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RIDING TO A SUSTAINABLE TOMORROW

Published: Sunday, April 30, 2017    

By Sana Panjwani

Meet Palestinian biking enthusiast Zaina Kanaan, co-founder of a new eco-conscious online customisable bike shop – Charicycles

WHAT'S THE STORY BEHIND CHARICYLES?

My sister Raina and I grew up riding bikes; it was a huge part of our childhood. After we moved to Dubai there was a day when we went looking for the perfect bike for each of us but sadly couldn't find anything that suited us, or even at the right price point. So, we decided to make them ourselves.

Afterwards, everywhere we went we would get stopped and asked about our bikes, and soon we realised that there are many people out there who want to buy bikes for themselves and their kids within budget and so we launched Charicycles.

BESIDES THE CUSTOMISABLE ASPECT, WHAT SETS YOU APART FROM OTHERS?

We upcycle; it is the art of taking something that isn’t doing too well and making it perfect again, instead of throwing it out. And at Charicycles we find bicycle frames that have been forgotten and restore them into the beautiful bikes they once were, giving them a renewed heartbeat and home, while promoting a cleaner environment by cutting down on CO2 emissions. You could say it's the sexier version of recycling.

We also give back to less privileged communities. For every five bikes we sell, we make sure one goes out to children in need so they can commute to school, and enjoy a sense of freedom.

HOW HANDS-ON ARE YOU WHEN IT COMES TO CONSTRUCTING THE BIKES?

Very! We both gave up our nails a while ago, and if you look closely you will often find a trace of paint on our fingers, clothes, or electronic gadgets.

WHERE DO YOU FIND THE MATERIAL TO UP-CYCLE?

We try to support local merchants as much as possible but our frames are brought in from Japan. They have a huge annual fleet of used and disposed bicycles, so due to their quantity and their retained quality, they are the perfect durable bicycles to upcycle.

There is a lot that goes into it – handiwork, attention to detail and raw materials – but all our cycles are replaced with new parts so essentially, we are building better and functional frames.

WHAT KIND OF FRAMES DO YOU FEATURE AND WHERE DO YOU FIND DESIGN INSPIRATION?

We feature low-bar frames, high-bar frames, tricycles, exclusive vintage frames, and beach cruisers. Our inspiration comes from travelling, the colours of people’s homes, their windows, the colour of nature and its seasons. Often, we look at the characteristics of the animal kingdom and draw the personality to our bicycles.

We also encourage customers to send in their own designs as, in the end, their bike should be a unique extension of their personality.

WHAT'S THE BIGGEST THING YOU'VE LEARNT SINCE LAUNCHING CHARICYLES?

The importance of a strong support system; as siblings working together we are faced with dilemmas every day but we know that wherever the road takes us, our bond as sisters is always something to fall back on and to aid our journey.

WHAT DOES BIKING MEAN TO YOU?

Therapy! It’s the best thing you can do for your soul and just the right pace for all your senses to be rejuvenated, and for your mind to relax. It's also healthy for your body and has proven, time and again, to extend human longevity and strengthen your cardiovascular system.

WHERE ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE PLACES TO CYCLE IN THE UAE?

In Satwa, the beach road, and the Dubai canal.

WHAT'S COMING UP?

We believe in making our own future; it's bright and it's about servicing all those people out there who care about sustainability, health and giving back.
 
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