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Fixed-Gear in Thailand

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Fixed-Gear in Thailand

Old 08-12-09, 07:21 AM
  #1  
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Fixed-Gear in Thailand

I just got back from a couple of weeks in Bangkok. Bangkok is definitely not a bicycle-friendly city. Riding a bike there is definitely taking one's life in one's hands, and there just aren't any bikes on the streets. In every other city in Asia in which I've ever been there are thousands, but none in Bangkok.

That said, I was returning one night to the apartment building in which I was staying, and I saw three young guys (early 20s?) in the parking lot, on nice looking fixies, with spoke cards and everything, practicing trackstands. They were dressed pretty much the way every young guy in Williamsburg on a fixed-gear bike is dressed -- skin-tight jeans, t-shirts, sneakers, carefully messy hair, etc.

Funny sight. Just thought I'd pass it along.
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Old 08-12-09, 08:50 AM
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There is actually a pretty big fixed scene in BKK. I lived in northern Thailand for the last two years and I got down to Bangkok to ride with them a few times. I organized two races when I was there and each time at least 60-70 kids came out.

Check out BKKFixed and Siam Fixed for more info if you're interested.
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Old 08-12-09, 11:00 AM
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or search fixed gear thailand on youtube... pretty entertaining. WHy do poor thai people have nicer bikes than me? I'm confused. Or is it just the rich kids somehow?
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Old 08-12-09, 11:20 AM
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The rich/poor thing in Bangkok is crazy. When I was there, I saw a Bentley dealership down the street from some of the most wretched looking slums I'd ever seen, straight-up third world stuff. The lack of any real separation between the two blew my mind.
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Old 08-12-09, 12:20 PM
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Someone suggested I join this program where people teach English for a year and receive room and board. It had me thinking about taking my fixie and putting on some 28s on the wheels if I did. It would sure be an adventure.
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Old 08-12-09, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by JacoKierkegaard View Post
The rich/poor thing in Bangkok is crazy. When I was there, I saw a Bentley dealership down the street from some of the most wretched looking slums I'd ever seen, straight-up third world stuff. The lack of any real separation between the two blew my mind.
Absolutely. I was staying in a new, hi-rise apartment building. In New York, it would definitely be classified as a luxury building. Parking, doorman, concierge, etc. Yet right next door, looking out the back windows, were a bunch of buildings that were pretty close to being a shantytown. I was awakened each morning by the crowing of the roosters kept by some people who lived there. I was staying a few blocks from the Saphan Kwai Skytrain stop, if that means anything to anyone.
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Old 08-12-09, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Saintly Loser View Post
I was staying a few blocks from the Saphan Kwai Skytrain stop, if that means anything to anyone.
Yeah, I was in a super-nice hotel about a block from the Asok station on Sukhumvit.
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Old 08-12-09, 08:03 PM
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thats one city its definitley faster to ride a bike. but i do love bangkok. for all the dirtiness, i love to see the hustle and bustle of everything- granted, i was staying in a pretty nice hotel (company paid for not me) so it wasnt 100% legitimate
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Old 08-12-09, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by carbonjockey View Post
granted, i was staying in a pretty nice hotel (company paid for not me) so it wasnt 100% legitimate
I don't know about that. I was in a pretty nice hotel too, and you could still wind up getting hit up for sex within 20 yards of leaving the premises. It's like I said with there being no rich/poor separation there, it's not like you have to leave some sanitized tourist district to see the real city, it's just all around you as soon as you get out the door.
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Old 08-12-09, 10:56 PM
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Originally Posted by hairnet View Post
Someone suggested I join this program where people teach English for a year and receive room and board. It had me thinking about taking my fixie and putting on some 28s on the wheels if I did. It would sure be an adventure.
lol, i am the same way.. thinking about the perfect bike for any particular location.
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Old 08-13-09, 12:22 AM
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Originally Posted by JacoKierkegaard View Post
I don't know about that. I was in a pretty nice hotel too, and you could still wind up getting hit up for sex within 20 yards of leaving the premises. It's like I said with there being no rich/poor separation there, it's not like you have to leave some sanitized tourist district to see the real city, it's just all around you as soon as you get out the door.
fair enough, this is true
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Old 08-13-09, 07:04 AM
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Oh no! Slums where people have dirt floors and no air conditioning and roosters in their yards! Poor people are so sad to look at. They make me feel bad!

