Monday, February 6, 2012

Singapore Mountain Bike Parks

Singapore is a small little red dot in the World Map, without mountain except a handful of small little hills scatter around the Northern and Western part of the island. Despite the limited space, Singapore manages to preserve large part of the forest as nature reserves. Some of these nature reserves have become heaven for die hard mountain bikers. If you want a mountain bike trail at your backyard, try to find a house or apartment near Bukit Timah. A cost effective way is to buy a HDB flat next to Chestnut Avenue, the gateway to T15, Butterfly, Woodcutter and BT trails.

Following is a list of mountain bike parks in Singapore, which rank according to level of difficulty. The ranking will change as the trails evolve over time. Do give me your feedback if you think the ranking is unjust.

1. Kent Ridge Mountain Bike Park

Drop at Kent Ridge Bike Park
Kent Ridge Park is located in the Western part of Singapore, near the National University of Singapore and Silicone Valley of the East. Kent Ridge Park bike trail offers XC technical single-track for intermediate to advance mountain bikers; and a short technical downhill line for DH riders.

Total trail length is about 2.5km. Although the trail distance is relatively short compared to other bike trails, it was one of the most technically challenge trails in Singapore. If you drive, park at Carpark A. Free entry. (Map to Kent Ridge Park)

The trail includes berms, drop, table top, tight switchback, descent and long technical climb. The short. The XC track was perfect for skill training, especially the climb and insane downhill tight switchback. The DH track was perfect for hitting berms, but the tracks were prompt to soil erosion as sand bags were used for construction.

Entrance to Downhill Line
Drop Warning Sign
Biggest drop at Kent Ridge MTB Park
The landing was quite dangerous for this drop, as the take off and landing sections were highly eroded and made up of mainly loose dirt.

2. Bukit Timah Mountain Bike Trails
The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is one of the Asean Heritage Parks, covering 3,043 hectares and bounding four reservoirs. The forest reserve comprises of a network of mountain bike trails (both official and unofficial) that offer bikers an environment to appreciate nature, practice biking skills and improve cardiovascular wellness.

In 2013, Bukit Timah Mountain Bike Trails had undergone almost 6 months upgrade and rework. Some riders hate it while others love it. Depending on the route you chose, one complete loop is about 6.2km to 6.9km. Average riders take 40mins to complete one loop, while top riders clocked below 30mins. Grade marks were installed on each section of the trails of the upgrade. This is official mountain biking only trails, but hikers were frequently spotted so ride with care. Rock sections can be very slippery during wet weather, especially the double drop section. Free entry (Updated Aug 2014). (Map to Bukit Timah Bike Trail)

There are two usual entry points: the car park or Chestnut avenue. Whichever point you enter, you will end up at another car park (left photo) where the rock section is located. This is the place where most riders hang around before the climb.

This will be the reward for reaching the top...

(Below videos: Edited video-clip of one full lap new BT MTB trails)

(BT double drop section on Pivot Mach 6)

(BT double drop section on 26" Nomad)

(BT double drop section on 26" Nomad)

(BT Black Drop)

3. Ketam Park
Ketam Park is located in the Western part of Pulau Ubin (Granite Island), a North-Eastern island sandwiches between Singapore and Malaysia. Pulau Ubin is a tiny island covering approximately 10 square kilometres, with a population of few hundreds people. The island used to be granite quarry, but it was shut down during 1970s and remains as untouched rural heaven ever since. In 2012, Pulau Ubin was voted the Top 10 most Secret Island in the World.

To get there, you need to take a Bump boat from Changi Point Jetty, which cost S$2.50 per person one-way, and additional S$2.00 for the bike. Hence, you need a total of $9.00 to get your bike to/fro from Pulau Ubin. Just pay cash directly to the boat man. The bump boat will only leave the jetty with 12 persons on board, unless you are willing to pay $30 for the whole boat.

Ketam bike park is one of my favorites bike trails, as it was built according to standard set by International Mountain Bicycling Association. It has hosted numerous International race, and constructed with excellent drainage system that is critical to a tropical country like Singapore. Ketam bike park comprises of about 10km of bike trails, which is suitable for, novice, intermediate, and advance riders. Entry to Ketam park is free. (Map to Ketam Bike Park)

The trails are marked with blue square or black diamond. Blue square represents trails with a combination of some steep slopes, narrow track with poor traction. Black diamond represents trails with a combination of long step climbs, drop-offs and tricky obstacles.  Double black diamond represent trails with a combination of very steep climbs and drop-offs, sharp corners and tricky obstacles.

This is the entry to the black diamond trail. You can chose to enter through single diamond (easy) or double diamond (pretty challenging)...

This is the exit from black diamond trail. You can chose to exit through this COBRA double diamond (the highest number of crashes) or the easier blue square (downhill switchback)...

After the ride, you can stop by some local drink stalls along to way to freshen up. Coconut is one of my favorite drinks in Palau Ubin, which cost $2.50 per piece. You should not pay more than that. It is awesomely sweet and refreshing!

