Held in Williamstown across the bay from the Melbourne CBD, the
Handmade Bicycle Show Australia (HBSA) has just finished up for another year. Across three days, a large ship-building shed was filled with almost 30 of Australia’s most passionate, skilled and forward-thinking bespoke bike builders and companies.
There were globally renowned names such as Baum, Bastion and Llewellyn. And between them was a healthy sprinkle of bright-eyed builders and casually quiet veterans. The vast majority build on Australian soil, while some outsource their unique designs to overseas manufacturers.
In this four-part gallery series, I’ll be covering a broad mix of the builders and bikes that made up this year’s show. This is part one and looks at bikes from
Llewellyn, Bastion, The Lost Workshop, Devlin, Kumo, and Fikas. You can see all past and present coverage from HBSA here.
Darrell Llewellyn McCulloch is a master of the custom bike world and is best known for his custom steel-lugged work. Pictured is a Llewellyn Randonneur belonging to a customer. McCulloch typically makes his own racks, but the rear rack here is from Tubus. It has been modified for a rigid fit on this bike, to hold the fender without rattles. McCulloch suggests there are no fewer than 250 hours of labour in each bike. And it’s easy to see why. According to McCulloch, leather washers are the only correct way to mount fenders for a durable and rattle-free ride. Even the Zefal frame pump is supported by custom stainless steel supports. This bike is set up with a Schmidt SON lighting system and dynamo hub. McCulloch has built the bike with insulated dropouts that remove the need for connecting wires to the hub. McCulloch worked as a national-level race mechanic for many decades and continues to tie the spokes of his wheel builds to this day. “There’s a week’s work in each rack,” said McCulloch of the front rack. “The silver lugs you see aren’t chrome, they’re polished stainless. Chrome goes rusty and degrades.”
From a master of handmade lugs to a new generation of 3D-printed titanium lugs, Bastion was at the show with its wholly new integrated handlebar, stem and fork, something we covered in-depth a few days prior. Bastion’s integrated front end is an optional extra at this point. The paint on this particular show bike was done by Velocraft, a name you’ll hear plenty of throughout the following few galleries. Bastion offers multiple finish choices for its 3D-printed titanium parts. Here’s a more bead-blasted finish compared to the previous mirror polish. And of course, paint is an option, too. The lightest frame in Bastion’s range is the Super Leggera. As shown this bike is said to weigh 6 kg. That figure is a long way from Berk or similar, but this one features Shimano Di2 shifting and is said to be comfortable for all-day riding (the comfortable saddle is evidence of that). This colourful Cross road gravel bike belongs to Bastion’s co-founder and lead engineer James Woolcock. The frame passes mountain bike standards testing and has room for up to 700×43 mm tyres. The paint is done by Velocraft who shares a roof with Bastion.
Keith Marshall of Kumo Cycles is a talented maker based about an hour and a half’s drive from Canberra (Australia’s capital). His workshop is fully off the grid and is solely powered by solar. Pictured is the RADdonneur, an Australian-made and modernised randonneur machine with production sizing. Marshall rode some 700+ off-road kilometres to the previous HBSA to display his unwashed bike for the show. This year a newborn at home didn’t allow for such an adventure. The Kumo RADdonneur frames are powder coated which made them the only powdered frames at the show. “It’s perfect for this kind of touring work as it is very durable, very impact resistance and very abrasion resistant,” said Marshall. Kumo still offers custom builds, but the RADdonneur is all about streamlining the process to make the frames more attainable. Expect to pay AU$2,999 for a frame and fork. Complete bikes start from about AU$7,500, but can be made for less depending on the build.
Luke Laffan of Fikas Custom has a history of coming to the show with weird and wonderful creations (at the last show he had a belt-drive fat bike). This year’s show bike wasn’t so weird, but rather a customer’s titanium single-speed 29er mountain bike for cross country racing. It’s built with a Lauf fork on the front and is said to weigh 7 kg. This particular bike features butted top and down tubes, while the dropouts are the “Rocker” from Paragon Machine Works in the USA. Laffan may be best known for his ability to build the weird stuff, but when asked what he likes to build the most, he surprisingly said “I actually really like making road bikes with caliper brakes.” As for the unusual stuff, Laffan isn’t so sure. “I don’t know why it’s ended up like that. People just show up and want it [something different]. For example, the 36er I built a few years ago, the guy showed up on a penny farthing and asked if I could build a 36er with front suspension, and I was like, ‘Alright, yeah sure, why not.’”
Devlin Cycles started as a custom option for those seeking a more classically styled performance road bike. And so seeing a progressive trail mountain bike was a surprise. This one is on the forefront of modern geometry ideas, using really long front-centre lengths instead of super-slack head angles. The wheelbase on this is 1,230 mm long. The previous HBSA (2019) was the first time Devlin revealed what has now become his signature bi-lam sleeve styling. This mountain bike uses the same concept which is not only for aesthetics but also provides greater surface area for a stronger fillet-brazed joint. The deep candy red paint is done by Wallis Paints near Devlin in Brisbane. There are some amazing details in this prototype bike that apparently took well over 400 hours in design and 200 hours in fabrication. That internal cable routing is one such interesting detail. This trail bike is a little out of the scope of bikes typically found on CyclingTips but I’ll soon be doing a more in-depth look over on our sister site, Pinkbike. The mountain bike sat in the centre of Devlin’s stand, but it was surrounded by two custom steel road bikes. There’s that signature bi-lam sleeve styling again. Sean Doyle of Devlin is a lifelong cycling lover with a professional background as an engineering draftsman. Doing it for the Gram.
The Lost Workshop is a Melbourne-based custom steel brand by Ian Michelson. Pictured is a new disc road frame he built for himself. “This is a mix of Columbus Life and Spirit tubing. It’s quite a thin wall heat-treated tubing. I tried to make [the bike] as light as I can for road disc, but still strong,” said Michelson. A closer look reveals some head tube shaping to match the headset. Michelson likes to “incorporate the frame design into the parts that will be bolted onto it. Not just looking at the frame in isolation, but the whole package of how we’re putting this bike together.” In this case, the headset rings are designed to match Chris King and Cane Creek 110 headsets while adding strength. It’s a similar story with the brazed seat collar. Like that headset shaping, this seat clamp is Michelson’s own design. A Lost Workshop frameset as seen starts at AU$4,500 including a two-colour paint job (by Velocraft no less), headset, bottom bracket, and a carbon or steel fork. And that’s for a custom build made in Melbourne. The now-retired Steve Irwin Sea Shepherd sits at the docks of SeaWorks Williamstown where the event was held. Both the seat collar and headset rings are Michelson’s own design. “[My] seat clamp design greatly improved the brazing process by a long way. The centre hole allows you to flow the silver out from the centre,” said Michelson of the parts that can also be found on bikes by Killen, Devlin and Egress. This bike belongs to Ian’s wife Natalee. “Perhaps the best part is the paint that’s colour-matched to her wedding dress.” “I’m full time with Velocraft; this is every other time,” said Michelson about making bikes. This gravel bike was built for a customer in Sydney. It uses a Columbus Cento tube set which wasn’t intended for gravel, and so Michelson swapped out the chainstays and off they went. “I’m so stoked on that colour,” said Michelson.
Note: Some images show close crowds of people who aren’t wearing masks. This is in line with local regulations – Victoria had no community cases of COVID-19 at the time of the show.