Customising dreams

2016-05-31 10:37
Zahier Davids of Flywheel Custom Chariots, who built the first ever wheelchair to “run” the Comrades Marathon, is ready to make customised dreams come true with his creations.

Zahier Davids of Flywheel Custom Chariots, who built the first ever wheelchair to “run” the Comrades Marathon, is ready to make customised dreams come true with his creations. (Gary van Dyk)

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When Chaeli Mycroft made history as one of the first ever wheelchair bound athletes to complete the gruelling Comrades marathon on Sunday, the manufacturing methods of a local entrepreneur played a big part in her journey.

Her “wheels” were made by an inspiring mechanically-minded maestro from Kensington.
Zahier Davids, who owns Flywheel Custom Chariots, is proud of his involvement in Chaeli’s dream to take part in the Comrades.
“It was touch and go with this project because they only received late notice of her acceptance in the race,” he says.
“But, I was not going to let them down because I know what it’s like to have a dream and fight tooth and nail to achieve it.”

For Davids the dream started 16 years ago when retrenchment forced him to look at other ways of making money to support his family.
“Growing up in a community where customising bikes and cars was all around you, I was always interested,” he says.
“My initial dream of studying engineering and design was cut short by [a lack of] funds and I went to work in retail, but it all changed when I was retrenched. But I had to put food on the table.”

That’s when he had the idea to restore and customise a bicycle.
“I knew less than nothing,” he jokes.
“There was just this dream that I wanted to make a reality and I pushed ahead asking people in the motor trade and friends. It was mainly trial and error, but my persistence paid off.
“You must remember the internet was not as active back then, but when the bike was finished, it attracted a lot of attention in the streets – and I’ve just been learning and growing since then.”

Davids also explains that the quest for learning was also about his pursuit of perfection in all of his projects.
“There’s no second best for me – if the finished product is not what I had in mind, then it’s simply not good enough. I pay a lot of attention to detail with every nut and bolt on the bike redone, replaced, or customised. Most of the bikes are original, but we redo almost everything to achieve specific designs.”

From those humble beginnings he now designs and manufactures bikes, including low-riders, cruisers, choppers and motorised bikes.
“I have been lucky to have built a reputation for craftsmanship so I get asked to do custom jobs on rare vintage bicycles, special bikes for branding as well as work for prop suppliers in the film industry.
“There has also been a need to manufacture vending bikes for both commercial and small businesses in and around the CBD which go in line with efforts to reduce the number of cars on the road.
“My bikes have also been used in films and music videos.”

Talking about his involvement with Chaeli Mycroft’s dream to take part in the Comrades Marathon he explained that working with disabled people’s needs was also one of his passions.
“Being part of Chaeli’s dream is very exciting,” he says.
“They told me their needs and I went about designing a very special type of pram, if you can call it that.
“The important part was her needs and comfort. When she tried it out on a 12km race before the Comrades she was very happy and that gave me great pleasure.
“When it comes to the disabled and I can create a “chariot” that gives them freedom and mobility it’s part of the reward for what I love doing.”

Davids is also passionate about being a positive role model in the community.
“I have a team of BMX riders and we do demonstrations with the motorised buggies at festivals, carnivals and schools.
“At these events I also give a motivational talk to the youth to tell them that they must fill their minds with positive dreams. Crime and drugs have no part in their future.”
For more information Davids can be contacted on 076 501 2300.

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