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Japanese commuter bikes are being upcycled in Dubai

Words by Rob Chilton

Luma Bikes is a Dubai collective that’s big on nostalgia

Jear Velasquez began his bike building company in Dubai with three friends during lockdown in 2020, but the inspiration came from 8,000kms away.

“We fell in love with the design and concept of bicycles in Japan and how they merge functionality, comfort, and style,” explains Velasquez from Luma Bikes. “We wanted to localise the experience of cruising with a foreign bicycle.”

Inspiration from Japan

Velasquez and his crew of Mox Santos, Nathan Alapide, and Eunice Flores revamp classic bicycles imported from Japan that, he says, have been ridden by “typical Japanese people in their daily life and on their commute to work.”

Luma, which means ‘light’, is an upcycling project in the truest sense of the word. “We fix, re-paint, and replace the broken and very old parts while keeping the parts that give character to the bicycle,” says Velasquez. “We like the idea of breathing life back into old things. Our process of restoration is very personal and bespoke as we don’t manufacture by bulk but one or two at a time only. Each of the bikes are unique as they are individually hand-picked and designed by us.”

The badge represents sunrise

The bicycles feature the Japanese word ‘natsukashii’ (懐かしい) which loosely translates as nostalgia. “We are fond of things from the past, especially the Asian culture,” explains Velasquez. “The word natsukashii evokes a fond memory from the past.”

Nostalgia is a key ingredient in Luma Bikes

The Luma badge is a design highlight and features a sunset, says Velasquez, to represent “the beauty at the end of the day.” He adds, “The feeling of riding something that’s been ridden by someone else at different times and in different places is such a bizarre experience when you think about it.”

Instagram: @lumabikes

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