He rebuilt his life by repairing vintage bikes


Zahier Davids leans back on a spring-cushioned leather seat as he cruises through his neighbourhood. Totally at ease, he keeps the pedals clocking over, encouraging the chain of his lowrider to tug its wheels along. Commanding this Harley Davidson of bicycles is about class, not speed. But life wasn’t always this relaxed. Like so many others, he had once committed himself to a soulless career, before making the move to building custom two-wheel transportation.

Davids worked in insurance until retrenchment wrenched him out of comfort and into a jobless limbo. With time to reflect, his mind wandered back to childhood as he remembered a passion for bicycles that had been stifled by the pressures of adult life. Inspired by his younger self, Davids decided to start fixing and modifying old bicycles. He had no money and even less knowledge about bicycle mechanics. So he put his mind to learning from books and videos, and borrowed tools from friends and family to get going. Soon riding around on a custom two-wheeler that he’d modified, Davids gained a cult following that exploded into demand for business.

Flywheels Custom Chariots represents the realisation of a childhood dream. Davids has found a niche in the market that allows him to earn a livelihood by expressing himself in design. His bikes have reached showroom floors, wowed the Design Indaba audience and gained traction in their global orders. It all sounds fantastic now, but Davids overcame many obstacles on his journey to success. Sometimes the lowest point in our lives gives us the right angle from which to see the best in ourselves. And as the barrage of challenges facing South Africans mounts, so we continue to show our resourcefulness.