Velo City: Bicycle Culture and City Life

Noah’s Ark: Maureen’s Custom Landshark

You could probably count the number of John Slawta’s Landshark frames in Australia on one hand. One whistled past me the other day and I instantly clocked the individual paint and logo, so I hailed down the rider to find out how it came to be Down Under.

The rider’s name was Maureen, a Connecticut native who moved to Australia only a few weeks before to study frog ecology at university and brought her Landshark with her for transport and exploration purposes.

John Slawta, also a native of Oregon, fulfils his ambitions of an artist by painting his frames in some of the most eclectic and well-executed schemes you’ll encounter in the custom bike world.

They are nearly always eye-blisteringly colourful and, while he predominantly builds in carbon fibre these days, we hold a special appreciation for his fillet-brazed steel frames. His tandems are also something to behold.

Ironically, Maureen was after a replacement for her 15kg Huffy and found the Landshark on Craigslist. Ironic because the Huffy that Andy Hampsten famously rode in a blizzard over the Passo di Gavia during the 1988 Giro d’Italia was actually a rebadged Landshark.

Maureen’s Landshark was custom-made about 12-15 years prior for a female racer who had to sadly stop competing after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She had the bike in storage for years and was finally ready to sell it.

The previous owner was passionate about the art of the American Southwest, which explains the hand-drawn icons and symbols over the paint, including the Kokopelli, antelope, sun and bear claws.

Maureen tells us the weight and smoothness of the Landshark took some getting used to but the standard of comfort is it’s best attribute — and I’m sure it would be even without the gel saddle cover.

After a move from Oregon to Oklahoma in 2014 and Utah after that — states that are close to John Slawta’s own — it was only once she moved to Sydney that someone recognised her bike for what it was. We’ll always stop for a Landshark, however.

Massive thanks to Maureen for her time.

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