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Jakarta’s Record Fixed Gear Ride

By Lauren Zumbach

Photo by Rifandy

Most days of the week, you’d need to be crazy—or have a death wish—to venture into Jakarta’s rush hour traffic on a bike. On Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, though, you’d be in good company. Two days a week, for a few hours at least, the city’s endless traffic jam turns into a fixed gear bike jam.

For fixed gear enthusiasts, Jakarta is an urban playground. No one seems certain how the psychedelically painted single-gear bikes became so popular in Indonesia’s largest city, but Dian, one of the Jakarta’s early adopters, says there are now over 1800 fixed gear owners in Jakarta and at least 4000 throughout Indonesia.

That’s a big number in a city notorious for its lack of opportunities for outdoor exercise, and even more impressive is their dedication. 1522 fixed gear riders, plus an additional thousand other bikers, turned up at one of the city’s malls, Epicentrum Walk, on a Sunday night in June to attempt to set a world record for the most fixed riders hitting the streets at once, crushing the 1000 rider target.

Cyclists like Adi said they were just out to have a good time, enjoying some well-deserved refreshments, camaraderie and live entertainment after the ride, organized by Jakarta’s bike community, Tremorz. But Dian, a Tremorz founder, said he hoped the record could also fuel momentum towards creating a more bike-friendly city.

He said interest in biking began building in 2007, as people grew increasingly frustrated with hours spent sitting in their cars. The fixed gear craze came later—even in 2009, Dian says Tremorz, then called “Gowess,” only had about 20 members.

Whatever the reason, sales of the brightly colored bikes exploded, and now Tremorz attracts at least 200 members each night they ride. Riders are hoping to turn that popularity in concrete action making it easier to choose cycling as their go-to method of transportation, rather than just a for fun.

Dian is making the switch, which helps him save money on fuel costs, and the 40 minute drive to his office is a more enjoyable 15 minutes when he travels on two wheels. But even he hasn’t been able to give up his car completely.

“For longer trips, I still need the car,” he said. “And they don’t do anything to make it easy for riders here.”

Separate bicycle lanes, bicycle parking areas at malls and showers at offices are all on Tremorz members’ wish lists - simple additions that would make it easier for Jakartans to keep their cars off the roads.

“We believe that Jakarta won’t be able to handle it’s own traffic management even in just the next five years,” Dian explained. “We try to share with members that if we only switch our mode of transportation to bicycles, we gain a healthier life, new friends, and it’s just easier to get around.”



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