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After a short hiatus, Australia has a handbuilt bicycle show once more. Championed by the likes of Llewelyn Custom Bicycles and Gellie Cycles, the Handmade Bicycle Show Australia (HBSA) had its inaugural event in Melbourne this past weekend.
With the red carpet rolled out for paying attendees, approximately 20 builders were on hand, most from Australia, but a few from further afield. Builders were rubbing shoulders with customers and with one another, sharing their craft and proving just how much collaboration there is in the small, but tight, local industry.
We spoke with the displaying builders and had a close look at their wares. In this first of two articles, we reveal what’s new and exciting from the better-known and more established builders. Scroll down for a look at bicycle perfection from Llewelyn, Gellie, Bastion, Baum, Kumo, Stoemper, Curve and WheelWorks. These are the (mostly) Australian bigwigs.
Update: This is part one (of two) of our Handmade Bicycle Show Australia coverage. Part two takes a look at the lesser-known and new Australian builders.
Geelong-based builder Darren Baum and a few of his team were at the show. Sitting centre-place was this freshly finished Orbis “all-road” bike of a returning customer. This bike features personal details in the paint, custom painted hubs, 3M reflective stickers instead of the stock Enve decals and a long list of other special touches. These photos don’t do this bike justice and a constant swarm of interested parties prevented me from grabbing it away for better shots.
The Orbis is Baum’s all-road bike with room for 34mm tyres. As Darren Baum suggests, for customers not interested in tubeless tyres, they’ll typically suggest the narrower-tyred and higher-bottom-bracketed, Orbis R (Race) instead.
Many Baum customers request matching leather handlebar tape and saddles from Mick Peel of Busyman.
Baum create its fully custom headtubes in-house. With the hidden headset design, that required new machinery and a new hire.
Painted to match stems, seatposts and forks are all pretty standard in the handbuilt game, so what’s next? Baum is offering matched hubs. Those are DT Swiss 240s beneath the lush colour.
The Orbis uses the new T47 bottom bracket, something Baum machined in-house. They also machine their own head tubes. Some dropouts are made in-house, others are custom made by Paragon Machine Works, specific to Baum’s designs. Baum suggests he makes approximately nine titanium bikes to every steel bike.
Baum has earned a strong reputation for its paint, but Darren Baum finds it funny as he considers paint to be very low down in his design considerations.
The Code is effectively a simplified version of the Orbis. It retains Baum’s methods for fitting, handling and performance, but does so at a more reasonable price point. Despite still being titanium, you’re looking at a saving of approximately AU$4,000 by going the Code over the Orbis. That should reveal just how impressive the small details are with the Orbis.
Baum has a new racing collaboration in the works…
The lug master himself, Darrell Llewellyn McCulloch had a number of fresh customer bikes on display. This classic road bike is an example of what is possible with all hand-cut and hand-polished stainless steel lugs. McCulloch joked that he only does this type of “Tuxedo” signature-level product a couple of times a year, otherwise he’d give up.
No. That’s not chrome-plated. That’s hand-polished stainless steel.
Despite continuously trying to keep his lug production in Australia, McCulloch suggests “nobody in Australia can reliably cast such thin lugs, so I’ve had to resort to having them made in Taiwan.”
The level of detail on McCulloch’s frames is second to none. However, he made it clear where his first priorities lie, stating “all my bikes are pure functionality first.”
The whole bike features a water-like flowing design in its lugs. This stem alone apparently took 40 hours of work.
In the hands of McCulloch himself, the cast lug becomes something even more unique.
This is a customer bike and also a prototype. McCulloch explains, “this one I used very large tubes, but with lugged construction. As far as I know, it’s the first and only lugged frame in the world to have these large tubes. They’re the largest Columbus make. It’s really for aesthetics, as he’s a large fellow and wanted a rigid-looking frame.” The frame features a 44mm diameter Columbus HSS downtube, kept perfectly round. McCulloch believes that including design time, this frame took 300 hours to create.
McCulloch is a firm believer in lugs, explaining, “lugs are the best way to join a thin wall tube to another thin wall tube and distribute the stresses.”
A huge number of builders look up to McCulloch, and he’s not precious about sharing is craft. In fact, his lugs feature on a number of bikes from other Aussie builders.
The lugs in this stem are something that McCulloch offers for sale. He’s been out-sourcing the casting of his lug designs for 15 years.
McCulloch has cut (filed) playing card-shapes into metal most of his life. This remains a common feature in many of his frames today.
