The Handmade Bicycle Show 2019 is now all but a dusky memory, but those who attended are still basking in a pleasant afterglow. That will include the readers of The Spoken, as we wrap up the third and final installment of our coverage.
There’s a tangible electric buzz humming around 412 Heidelberg Road, Fairfield. It’s home to Prova Cycles, Bikes By Steve, Riderfit and Bastion Cycles. It could be the 3D printers or computers, but just as likely to be the imaginations inside the workshops.
The Bastion team are constantly working on new innovations to build a better bike but, by the looks of their Cross Road model, you can only wonder what they can come up with next. The new ‘lugs’ are slotted, into which the carbon tubes are secured.
Stoemper were returning exhibitors and had a hard time topping last year’s ‘Bin Chicken Racer’, but top it they did, with a digicam splendor that once again proved their emphasis on fast fun machines.
Although they’re based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, they have a strong Australian presence, and every owner you speak to will testify to both the positive feel of their frames and the attitude of the brand.
Apart from a decade’s worth of frame building experience, the Stoemper Paint Shack is what sets these impressive rigs apart from the rest of the herd. They do all their paint in-house, including their aluminum and titanium frames.
Even their kit is guaranteed to astound your mates and the traffic around you if you have the chutzpah to wear it.
It was especially encouraging to see a couple of wooden frame builders present. Brenvelo makes custom frames out of plywood, if you’re looking for a statement bicycle, you could not go past one of their creations.
Utilizing a combination of carbon fiber and CMC machined dropouts to finish their frames, each new frame is an evolution of design and technique. With no current production model, we’re looking forward to seeing what they come up with next.
The HBSA wasn’t just an exhibition of the country’s frame builders. A plethora of products was also represented, including Schwalbe, SRAM, ZIPP, HOPE, SILCA, ENVE, Campagnolo, Ortlieb, Reform Saddles, Terra Rosa Gear, and Columbus.
Columbus debuted their new limited edition Cento tube set, created in commemoration of their 100 year anniversary. It’s designed specifically for TIG and lugged construction, made from Omnicrom steel, second in performance only to XCR in workability.
Located near Australia’s easternmost point, Byron Bay is traditionally a place known for custom surfboards but, thanks to Woods Bicycle Co., is now also a center for awesome bikes, both big and small-wheeled.
The Woods Bicycle Co. had both a road bike and park-style BMX on show, which exemplified their focus and aesthetic. They seem to have nailed a niche that marries rapid and rideable road bikes with rough-and-ready BMX.
It’s an interesting combination of flavors and with branding that is on-point, one that will hopefully attract more BMXers onto a road-faring frame. Fewer boundaries and more cross-overs the better, we say.
An offshoot of Byron-based Woods Welding, a commercial workshop with an already impressive portfolio of fabrication, Woods Bicycle Co. look to be an excellent use of skills and diversification.
Their heart is obviously in the right place, too.
The welds are confidence-inspiring, to say the least. The green-and-white Columbus Spirit road frame on display was #R006, as designated by the copper head badge, but they have previously also created some aluminum frames.
Who’s feeling peckish? It’s only until you spend a whole weekend at a show, either as an exhibitor or as media, do you realize what hard work they actually are. It’s important to keep fuelled and hydrated.
Thankfully, The Lost Workshop team had some appropriate snacks on hand. They also had one of their latest builds to show off which, like many others at the show, was completed with literally hours to spare.
Ian Michelson of The Lost Workshop, based in Melbourne, has been helping out Bikes By Steve on paint detail, and he was particularly instrumental in translating this bike’s design from concept and a vector file into the final paintwork.
John Hall and Soyuz are another Melbourne workshop, specializing in one-off and deep-custom cargo bikes. This pink, white and black beauty is titled the Cycle Truck, AKA the ‘Stubby Bitza’, a short-wheelbase, small-front-wheel fun machine.
Also exhibited was the Long John, AKA the ‘Big Nose’ which, in itself, was an engineering marvel. With 20″ wheels front and back and a square mile of cargo space in between, it’s a viable alternative for modern inner-city transportation.
The work and legacy of Darrell ‘Llewellyn‘ McCulloch establishes him as somewhat of a godfather of Australian custom frame building. It’s always a pleasure to admire his work in real life, and even more so to listen to him wax lyrical about bikes. Or cricket.
Follow his work for a few months or so and you become aware of the dedication he has to the craft. The hours he spends on these frames are an insight into his belief in the material and the process of creating the best-riding handmade bike possible.
Not only do they perform as you’d expect, having been built by someone with around 40 years experience, most of that including work with the Australian Institute of Sport and international Aussie teams, they are also superb examples of fine steelwork.
Ewen Gellie is another builder with enough experience to stand behind his opinions and construction. He’s been riding and racing mountain bikes since the 80s, while he was studying mechanical engineering, and then started building them himself.
Not only was he designing and building frames himself, and for others, he was riding them to podium finishes, in particular, the ’88 and ’91 Australian Downhill Mountain Bike Championships.
Below are a couple of glimpses at Luke Laffan’s titanium Fikas fat bike. Fikas Custom Bicycle Frames is based in Queanbeyan, in the Australian Capital Territory. To say this vehicle cut an imposing figure is an understatement.
35% of our country is classified as desert so this Fikas, with a Gates carbon drive, internal Rohloff hub, and a Lauf Carbonara fork makes for a true sideways Australian overlander. The down tube also doubles as a fuel tank, with a tap located near the bottom bracket.
We’ve featured a few wooden bikes on the pages of The Spoken over the years, and they have certainly captured our imaginations. It was encouraging to see such innovative and well-designed wooden bikes represented at the show.
If you can find a better-looking wooden MTB on the planet than this one by HTech Bikes, however, we’d like to see it. The joinery is a superb example of craftsmanship, combining the deep red and honey tones of the jarrah and marri woods it was made from.
Melbourne legends Curve Cycling were represented by their prototype titanium Battlecat GMX frame. Sporting 29×3.0″ rubber, electric broccoli anodization by Nine Volt Colour and a cocky hed badge, it’ll leave smiles everywhere it goes.
We’re extremely fortunate to have builders with such a combined wealth of experience and enthusiasm for creating bikes to ride around this beautiful country with. For local readers of The Spoken, the show is a dream come true.
This concludes our coverage of the 2019 Handmade Bicycle Show Australia. It was a long haul, so if you’re still reading, thank you. We’d also like to thank the builders for making such a massive effort to present their work and the show’s organizers.
Handmade Bicycle Show Australia Website | Facebook | Instagram
See also: HANDMADE BICYCLE SHOW AUSTRALIA 2019: PT. 1
HANDMADE BICYCLE SHOW AUSTRALIA 2019: PT. 2