If you grew up in Southeast Asia in the 80s, 90s, or 2000s this bicycle would have been a common sight for you. In the chinatowns of countries such as Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines dapper gentlemen and dignified ladies were seen going about their day on this classic step through frame. The design of the bicycle though, needed some upgrades as the technology used on them fell way behind. These bicycles were designed for rod brakes and came equipped with only one speed. If you’ve ever dealt with rod breaks before, you would know how finicky they are and how little braking power they offer. This is why when Victor came to us with his flying pigeon PB-13 Frame, we were overjoyed at the chance to give it a complete overhaul.

The only difference was that instead of having it be a chill city cruiser, Victor wanted it to be a fast machine that could help him get to work fast if he was running late.

The brief

This flying pigeon bicycle had belonged to Victor’s aunt and it had been hanging out in her storeroom for a good 2 decades. When their family was moving to a condo as they no longer needed the space, Victor took this opportunity to snag the bicycle and brought it to us to give it a new life. Victor specified that he wanted drop bars on the pigeon, a basket on the rear, coaster brakes and multiple speeds. The idea was to turn this old piece of “trash” into a modern low maintenance speedy commuter. The end result was to be a bicycle that could handle a trip to the supermarket as well as it could handle weaving through traffic during rush hour.

Challenges we faced

Bicycle drive train

The biggest challenge we faced on this build was removing the bottom bracket. Having what we suspect to be a considerable amount of time in the rain, the english threaded bottom bracket was frozen, and we had to spend a considerable amount of time fighting it to get it removed. After a lot of WD40 and elbow greased, we finally managed to achieve some movement, and it was smooth sailing thereafter.

Bicycle Drop Bars

The second challenge we faced was that there were no break mounts on the fork for the front brake. Even though the bicycle would have perfectly sufficient coaster brakes on the rear, the Singapore Law requires that all bicycles come equipped with a working hand brake. Our solution was to drill a larger hole in the fork (where the fenders would have went) to mount a long arm front calliper brake. This would increase the amount of stopping power and satisfy the authorities.

Bicycle Headset

The third challenge we faced was that nexus twist shifters do not fit drop bars. Upon consultation with Victor, we decided to mount the twist shifter on an accessories bar, allowing him to shift speeds smoothly and efficiently.

Bicycle Basket

Lastly, we had to find a way to affix a rear rack and a basket as the PB-13 frames does not come equipped with mounts, we opted to use a combination of plumbing mounts and cable ties to achieve a secure result.

The build

Shimano Nexus 8 Coaster Brake

Some may say it’s overkill, but we think that it’s cool as long as Victor enjoys his bicycle! We have a H Plus Son SL42 track rim laced to a Shimano Nexus 8 Coaster Brake hub, a Shimano RS100 front wheel, a modern brandies external english threaded bottom bracket with a 48 tooth chainring on the front. We are also running an origin 8 1 inch threaded headset for more precise starring in the cockpit. He also requested that we slap on a pair of continental GP 5000s because he loves the black chili voodoo that's put into it.

The Ride

Shimano Front Wheel

Those that swear by fixed gear bikes swear that there’s something special about not having a brake on and feeling connected to the bike. Riding a coaster brake or back pedal brake feels somewhere in between. Victor mentioned that he has found that the way he rides his bicycle has changed. he rarely uses his front brakes and feels more relaxed because of the coaster. The basket does the job well allowing him to make frequent trips to NTUC and Donki on his way back from home and he reports that he only wipes and lubes his chain once a week!

Unspokin Decal

All in all, as crazy as this build is, we love this machine and so does Victor. He says that he feels like he’s riding a machine out of a cyberpunk show where the power of his legs beats all the futuristic machines. Something like the fastest hunk of junk in the bicycle universe.

What do you think of Victor's crazy flying pigeon? Let us know in the comments down below. As usual if you have a project you would like advise on or for us to work on it together, do drop us shout!

May 01, 2022 — Douglas Koh

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