Here at Cycling Plus Malaysia, we absolutely adore local talent who aspire to not only take Malaysia to the international stage, but also to provide Malaysians with great quality products at affordable prices.
In our previous issue we featured a local cyclist who is building his own bike brand, and that story inspired a lot of young people who are looking into getting themselves into the industry. This time around, we met up with another aspiring Malaysian who is adding some of his own goodness to the local cycling industry.
He goes by the name Fazlan Adhili Mastafa Kamar. A 27-year-old entrepreneur who is not only an ace on the bike, Fazlan is also changing the mindset on locally made cycling apparel.
But before we delve deeper into Fazlan’s personal story, let’s talk about the elephant in the room and why we think Fazlan’s Plan A is starting to alter the way we look at local cycling apparel.
It’s a well known fact that fashion plays a big part in road cycling. If that wasn’t the case, then we wouldn’t see cyclists hunting for the most unique colours and designs in bike frames as well as clothing.
It doesn’t stop there either, because a big part of road cycling is the coordination of all these different things. Combined, they can make someone feel really good on the bike. Some even go as far as planning what colour bike to purchase based on their cycling wardrobe, and vice versa.
You might laugh and think this can’t be true, but we all know deep down that vanity plays a major role in amateur road cycling. This usually gets people on the web to look for the best apparel designs from international brands, because anything local is just not that cool or comes in bad quality.
This is not the case for Fazlan’s Plan A line, because somehow he has managed to give it that international dandy feel, yet kept it at a reasonable price without compromising on quality. How does he do it?
Well, we think it’s a mix of his experience in professional cycling as well as his desire to stick at it and go all out on one plan, which gave birth to the brand name itself. “I never had plan B or B when I conceptualised the label and I didn’t want it to fail or for me to abandon the label. Which is why I called it Plan A,” explained Fazlan.
Plan A has been two years in the making, since Fazlan was still a professional cyclist. Fazlan’s decision to quit a career in professional cycling so that he can fully concentrate on his “baby” -- a side business at that point -- was purely a passionate one. He quit not because he wasn’t good at racing, but because he has always been the type of person who either gives it his all or nothing at all.
Even from his younger school days he would always make a decision to be great at one thing instead of being average at everything.
“I was born in Perak and bred in Kuala Lumpur. I started riding a bike when I was three years old. When I was at school I always loved sports which included football as well as track and field.
“I decided to pursue track and field and even managed to become a state runner. After finishing high school at Puchong Perdana I attended UiTM Melaka (Mara University of Technology Malacca) and that was where I rekindled my love with the bike.
“Whilst I was there trying to complete my diploma in graphic design my friend lent me his bicycle so that I could get from my accommodation into the campus easily. It was a fixed gear bike. After some time I got myself my own bike which I purchased from Bicycle Buy Sell (Malaysia’s online bicycle marketplace) for only RM300.
“The bicycle was convenient as it allowed me to ride straight up to my class. If I had driven a car, which UiTM clearly didn’t want us to do, I would have needed to park very far away and walk quite a distance to get to class,” said Fazlan.
Although Fazlan initially thought that the bike would only be there to help him as a form of transportation, never did he think he would be riding it for more than that. That was until he decided to participate in one particular race.
“A few months down the line, a guy from Haru Fixed asked me to take part in his event. Haru Fixed is one of the first Fixie bike events in Malaysia and also my first ever participation in any form of bike race. To my surprise, I won the race. I won it without any training, belasah saja”.
From there, the enthusiastic young man had an inkling in his bones that he could be quite good at bike racing, and so he spread his wings and started travelling around the world to participate in races. In between all that travelling Fazlan also had to further his education, which led him to London. “ So I went to the UK to further my studies, but the bicycle was still haunting me, which is why I never really ended up fully studying, haha!
“I mostly ended up in the British velodromes and at bicycle races around the world. I was starting to win small races and at one particular race in Singapore the President of Cinelli, Antonio Colombo just happened to be there. He was there on holiday but managed to watch a race that I was participating in.
“After I finished the race, which I won by the way, Antonio approached me. He said, hey, you can ride, do you want to be part of Cinelli? In my heart I was overly excited, but I was playing it cool to not be a jakun. I answered let me think about it and give you the answer tomorrow even though I knew the answer was yes.”
This was an exciting part of Fazlan’s life because to be part of the Cinelli’s Chrome team is something that many people can only dream of. The team comprised nine riders from four different continents, with Fazlan being the only one from Asia.
From here Fazlan received a lot of attention from Malaysians, especially when they saw the team picture and wondered “Siapa mamat Melayu nie dalam team Cinelli?”
Some couldn’t even believe he was Malaysian and even thought he was a South American, since these countries usually produce heavy hitting bicycle riders. This tenure with the team lasted for two years, and in 2016 a continental pro team came calling at Fazlan’s door.
“After finishing my contract with Cinelli I decided to try something different and this is where Pro UCI Continental Team CCN came in. They were based in Laos and they were looking for a sprinter. I thought I would try my luck here. It was an eye opener for me as I had to switch from Criterium type races to road. I had to also adapt fast as they threw me into the races quite quickly.
“It was a big jump for me and although I might have had the legs for it I just didn’t fancy the seriousness of things. Everything was about numbers, results. We got to travel to beautiful countries but never got the chance to see them.
“It was all training, training, training. I felt like this was not for me, even though I knew I could have pushed myself to succeed. Luckily at the time I had also setup Plan A but never took it seriously. Once again I came to a part in my life where I had to choose where I wanted to put my full concentration, and of course it was Plan A. My baby.”
Plan A was originally the brainchild of Fazlan and pro rider Hariff Salleh, from the famous Terengganu Cycling Team, TSG. After a while, Hariff decided that his priorities was in professional cycling and so Fazlan and him went separate ways.
They remained good friends, but we all know from the beginning of the story that Fazlan never had a plan B or C, so he fully concentrated on making Plan A work. “It actually only took me 10 minutes to come up with the name Plan A because I didn’t want to have any back up plans and wanted to stick to it.
“I also didn’t name it Plan A cycling or cycling club because I want Plan A to be more about a lifestyle brand and not limited to just cycling. It took a while for Plan A to take off but after managing to grab myself a great business partner, things are finally going really well.
“My partner, Izhar Moslim has helped coach me a lot in the administration and business sense. That was all I needed, the correct kind of support to make it grow. I’m pretty good with the creative side, but the business side is all Izhar’s doing. It has always been my dream to have something like Plan A. Although we are making jerseys for now, I want Plan A to be a complete habitat of all things cycling.”
One of the reasons why we think Plan A is growing exponentially is because of their use of good fabrics and clean colours. Topping up from that philosophy, Plan A have also be known to come out with some special edition jerseys designed by local artists such as Bono Stellar, a Jane of all trades from the design world.
They have also done custom jerseys for big institutions such as Touch n Go, CIMB Bank, as well as Kementerian Belia dan Sukan (The Youth and Sports Ministry). They have all acquired jerseys from Plan A not because of Fazlan’s great reputation, but because they love the quality as well as designs, which Fazlan attends to personally.
We can even say that Plan A has made it to the big time, because Fazlan confirmed that fake versions of the brand can now be bought in Malaysia.
Despite all that goes into making Plan A what it is, the cost of the original jerseys are made affordable by keeping the production in Asia. Fazlan did not want to specify which country it is manufactured in, but it’s definitely not China or Taiwan.
He hinted that it is another Asian country that has great fabrics as well as people with great machining skills. Fazlan also said that they are exploring with the idea of producing the jerseys locally for a truly Malaysian brand, as they already have all the right equipment and will probably do so in the near future.