Singapore is a small country; its current land area covers 720 kmsq. Situated at the tip of Peninsula Malaysia, Singapore enjoys a year-around tropical climate. Now a global hub for business and commerce, new buildings have been quickly filling up the landscape for some years. Although now heavily built upon, the country still has areas of natural beauty; the terrain peaks at a height of 537ft, perfect for cycling.
There are a few mountain bike trails across Singapore, all characterised by forest terrain but all different in their personality and difficulty levels. The trails are loosely based on the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Trail Difficulty Rating System, a method which rates technical difficulty. With most of Singapore’s mountain bike trails being open to the public, the IMBA System aims to ensure cyclists choose a trail which matches their skill level, improving the experience for a range of abilities and minimising injuries.
The Bukit Timah MTB Trail includes Singapore’s highest point and is considered by riders to represent the country’s true landscape. The trail is popular with experienced mountain bikers like Stefan Masuhr but also attracts people of all abilities. Situated in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, the track forms a loop running through the reserve. With technical climbs and difficult descents, this trail is both loved and hated by cyclists, some of whom ride it every week. It is not an easy ride and the IMBA guidelines rate some sections of the trail as the most difficult, with variable and unpredictable terrain.
The Ketam MTB Trail is located on one of Singapore’s islets, on the sunny coasts of Pulua Ubin. It requires a short ferry ride from the mainland but is arguably worth the journey as the scenery and trail design have given Ketam a reputation as one of the best bike trails in Singapore. Ketam provides riders with an eclectic mix of different difficulty rated sections; depending on the route taken, the trail has some of the easiest, well-surfaced terrain right up to the highest difficulty rated ‘double black diamond’ sections with narrow paths and significant obstacles.
Beginners may prefer the T15 trail which runs mainly parallel to the Bukit Timah expressway. Offering gentle climbs and rollers, T15 is a good trail to practice skills and energy usage while still providing a good mix for trail and gravity riders. T15 provides beginners and less confident riders with a good insight into the local riding community.
Singapore’s bike trails certainly provide a contrast to city living but the forest terrain gives the country an environment perfect for mountain biking. Cycling is just one of many things this country does well.