The Sound Of Her Wings: Tsubasa Bicycles Crow

The Sound Of Her Wings: Tsubasa Bicycles Crow

In August, Sydney was descended upon by a pair of dark birds, heralded by the sound of beating wings. Edvinas Vavilovas and two models from his Tsubasa Bicycles range were exhibited at the Rapha Cycle Club, and I managed to capture one before it flew away.

The Sound Of Her Wings: Tsubasa Bicycles Crow

Tsubasa Bicycles is based in London, but Edvinas is originally from Lithuania. During the early stages of his career as an architect, he found himself frustrated by the dilution of the creative process as a result of the team environment.

The Sound Of Her Wings: Tsubasa Bicycles Crow

Ed decided to pursue a solitary path that enabled him to combine his passion for cycling, his prior experience with composite materials, and his academic and practical knowledge. Tsubasa was born, and his ideas rapidly generated interest.

The Sound Of Her Wings: Tsubasa Bicycles Crow

This is the Crow, one of the models in the Tsubasa range. Tsubasa, incidentally, is Japanese for ‘wing’, and is a fitting description, as the first aspect of the frames is their raw texture, combined with satin-smooth surfaces.

The Sound Of Her Wings: Tsubasa Bicycles Crow

There was never a deviance into other materials other than carbon: “When you are trying to achieve results,” Ed says, “when you are competing, when you are dieting, or battling inner doubts on the way to victory, you cannot afford to allow sentiments to take over, therefore you naturally look for something that makes you faster. Therefore carbon was a natural choice, especially when I knew how to work with it.”

The Sound Of Her Wings: Tsubasa Bicycles Crow

At this year’s Berlin Bicycle Week in Germany, Tsubasa won Campagnolo’s award for Best Custom Carbon Road Bicycle, but Ed is unfazed by the accolade. “In terms of accomplishment,” he continues, “I’ve never looked at design awards as if they were an accomplishment. To me, it’s more of an acknowledgement.

“I think if you want to become somebody and leave a mark after yourself, then you need to ask yourself ‘what do you, as an individual, have to offer to the world?’ instead of ‘can I satisfy this year’s judges?’. I think any creative process is all about expression.”

The Sound Of Her Wings: Tsubasa Bicycles Crow

The visit to Sydney was orchestrated by Zak at Skunkworks Bikes, who coordinated the RCC exhibition and planned test rides for interested riders. Even Zak, who has laid hands on some of the lightest and best-made bikes in the country, was impressed by the frames.

The Sound Of Her Wings: Tsubasa Bicycles Crow

Personally, I was entranced by the finish, and I asked Ed to further explain it for us: “The textured finish you see on the Crow frame is a result of the manufacturing process. Pre-preg or any other structural material will have a ‘safety coefficient’ applied. Which means there will be excess resin in it to eliminate or minimise risks of dry areas, etc.

“Peal ply is used to allow access resin to escape the composite when under pressure in this way, increasing the fibre to resin ratio in the composite and that is what you want. Once the excess resin leaves the composite a texture of a peal ply is left on a tube forming a thin glass-like layer which protects fibres negating the need for a clear coat. It makes the frame even lighter and with a greater volume of carbon fibres.”

The Sound Of Her Wings: Tsubasa Bicycles Crow

Edvinas has since returned to the UK to continue reducing the size of the order book, but the visit was a success. Carbon truly offers a new realm of experimentation for frame builders and Tsubasa Bicycles are really pushing the boundaries. Finally, there are bikes being made from carbon that have intriguing and captivating personalities.

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Special thanks to Edvinas for his time and Zak at Skunkworks Bikes.

The Sound Of Her Wings: Tsubasa Bicycles Crow