Handmade bicycles right here in Bangladesh
Despite coming from a civil engineering background, Md Abu Noman Shaikat found himself at the helm of Bikesmith, a bicycle enterprise where anyone can get a two-wheeler made according to their desired specifications.
Bikesmith, located at the capital's Mohammadpur, specialises in building hand-made custom bikes for people of all ages. Shaikat himself oversees all operations as the shop's founder. Concerned about unethical practices in the engineering field, he decided to entirely focus on his bike shop since its establishment.
"I believe ergonomics is essential for bikes," says Shaikat. "Physique and body structure vary from person to person. When buying a bicycle back in 2011, I noticed how the lower part of my body was longer than the upper. Hence, I needed a bike with a smaller frame and handles close to me."
"Unfortunately, most bikes in our country follow European standards, and it's difficult to find something that matched my requirements. This is when I decided to build a bike for my needs. At first, it was something I did just for myself. Later, I started building such custom bikes for others, and that's how Bikesmith was born in 2014," he says.
Bikesmith provides its customers the opportunity to innovate and visualise their own designs. The shop then takes the desired requirements and gets started on the build. Prices vary according to design, and can cost as low as Tk 16,500 to all the way up to six-digit figures.
"I want to see Bangladesh produce the highest number of hand-made bikes in the world," comments Shaikat. "Enthusiasm is needed for this industry to take off. I plan on increasing the shop's production rate within five to 10 years."
Regarding the current cycling scene in Bangladesh, Shaikat says, "Things are looking good and will get better in the future. But in a country where people are struggling to manage necessities, I think the enthusiasm for cycling can wait."
Shaikat also suggests that the government should reconsider the high import tax rate on bicycle parts. "Right now, I think the rate is around 73 percent, which is too costly," he says.