It’s often the easily missed details that make all the difference. This is a DT Swiss Revolution spoke being used to prevent cable rub on the paint. Slim cables, no stickers, just a slick bit of a stainless steel.
How to do a brake bridge and still offer tyre clearance. McCulloch has done the same on the chainstays.
It’s the little details that make it a Llewellyn. For example, the closed cable stops are chosen to ensure the paint won’t chip. The rub-preventing spoke trick sits hidden at the seatpost clamp.
McCulloch has used a Paragon Machine Works dropout on this customer’s cross bike, but has added his own reinforcing rib to ensure life-long service.
The same spoke trick is used to protect the paint from the rear disc rotor. Paint chipping in this area is a common problem due to taking wheels in and out.
This is the new Bastion Superleggera. It looks similar to the regular Disc Road model, but the downtube is slimmer and every tube and lug has had weight shaved. According to Ben Schultz of Bastion, “we use a higher modulus carbon fibre throughout. Every element has been pushed with this, so for example, where we go to .5mm tube thickness on the regular bike, parts of this bike go to .4mm. A Superlegara frame with fork is 150g lighter than the regular model, but the stiffness is the same.” This display bike, in its size 62cm and with disc brakes, is said to weight just 6.2kg.
A lack of paint doesn’t just show off the incredible engineering — it’s lighter, too.
This Bastion SuperLegerra gets a custom painted stem to match.
Bastion is collaborating with Demon Frameworks in the UK. According to Schultz, “It all started about two years ago. We’d be talking with Tom of Demon about how we’d love to introduce his artistic style into our lugs. We met a customer at Bespoke who was keen for something more special than our regular bikes, and it was fate.” Keeping these extremely limited, there’s only one available per country and Bastion will not duplicate a colour scheme. If you’re in the UK, Indonesia or Netherlands, you’re already out of luck.
The design may look very simple to do given it’s 3D-printed, but Schultz tells us that it required them to go back to the drawing board to ensure that it remained structurally the same. These limited-edition collab bikes are every bit as strong as Bastion’s regular models.
Impressive details and fine paint masking are seen at every edge and corner.
Beneath the paint is a 3D titanium-printed seatpost topper, on an in-house woven carbon fibre seattube.
Bastion typically print a custom name into each frame. This one receives the name of the inspiring frame maker.
The rich “turquoise marine blue fade” is seen on all lugs, the fork, the seattube, as well as the bar and stem. The paint is done by “Bikes by Steve”, the painter of choice for both Bastion and Prova.
Only possible with advancements in 3D printing, there’s 96% air in this structure. Compared to a hollow structure, it’s said to add 20-30% stiffness for a 4% mass increase. Further 3D printing gains are seen with variable wall thickness.
Bastion are now using their 3D printed titanium expertise for computer mounts too. At 10g, it’s said to be the lightest option going, and I can attest to it being extremely stiff. Being printed, Bastion are able to do it for just about any stem, any computer and with the option for either a GoPro or Exposure mount beneath. Pricing is to be confirmed, but pre-orders are at AU$99; expect final retail to be higher.
Wishing your tool roll matched your carbon frame? Bastion can help. This roll is made of laser-etched kangaroo leather, with Bastion’s woven carbon fibre on the exterior.
The tool roll includes a Silca T-ratchet set, a Silca Co2 gun, Co2 canister and a tube. I was afraid to ask the price.
Ewan Gellie was showing off a few impressively clean builds. The long-time builder tells he now does the paint himself, meaning the bike’s owner will likely be the second set of hands to touch the frame from when it was raw tubes. Pictured is Gellie’s own road disc bike.
Gellie’s frames offer simple lines and beautiful welds. However, a whole lot of detail goes into making a bike look so simple. For example, Gellie, an engineer himself, spoke about how heat affects the tolerances, strength and ride quality of the frame, and so he reverses the process to handle this. The front derailleur braze-on, bidon cage bosses and other items traditionally brazed on at the end are instead done at the beginning. It’s mind-blowing to think how much more difficult that makes the process. As the saying goes, it’s not as simple as it looks.
The T47 shell provides enough space to guide the brake hose internally. He tells us there’s some tricky things going on inside to ensure the hose can’t rub on the spindle. Unfortunately such beauty does mean there’s only space to run a 24mm crank spindle — you’ll need the cable run externally if you want a 30mm crank here.
