Courtesy of Druthers Bicycle Rental
Cycling is fast becoming a popular way to tour a city.
I remembered how enjoyable it was cycling around Whistler back when my family visited Canada. There is something magical about the sensation of wind rushing through your body and blood coursing through your muscles as you soak in the sights, sounds and scents of your surroundings. Moreover, you can choose to stop anytime to take photo if you so fancy.
Thanks to Druthers Bike Rental Singapore, you can now enjoy cycling tours in sunny Singapore. For just S$10 an hour (S$70 for a whole day or 24 hours), you can pick up a foldable bicycle (also called a foldie) from Druthers in Boat Quay, or request for it to be delivered to your hotel at the Civic District/Marina Bay area.
Located along the Singapore River at Boat Quay, Druthers offers more than a dozen foldies for rental. According to owner-operator Andrew Goh, they are unique in that they offer the following:
1) Foldable bicycles for rental with a unique fold and roll feature. One can bring these bicycles on board MRT trains (during offpeak periods ie Mon-Fri: 9.30am – 4.00pm & 8.00pm to end of service; all day on weekends/public holidays).
2) Druthers is the only rental bike operator in the city, close to the major hotels. Most of their customers are tourists.
3) All Druthers bicycles come fitted with branded parts like Shimano gears, and are custom designed.
4) A map and brochure showing possible sightseeing routes is also provided to renters.
Sharing his experience with Siva, Ivan Chew and myself, Andrew started the business 7 months ago after identifying a possible niche for bicycle tours in the city. A former bank employee who ORD-ed last year, he knocked on doors at hotels and worked with concierges to build the business at a tender young age of 23.
To differentiate his business from other competitors, Andrew chose to focus on foldies as opposed to full sized bicycles. These are easier to transport and offer greater flexibility and mobility. Interestingly, the American originated word “Druthers” means “my choice or preference”, and was chosen as the brand name of his own bikes.
Assembled and designed in Taiwan with the main frame made in China (like most bicycles), Druthers bicycles are also available for sale at S$450 each. Considerably cheaper than a Brompton or Dahon at S$2,000 or more, Druther bikes are light, flexible and easy to bring around. For buyers, Andrew provides a comprehensive maintenance programme like most retailers. However, he focuses more on rentals than sales.
What’s most surprising was how Druthers clinched the top spot on Trip Advisor for Shopping. The popular travel portal provides an important source of referrals for the fledgling business. Reading the rave reviews, one can tell that Andrew must’ve been pretty customer oriented to garner such accolades.
Like most lifestyle businesses, Andrew’s peak periods tend to be over the weekends. Mornings also tend to be better than afternoons. As the shop was located at the 2nd floor of a shophouse in Boat Quay (where Forum Seafood is), it was also challenging to attract walk-in customers or move the bikes up and down.
To improve visibility, Andrew will be shifting his bikes to a prime ground floor location. He also intends to offer Internet access, drinks and snacks as well as to play some hip music to generate greater attention.
While business has been fairly fine thus far (Andrew recouped initial investments and achieved breakeven) growth has been limited as it is a one-man show. To expand, Druthers is currently looking for a customer service staff (details on Druthers’ Facebook page).
To maximise his capacity, I proposed that he offer cheaper rates for targeted groups like students or seniors during weekdays. That could reduce the cost barriers for these potential customers.
Ending on a personal note, Andrew revealed how fortunate he was that both his working parents – dad works in the factory while mum is in customer service – supported his business venture. Graduating from a polytechnic before his National Service, Andrew is currently also studying part time at SIM for a degree in Economics and Finance. It must’ve been pretty tough to balance a full-time business with part-time studies.