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PHOTOS: Christopher Chen | WORDS: Adam Taylor-Campbell
For quite some time I had heard murmurings about ‘The Collector’, an intriguing Singapore character with a magnificent bicycle collection to match. The first time I saw Ah Joo I was out riding with friends; as we rolled up to a small group of cyclists, he immediately stood out, riding a traditional steel frame and carrying a small bag over his shoulder. We greeted the group and carried on but mentions of ‘The Collector’ peppered the conversation thereafter.
The next time I saw Ah Joo was at six o’clock in the morning, at the start of a Rapha Gentlemen’s Race; again in Singapore, this time astride a beautiful Richard Sachs. I immediately went over and introduced myself; it’s not often that you see someone riding a Sachs in Asia. I started to talk to him about his bike and he then described several more of his bikes and my eyes lit up. It was then Ah Joo kindly invited me to “the space upstairs”, his car-restoration workshop, to view his collection of bicycles.
Nothing could prepare me for what I found; it was like discovering a lost city. For suspended in the rafters, was row upon row of gorgeous road bikes, paintwork immaculate, chrome parts catching rays of light, casting reflections on the walls and ceiling. Every kind of classic marque, tube and component, all lovingly preserved in this humble workshop.
Singapore and the rest of South-East Asia now feature as part of the Rapha Continental, Rapha’s global cycling adventure to discover the roads less travelled. To see the custom bikes designed specifically for each region in the Continental project, as well as interviews with the builders who created them, visit: rapha.cc/builders