Bike expo showcases bike builders' creations
23 January 2013
Steel bikes, carbon fibre bikes, bamboo bikes - even a bike made from local radiata pine - will all be on show at next month's Rotorua Bike Festival.
The MoreFM Bike Expo on 15 and 16 February is part of a busy second weekend of the inaugural festival.
Kiwibikes' Jeff Anderson has been building bikes for 30 years and will be displaying some of his elegant steel framed Jeffson bikes at the expo.
The local man said building in steel is like an art to him, although he revealed that when he 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 says.
However it was the beginning of a life-long passion that he now wants to share with others. Anderson is currently planning workshops so he can teach others how to build their own frames.
Competitive cyclist Graeme 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, he says. "I love building things, trying out new ideas and making better products, not just bikes but wheelchairs too.”
Pearson builds his high tech road bikes in carbon fibre.
“I'm into composites and aerodynamics. 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.”
He is currently working with new materials to build even lighter, stiffer frames, combining a nanofibre nylon sheet with a thin, high modulus carbon fibre.
While it's not often that a timber company exhibits at a bike expo, local business Red Stag Timber will be at the event with the Red Stag Renovo Bad Ash 29er.
Red Stag’s Paul Laing said they had heard of wooden road bikes, and the odd mountain bike made with hardwood, but not one made out of a softwood like radiata pine.
“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. But theory and practice can be different and part of the process was to make a prototype frame and test it to destruction.
“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. 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. 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."
Freddy Salgado builds in bamboo.
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.
Slagado has worked at bike shops most of his life and was inspired to experiment with Bamboo by Craig Calfee. The legendary Californian bike designer 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. 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 a bamboo bike training camp in the Philippines in July 2009.
“Bamboo is difficult to work with but awesome for building bikes. It dampens road vibration better than carbon fibre and is much more crash resistant than other materials.
“There’s a lot of bamboo in Gisborne, which certainly helps having a good source of free material to work with."
Salgado works closely with Gisborne artist J T Nepia who provides the graphic designs and 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. Giving a helping hand to those that need it most, whenever possible, is a great source of inspiration.”