Dubai: A Scottish expatriate in the UAE has come up with a 24-karat gold-plated bicycle to pay his tributes to the ‘pioneering spirit of the UAE’ on the occasion of the country’s Golden Jubilee.
John Thomson, who has been living here since 2014, said his passion for bicycles began at a young age. “Raised in Scotland by a single mother, money was tight. So, I had to learn to create and build my own bikes. This grew into a love of anything mechanical, leading to a career in the automotive industry since the age of 16 in Scotland,” he said.
He has been working with different automobile groups. Currently he is a service manager for Audi and Volkswagen at Al Nabooda Automobiles in Sharjah.
Confined to his home when the COVID-19 restrictions hit last year, his love for bikes was rekindled and he started building them all over again.
“This hobby grew and it enthused various team members at work. I built my second bike for a colleague, covering only the cost of material, but then started to think about building more and help others at work get into the sport,” he said.
Inspired by the 50th National Day of the UAE, he decided to make something as a fitting tribute to the country. “Getting inspiration from other designers around the world who have created and built other gold-themed bikes, I set out researching on how to build a gold bike of my own to reflect this auspicious anniversary.”
He said he sourced a classic Schwinn bike. “Then I set about meticulously refining it and transforming it in a fitting way. Clearly, there was only one way to go and all the components were stripped back and fully plated with 24-karat gold.”
The simple ‘fixie’ design
Thomson said he had to get the help of a company that specialised in gold-plating items. However, they had not done it on a bicycle, he said. “Once this was done, it had to be painstakingly assembled. It was important for me to get the balance between the overall gold effect, while remaining faithful to the classic and simple ‘fixie’ design. This is an old school-style race bike. So it has been finished with an authentic Brooks leather saddle and proper handlebar tape.”
Infusing ‘Spirit of the Union’
He also literally added the ‘Spirit of the Union’ to the bike by embossing the eponymous picture of the Rulers of the UAE on to the bike. Although a glittering tribute and a work of art, Thomson said the bike was “fully functional and surprisingly comfortable and easy to ride”.
Having spent more than two months on the project, he said, he was not resting on his laurels. “I had already completed another tribute project previously, a mountain bike that I rode on the recent Dubai Ride on Sheikh Zayed Road, which was an awesome experience along with colleagues whom I had helped get into cycling,” he said, adding that he would soon make another tribute bike, this time for a child.
“Both the tribute bikes will be auctioned off in Ramadan 2022 and the proceeds will be given to a specific chosen charity in Sharjah. This golden bike is a special one. I may look at possibly display it in a museum. It is my way of giving back to a great country that I have been calling my home for the past eight years. Living in such a great country, you have the freedom to spread your mind and explore your passion. I plan to continue to fuel my childhood passion with this rewarding pastime,” he added.
Thomson took the special-edition bicycle to Jumeirah on Thursday to give the public a glimpse of his golden tribute to the UAE.