Cyberbikes has just opened a relatively small shop on one of Sydney’s busiest stretches of road.
Parramatta Road at Leichhardt is about six kilometres west of the CBD. This is a relatively densely populated area with century-old terrace houses and a wide range of apartment buildings.
Unlike most small bicycle stores, founder Felipe Rodrigues not only directly imports his own brand of bikes from Taiwanese manufacturers, he’s also very hands-on with their design and specifications.
Born in Brazil, Felipe migrated to Australia nine years ago and now has Australian citizenship. He first arrived as an international student to study English, but already had a mechanical engineering degree from Brazil that has since been recognised by Engineers Australia.
Felipe has bootstrapped his business from scratch while simultaneously working day jobs at other bike shops including Sydney Electric Bikes, Bolt Bikes (now Zoomo) and others.
He went to Taipei Cycle in 2017 and started imported Bafang e-bike conversion kits.
Not content with simply retailing existing brands, Filipe created his own, Cyberbikes. As his sideline grew, he was able to incorporate Cyberbikes as a company in 2021 but it was not until March 2023 that he was ready to open his current shopfront premises.
Felipe had already been developing the Centauro two-wheel-drive full-suspension e-bike. He designed it after attending the Shanghai show (China Cycle) in 2019 and not seeing any existing product that matched his design requirements.
He proudly showed me a video of him riding the bike on Bondi Beach in deep, soft sand. Despite having relatively narrow generic MTB tyres, he could comfortably ride through the sand that would probably be too soft for anything else but a fat-bike.
The Centauro, which will also come in a conventional one-wheel-drive option, is not yet in production.
Felipe has taken advantage of NSW legislation that permits 500-watt motors. His three current models all have 500-watt rear-hub motors. They have a strong emphasis on urban utility, with a list of more than 30 add-ons, upgrades or modifications, including larger cargo racks, kickstands and GPS trackers.
In explaining the utilitarian nature of his bikes, he said: “We want people to choose electric bikes over cars.”
Depending upon the model and accessories, Cyberbikes typically retail in the $2,500 to $3,500 range. Felipe would like to also wholesale to other retailers but said that until he can generate sufficient volume to get his manufacturing prices down, there is not sufficient margin.
In the meantime, he’s planning to open a second shop, but not in another Sydney suburb. He has his sights on the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo, the world’s most populous city outside of Asia – with 12 million in the city proper and 46 million in Sao Paulo State.
Just like his quirky YouTube videos, Felipe is certainly not riding down a conventional path towards his bike business goals, but this determined young Brazilian Australian has already travelled quite a distance.