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In this Bikes of the Bunch, young Sydney-sider Tim Schaare-Weeks shares the story of how his unique Stoemper Taylor came to be. Embellished with an illustration of what’s commonly called a “bin chicken” (i.e. the Australian white ibis), this steel ride provides a balance between humour and everyday practicality.
People in Sydney have one of two responses to ibises. They either absolutely loathe their existence or have simply never given them much thought. I was very much the latter; my wife was the former.
I can’t remember the exact moment that it all clicked but I started joking that I was going to get a 30th birthday present for myself – a custom bike with bin chickens painted on it that I would collect from NAHBS.
The response was more or less what you’d expect – a firm ‘no’, plus a question about why was I thinking about my 30th birthday present at 25, especially as I’d just bought a new bike. This continued as a joke for a few months until I saw a post on Instagram from a Sydney-based artist Frida Las Vegas.
For anyone that hasn’t seen her work, it’s an incredible celebration of Australian Pop Culture which also includes the bin chicken.
I loved everything about the print and reached out to Frida to see if she’d be interested in designing the artwork for a bike. After a bit of back and forth, I knew she’d be the right person to make this crazy vision a reality. The brief was “Miami Vice and bin chickens” and she could interpret that however she liked.
Finding a canvas
While it was nice to have some potential paintwork concepts I now needed to find a framebuilder that could not only put together a frame I liked but also manage the potentially complex paintwork. I decided on steel pretty quick due to its ride quality and mentioned to Greg at Wheelhaus (a Sydney-based boutique bike shop and workshop) what I was thinking. Not only did he know Frida well but he had a great relationship with Stoemper.
Stoemper is a two-man operation — David looks after the business side in Spain and Todd builds and paints frames in Oregon. After a bit of research and seeing some of their work I reached out to David who confirmed they’d be happy to take on the project.
I’d ridden a few bikes and had a good understanding of what I liked and didn’t. This project wasn’t about making the fastest or the lightest bike around. It was about putting together a bike that did good bike stuff and if something broke it was easy to fix.
With that in mind I settled on the following requirements:
- Reasonably aggressive but still comfortable on 100km+ rides
- Zero offset post
- Mechanical drivetrain
- Rim brakes
- Room for 28mm tyres
After many hours of tinkering on BikeCAD, talking to bike fitter Tom Petty (Pave the Way), David & Todd (Stoemper) and Stav (Frida Las Vegas), I finally settled on geometry and paintwork I thought would be right.
From there I really was throwing caution to the wind. I put down the deposit and would be taking delivery of a new bike in the new year.
While I spent a lot of time looking at the design on a screen it was the vision of Todd at Stoemper that brought it together. He would paint the frame based on the artwork sent through but would make changes if he felt it would look better on the bike.
The best and worst thing about a custom frame is the waiting. It gives you a lot of time to think about the componentry and how it will be put together but the anticipation is, at times, agonising. I’d “negotiated” that I could get my 30th birthday present just three years early.
With a frame that was going to be pretty loud, I started pulling together componentry that would not distract from the paintwork too much. I began stashing bits and pieces away before I finally had an Ultegra 6800 groupset, Pro finishing kit and Wheelworks Bolt wheels. All I had to do now was wait.
Out of the blue, I received an email from Greg at Wheelhaus asking if they could bring the frame build forward by six months so it could be shown at the Handmade Bicycle Show Australia in Melbourne. I don’t think I was ever going to say no.
A couple of months later it turned up at Wheelhaus and I was on my way to see it for the first time. I’d seen a few shots of it as Todd was putting it together but seeing it in the flesh I couldn’t have been more stoked. Todd’s welds are amazing, but the real highlight for me was the quality of the paintwork.
I’ve been riding it now since May 2018 and couldn’t be happier with the whole project. I have no idea how much it weighs or how stiff it is but I do know it does great bicycle stuff. Every time I ride I’m just a little bit more stoked on it.
Frame: Stoemper Taylor
Fork: Enve Rim Brake
Headset: Cane Creek Forty
Groupset: Shimano Ultegra 6800, with C-Bear rear derailleur pulley wheels
Bottom Bracket: C-bear Ceramic, threaded
Power Meter: Stages Cycling Gen 2, Shimano Ultegra 6800
Wheels: Wheelworks Bolt Aluminium
Tyres: Vittoria Corsa Control clincher, 28c, tanwall
Seatpost: Pro Vibe Carbon, straight, 27.2mm
Saddle: Pro Stealth
Handlebars: Pro Vibe
Stem: Pro Stealth 110mm -10
Bar Tape: Rapha Pro Team
Pedals: Shimano Ultegra R8000
Bottle cages: King Cage Stainless