that you have might be perfectly comfortable but you just might need to find the right angle and what type of riding position and riding style do you have and what saddle has been the most comfortable for you. 

    Let's get a discussion going on in the comments so we can help those out looking for their dream saddle. And as always, if you need help looking for that dream saddle, please feel free to reach out to us!

    December 14, 2022