You may want to watch the following YouTube video clip (15 mins) on a ride from Siglap to Ketam Bike Park.

4. T15 and Freeride Skill-Park (Replaced by Chestnut Nature Park by end 2016)
T15 is the most forgiving mountain bike trial within the Bukit Timah Reserve. It can be accessed from Chestnut Avenue or Mandai Road (near Night Safari and Singapore Zoological Garden). A short distant ride will bring you to a Freeride Skill-Park where you can practice jump and drop. T15 also provide access to Woodcutter and Butterfly, which locates next to PUB. If you intend to ride with your kids, this is the trail to go. Free entry. (Map to T15)

Video: Full video shows you how to ride from NKF carpark to T15 (11mins), and back again to NKF carpark (11mins). Easy trails, non-technical and suitable for novice to advance riders.

5. Woodcutter & Butterfly (Forbidden)
Woodcutter (WC) and Butterfly (BF)  can be accessed from Chestnut Avenue and T15, which are within Bukit Timah perimeter. This is by far the best bike trails in Singapore, in terms of natural setting and technicality. Woodcutter trail cuts through the central catchment of the forest. According to a researcher in NUS, the forest is dying and the rare species are in the blink of extinction. All riders, hikers, bird watchers and photographers are banned from entering woodcutter. As of May 2012, 19 riders were fine for riding there. The penalties for riding in illegal trails are fine and confiscation of bikes. I would not advise you to ride in these trails  (Map to WC & BF)

Updated May 2013: According to MBASG, ban on Butterfly (BF) has been lifted and the trail has become a shared trails with hikers. However, proper trail etiquettes must be advocated to ensure the status remains. For more information about trail etiquettes, kindly refer to this link.

Updated March 2015: Butterfly trail was officially closed on 18 March 2015. According to Nparks notice board, it will be reopened on 4th quarter of 2015. However, sources indicate new mountain bike trails will be built at Chestnut area to replace Butterfly trail.

6. Tampines Mountain Bike Park (CLOSED!)
Tampines Bike Park is located in the Eastern part of Singapore, and surrounds by HDB flats and Malls. Next to the Tampines Bike Park is a BMX track, which hosted the Youth Olympic in 2010. The bike trail is artificially constructed with the intention for rider to practice technical skill and build confident before going for the real stuff. The trail is pretty short, and maintains by qualified trail builders. Excellent for practicing tight switchback and small drop. The BMX track will be free until 31st March 2012. Rider need to be certified in order to ride on the BMX track. The test fee cost $30. The entry to Tampines Mountain Bike Park is free. Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 8.00 am to 6.00 pm. Monday close. (Map to Tampines Bike Park)

Updated May 2013: According to news report, Tampines Bike Park will be closed for residential apartment development.

(Short video clip on Tampines Bike Park)

7. Chestnut Nature Park (Opened March 2017)
Chestnut Nature Park comprises of (1) Southern MTB Loop, (2) Northern MTB Loop, (3) Gangsa Challenge Park ans (4) Chestnut Pump Track. The mountain bike park was built to replace Butterfly trail, T15 trail and Freeride park at Gangsa. It took almost 1.5 years to build, with the Southern Loop completed by mid 2016 and the rest completed by March 2017. 

Chestnut Nature Park Northern Loop
Chestnut Nature Park (Southern Loop)
Finally got our first proper pump track in Singapore. Good for skill training. Tarmac was intentionally used to build the pump track for ease of maintenance and prevent soil erosion in tropical climate like Singapore.

Chestnut Pump Track
The Chestnut MTB trails run parallel with hiker trails and designed to minimize hikers intrusion. Generally well planned, the trails comprises of multiple loops graded black and blue which leads you to the Gangsa Challenge Park that were designed for jumps and drops. 

Chestnut Northern MTB Trails
Many improvements have been made to enhance riding experiences, such as smooth and flowy trails, berms, switchbacks, rock features and nature roots. Due to the nature of the forest, ponding is unavoidable. As much as what Nparks can do on trails design, drainage and rocks sections, responsible riding behavior and good mountain biking etiquette go a long way to make the MTB trails more sustainable. 
Muddy Trails Meter at Chestnut Southern MTB Loop
Chestnut Bike Park
Chestnut Bike Park is located at the Northern side of the Northern Loop. It is s Freeride bike park designed for Intermediate to Advanced Skill riders. Large berms, drops, jumps, table top and rocky sections are all located here. Be warned to wear protection gears, the rocks will not be forgiving if you crash or fall.

Chestnut Bike Park
Chestnut Bike Park
Chestnut Skill Park
After the ride, wash your bike for $2 at AIRE MTB SHOP located at Chestnut Nature Park car park.

Chestnut Nature Park Bike Washing Bay
If you only have one day to spend riding MTB trails in Singapore, I would highly recommend Chestnut & Bukit Timah MTB trails. Both the trails are next to each other with a combined distance of about 18km. Will do a more in-depth write up when I have the time to do so.