The soul of home-grown lifestyle bicycle brand – Coast Cycles – is embedded in its tagline “Everybody Needs Some Time To Coast”. It sets an upbeat and carefree vibe that puts you at ease, knowing that the folks who design their own bikes are in love with cycling and also, their gear.
True enough, when we spoke with Jansen Tan, the brainchild of Coast Cycles, we were convinced of his beliefs in his label by the mere childlike sparkle in his eyes. A former national bike trial athlete and industrial designer, Jansen has owned his passion for cycling ever since he was a kid, when cycling was his only means of getting around.
His appetite for thoughtful and efficient designs was the inspiration behind Coast Cycle’s signature model, the Coastliner. Stylish, functional, environmentally-friendly and extremely low maintenance, the Coastliner is thoughtfully engineered to be fuss-free, clean and uncluttered. It is constructed with components that are most sensible for the purpose of commuting. Unwittingly, the Coastliner brings back the pure joy of simply coasting.
Nookmag (N): Hey Jansen! We’re loving what we see here at Coast Cycles. Tell us more about it.
Jansen (J): First of all, I’ve been cycling all my life. When I was young, bicycle is my first form of transport – my ticket to freedom and the world. So that really grew on me and it developed my love for cycling. During my teenage years, we always hang out at East Coast Park – that’s like the gathering point for cycling. I took cycling a little further and started getting competitive. I would go for international bike trial competitions when I was 17 years old till 21 years old. And I used to mountain bike and stuff too. So I know my bikes.
When I was studying brand and industrial design in Temasek Polytechnic, I started learning a lot. I thought there’s a better way to design a bike. You either take a mountain bike to cycle to the coffee shop or a road bike, which is a bit odd. And cycling on a hybrid bike like a market bike is not cool. I wanted to design cool urban bikes that I could take to meet my friends. Two and half or three years ago, that’s when it all started.
It began from the idea of making a cool frame for myself, and eventually became a whole bike. You can’t just make the frame, you need to match it with the rest of the components. So I decided to start a brand around this bike. For the brand to be credible, you need a front for people to experience the brand. There are many aspects to consider for consumers to experience the brand, such as the location and what people see, hear, and even eat.
At first, all I wanted was to make a bike to hang out with my friends, now the idea has become a place for people to hang out and share their love for bikes and the freedom of getting around.
N: You mentioned cycling was your ticket to freedom. Do you still have the same childlike sentiment?
J: Yes, all these while. In a way, there’s no limits to cycling and what you can do with the bike. You can take it to places that you can’t take a motorbike. And there’s no carbon footprint. You just go as far as you can go. So to me, it’s still a ticket to freedom – very much so.
N: Cycling has been picking up in Singapore. What are your hopes for the scene?
J: We hope to have the park connectors up as soon as possible, so we can really get to places in a very safe manner and not just commuting around the roads/streets. Park connectors such as Punggol Waterway and Marina Barrage are beautiful. Every month, we go for 40km rides to nowhere. It’s just an excuse to get away.
N: Do you commute with your bicycle?
J: Yes, from my home to here (Coast Cycles). I live about 5-10 minutes away by bike.
N: What’s your favourite ride so far?
J: Coastliner – the flagship model. I feel that it has the minimum criteria for a bike as it can last for a very long time. Also, our tagline is “Everybody Needs Some Time To Coast”. I feel that everybody should have some time for themselves. Not just to get away from your daily chores, but to relax as well.
N: Does that reflect your outlook in life?
J: Yes. It’s not just about work right? But having fun also. Take time for yourself and your family, plus cycling is a good sport to engage in together.
N: What’s a typical day like for you?
J: First, I would head to my ‘morning’ job, which is designing high pressure laminates for my family business. After lunch, I will be here (Coast Cycles). The whole day is about designing stuff, finding out the latest trends, what to do next, prototyping, trial and error… Mornings are about laminates, afternoons are bikes.
N: Are you designing the next range of bikes?
J: Yup, we’re working on it.
A lot of our visuals are shot in Portland. If you look at our brochure, you’ll see different environments that you don’t expect to be in, like the forest etc. What people normally think of an urban bike is cycling around the city, but our concept is that you’ll never know where the ride may take you. It’s the journey – wherever you may go. There’s no limits where you can take this bike. It’s burly enough to be taken off the trail.
