The Malaysian fixed gear scene exploded within the last decade, evident in the huge numbers of fixie riders who would turn out for the weekly Critical Mass Kuala Lumpur events. Today they're not as active or should we say as prominent as they used to be. However, there are signs that the subculture has its own cult following still, even though the main faces or movers and shakers have changed over the years.
This was evident at the recent Malaysian Fixed Gear Gathering 2019 in Malacca, hosted by Aku Suka Kopi at Jonker Walk. The event was co-organised by the folks at Yellow Bike Company, Versussika Fixed Gear and JBX, who wanted to start the years with a bang. Nearly 100 riders turned up for the gathering, not counting their families and friends who tagged along.
For a fee of only RM30, participants could compete in an Alleycat race, a Track Stand, Longest Skid and a Footdown contest. After a break for the evening Maghrib prayers, a video screening of the West Bike Messenger's "TIMUR" was held, after which participants were treated to a barbecue spread. For those who stayed on for the night, a chill ride was held the following morning.
To get some perspective of the event, we spoke to Ahmad Dhamiri Nur or more affectionately known as Dimi. As a part of the Yellow Bike Company, Dimi was one of the main men who co-organised the gathering. Many thanks also to Hadib Salam for supplying us with some excellent photos.
A couple of us were in Melaka for a short vacation with their families and realised that Melaka would be a great place to hold a Fixed Gear Gathering since it was a pretty bicycle friendly town, it has a lot of things to see and is a great place for a short getaway. Aku Suka Kopi hosted us because one of the owners use to ride fixed gear and thought it would be great to hold the gathering and screening there, since they had an event space at the back of their place.
We had almost 100 riders as well as friends and families that came to the event. A majority of them were local, coming from KL, Ipoh, Johor and Melaka. We also had a group of Indonesian Fixed Gear riders that came.
Of course, we are happy! We didn't expect such a big number coming, we actually only expected less than 50 people. It really exceeded our expectations.
We are now planning to do it a yearly event for the time being. I reckon that making it a yearly thing ensures that the fixed gear riders look forward to something different than the races.
We have to say that this was one of our biggest alley cat races. Around 40-45 people joined!
We also took the opportunity to pick Dimi's brain regarding a new trend in cycling events. Alleycat and Crit formats of races are becoming more popular this year, giving something fresh to look forward to on the annual cycling calendar.
"The appeal of the alleycat and crit races are different, attracting a different crowd of riders compared to road races.
Alleycats are rooted in the messenger culture around the world and these events attracts riders who want to challenge themselves in navigating a city they're accustomed to with a combination of tasks at the checkpoints.
Although these are generally frowned upon by the cycling world due to how reckless they appear to be, alleycat races have been growing tremendously since they first started. Take a look at the hugely popular and challenging MonsterTrack held in New York City every year or the Stupor Bowl in Minneapolis (2nd longest running alleycat in the world).
Crit Races, on the other hand, have been held for road bikes for a while and they have gained momentum due to the fact that a crit is relatively easy to organise. They don't require a lot of space and the general public can enjoy a crit more because it's held on a closed loop track. It has become some sort of a spectator sport.
In the fixed gear world, there are crits like the Mission Crit in San Francisco. It’s an unsanctioned bicycle criterium held on a short, technical circuit in the Mission District of San Francisco. It is so unsanctioned that it’s the first race of its kind to win approval from the City of San Francisco.
And what about Red Hook Crit, one of the biggest fixed gear series in the world? Held in Red Hook, Brooklyn since 2008, it has attracted fixed gears riders from all over the world and now even professional road cyclists have started participating in them."
As lovers of all segments of pedal powered activities, the Cycling Plus Malaysia team has been quite happy with this change from your normal road races and off-road competitions. Whichever cycling disipline you subscribe to, it's great to see all manner of formats becoming regular events in the local scene.