Now in its second year, the Handmade Bicycle Show Australia (HBSA) returned to Melbourne over the past weekend. Growing to more than 40 exhibitors this year, HBSA is a showcase not just for Australian builders, but for a number of international makers too.
In this first gallery, we look at the masters of the Australian hand-built scene plus a few from aboard. Many of these makers were covered in last year’s
bigwig gallery, and they returned with new examples of their obsessive craftsmanship.
With years of experience, and often countless frames through their hands, their craft of building bikes has well and truly reached mastery. In many cases, these makers are now the mentors or inspiration to up-and-coming makers, which we’ll showcase in future galleries.
With the likes of
Baum, Gellie, Llewelyn, Parlee, Stoemper, Wittson and Bikes by Steve (paint) – these are the masters. Masters of new tech and techniques, such as Prova, Bastion and Mooro will be covered next.
Follow the link for all coverage from the
Handmade Bicycle Show Australia, including last year’s galleries.
A chat with Silca’s CEO Josh Poertner in relation to HBSA and the Australian custom builders scene.
The hands and creations of the lug master himself, Darryl “Dazza” Llewellyn McCulloch. The lug on the left is a hand-filed and -shaped product of the lug to the right.
McCulloch is perhaps best known for his Lucentezza, aka “Tuxedo” lugged models, bikes which feature his own hand-cut and polished stainless steel lugs and other trademark details. So time-consuming and testing are these bikes to produce (approximately 250 hours, before paint), he’s only likely to make one of these a year.
The heart seatstay bridge is another signature of Llewellyn frames.
There’s no chrome on these bikes — the mirror-finished lugs are polished by hand.
You could spend an hour looking over a Llewellyn Lucentezza and still not catch every detail.
Somewhat of a change of pace for Llewellyn, the new Discus Colossus is a silver fillet brazed road disc bike. Darryl first fillet brazed frames in the early ’90s, but has only recently started doing so again.
Darryl chooses to use silver for brazing as it offers a lower melting temperature and therefore less distortion. It is however, much more expensive than the more commonly used brass.
“I still mostly work with lugs, but I’m doing more and more of these, but I’m only one pair of hands. This is fillet brazed, but with lots of different little fittings and features, so you don’t knock out one of these in a week.” – Darryl Llewellyn McCulloch.
It may not feature lugs, but that doesn’t mean Llewellyn’s signature cut and polished details are missing.
Columbus MAX chainstays merge with a customised dropout that offers internal Di2 routing and a replaceable rear derailleur hanger.
The silver brazing is smoothed by hand for seamless transitions from tube to tube.
A gorgeous lugged road fixie that Darryl Llewellyn built for himself. Unfortunately it hasn’t seen a lot of use lately, and so Darryl is likely to sell it off soon.
Ewen Gellie of Gellie Custom is certainly a master of the Australian custom scene. The mechanical engineer has been building steel bikes for some 30 years. These days, he’s even doing the paint himself.
There’s a whole lot going on with this road tandem, and clearly decades of TIG welding experience brings plenty of confidence in building such a machine. Large diameter steel butted tubing is said to make this stiff under power, an important point as this bike is used for racing. Note the front belt drive, with tension adjusted by an eccentric bottom bracket. This is combined with a Shimano Di2 drivetrain at rear, which makes perfect sense where such long cable lengths are needed. The whole bike weighs a respectable 16.1kg.
This is Gellie’s new (and personal) Reflexa road disc bike with an integrated seatpost. The frame hides a few new tricks too, such as the custom 3D printed internal brake hose guides. (Please excuse the front thru-axle position, I shot this before Ewen had finished setting up.)
An added perk of the integrated seat tube is the little extra branding real estate. It’s not too often you see a steel frame with an integrated post, but when your saddle height has only changed by a couple of millimeters over the past decade, then why not?
Gellie is a master with the welding torch. His welds are consistently some of the best you’ll find.
Gellie is known to obsess over the smallest of details. Such an example is his own flat mount brake mounts, which feature a slight edge which allow for superior paint masking around the brake caliper’s mounting surface.
Gellie retains a number of classic elements in his frames, such as the chain catcher which helps to protect the paint when the rear wheel is removed.
Perhaps Australia’s best known custom bike maker, Baum, had a large presence at this year’s Handmade show, with bikes found in booths belonging to SRAM, Silca and Schwalbe in addition to its own. And with two wholly new gravel bikes to show, it wasn’t too surprising to see so much from them. Pictured is “The Darren”, Darren Baum’s own test mule which has been used extensively to test and fine-tune geometry concepts.
Baum is well known for its incredible attention to detail on all facets of bike design, including geometry concepts. The Darren has allowed the custom bike company to test a number of different setups with a single frame.
