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[Video] Wheels of Steel: Tearing Across Saigon on Japanese Fixies

Just 10 years ago, the fixed-gear bike was an unfamiliar concept in Vietnam; now, there’s a thriving community of riders here in Saigon with enthusiasts from all walks of life.

As Vietnam doesn’t produce fixed-gear bikes, or fixies for short, most Saigoneers who are interested purchase imported bikes from Thailand, China or Taiwan. Le Tung (Nehil Nemo) and Dang Khoa, however, are all about Japanese bikes. Tung and Khoa ride NJS-certified Keirin bicycles bought from District 10’s Cog Bike Station. Few fixed-gear bicycle riders in Saigon are as old as Nehil, who is 28, or take the sport as seriously. The majority of fixie fans in the city are casual teenage riders who opt for cheaper bikes from China.

Keirin means “racing cycle” in Japanese; only bikes approved by the Nihon Jitensha Shinkokai, or Japanese Keirin Association, are allowed to take part in races. Founded in 1948, participants compete on brakeless fixed-gear bicycles in the Japanese bike race. According to Tung, the lack of brakes means that every trip calls for a bit more planning than normal. Emergency stops require more exertion and could be dangerous on Saigon’s chaotic streets.

The inherent danger, however, doesn’t stop Tung and Khoa from zipping up Saigon streets at night on their trusty fixies, slipping through narrow openings and barely avoiding numerous accidents. Follow along on one of their white-knuckle evening trips in the video below:

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