It’s taken a couple of attempts, but it seems the Australian custom bike industry now has a dedicated show to celebrate the vast wealth of talent that comes from a Land Down Under. Last weekend’s show revealed a brimming cauldron of creative potential.
For everyone who participated in the second Handmade Bicycle Show Australia, the builders, organizers, trade representatives, media and visitors, the past 12 months have been an escalating rollercoaster of excitement and emotion.
It all culminated in a resoundingly positive and professional weekend of displays — both bikes and products, talks and involvement. The most impressive aspect, however, was the reassuring sense of community within the venue.
After enviously observing the state of other international shows, it has to be said that the organizers of the HBSA have done an outstanding job of presenting a modern and accessible show that truly turns the spotlight onto the builders and their bikes.
The event’s branding and presentation are contemporary and future-proof, ticketing was seamless and the social media channels are current, informative and evenly covered the participants and activities.
2019’s edition was about 200% bigger and better than last year’s show, which used only half of Melbourne’s historic Meat Market hall. This year, the diving walls were flung open and both exhibitors and spectators filled the rest of the space.
Without any more guff, we should have a closer look at some of the bikes that were on display. There were lots of them, which revealed an insight into the personality and direction of the Australian scene.
One of the first builders to greet you upon entering the show was Rob Benson and Chimera Frameworks, who brought a total of four bikes with him, although one was proudly displayed in the Columbus Tubi booth.
The most striking of the group was this boldly-decorated Zenith RD road model, which went home with the Cycling Tips team for a long term review. It certainly had one of the most creative paint jobs at the show.
Rob’s an incredibly passionate guy and a brilliant engineer with his sights set on a land speed record — as you could probably tell by the size of this new chainring, machined by John Bosevski of Cycle Underground.
Jimmy Rostlund of Egress Bikes must have driven himself mad by having to stand next to the brand new single speed shredder he built himself. It literally looked like candy, painted by Bikes By Steve in BMW’s Marrakesh Brown.
The new logotype looks a lot like the sweeping single trail it was designed for, and the blue was perfectly complemented by the Hope, Industry 9 and the ultralight and modern Intend stem.
Intend make very light and sculptured components in Freiburg, Germany. That stem is actually hollow and if you look through one end, you can see the sky out the other side. Now that the show’s over, Jimmy’s probably out there riding that bike right now.
One thing that was really important about our show was the presence of international exhibitors. We had a strong and exotic contingent, the first on the floor was Michaël Mascaran of Masca Frameworks, Reunion Island, and his svelte track bike.
Michaël was one of the numerous builders at the show that was about to embark on a world tour of shows, heading off to the UK to exhibit at this weekend’s Bespoked show. It’s a busy, and expensive, time of the year for them.
One of the great things about these shows, however, is the fact that you can meet the person who might make your future dream bike — face-to-face. It’s a rare and important opportunity, especially when a customized bike frame is such a personal thing.
Cjell Moné is one of the industry’s most enigmatic characters — a lifetime rider, bike advocate and true bike wizard. He was another who traveled a vast distance to attend the show, with this amazing new full-squish fabrication.
Designing, assembling and fabricating this frame gives you a small indication of Cjell’s abilities and craft. Some might call his unfiled fillets crude, but they’re effective. There’s no denying his passion for the craft.
It was a pleasure and an honor to meet Röbi Stolz, one of Switzerland’s few frame builders. A genuinely friendly and enthusiastic man who fronts Fahrradbau Stolz makers of this tourer for Thomas Bochet, who rode it through Europe.
Whilst on his tour, Thomas met with as many frame builders as possible, interviewed and photographed them, all of which was compiled into a book that is as well-designed as his bicycle.
One detail on the Stolz tourer that may have been overlooked by passers-by hurrying to absorb all that was on show was the Moskito watch/bike computer mounted on the top cap. It was designed by a good friend of Röbi’s and is the epitome of Swiss innovation.
One of the most impressive stands at the show was Sean Doyle’s Devlin Custom Cycles. Sean is a true craftsman with his head firmly screwed on when it comes to the form of the beautiful bicycle. If you’re after a true blend of function and form, Sean’s your man.
He had no less than three frames on display, this stag with a carved bi-lam seat tube mast, a candy black base, and orange highlights. Sean loves his lugs and approaches each frame with a scrutinizing eye.
Sitting front and center in the hall, you couldn’t walk past Sean’s stand and not be inspired by the state of Australian framebuilding. We’re in a good place. It’s a small community, by international standards, but it’s close-knit.
The hero of Sean’s stand was this mesmerizing ‘classic’ road bike, which was a celebration of both his building and the paintwork by Ben Wallis Paints. Minimal lug carving, old school Campy, small diameter tubing…
After all the fat tubes and modern groupsets inhabiting the rest of the hall, returning to this Devlin was a refreshing breath of air. Or, thanks to Ben’s paint, maybe it was more like a glass of champagne after an evening of craft beers.
You’ve heard of Mark Hester’s Prova Cycles, right? He’s that guy who’s got a background in performance auto design and is applying that experience and modern technology to custom frame building. There’s some serious tech in the DNA of each Prova.
After incorporating carbon fiber and 3D printing into his frames, he’s also just started exploring the world of titanium. What happens after that? One of the hottest hardtails you’ll come across. In Australia, anyway.
It’s going to be a big year for Prova, who is also exhibiting at Bespoked 2019 this weekend. As proved by the popularity of marques like Prova and Bastion, the market has become entranced by their hi-tech approach.
This is the Prova Speciale, a heady mix of stainless steel and carbon fiber, laid up in-house by Mark himself using a compression bladder method. Again, the dropouts have been printed, this time in stainless steel.
Thankfully, these new young brands have successfully blended good design with technology, so we are graced with some exceptionally good looking and advanced bicycles. This has been a long post, but the show presented a huge number of stories that have to be told. To be continued…
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