On the front of The Darren is an oversized headtube that houses a Cane Creek Angleset headset. This allows head angle to be adjusted in .5-degree increments.
The rear wheel sits on sliding dropouts, allowing Baum to test how chainstay length impacts real-world handling.
An eccentric bottom bracket shell is used to test changes in bottom bracket height.
The Darren offers plenty of tyre clearance for testing various rubber sizes. Expect a more detailed look at this very clever machine in the near future.
Baum has segmented “gravel” into three categories. The brand now offers bikes for two of those categories, the Orbis + (pictured) and the Orbis X. The Orbis + is designed to fit up to 700x40c rubber, and in the simplest sense, is aimed at road riders looking to go off-road with little compromise to road efficiency. To this end, Baum suggests the bikes are set up with a 1:1 low gear ratio (compact crank, 11-34T cassette), and likely used with road pedals.
Want to tackle rougher terrain that is more akin to mountain biking? Baum says its new Orbis X is the pick. If the Orbis + was designed for roadies looking to go off-road, the Orbis X is best described as a mountain biker’s road bike. Designed to fit up to 700x45c rubber, the Orbis X puts the rider further behind the steering axis and is intended to be used with even lower gearing where traction is likely to be an issue. Baum’s show bike was setup with SRAM’s new “mullet” groupset: AXS Eagle 10-50T out back, with Force AXS up front.
Back to the Orbis +. This titanium show bike offeres the usual level of detail that Baum has become famous for, such as the made-in-house head tubes.
Baum employs a clever little trick we first saw used by Prova — using a 3D-printed yoke to provide chainring clearance without sacrificing on tyre clearance or frame stiffness.
Both the Orbis + and X offer mounts for fenders and rear racks. On the Orbis +, fenders will fit with up to a 34mm tyre. Baum equip Enve forks on these frames, which offer a sleek clip-on fender.
Baum’s impeccable paint work with signature straight-line designs often draw a crowd.
Every Orbis is fully custom. Want mechanical shifting, or no cable ports at all? Like many of the builders at the show, Baum can make it happen.
Cycling legend Phil Anderson has linked up with Baum, and is now riding his local bike company’s Orbis road bike. The bike is painted in a theme to match his recently restored 1982 Peugeot, a bike we recently featured.
Unlike Phil’s race bike from 1982, this one actually has his name spelt correctly.
Bikes by Steve – a relatively new name in the custom paint scene, but a well-proven master of the craft. What you see is the result of a whole lot of masking.
Steve Gardner said approximately 13 bikes at the show featured his paint, yet it was this newly done customer bike that he decided to show on his own stand. Gardner believes this is his finest work yet, which is saying a lot if you’ve ever had a close look at the paint of a Prova or Bastion.
Built in Minneapolis (previously Oregon) USA, destined for a customer in Australia. The Stoemper Vincent is the quirky custom bike company’s titanium road bike. Pictured is the disc version, standing with its spiritual snack. I asked Greg from Sydney bike boutique Wheelhaus “Why the chips?”, to which he simply responded “Why not?” I can’t argue with logic like that.
The Vincent is made with 3/2.5 straight-gauge titanium tubing. It features the same racey geometry as the company’s Taylor steel road bike. The front triangle features subtly oversized tubes for additional stiffness.
Stoemper’s angry dinosaur logo features on the head badge. Slotted through the headtube is a fork from Parlee. Stoemper also offers frames with Enve forks.
American carbon fibre specialists Parlee were at the show, too. In addition to the USA-made custom Z-series bikes on display was the company’s brand new production aero road bike, the RZ7. Parlee’s production bikes are produced in Taiwan, and so are not handmade in the same sense as many other bikes on show.
Launched at Sea Otter just a couple of weeks ago, the Parlee RZ7 is a fully-featured and slick aero race bike. In addition to the NACA airfoil shapes, the bike uses Parlee’s own handlebar and stem to hide cables from the wind. Pictured is one of a hundred “Factory Edition” versions. This limited edition paint scheme will disappear once sold out. (Sorry for the blurry photo, this bike was clearly too fast to capture).
Wittson was on show all the way from Lithuania. The father and son duo specialise in high-end titanium frames, with either full custom or pre-defined models available. Pictured is the Illuminati road race disc bike.
The Illuminati is built to be a stiff race bike. It features a number of tube profiles that you’ll rarely find on a titanium frame, such as this diamond-shaped toptube, achieved with hydroforming.
Made in Europe, and with tubing sourced from Sweden. The one obvious exception are the dropouts, which come from Paragon Machine Works in the USA.
In addition to the toptube, the chainstays and seatstays are hydroformed, too. This model is designed to fit up to a 28c tyre. The company has already teased a new gravel bike, due to be released within the next week.