When Vesko Salov was 7 years old, living in Sofia, Bulgaria, his parents gave him what he claims was the first and only bicycle they ever bought for him. He enjoyed riding it, but found that he also enjoyed fixing it. Soon, other kids in the neighbourhood were coming to him to have their bikes fixed. His joy in fixing bikes led him to where he is today – celebrating the 10th anniversary of his bicycle repair shop – Flying Wheels – just east of Bayview, on Fleming Crescent.
Vesko’s parents came to Canada with their twin sons 23 years ago. Toronto was their destination, and the first school Vesko attended here was Jarvis Collegiate. He understood quite a bit of English, but was reluctant to speak it. “My ego was higher than it should have been.” It was at Jarvis that he met Maia, who was to become his wife, and whose family had come from Bulgaria the year before the Salovs. When Maia’s family moved to Scarborough, where she attended Wexford Collegiate, he also wanted to be there, but since he didn’t live in the catchment area he couldn’t attend…until he realized that Wexford was categorized as an arts school, and he had already studied wood carving, sculpture and graphics. Problem solved.
Vesko continued to feel the push and pull between the life of an artist and that of a person who enjoys repairing bikes. But his arts instructors told him early on that it would be difficult to make a living in Canada. He also realized that he enjoyed artistic endeavours for their own pleasure, and “not being pressured to do something I didn’t like.” So today, he creates jewellery or paintings for friends and family. His love of graphics is also evident in the tattoos he’s displayed since he was about 20. He creates a design, while the tattoo artist does the ink work.
Vesko spent a number of years working for other bicycle shops around Toronto. A decade ago, around the time his son was born, he decided to go out on his own. “I always wanted to be in control, and be happy in my work.” He looked for a spot in Leaside, because the area felt like what he had known growing up in Sofia. The first place he found was just across Bayview on Manor Road, beside Taglio Hair Salon. It was very small, but a good start.
Why “Flying Wheels? He wanted a name “that had something to do with speed, and didn’t bug me. I practised saying ‘Flying Wheels – Vesko speaking’ to make sure.”
Early on, Fraser Chapman, co-founder and president of Morning Glory Cycling Club, with 1,200 members, became a customer. Now many other Morning Glory members have become clients, and friends. Vesko has never advertised formally – word of mouth does the trick.
Six years ago, his present location became available, and he intends to stay. “I am thankful. This is how I imagined it to be.” And his wheels are always flying.