With the hefty hike in price of fuel, using bicycles to move around for shorter distances is now the best alternative. Beside saving some money on fuel, you get a simple workout to excercise you limbs and burn a few calories of energy which otherwise would turn to ugly fat. Riding bicycles is also a very low impact excercise which will not harm the bone joints of elderly obese people like me.
Basikal can be literally translated as Japanese Bicycles just like its cousin the selipar Jepun. Why are the people in Kelantan calling such bicycles as basikal Jepun or Japanese bicycles? The answer is because these bicycles came from Japan even though some of them were made in China. The ones that are really made in Japan are most sought after due to their high quality.
Some stories making the round says it that these bicycles were impounded by the local authorities in Japan due to some reason or other. Or they were simply left behind by the owner. I tend to believe this theory because when I was in Hirakata Park near Osaka Japan I saw hundreds of such bicycles were being lined up against one another. They were in various stages of rustiness but nevertheless can be made serviceable. When I enquired why they were let to rot there, the answer was that they were impounded by the authorities. I dont believe the Japanese are so rich that they simply leave their bicycles around and just forget about them. Infact I did see an elderly couple lovingly touching up their quite old bucycles with a new coat of paint.
When these bicycles found their way to Kelantan, a young man from Rantau Panjang whom we know as Abe, was the pioneer to bring them to Kelantan. (Abe is from the word abang and not Abe as in Abraham). His market was initially the poor around Rantau Panjang especially the school kids who are too poor to afford the motorbikes. The bike quality seems to attract a different kind of buyer later on when the affluent started buying them. With some polishing up and minor repairs the bikes were as good as new. It became a craze in areas near to Rantau Panjang and generally in the district of Pasir Mas. New consignments were waited by eager crowds eager to get hold of the best. A lorry load of 300 bicycles were snapped up in a matter of hours with some buying up many bicycles to retail further.
Unloading the bicycles from a lorry which just came back from Johor.
Abe Pa makes the bike look new and serviceable.
Now you can find used bicycle vendors everywhere even in Machang, Kota Bharu and later even to Jerteh Trengganu. Uncleawang said it is also available in Sarawak
The bikes being lined up for sale in Mekasar Pasir Mas Kelantan
When a vendor first open up shop in Pasir Mas, not many people would give a second look at the rusted up bicycles. Later after being spruced up, the same phenomenon developed where hordes of people waited for new arrivals to look for a good buy.
An aluminium alloy bike can be distinguished by the weldmark on the body. They are very light.
The craze with the bikes caught up with the rich who will not think twice about spending up to RM1500 for a good bike made of aluminium allow or stainless steel. Brand names such as Miyata, Bridgestone, National and a few others are much in demand due to their high quality finish. They differ in many aspects compared to the locally produced bikes. Being made of steel and not iron helps in not only strength but also ability to be polished up.
A Giant cross is a prized catch.
Panasonic, Miyata, Bridgestone, Marukin are some of the sought after brands.
A racing bike
A folding Chevrolet
Now the craze has toned down and most sales are for the school going children with the bikes being sold at below RM300. The beauty of the bike is that they come with a dynamo which is coupled to a lamp with photosensor. The lamp will light up only when the lamp detect darkness. The dynamos are built into the hub of the fron tyres and doest produce a drag like the conventional dynamoes that rub against the tyre wall.Another feature is the speed gears which comes in several levels from three to seven. The gears are usually housed in the hub of the rear wheel.Speed gears using the system as in the racing bikes are also available.
A fancy bike
An even fancier one with a fatso on it.
We all know that the modern bicycles are driven by pedalling and the power is trnsmitted via a chain to turn the real wheel. Do you know that some of the Japanese bikes are driven by a belt not unlike the one found on cars to turn the alternators or the aircond compressors. There are also direct driven bikes whose pedal power iis transmitted by a solid shaft to the rear wheel.
A belt driven bike. The belt is similar to the timing belt of a car.
All types of bicycles are available from the city bikes for ladies and gents, to mountain bikes and racing bikes. A cross is one that is a cross between a city bike and a racing bike. One thing that is obvious is the seat of the city bikes, they are comfortable to support any big rumps that most of us have.
A downhill mountain bike dressed to kill
These bicycles were imported into Malaysia via Johor ports in containers. Dealers from Kelantan will go there to get their supplies and bring them back in lorries. They were packed like sardines with all obstrusive parts such as handle bars, seats and baskets with their support removed to improve space.
Upon arrival the dealers will sell as is or have them spruned up till serviceable.
My grand daughter Lis riding a folding bike in Taman Amanputra Puchong
I have several bikes myself but their usage is now decreasing. With the hike in fuel price, the bikes will get to be used again soon. Thank you Pak Lah. I will change my lifestyle that now I can't afford to use much of the three cars and the two motorbikes that I have in the house. When the full market price in August comes, I might dispose one of the cars.
We had great fun riding in groups. Waiting to start the ride.
One of the group rides was to Tumpat where we passed by The Sitting Buddha.
The group taking a break.