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Publication Date : 09-04-2013
A workshop in Yogyakarta is churning out bicycles that are unique both in appearance and function
At the Faiz Motor showroom in Palbapang, Bantul, in Yogyakarta, there are a number of different bicycles on display. But these aren't ordinary bikes. They are the end products of ingenious modification - both in terms of shape as well as function - at the hands of one man, Muchammad Wachid.
What Wachid does is take the frames of used bicycles and redesign them. And the result is that apart from a unique look, these modified bikes can also be run on the power of mower engines, besides pedals.
“We can use pedals like in normal bikes, but these can also be operated by mower engines, and run at 40 kilometres per hour," said Wachid, who founded Faiz Motor.
Prior to the 1990s, Yogyakarta was known as Kota Onthel or the Bicycle City, with thousands of cyclists taking to the city roads every day.
Wachid’s parents used to assemble bicycles for a living but he learned the tricks and techniques of welding and painting on his own. This motivated senior high school graduate was soon seeking out technical reference manuals, following which he apprenticed with skilled workers.
By the year 2000, Wachid was able to set up his workshop, deriving the name from his first child Faiz, and began creating these unique bicycles with lawnmower engines mounted on them.
His first motorised bicycle used a 35-cc engine and managed to easily complete a non-stop trip along the 60-kilometre Yogyakarta-Purworejo route in Central Java. The second test took a rather ascending route to Borobudur temple, carrying a passenger riding pillion.
“My older brother Dazim went to work on the bike and people wanted to buy it. Orders began to come in from then on,” recalled the craftsman. And one day, Wachid had the same experience when riding his own modified bicycle. He met an Australian tourist on the road who insisted on buying it.
For several years thereon, Wachid customised bikes for paying customers and hobbyists in Yogyakarta as well as other regions outside Java. And his customer base soon spread abroad, extending to Japan and Australia. But it was difficult to keep up supply, he said. “I was working alone so it was impossible for me to meet the demand. I could only produce two units a month at the most,” he related.
Fortunately, Wachid’s neighbour, Tri Hatmadji, 57, was interested in helping out and ready to support his plan. So, on January 30, they launched the Faiz Motor bicycle showroom in Palbapang, Bantul, together.
With regard to bike models, Faiz Motor relies on largely on his imagination and established forms. However, there are several types currently favoured by consumers - such as the scooter-shaped, classical-Java and classical-feminine bikes, besides mountain- and modern-designed ones - that he works on more regularly.
Wachid’s customers generally pay between 2.5 million (US$257.81) to 3.5 million rupiah, depending on the model. These redesigned vehicles are then combined with mower engines in a simple way without gearboxes. With only three bolts and nuts to fasten an engine, even lay people can mount and dismount it, Wachid said. And buyers are given a one-year guarantee for their purchases.
Wachid and Tri have both agreed to employ and empower the youths in their village, and begun offering training sessions in this regard. Through these sessions, at least five youngsters have now joined the workshop. “It’s not easy to foster our personnel, but we’ve been committed to the empowerment effort so as to boost local skills at all costs,” Tri pointed out.