The Flying Pigeon

5/8/11

Jeff bought me a bike. Meet my Flying Pigeon, or as I refer to her, The Pidge.
The first time I saw a Flying Pigeon it was rusted and chained to a bike rack somewhere, and it was love at first sight. The classic style above has been in production since the 1950's in Tianjin, China. Old Flying Pigeons can be seen around Singapore, often ridden by uncles and not lanky expats. Part of the reason I got it is because it is a really large bike and I have long legs. And because I'm a sucker for nostalgia and they just don't make things like they used to. 
While reading up on Flying Pigeon history, I discovered an article by Dan Koeppel called "Flight of the Pigeon" about the famous and historic bicycle brand and its origins in Communist China.

According to the article, a Flying Pigeon was "so ingrained in Chinese culture that it remains part of an important tradition known as san zhuan yi xiang, or 'three rounds and a sound.' The term refers to the four items a husband traditionally supplied to his bride: The 'rounds' are the face of a watch, the spindle of a sewing machine and the wheels of a bicycle, and the 'sound' represents a transistor radio."
Only available in black.
Old school rod brakes. Next up: a vintage dynamo headlight.

I've observed that Singapore isn't the most bike-friendly of cities, so let's see how my exploration of the island with The Pidge goes. Any tips on where to buy vintage bike parts and Singapore bike riding in general are always welcome! 

31 comments:

  1. Love it! What an awesome gift!

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  2. Thanks Jill. All I want to do is go on bike rides now!

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  3. what a fabulous present..... and love the name .... they really are a beautiful bike!

    My red bike was called "Jezabel". Not quite in the same class as yours though. We parted with our bikes to move here. :-(

    Once you start to explore all the new park interconnectors I am sure you will be off and running .. sorry, riding!

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  4. Cool bike! I bought myself a vintage Raleigh a few weeks ago after a few months of online shopping. I saw lots of links to the FPs. There is a guy in NYC that has a website devoted to them. One guy online buys lots of parts and accessories from Chinese vendors on eBay. That might be a good start.

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  5. @Elia I think you're referring to http://www.flyingpigeonproject.org/ and yes, I've already learned a lot about him. I'm checking out a vintage bike part shop this week here in Sacramento. I love vintage bikes! Cheers for scoring a Raleigh, too.

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  6. Cool bike! Very unfortunately for myself I never actually learned how to ride a bike. I was allergic to sun as a kid, which means that all the life skills I have are strictly indoors-related.

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  7. Wow what a cool bike. Like Kirsten I don't know how to ride a bike either...absolutely no balancing ability.

    Your photos are just always so beautiful...takes my breath away :)

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  8. It is beautiful!
    Where did Jeff buy it?

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  9. @kirsten and @bookjunkie I can teach you guys how to ride a bike! It's easy.

    @50 foot QE we bought it from a bike shop on Joo Chiat Road. The lady that we bought it from is Madam Ong, or "Auntie Bicycle" as she says.

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  10. what a beauty! never knew bike shops in sgp still carry them! the park connectors along the east should be a lovely ride. please don't ride on the roads. Sgp roads are horrible to cyclists.

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  11. Coming late to this post, but how are you liking the Pigeon? I'm moving to Singapore soon and am going to be on the hunt for a bike with a frame suitable for long legs as well.

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  12. @cait, I LOVE the Pidge. The rod brakes it comes with are not the best for stopping if you're going fast, but the bike isn't meant to go fast. It's perfect for cruising around Singapore.

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  13. Glad that you're loving the Pidge, and thanks for the heads up about the brakes! Looking forward to exploring Singapore on two wheels.

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  14. Have you checked out Entro Cycles at Kaki Bukit? They have a nice selection of vintage-looking Brooks accessories. Just got a pair of Brooks handle bar grips from there, will be back for the B17 saddle next ;)

    http://entro.com.sg/brooks09.htm

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    1. hey there! what's the price range of the Brookes saddles?

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  15. Wow, this looks amazing! My friend was just talking about someone here (in Vancouver) who brings in containers full of vintage bikes from China, and I really hope this is the sort of stuff he has. I'll totally scoop one up!

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  16. Hey, may I know where exactly did you buy it from? The name of the shop?

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    1. I bought my basic FP yesterday after (whoo hoo) at http://www.tongah.com.sg/

      they're at: Block 13, North Bridge Road #01- 3962

      She also carries accessories :) Have fun

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  17. Can't remember at the moment, but it's between East Coast Road and Koon Seng Road on Joo Chiat Road, closer to East Coast Road. It's in a shophouse. From what I recall, there are only about two bike shops, and the one I bought it run by and uncle and auntie. It's an older-looking business, and the shop looks like it's been there forever.

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  18. That is indeed a lovely bike :)

    Do you happen to know a place which rents such bikes in Singapore? We are doing a student musical production and it would be a great prop! We'd probably need to rent for a day or two..

    If you happen to have any info kindly let me know at alika.tuwo@gmail.com. Thank you so much!

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  19. Hi Flora,

    May I know is this bicycle too heavy and too big to cycle around Singapore?

    I'm 1.6m and not sure if i can handle this pretty bike!

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  20. @J, It's a pretty heavy all steel frame, and I'm 1.8m. I have had to lug it up stairs before and it's not something I'd want to do often. I stick to sidewalks and Park Connectors.

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  21. i stand at 1.8m too, and have got the exact same bike as you ... but lately the constant rain/shine weather is just terrible ... i hope you've been having fun on your now-months-old pidgey!!

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  22. Hey flora!!

    Beautiful bike!! My gf is bugging to get a vintage bike like yours. Care to share what's the price for the bike?

    Cheers! ;)

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  23. hey flora,

    how much did you get the bike for? i'm looking for the female step-through frame though

    thanks!

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    1. Mine was about USD150 when I bought it. The step-through frame might be less because it's smaller.

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  25. I bought one in 2008 and I used it for commuting to the MRT station for 3 years until i got a car. This bike eats brakepads for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the unpainted parts such as rims and handlebars rusted in just days. But i just loved it so much. Its a very comfortable and practical cruiser. I cable-tied a milk crate to the rear rack, and it served well as a utility bike. I added a circular lock and changed the saddle to a triple-sprung brooks replica. So far its been surviving well in Singapore's climate, even though I had left it out in the open for 6 months cos I couldn't find the keys. Now I still ride it occasionally. My advice to future owners is that this bike is very user-serviceable, and it will help to learn how to maintain it by yourself, as it requires some attention now and then, but after which it will serve you well. Another requirement are strong thigh muscles, which will be gained the more you ride this bike. Enjoy the flying pigeon!!

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    1. Thanks for the thoughtful comment!

      I love my bike. Currently it's on display in my house, because ever since the movers took it apart when I relocated to the US, it has never been the same.

      I cable-tied a wine crate to the back of mine, too. I think my next upgrade will be new rims and gum rubber wheels when it's time to replace them. I don't have the heart to get rid of the rod brakes though, but if I ever do I'll convert it to fixed gear.

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