Just because people are poor doesn't mean they are automatically sad and miserable.

This assumption that Thailand is dirty and you need larger tires to ride there is absurd. In two years of daily riding on 23's, I only got two flats. The roads there, both in Chiang Mai and Bangkok, are smoother and cleaner than any city I have been to in the US. As far as I'm concerned, northern Thailand is one of the best places to ride on the planet.

In the cities and in the country, there are constantly people out cleaning the streets. Many are paid by the city and many are collecting things to be recycled for money. Not like the US where trash piles up along the roadside for months until we get a crew of convicts to pick it up for us. It was rare to see more than a few pieces of trash on the road during a long ride.

Yeah, there is a lot of pollution and there are places where trash is allowed to collect, but the same can be said about NYC, and Bangkok has 3x the population.

I can't really recommend the English teaching thing. They give you a place to live, but barely pay enough to get out and see the country. I met quite a few people working with those companies. Even in a place where a good meal costs about a dollar, they were having to budget their money strictly just to get through the month. It could be cool if you went over with a few thousand if your own to play with though.
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Old 08-13-09, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by TimArchy View Post
This assumption that Thailand is dirty and you need larger tires to ride there is absurd. In two years of daily riding on 23's, I only got two flats.
i don't know about that.. at least where i'm from.
i walk my road bike a mile before i get to the street. hah..
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Old 08-13-09, 08:49 AM
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pix or it didnt happen =*(
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Old 08-13-09, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by TimArchy View Post
This assumption that Thailand is dirty and you need larger tires to ride there is absurd. In two years of daily riding on 23's, I only got two flats. The roads there, both in Chiang Mai and Bangkok, are smoother and cleaner than any city I have been to in the US. As far as I'm concerned, northern Thailand is one of the best places to ride on the planet.

In the cities and in the country, there are constantly people out cleaning the streets. Many are paid by the city and many are collecting things to be recycled for money. Not like the US where trash piles up along the roadside for months until we get a crew of convicts to pick it up for us. It was rare to see more than a few pieces of trash on the road during a long ride.

Yeah, there is a lot of pollution and there are places where trash is allowed to collect, but the same can be said about NYC, and Bangkok has 3x the population.
From my limited time in Thailand last year, the Chinatown area of Bangkok is just as nasty as New York City's Chinatown, in terms of indeterminate sludge, fish guts, and smells of decay. I'm not saying you need larger tires for it, but I would say it's far from clean. Though, I think, as with NYC, Bangkok is a little different neighborhood to neighborhood in terms of sewage and trash.

I didn't see many bikes in Bangkok during my visit there either, though certainly a ridiculous amount of mopeds, motor scooters, and tuk-tuks.
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Old 08-13-09, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by REMspeedwagon View Post
i don't know about that.. at least where i'm from.
i walk my road bike a mile before i get to the street. hah..
OK, I'll give you that. Have you ever ridden up in the mountains? I really miss all the amazing riding around Chaing Mai.



The streets are definitely dominated by motorbikes and cars. In CM, it is about 50/50, motorbikes to other vehicles. In BKK, it was the busses that were killer. In the big roads they owned the two outside lanes and they had no problem pushing you out of the way. Otherwise, the traffic was much better in Bangkok than in the north. It was always a treat to get down there to ride.

It is a city, so there is going to be some dirty/smelly parts. But it is no worse than any big US city. I rode a lot between Khao Sarn Rd and Siam Square, Sukumvit or Lumphini Park. I really enjoyed that part of town.

I was surprised by the lack of bikes all around the country. There are a lot more in the rural areas and up north, but a lot of people are getting loans to buy motorbikes so they don't want bikes. The middle class is growing though. I saw a few of people every day on $2000-$3000 MTB's. They only use them for recreation though. I'd see them in the evenings on my normal climb. I doubt they'd ever use them to get around.
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Old 08-13-09, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by TimArchy View Post
Oh no! Slums where people have dirt floors and no air conditioning and roosters in their yards! Poor people are so sad to look at. They make me feel bad!

Just because people are poor doesn't mean they are automatically sad and miserable.
I don't think I said anything like that (although I'm not so sure that there's anything wrong with feeling bad about the existence of poverty). I was simply surprised at the way poverty and affluence exist right next door to each other in Bangkok. That's something you don't see so much of here in the U.S.

