High quality handcrafted bicycles are becoming a rarity, but one Toowoomba-based company, Zelvy Carbon, is not only producing them but exporting them to the United States.
The man behind Zelvy Carbon is Greg Geldard, an engineer and bicycle enthusiast who is now using his skills for both work and play. Greg has been an active force in the local cycling scene, mountain biking with mates since his high school days and later on was president of the Toowoomba Mountain Bike Club. He can often be found on weekends exploring the wealth of mountain bike trails in and around Toowoomba.
Life takes us all on various journeys and as Greg’s family grew, he wanted to pass on this adrenaline-fuelled past time to his boys. Greg’s sons became the inspiration for the balance bike. “I was tired of all the same cookie-cutter factory-made bikes which don’t even last one child learning to ride, let alone two! I was already making carbon fibre mountain bikes and accessories for adults so, because I can, I made one bike for my sons.”
Greg wondered how many other bike enthusiasts would have this problem and posted his sons’ bike on facebook to see what would happen. Comments and messages on the post started streaming in. Eventually Wee Bike Shop from Rhode Island in the United States contacted Zelvy Carbon and asked to be a distributor and take the bike to the New York Toy Fair, which was only two months away.
Carbon fibre is an amazing material known in aerospace and aviation for its strength and light weight. Perfect for high-end adult bikes, until now it was not used for children’s bikes.
The time-consuming process of creating things from this material ensures a lot of love goes into these bikes. A mould is made first, then the carbon in cloth form is infused with a previously mixed epoxy (a synthetic adhesive). This cloth is then layered (like a papier-mâché) into the mould in various directions depending on the strength in the fibre needed. It is then placed in an intended bag for air reduction via a special vacuum pump, then cured in an industrial oven. It is removed from the mould, excesses cut off, some sanding done, and a clear top coat applied. Voila. A handcrafted bicycle is made.
The bikes are still being well received both overseas and locally. Recently, at the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) mountain bike World Cup in Cairns, professional and well-respected Australian mountain biker Chris Kovarik ran with Zelvy’s wheels and was placed 31st in the world. Greg was able to mix work and play again as he set up an exhibit at the event.
Zelvy Carbon’s other future projects include full suspension kids and adult mountain bikes, as well as other bicycle accessories. Further afield will be custom road bikes. Zelvy Carbon also has a range of carbon fibre wheels for both road and mountain bikes.
Words by Letoya Coates | Images by Andrew Coates