The brake hose appears cleanly right before the brake. While it’s not possible to see, the brake hose runs through a stainless steel tube for perfect guiding from entry to exit. No floss, magnets or bent spokes required here.
Gellie’s own bike is using the Paragon Speed Release dropout which uses the new Mavic Speed Release thru-axle. The Enve fork up front is using the same design.
Some of the smoothest lines in the industry. With a background in engineering, Gellie is commonly regarded as a quiet perfectionist.
Gellie will make just about anything, but his own gravel bike is a look at what he’s been up to lately. It’s a gravel racer using Columbus Life tubing.
Gellie’s own gravel bike is designed to take a rear rack.
Handmade in Canberra, Australia, this is the Kumo RADdonneur. “I’ve ‘ruggedised’ a radonneur, rather than turn a mountain bike into a bikepacking bike. It’s low trail, so it holds a front load really well. Production bike will take a 650B x 2.4” tyre. feature 12mm thru-axles front and rear, T47 bottom bracket and different cable routing,” said Mr Kumo Cycles himself, Keith Marshall. Four sizes will be available and turnaround will only be a few weeks. Marshall plans to make approximately 50 of these a year. AU$2,900, frame and fork, including the bottom bracket.
Having pushed his business in the direction of his passion, Marshall is now mostly focused on hardcore radonneur (bikepacking) bikes. Pictured is his own prototype Kumo RADdonneur which he had planned to ride from his workshop in Canberra to Bairnsdale, Victoria (and then catch a train into Melbourne for the show). A fussy knee forced Marshall to pull the pin earlier.
Plenty of detail and thought can be seen throughout the bike on closer inspection.
In addition to the new RADdonneur, Marshall is still making custom racks and other small parts. This top cap is made using watch-making methods and is available for AU$140.
Another example of Marshall’s handy work, this front rack is something he makes.
As the only wheelbuilder on show (Curve weren’t displaying wheels), New Zealand’s WheelWorks travelled across the ditch to be on display. The Kiwis had a large range of wheels to show, but it’s the new Maker SLD that grabbed our attention. Using their own 380g rim and hubs, the Maker SLD is a high-end carbon disc road wheel to suit the new generation of 25-28c tyres with its 22.5mm internal width rim. The wheelset is claimed to weigh 1,380g and will sell consumer-direct for NZ$3,090.
WheelWorks use their own hub design called the Dial. The tool-free freehub is a licensed design and uses three pawls for 36 points of engagement (72 points via six pawls is available). All WheelWorks wheels offer a lifetime guarantee against spoke breakage.
Travelling all the way from the USA, Stoemper were on show with two customer bikes. Pictured is the bike of Melbourne-based CyclingTips VeloClub member Tim. Tim took sight of his new custom steel “Taylor” for the very first time at the show. This bike features a stock Stoemper geometry, but with a semi-custom paint.
The Taylor is a steel racing frameset, it uses a Columbus Life tubing and a Dedacciai headtube. The stays are bent by Stoemper, and the dropouts are their own, too. The fork is from Enve. A frameset like this sells for US$2,399 / AU$4,500.
Skulls were a custom request from Tim. There’s one laughing for anyone sitting on his back wheel. Tim, what’s the story behind the skulls?
More skulls feature elsewhere, including on the toptube and forks.
Tim selected external cable routing. The brake hose is run internally until the bottom bracket.
Announced at the show, Curve’s limited edition Belgie (Disc) Air is a collaborative work with a number of local makers. Bastion make the one-piece woven seattube and help with the bonding, paint is by Bikes by Steve (painter for Bastion and Prova) and skingrowsback is making the matched seat pack. Limited to just 23 framesets, this titanium and carbon ride will set you back AU$6,999 (frameset), and yes, that includes the seat pack.
The one-piece carbon bar and stem perfectly match the painted Curve fork and other accents.
The Belgie Air is semi-custom, and owners can choose between an intermediate or stiff carbon fibre seat tube. According to Ryan Flinn, even the intermediate seat tube creates a noticeably stiffer rear end compared to the usual full-titanium frame.
Ryan Flinn (aka Rhino), a part-owner of Curve, rode the latter part of the unofficial ride across Australia, formally known as the Indian Pacific Wheel Race, on this bike just weeks ago.
Bastion supply its 3D titanium-printed seatmast topper, too. Here, both Bastion’s and Curve’s logos feature.
A simple and elegant headtube from the Australian brand. While this limited edition Belgie is assembled in Australia, Curve don’t shy away from the fact their frames are made for them in Asia.