Pedal to the metal – in Israel

From Odessa to Ashkelon.

‘MOSES,’ BY Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1513-1515, at San Pietro in Vincoli (Rome) (photo credit: VITALIK VITALIK)
‘MOSES,’ BY Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1513-1515, at San Pietro in Vincoli (Rome)
(photo credit: VITALIK VITALIK)
Back in 1977, Vadim Kadirov began bike-riding with his wife, Asia, and their young sons, Andrei and Sergey, through the streets of Odessa.
Those family outings had a profound influence on the mechanical engineer and industrial designer, who holds 18 Soviet patents and earned a PhD in sphere mechanics at Odessa National Polytechnic University.
Kadirov became convinced that the world was in need of a next-generation folding bicycle. He’s devoted several decades and countless hours to designing prototypes – first as a hobby and then more as a full-time pursuit in his retirement.
Now 75, Kadirov made aliyah with his family on January 2, 1990. They were driven largely by the desire to escape antisemitism and reach their full potential professionally and personally in the Jewish homeland.
“When I arrived in Tel Aviv, I was questioned about who I am and what I do. I answered that I invent and create foldable bikes and want to continue creating bikes in Israel,” he relates.
After a short time, Kadirov met a businessman who was interested in having the new immigrant create a folding bicycle powered by an electric motor and manufactured on Kibbutz Tzora. “At that time, electric bicycles were a new thing, but taking it to serial production didn’t work out,” he says.
Although Kadirov was disappointed, his connections at Tzora turned into a job opportunity. “From 2001 to 2008, I was employed at Tzora Active Systems on the kibbutz. I designed electric portable scooters for the elderly that could be folded and dismantled for transporting in a car.”
The factory used bicycle parts from Taiwan. In 2001, Kadirov even participated in a Taiwanese world competition for bicycle inventors. After leaving Tzora Active Systems, he went on to work in about 10 other places over the following eight years.
The Kadirovs live happily in Ashkelon. The city appealed to them, he says, for sentimental reasons (it’s on the sea, as was his native Odessa) and practical reasons (it has a hospital and affordable housing).
“My wife and I own a four-room home. One room I use to create my bikes,” he says.
Asia Kadirov also is a mechanical engineer. The couple’s sons, Dr. Andrei Keidar and Dr. Sergey Keidar, are both surgeons. Their five grandchildren – two boys and three girls – all served in the IDF and four of them are now pursuing higher education.
The best part of life in Israel, says Kadirov, is that “all I want to accomplish depends only on me – on my ability, persistence, capacity and knowledge.”
And so he has not given up on his ambition to find someone who will create a start-up company for the purpose of producing his proprietary line of folding bicycles before someone, somewhere, beats him to it.
“I don’t want to and can’t organize or manage such a company, but I do want to hand over my knowledge and samples to those willing to continue what I began,” he says. “It’s feasible to manufacture high-end boutique bikes in small batches here. Israel has suitable resources: engineers, inventors and modern technologies for making such a boutique bicycle of steel, titanium, aluminum, magnesium and carbon. I want to find someone who will help Israel be ahead of the world and create samples of bicycles of the third generation.”
Kadirov explains that first-generation bicycles are the models that made their debut more than a century ago, when the only other means of transportation were the railway and the horse.
“Hundreds of millions of these bicycles fill up roads and bike parking lots. The parking lots occupy huge spaces in the cities. It is necessary to lock those bicycles at the parking lot, walk some distance to the destination, and then walk back to the parking place,” he says. “That is the reason why, in spite of their perfection, nowadays [non-folding] bikes are mainly used for sports, to be fit and to enjoy oneself, but not as a means of transportation.”
About 60 years ago, he continues, folding bicycles were introduced. That’s the second generation. “Due to their reduced volume, storing and carrying them in another kind of vehicle is easier and more comfortable.”
Since then, many attempts have been made at making folding bikes smaller, lighter and more ergonomic, while at the same time, sturdier and easier to fold and transport for urban riders covering short commuting distances. Kadirov studied them all and found each design lacking in one or more aspects.
Kadirov’s four “super minibike” prototypes incorporate more than 20 of his inventions. He has fashioned them in a range of wheel sizes for different cycling needs and riders, and for travel at speeds up to 12 kilometers per hour – the average speed of a jogger. The heaviest model weighs six kilograms and the lightest just four.
With the elderly in mind, he also designed a four-wheeled foldable bike that can go a distance of up to two kilometers at the speed of 8 km/h.
Each of Kadirov’s bike prototypes has a handle for one-handed pickup, as well as an integrated bag for storing the folded bike.
“Despite the bikes’ small size, they contain all the elements providing minimum weight, maximum rigidity and high efficiency,” he says. “They are smaller, lighter and more beneficial than any other mini-electric transport that appeared after 2010.”
He emphasizes that his bikes can accompany their owners into buildings rather than taking up parking spots, and could even be carried on any bike of the first or second generation if necessary.
When asked what else he does during his retirement, Kadirov can’t name anything significant. “I have no time for other hobbies aside from these bikes,” says the inventor, waiting eagerly in Ashkelon for the right business partner to help Israel become a leader in a new branch of industry.