Liverpool is a suburb in south-western Sydney, home to ABC Cycles, a local bike shop that is home also to Kerry Hopkins, one of Australia’s preeminent framebuilders. Kerry is an alumni of that school of builders which includes Jim Bundy, Geoff Scott and Ken Evans.
They’ve all built frames for Aussie contenders and champions of the track, and this is one of the frames that Kerry built for Sean Eadie, who won the Sprint World Championship in 2002. It now belongs to the collection of Wing Lau, who prizes the work of Australian builders.
Wing is a graphic designer of not a small amount of repute. We’ve already profiled his custom Jim Bundy road bike on The Spoken, painted by Sydney’s Star Enamel in the same pearl white as his Hopkins. Wing agreed to answer some questions I had about this intriguing frame:
Where did you come across the Hopkins? Was it found complete or just a frame?
I first saw it on the ‘bay about 5-6 years ago, complete, as is (well, in a slightly less attractive condition… and with an unbranded seatpost). At first, I didn’t know who was the builder nor what was with all the gussets/steel tubes structure. All i knew was that it was an amazing bike and I have never seen one like that before, ever.
What can you tell us about its history?
From there onwards I contacted the seller. I think his name was Stephen, from memory, and asked him what it’s all about. I was told that it was a bike handed over to him from someone in the same club back when he used to race at the velodrome and in which the same bike was sold / given to that person by a guy called Sean Eadie… (clearly I was not aware that Sean was a world champion).
Apart from some usual wear and tear marks, there is a dent on the top tube and I was told by Stephen that the former owner went into a coma after an accident on the track when racing on that bike before. Because of the popularity of road racing, Stephen himself stopped racing track and the bike basically ended up in the garage for a while until I saw it.
Fun fact 1: The front axle of the Campy Sherif Star hub was slightly bent when I got the bike. Piero, from Sydney’s Deus Cycleworks went through his treasure boxes and found me one to replace with.
No other info was available that I could obtain apart from the conversation I had with Stephen. A Columbus SLX sticker and the 4 digits stamped on the BB shell: ‘1284’ (which reads December 1984).
However, not until about a year or so later, when it was in an exhibition called Fixed up at The Galleries Victoria. With the combined knowledge of Piero and Alex from Deus Cycleworks as well as Peter Bundy, it was confirmed to me that it was a Kerry Hopkins, built specifically for Sean Eadie.
There were only 3 of them built in the exactly same size and geometry, painted in black, navy and pearl white accordingly. This pearl white version was Sean’s training bike.
Fun fact 2: When I purchased this bike, I was riding a Jim Bundy track frame. Both bikes came to me in pearl white and since then I have been sticking to pearl white only with my other bikes.
Fun fact 3: About a year ago on Instagram, Kerry Hopkins’ sons triple-confirmed to me that it was indeed built by their father.
What tubing is it made? Can you tell us about its construction, specifically the gussets?
The tubes are Columbus SLX but god knows what was actually used to build that beast… The dropouts are Suntour. The gussets are fibreglass, reinforced onto those steel tubes. One can clearly see where today’s carbon structures come from… Just look at that damn bottom bracket!
Fun fact 4: When I unboxed the bike and scrubbed off the dust, I quickly measured the frame. I then discovered that the bottom bracket shell was quite higher than normal. Which helped determine that the frame was built with just one thing in mind: to go fast in the velodrome.
How does it ride?
Well, it’s actually a very heavy (and strong) bike which works perfectly for track racing. I have only ridden it once or maybe twice. Its geometry is way too aggressive and has a mad amount of toe overlap. It has ended up on the wall after I replaced the unbranded seat post with a Campy aero post to match those hubs.
It certainly is a burly bike, built for a burly rider. Massive thanks to Wing for the background.