Originally Posted by TimArchy View Post
This assumption that Thailand is dirty and you need larger tires to ride there is absurd. In two years of daily riding on 23's, I only got two flats. The roads there, both in Chiang Mai and Bangkok, are smoother and cleaner than any city I have been to in the US. As far as I'm concerned, northern Thailand is one of the best places to ride on the planet.
The roads in Bangkok were indeed smoother than the roads in New York City. Road conditions aren't why I wouldn't ride a bike there -- it's the traffic. It's terrifying. And I've lived and ridden in NYC all my life. As to the streets being dirty, I guess that's relative. Off the big avenues (like Sukhumvit), they were absolutely filthy. I'd come home after a day out and my shoes would be grimy beyond anything I'd ever seen at home.

Originally Posted by TimArchy View Post
Yeah, there is a lot of pollution and there are places where trash is allowed to collect, but the same can be said about NYC, and Bangkok has 3x the population.
Bangkok is definitely polluted. The air is pretty much blue with two-stroke exhaust, what with the millions of tuk-tuks and small motorcycles and scooters.

I don't think Bangkok has quite three times the population of New York. I think their official populations are roughly equal, but Bangkok apparently has a few million unofficial residents on top of that. Still not quite three times the size of New York. Close to twice the population, maybe.
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Old 08-17-09, 08:13 AM
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My bad. you are totally right on the populations. I'm not sure what I was thinking.

The traffic is not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. A major positive point is the near absence of low-level road rage. In two years, I never had a driver honk or yell at me in anger. I would take lanes and run lights and split traffic, but no one ever seemed to get upset about it. In fact, nearly every day I would get a thumps up or see several people smile and wave at me. I found it just about as safe as riding in NYC but with a lot less anger.

It isn't like I didn't have some bad experiences riding there. I got hit by a dump truck in my first year that fractured my spine. Got no compensation because the driver didn't have insurance. But as soon as I could I was back on a bike, riding to work and for fun.
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Old 08-17-09, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by TimArchy View Post
OK, I'll give you that. Have you ever ridden up in the mountains? I really miss all the amazing riding around Chaing Mai
I do most of my riding on mountain roads.
I live by Pak Chong, in the middle of nowhere.. sort of by Khao Yai.
I've heard they have some of the best ozone in the world?
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Old 08-30-09, 01:57 AM
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Originally Posted by TimArchy View Post
I got hit by a dump truck in my first year that fractured my spine.
I remember reading your thread W/ Pics on this before I moved to BKK. I've been here now for 9 months and I'm trying to get my bike here or just buy a new frame. I'd like to PM you for a few details on getting a bike over. Assuming, that you know them.
Glad to hear you're back in the saddle!
Cheers!
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Old 08-30-09, 02:05 AM
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Originally Posted by REMspeedwagon View Post
lol, i am the same way.. thinking about the perfect bike for any particular location.
I'd go with a cross bike or some fixie with wide tires.
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Old 08-30-09, 05:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Arab T.R. Wrist View Post
I remember reading your thread W/ Pics on this before I moved to BKK. I've been here now for 9 months and I'm trying to get my bike here or just buy a new frame. I'd like to PM you for a few details on getting a bike over. Assuming, that you know them.
Glad to hear you're back in the saddle!
Cheers!
Getting your bike from the states might be hard. I checked mine on the plane and it was about $150 each way. Shipping by anything other than freight (on a ship) would probably be $400-$500. There are some people selling complete bikes over there, but I'm not sure who. In march or April, a shop in Chiang Mai started selling Something that closely resembled a Republic bike for about $400. If you are about 5'8'' or shorter, you could probably find a used frame to build in BKK. The kids there go through bikes like candy. They always want something new. If you're taller, check out Fyxomatosis. I got a frame from Andy (the one that got destroyed by the truck) and it only cost $100 to ship by air from AUS.

To get in touch with the local scene, contact Ball at BKK Fixed or Ake at Siam Fixed. Or just check out Sneeka Villa on Soi 11 in Siam Square, right behind the Hard Rock. That's Ball's shop. They are both very cool and they both speak good english. You can tell them that Kyle sent you.
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