No Stopping Fixies in Jakarta
Nariswari Dita Yudianti & Ben O’Halloran
Every weekday millions of people get stuck in traffic as waves of workers descend on Jakarta. But out of the rising exhaust fumes a culture of bicycle enthusiasts has emerged, weaving their way through Jakarta’s infamous traffic.
Say hello to Jakarta’s fixed-gear bike community, a hip subculture of young people who ride “fixie” bikes.
They are taking to the streets en masse, making a lifestyle out of this more environmentally friendly way to commute.
The fixie culture in Jakarta can be traced back to early 2008, when a handful of young people used to gather in Menteng Park to ride their bikes and hang out.
And although they did not know it at the time, their small group would eventually grow into a community of more than 8,000 like-minded cyclists in Jakarta alone.
“We all respect each other and it does not matter if you’re young or old, there are no boundaries, there are no leaders, we are all the same and we all love to ride,” said Dede Chandra, who has been riding his fixed-gear bike since the early days in Menteng Park.
Fixie riders still gather at the Central Jakarta park on Wednesday and Friday nights for what is known as rabo rabo, an opportunity to display and share tricks or just relax and hang out with friends.
Fixie bikes are different from normal bicycles in that they have a track frame that is normally used for racing in a velodrome, and a locked rear cog and chain.
Some purists even opt for a brakeless version, giving the bikes a very cool and minimalist look.
The rear cog of the fixie is locked to the chain so when the bike is moving so are the pedals, making it possible to coast.
And while each bike follows more or less the same simple design principles, the color and gadgets of each reflect the individual style of the rider.
“One of the reasons why I chose a fixie as my ride is because it’s a recent hype thing among the people in Jakarta” said 23-year-old fixie rider Garri Juanda.
“You put your soul into your fixie by designing it, so that every rider has their own kind of fixie bike.”
With the demand for fixie bikes continuing to increase, three friends — Sutarmono, M Joelast Sakti and Herwindo Prakoso — opened the Bamboo Bike Workshop, which specializes in fixing and building fixies, around five months ago.
In the short time since the shop opened its doors, the three have already built around 100 fixie bikes.
“The fixie is an expensive bike, but we offer fixies at a price according to each customer’s budget,” Herwindo said. “We usually get orders to build Rp 2.5 million ($275) fixies.
The most expensive fixie we have ever built was about Rp 13 million.”
Sutarmono, better known as Mono Rider, is a legend among the Indonesian Ontel Bicycle Community.
“I have been building bicycles for five years, but I have never received as many orders as I am now. I have no idea why people like this bike so much,” Mono said.
“But anyway, I have finally built my own fixie too,” he added, pointing to a gold-colored bike.
But it’s not all about riding and tricks. Dede said Jakarta’s fixie community was determined to change the attitude of both the government and the residents of the capital.
“We want to change people’s ideas about riding and get more people to ride bikes and to choose health and bicycles rather than cars,” Dede said.
“We will to talk to our local government because we want them to pay attention to bicycle riders in Jakarta. We will ask them to build dedicated bike lanes because the cars and motorbikes still don’t respect us on the roads.”
In their quest, Dede and his friends have been inspired by other large cities like New York, Tokyo and Amsterdam where local governments support the bicycle movement.
Dede said he hoped that one day Jakarta could also become a bicycle-friendly city.
“This is our movement, we want to help the government solve some of Jakarta’s big issues like population, traffic jams and pollution from emissions.” Dede said.
“We love riding on Sundays and we love it even more on the car-free days because we are free do ride and enjoy our city,” he said.
Whether on daily commutes or just out for fun with friends, fixie riders face a number of dangers such as potholes, pollution and the chaotic traffic.
Riders have to be fully aware of their surroundings, always anticipating their next move and the moves of the oncoming cars and motorbikes.
“We now have a committee that represents Pedal Riot, because riding together can be dangerous.” Dede said, referring to his fixie crew.
“The crews are based on the location of where you live, like me, I’m from Pedal Riot, a crew from Kemayoran. We collect money through fund-raisers so if somebody has an accident, we can pay their hospital bills.”
Bamboo Bike Workshop
Jl. Bambu Apus Raya No.33
Tel: +62818845454 email@example.com
To learn what is a cool bike: http://www.pedalroom.com/bikes
To learn about the culture: http://prollyisnotprobably.com/
To design your own bike: http://www.fixiestudio.com/