Graeme Simpson: Pine bike - wood you believe it?

By Graeme Simpson


 


Rotorua has great mountain bike trails, some excellent road rides and a dynamic BMX scene. But they aren't unique.


 


There is a cycling-related feature that is a genuine one-off, though.


The Shweeb. Agroventures' cycle-powered pods are something you won't see anywhere else.


The inaugural World Shweeb Championships will be part of the Rotorua Bike Festival in February. There is glory on the line and $1000 for any man or woman who breaks the current record times. A lot of people have tried and a lot have failed.


This will be an intriguing competition and a lot of fun to be part of on Saturday, February 9. Check out the festival website for how to enter - www.rotoruabikefestival.com.


As part of the festival, Rotorua bike builders will be displaying their beautiful creations at the MoreFM Bike Expo on February 15 and 16, at the Rotorua Convention Centre.


Jeff Anderson has just reopened his Kiwibikes store in the new shopping complex on the corner of Tarawera Rd and Te Ngae Rd. Anderson's been building bikes for 30 years and will be showing some of his elegant steel-framed Jeffsons at the expo.


"I love building in steel," says Anderson. "It's like an art to me."


When Anderson started building bikes he didn't think it would be a career.


"It was my second job and I thought 'this will do for a while'," he said.


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.

Pearson builds in hi-tech carbon fibre.


"I'm into composites and aerodynamics," he says. "To make a bike as light, stiff and aerodynamic as possible, carbon is the only material."


It's not often that a timber company exhibits at a bike expo.


However, Red Stag Timber, one of Rotorua's most important businesses, will be there in February, with the Red Stag Renovo Bad Ash 29er.


"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 US and they hadn't heard of softwoods being used when we approached them, either."


By building a wooden bike, the Red Stag team wanted to show that timber used for centuries in things like home construction has performance far beyond what most would expect.


It wasn't all about business and science.


"A lot of the team are mountain bikers with some of the best trails in the world on our doorstep, so it seemed too good an opportunity to miss," says Laing.


"The whole concept was to use radiata, locally grown and sawn by us."


The result is a bike of real beauty. "It's a lovely blend of art and engineering and we are very proud of it," he said.

 

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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