Three men, their two-wheelers and an electric light parade

For the trio, decking out their bikes with LED lights and showing them off is a labour of love

Inspiration seems to strike Mr Cheong Yock Wing at 3am, when most people are asleep. It jolts the 77-year-old retiree awake in his three-room flat in North Bridge Road, and he goes to work on his electric bicycle, studded with light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

"When an idea comes, I just wake up and fiddle with the LEDs and decorations," said Mr Cheong, who lives with his 65-year-old wife and a godson. He has two daughters, who are married.

"It's Chinese New Year, so I changed decorations - from a Christmas tree to peach blossoms at the back of the bike."

Like a moth drawn to bright light, he was first attracted to LED-decorated bicycles taken along by a couple of friends during a fishing outing on the banks of the Singapore River five years ago.

It was love at first sight for Mr Cheong, who retired at the age of 65 as an SBS bus captain. Before long, he had dotted his e-bicycle with some off-the-shelf LED bulbs. To differentiate his decorations from others, he installed more lights, ornaments, and even a sound system.

After one of his "eureka moments" in the wee hours, he retrofitted his e-bicycle with transparent rubber tubes that carried the bulbs across its entire frame in an effort to maximise his working canvas.

SATURDAY DATE

We look forward to going out every Saturday to parade and show our bikes. Tourists will take memories back to their countries and talk about us.

MR SIMON PETER, a hardware store assistant, who spent $7,000 over three months fitting his electric bicycle with a karaoke system as well as LEDs.

"I've invested about $3,000 doing up my bicycle. Because I decorated it from scratch, it was mostly trial and error. I've had to dismantle my design and rework the wiring many times so that the LED lights work well," he said.

He is not alone in pursuing this unusual interest. Mr Simon Peter, a 60- year-old hardware store assistant, spent $7,000 over three months sprucing up his electric bicycle with a karaoke system as well as LEDs.

Mr Tan Meow Keng, a 64-year-old cleaner who met both Mr Peter and Mr Cheong through fishing, splurged close to $5,000 on a similar makeover.

Barring rain, Saturday has been show time for the past four years. At 7pm, the core group of Mr Peter, Mr Cheong and Mr Tan embark on a three-hour ride from Marina Bay to Chinatown, with 20-minute stops at places of interest such as the Helix Bridge and Clarke Quay.

As of Feb 1, the Land Transport Authority has implemented stricter regulations for motorised bicycles. Only models up to 20kg with a maximum speed of 25kmh are allowed on roads. The maximum output of motor power was raised from 200 watts to 250 watts.

Even so, Mr Peter is unfazed.

He said: "We don't speed, we wear helmets and we observe traffic rules. We parade only at places of interest."

Mr Tan added: "We are promoting Singapore and I even put up an SG51 decoration on my bike."

For these men, the simple joy of showing their creation to the world beats anything else.

Mr Peter said: "We look forward to going out every Saturday to parade and show our bikes. Tourists will take memories back to their countries and talk about us."

The trio have been noticed at home too. They have been invited by the People's Association - to take part in this year's Chingay Parade, to be held on Feb 19 and 20.

It will be the second time they are participating, after taking part for the first time last year.

Mr Cheong said: "It satisfies me when people take notice of my bike and give me a thumbs up. It makes all the money and effort spent worthwhile."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2016, with the headline 'Three men, their two-wheelers and an electric light parade'. Print Edition | Subscribe