Up at the crack of dawn, we start our ride through the bustling streets of Bangkok. As the sun struggles to break through the dense smog that engulfs the city, we wrestle and weave through the maddening metropolis. People flood the streets. Market stalls pop up around us, and woks roar as they fire up and perfume the air with an explosion of rich Thai aromas. For once we won’t stop. We’re on a mission, we tell ourselves as we ignore the pull of the pad thai, and arrive at our destination: Bicycle Boys Clubhouse (BBCH).
Tucked away on Charoen Krung – the first road ever built in Thailand – Bicycle Boys Clubhouse is a breath of fresh air. A bike and coffee shop specializing in fixed/track bikes, high-end components, and kick-ass food. Surrounded by an array of artisans, specialty coffee hideouts, and a lowkey vinyl record store, the space exudes a sense of style. But BBCH is more than just a trendy bike shop: it’s a statement and a community.
At just 24 years old, Klong is one of the youngest bike shop owners we’ve met. But, what he may lack in years, he more than makes up for in drive, ambition, and vision. “With Bicycle Boys Club House, I want to redefine Thai people’s relationship with bicycles,” he explains. “In previous generations, our elders had to ride bicycles because they simply could not afford other means of transport. The bicycle was seen as a symbol of the lower classes and that’s left a strong stigma here in Bangkok – but one I’m working hard to break,” he beams as he continues to show us around the space.
For Klong and a growing number of young Thai people, the bicycle is more than just a tool for transportation and fitness – it’s a statement. “Bikes are linked to art, music and fashion. They showcase culture and lifestyle; and now they’re our way to creatively express ourselves,” Klong effuses. As the organizer of numerous alley cats, crit races, fixed gear tours and fortnightly fixed rides around Bangkok’s streets, it’s obvious that they’re words he lives by.
So how did a 24-year-old kid from Bangkok fall in love with fixed gear bikes? Well, like all great millennial love stories, fixies and Klong began on social media. Glued to the screen, he spent hours watching videos from the USA, UK and Europe. Macaframa, Mash SF, and Keirin Berlin became new role models and soon after, he bought his very first fixie: an unbranded, multi-colored steel masterpiece from the 1970s.
“I love riding fixed gear bikes because they’re simple and uncomplicated. They feel like an extension of you, rather than something you’re riding,” Klong explains, “But riding is only one aspect of my addiction nowadays. What I enjoy just as much is the community, the people and the subculture that surrounds the fixed gear movement. Since riding fixies, I’ve developed life-long friendships, found my purpose and I hope, started to create a community for Thai people to share their passion too.”
Entering the BBCH space, you immediately know why it’s called a clubhouse. Rarely can a space transition from coffee shop to bike shop to evening hangout spot so seamlessly. Maybe it’s the Thai spirit where home and work combine and come together, one inextricably linked to the other? Maybe it’s because in Thailand you feel ‘at home’ eating out or having a drink because you’re usually in someone’s home. Whatever it is, it works and it’s such a special thing to experience.
After whipping up a latte that would rival the best coffee shops in the world, Klong rests his arm on a sticker-laden La Marzocco espresso machine and asks “Have you guys had breakfast yet? I’d love to show you our signature Bicycle Boy Wagyu Beef.” We jump on his offer like a couple of famished street dogs. An unlikely breakfast perhaps – but as the alluring smell of charcoal floats through the air, we can tell this was going to be a breakfast to remember. Simple fried rice, charred tomatoes, and baby pak choi accompany the blushing pink Wagyu. Cooked to perfection, the dish combines salt, sweet, acid and heat to deliver a knockout punch of flavor that’d send Iron Mike to the canvas. Is this the best meal we’ve had in Thailand so far? Let’s put it this way, it was a start to a shop visit that will be hard to forget.
Sufficiently caffeinated and with full bellies, we’d almost forgotten why we were there. “Klong, stop feeding us bro. We’re supposed to be working!” Sam says, as I fight a food coma, relaxing and frankly loving life. We eventually pull ourselves together and explore the upstairs, a space we’ve since referred to as the fixie kingdom of Bangkok.
Through its full-frame windows, the harsh Bangkok light floods the loft-like space. Frames hang from the rafters, chromed-out components glisten on the walls, and stacks of Loop Magazines rest patiently. From eye-watering custom builds, to basic servicing, BBCH covers the whole gamut of bike-related TLC. In their range, they offer framesets from the world’s best including Pista, Pursuit, Mash, Affinity, Colnago, Tony Romingers, Kalavinka, Stelbel, and Rossin.
But the BBCH culture isn’t just about peddling premium brands, it’s about challenging the status quo: Klong and the team want to build bikes that inspire Thai people to see cycling not merely as a transport choice, but as a way of living.
Museum of Bikes
As well as selling bad-ass modern fixies, BBCH is also home to some pretty special historical bikes. Here’s the run-down of some of Klong’s favorites that are kicking around the BBCH space.
Preeda Chullamondhol’s Original Track Bike
Preeda Chullamondhol is a legendary cyclist in Thailand. In 1964 he helped take the first-ever Thai National Cycling team to the Olympic games. In 1966, he won four gold medals in the Asian Games, and in 1968, at the Southeast Asian Games in Bangkok, he won seven gold medals.
This bike is Preeda’s original training bike from the 1960s. Klong has kept it 100% original to preserve the history and authenticity of the man that put Thai racing on the map.
DeRosa 35th Anniversary
Born in Milan in 1934, Ugo De Rosa’s bikes are a thing of race bike royalty. His frames have carried countless champions to podium finishes, including Gianni Motta, Eddy Merckx, and Francesco Moser.
To mark the 35th Anniversary of the De Rosa brand, they built just 350 of these beautiful Columbus SLX steel frames. With its flat fork crown, full Campagnolo C-Record components and a set of eye-wateringly beautiful engraved Delta brakes – this bike is a highly desirable and collectable masterpiece.
No.22 Little Wing Ti
This is Klong’s personal bike: a No.22 Little Wing handbuilt using American-sourced 3Al-2.5V titanium tubing by Frank Cenchitz in NYC. Alongside Klong’s build kit, the frame has beautiful details including, seat stay bridges that are water-jet cut from a solid plate of 6/4 titanium to add strength and that bespoke signature Little Wing aesthetic.
Set up for urban shredding, Klong has styled this rig out with a set of Enve 3.4 rims laced to polished Phil Wood hubs, a Sugino 75DD crankset, AARN chainring and a custom stem by Fetska.
3Rensho Lo-Pro Track
Built by one of Keirin racing’s most celebrated builders Yoshi Konno, this is a one-off Lo-Pro Track, in hot pink and sunshine yellow.
With its aerodynamic modeulo lugs, wishbone seat stays and Nitto Tsubasa 3 handle bar it’s a highly collectable and rare as hens teeth version of a much loved Rensho classic.
Watch This Space
It’s 11:30am now and we’re running out of time – we’ve got a train booked for 12:00pm to Ayutthaya and a bike tour to start. So as we wrap up the day at BBCH, fire off the last few frames and place the lens caps on the camera, we can’t help but feel sad to leave. Perhaps it’s the connection we felt to Klong’s mission? Perhaps it’s the way his space flows from cafe, to restaurant, to bad-ass bike museum, while simultaneously making you feel as welcome as if you were in your mate’s living room? Whatever it is, at just about one year old, BBCH is just getting started.
So next time you’re in Bangkok, be sure to swing by and say hey to Klong and the crew. There’s a silky coffee, a treasure trove of bicycles and a big bowl of yum with your name on it!