Local bike builders on show at Bike Expo...
Media release: January 22
The 1st Rotorua Bike Festival, 8-17February 2013 – Local is best…
Steel bikes. Carbon Fibre bikes. Bamboo bikes. Even a bike made from local Radiata Pine.
They’ll all be on show at the MoreFM BikeExpo on February 15 & 16, part of a busy second weekend of the Rotorua Bike Festival.
Jeff Anderson has been building bikes for 30 years and will be showing some of his elegant, steel framed Jeffson bikes at the Expo.
“I love building in steel,” says Anderson from Kiwibikes in Rotorua. “It’s like an art to me.”
When Anderson started building bikes he didn’t think it’d be a career.
“It was my second job and I thought ‘this will do for a while’,” he continues.
It was the start of a life-long passion.
“It’s addictive and I want to share that with others,” he enthuses. “I’m planning to start workshops so I can teach others how to build their own frames.”
Graeme Pearson is another Rotorua bike builder who will be at the Expo.
A competitive cyclist, Pearson started building frames in the late 1970s in search of a fast, lightweight race bike for himself.
“I was about 18 when I made my first bike from aluminium and started winning races on it,” says Pearson. “I love building things, trying out new ideas and making better products, not just bikes, but wheel chairs, too.”
Pearson builds his high tech road bikes in carbon fibre.
“I'm into composites and aerodynamics,” he says. “You can make a bike out of any sort of material and it will give certain qualities, but to make it as light, stiff and aerodynamic as possible, carbon is the only material.”
Pearson is working with some very special new materials at the moment to build even lighter, stiffer frames.
“I'm combining a new nanofibre nylon sheet with a very thin, high modulus carbon fibre,” he says. “This is very, very lightweight and very strong and tough.”
It’s not often that a Timber company exhibits at a Bike Expo.
“We’d heard of wooden road bikes and the odd mountain bike made with hardwood, but not one made out of a softwood like Radiata Pine,” says Red Stag’s Paul Laing. “Renovo is a wooden frame builder in the USA and they hadn’t heard of soft woods being used, when we approached them, either.”
The inspiration for the Red Stag team was the opportunity to show that timber used for centuries in things like home building has performance far beyond what most would expect.
‘We were confident that Radiata more than met the mechanical properties of strength and stiffness that hardwoods achieve,” continues Laing. “But theory and practice can be different and part of the process was to make a prototype frame and test it to destruction.”
The Red Stag Mill is at Waipa, just south of Rotorua and in the heart of the world-famous Whakarewarewa Forest mountain bike trail network.
“We decided mountain biking was one of the toughest environments where timber hasn’t been used much and we wanted to prove it could perform,” says Laing, fresh from riding the Bad Ash in the Whakarewarewa Forest. “The woodie is lighter than many, if not most, bikes of its strength and stiffness and performance is probably better than we expected.”
For Red Stag it wasn’t all about business and science.
“A lot of the team are mountain bikers with some of the best trails on our doorstep, so it seemed too good an opportunity to miss,” says Laing with a smile. “The whole concept was to use Radiata, locally grown and sawn by us.”
The result is a bike of real beauty.
“We don’t have plans for mass production of the woodie, but it is a lovely blend of art and engineering and we are very proud of it, “ adds Laing.
Freddy Salgado builds in another type of wood – bamboo.
Salgado isn’t from Rotorua. The Kiwi-Puerto Rican has lived in New Zealand since 2004 and is based in Gisborne. He enjoys riding the Whakarewarewa Trails and represented his country of birth at the 2010 Singlespeed World Championships in Rotorua.
Freddy’s worked at bike shops most of my life. He was inspired to experiment with Bamboo by legendary Californian bike designer Craig Calfee.
Calfee was the first to build bikes in carbon fibre and continues to innovate with materials like hemp and bamboo.
“I was inspired by Craig’s efforts in Africa with the Bamboosero bicycle frame building program he created to help provide work in developing countries,” says Salgado from Bikeys, his shop in Gisborne. “After doing extensive research on the material and building a few bikes of my own I was hooked.”
For the next two years Salgado bombarded Calfee with questions. Eventually, he was rewarded with an invitation to bamboo bike training camp in the Philippines in July 2009.
“Bamboo is difficult to work with but awesome for building bikes,” says Salgado with characteristic enthusiasm. “It dampens road vibration better than carbon fibre and is much more crash resistant than other materials.”
Bamboo is also one of the most sustainable materials you can build a bike with.
“There’s a lot of bamboo in Gisborne, which certainly helps having a good source of free material to work with,” adds Salgado, with a big smile.
Salgado works closely with Gisborne artist and, J T Nepia who provides all the graphic designs and distinctive motifs on his frames.
“We’re working on setting up a bamboo bicycle factory here in Gisborne to help provide jobs for the local community.” continues Salgado.
“Giving a helping hand to those that need it most, whenever possible, is a great source of inspiration.”
Different bikes, different methods and different materials.
The organisers of the Expo are looking forward to the debate when all these innovative, pioneering New Zealand bike builders are in the same room in February.