N: Tried and tested?
J: Yes, definitely. Our bikes are a bit overbuilt for its intended purpose. But it’s a good thing.
N: You never know where you’ll end up.
J: Yeah, I mean I don’t like to maintain my bike. It’s a hassle – you just want to get on the bike and ride. With this bike, there’s practically no maintenance.
N: Where in the world are your top spots to ride?
J: You need to go to Parco Sempione in Milan. It’s a very nice place to ride. It’s a huge park. I brought my bike there in April and I joined the local guys for a two-hour ride around the city at night. You get to see a Milan that you don’t normally see, out of the tourist spots.
Locally, you definitely need to see the barrage and Punggol Waterway. These are the few places that really stand out for me. Anywhere else? East Coast Park – this is my favourite (laughs).
N: Besides working on your new range of bicycles, what’s next for Coast Cycles?
J: The first step is education. People don’t know the brand, so it’ll take a while for them to know what we stand for, what we believe in, what kind of bikes we actually do. We are getting people to come and try out the bikes for themselves. Beside the Coastliner which is more or less a usual bike, we are making some unusual bikes too. For example, bikes that are specifically designed for the environment, and small ones with big tyres. We also have some cargo bikes made to carry stuff. For the brand, we want to expose it around the region first, then globally.
N: You don’t seem to like too much hassle when you cycle. What are some of the essential items you bring along when you ride?
J: I grab some money for coffee and just go! That’s it, really. You don’t need tools – not in Singapore. We go for rides with nothing on us – no phones, nothing. If you’re riding at night, put on the light, just to be safe.
More about Coast Cycles
The Coast Cycles concept store is a double-storey, 3,000 square feet facility that houses a showroom featuring its bespoke urban bicycles, a design studio, greenery patio, workshop, merchandise retail, and a café.
The showroom on the second level opens up to a spacious gallery displaying various Coast Cycles bicycles. Customers can choose any one of the models to take for a test ride. They can do so on the rolling trainer in the air-conditioned comfort or take it for a spin around the neighbourhood to experience it in the real world.
The Coast Cycles workshop caters to bicycles of any pedigree – no discrimination of sorts. Visitors can enjoy aromatic gourmet coffee from Papa Palheta, and comfort food inspired by familiar local dishes, while having their bicycles serviced at the adjacent workshop.
Specially created by acclaimed chef, Willin Low of Wild Rocket, the food menu has a unique combination of local favourites with western elements – Rendang Hotdog, Green Thai Chicken Curry with Bread, Salad Chapalang with Bak Kwa Topping, Peanut Butter Toast with Almond Flakes, and Honeycomb and Cheese Toast.
Music is also an integral part of the experience. Coast Cycles collaborated with Dean Chew from Darker Than Wax to compile a “music blend” – a selection of tracks that meld with the moods and celebrations of the ride.
More about Coastliner
Designed to be clean and uncluttered, the Coastliner is the first bicycle with all the unsightly brake lines hidden inside a 100% seamless aluminium frame with no visible welds. This is made possible with the patented Stealth Internal Cable Routing – an innovation by Jansen.
Made for the busy urbanite, the Coastliner has no user serviceable parts. With a carbon belt driven system made of stretch-free carbon fibre tensile cords, the system is completely rust proof with no need for extraneous lubrication. The advanced urethane technology allows the belt to be weather resistant, flexible and durable.
Urban and leisure cyclists seek comfort and ease of maintenance. The Coastliner is fitted with comfortable soft touch foam grips and microfibre saddles that work well with our humid weather. With its seamless aluminium frame, hidden brake cables and the carbon belt driven system, the bicycle can be cleaned easily, and virtually maintenance-free.
The Coastliner is the perfect bicycle for articulating around the urban city or the neighbourhood, traversing across quaint estates and eateries, finding gems along the offbeat paths in style. It comes in 4 colours – matte white, satin chrome, grey, and pearl white.
Coast Cycles is located at 54 Siglap Drive Singapore 456176. The opening hours are from 9am to 7pm from Tuesday to Thursday, and 9am to 10pm from Friday to Sunday. Closed on Monday. Follow Coast Cycles on Facebook for updates.
Photos by Sulhan S