Are you a professional cyclist or a die-hard cycling enthusiast? If the answer is yes and you find yourself falling under these denominations; if the answer is yes and you have always wished for a unique space to relax and chill out at with like-minded individuals; then we have the very spot for you!
Now, while many in Brunei’s cycling community are already aware of the existence of Fullhaus Café, and the Specialized Bicycle Retail Store, which takes up a shared space in a building next to Riverview Hotel, the establishment is still unbeknownst to many people – both fitness fan and coffee appreciator alike. Owned by Reduan Yusop, a professional cyclist and former member of the Brunei Darussalam national cycling squad, who has spent the better part of two decades engaged in competitive riding for a living; what was originally a retail store eventually evolved to incorporate a café feature to it.
“I wanted to provide a space that was unique to customers,” Reduan said, before highlighting that the café can help shine a spotlight on the rising prominence of cycling in the Sultanate. Cyclists not only feel very welcome in this unique space but can easily field technical questions in confidence, knowing there is a good chance someone present will be able to respond – If not the well-informed staff, then some of the other clientele present. Better yet, Specialized doesn’t just sell a well-known brand and a myriad selection of accessories (water bottles, energy drinks, helmets, shirts), the store possesses a workshop space at its rear where bicycle mechanics offer services for customers including half-servicing, full-servicing, wheel-alignment, washes, and more.
Non-cyclists do not need to worry about possibly feeling out of their comfort zone as the current manager of the café, Wafy, is a well-spoken and friendly individual with an easy smile who is more than willing to engage visitors in good conversation. It is for this reason that he was sought by the store owner as he possessed all the positive traits required and expected for such a position; he also makes a good cup of coffee.
Fullhaus Café is currently a small operation that takes up the right half of the store space, capable of accommodating up to 20 people at any given time on its reclaimed wooden benches and tables. A grey couch set takes up the far corner nearby the cash registry where a small glass display contains some savoury and sweet snacks to accompany your coffee, tea of chocolate beverage. Self-branded with a logo depicting a coffee bean sprouting a stalk culminating in a coffee-house, this shared space offers the wandering eye a great deal to inspect.
From the gorgeous customised bicycles gracing the front porch – one, a sleek white beauty with a curved frame; another, embellished with tanned leather, spring-coiled front light, and foot pedals designed in the shape of the spades associated with cards – to the various contents within, one can be forgiven for a cliché use of the national title ‘Kingdom of Hidden Treasures. I mean, this place does fit the bill after all. Racks take up the far left side of the store with half a dozen bicycles fitted onto them. In an example of economic use of space, the racks extend to halfway up the wall, with metal struts extending outwards on which more bicycles have been locked into place. Initially believing them to be part of the store’s inventory, during the course of BHC’s visit, 2 customers came into the store an hour apart, enquiring about their rides. Staff proceeded to dismount their bicycles from the rack and with careful scrutiny went over it alongside its owner, ensuring that everything is in tip-top shape.
Medals, medals and more medals. This is by far the most impressive aspect of this store and provides credence to cycling enthusiasts setting foot within for their first time. So while many may initially think “Wow, these bikes have a hefty price-tag, I’m unsure whether they are worth it”, the presence of more than 60 medals hanging from a jutting shelf for all to see, is a testament not just to Reduan’s prowess in local, regional and international competitions, but also answers the question by serving as a highly-effective ‘Before & After’ scenario. Yes, you can train your mind and body to reach an optimum level of performance, but these finely-honed skills will eventually hit a dead end that requires Specialized equipment in order to sally forth further.
While admiring Wafy’s framed jigsaw puzzles, one of which artistically depicts several vibrant-coloured bicycles overlapping one another, a 19-year-old fully decked out in cycling gear enters the store, is greeted by staff and the owner, who proceeds to escort him to the workshop-shed at the rear. The BHC team later learned that this bright-eyed youth is being groomed as part of the next generation of professional cyclists. Here at Specialized and Fullhaus, the youth receives consultation, advice and from time to time, even some training. So in that regard, this business, which is looking into possibly expanding the size of their space in the near future, is contributing towards Brunei Darussalam’s goals of pushing the boundaries of what its sportsmen can do. We at BHC wish them all the best at this endeavour!