The years go by quickly and what amazes me is how the custom bike scene manages to progress in such a short time.
The Handmade Bicycle Show Australia (HBSA) has returned to Williamstown, a short hop across the bay from Melbourne’s CBD. Filling what was once a large shipbuilding workshop, the open room was a buzz of familiar names and faces, as well as the return of a few who were no longer subject to travel restrictions.
In the multi-part gallery series, we’ll take a look at world-class (and in some cases top-tier) bikes and products made in Australia, as well as some great steeds from other parts of the world. To start, this first part looks at bikes from Baum, Sugarloaf, The Lost Workshop, Geisler, HTech, Bossi, VeloCraft, and more. There’s also a sprinkling of parts and accessories thrown into the mix.
The Handmade Bicycle Show Australia draws a steady crowd over its three days. It feels the right level of occupancy, with easy access to builders and manufacturers.
Ewen Gellie’s cheeky smile was deeply missed in this year’s show. Emotions were running high among many in the builder community as it turned out he was no longer with us. A stand, with bicycles from a loyal customer, sat in memory of Ewen.
Steve George of Sugarloaf Cycles made his debut at last year’s show. This year it introduced two more custom carbon road bikes that combine tube-to-tube construction with 3D printed titanium components.
Perhaps best known for founding the Crankstar Bespoke boutique (now closed), George now focuses on producing his own high-end carbon creations.
These glued and wrapped joints are wonderfully smooth.
Same for the steering tube.
Sugarloaf Cycles is based in Brisbane, Queensland.
George recently updated his dropout design, something seen on the last customer bike.
Melbourne-based Ian Michelson of The Lost Workshop is an up-and-coming designer to watch. After taking lessons from Mark Hester of Prova Cycles and practicing for the past year, Ian has now added TIG welding to his repertoire. Pictured is his first TIG-welded frame, a versatile steel gravel bike he built himself. It is designed around 700 x 45 mm rubber.
These welds are clean enough for a first attempt at welding (if you ignore the practice and coaching leading up to it). This frame is built with Columbus Zona tubes and a Columbus Futura Cross+ fork.
You see how the head tube perfectly matches the shape of the helmet? It’s the little details like this that help differentiate one custom bike from another.
What do you do to attach the single color crank bolts?
Well, you use custom headset spacers, of course.
Oversized pulley wheel cages were a common sight at this year’s hand show. What wasn’t common was that wide-range SRAM Force AXS and Garbaruk combination. Cared for.
Drive away, get lost.
When you’re not building bikes, Ian handles graphics and other responsibilities at VeloCraft (paint).
The bike is configured for use with a hub dynamo.
And here is The Lost Workshop’s second TIG-welded steel frame, a trail hardtail.
The Lost Workshop used the same slogan on all of its bikes, but now each ride segment has its own.
I first met Ian at a small build show in Sydney when he had just started making brazed track bikes. Five years later, he is still enthusiastic about producing brazed track bikes.
Baum Cycles is undoubtedly the most famous name in the thriving Australian cycling scene. The company has built its brand over the past 25 years, offering a consistently elegant style that is rarely seen as cutting-edge. This Orbis X titanium gravel bike breaks that mold somewhat.
Most striking is the custom painted Lauf fork for easy traction. Baum Cycles does all of its own painting in-house. This particular bike belongs to Michael C.
A headbadge that many cyclists will surely envy.
The routing of the dropper post is through the downtube and directly over the seat tube.
The Cane Creek eeWings crank is a perfect visual match. A 3D titanium printed base yoke hides behind.
Each of the logo colors are among Baum’s usual options, but the combination of all four is not the style expected from Geelong-based manufacturers. I like it!
Darren Baum is a fan of the Syntace thru-axle lever that puts the most needed tools on the bike.
Baum has previously collaborated with Rapha, Shimano and Silca. The fruits of this collaboration were deployed in a box concept that saw the involvement of packaging experts who approached the problem of bicycle transport and delivery with fresh eyes. The unusually shaped box corresponds to the cubic size of an ordinary bicycle box, but this system is easily reusable, significantly better protected against damage and allows the bicycle to be easily assembled from it. See the padding around the controllers? These are Silca microfiber cloths for use with the pre-waxed chain.
Holding the bike is a sled made with a structural cardboard. The entire bike can be assembled with the tool that fits into the rear thru-axle. Pictured is Darren Baum’s own bike, something he put together in less than five minutes while talking to me about the finer packaging details and repeating the steps for the camera.
There’s even a unique Shimano Di2 wire holder to make sure the battery wires don’t end up in the seat tube.
Install your pedals, check tire pressure and you’re done.
Baum is the only Australian manufacturer to have received Shimano’s GRX Limited groupset – a limited edition silver groupset specially created (in very limited numbers) for the custom bike scene.
The GRX Limited rear derailleur is a mix of polished silver and black components.
The gear lever blades are not polished.
Jesse Geisler of Geisler Cycles is the maker of the maker – many veteran gym builders use tools made by Jesse in their own workshops. Jesse redisplayed the same two bikes from the previous year’s show.
This polished stainless steel racer is Jesse’s own bike, something he’s racked up 25,000 miles of riding on (including two big crashes) since he built it a year ago. And yet, it still looked good enough to show off.
A husband and wife duo, re:lm is a new clothing brand from Melbourne with an approach focused on sustainable design and construction. These simple and timeless jerseys looked great.
HBSA is as much about bikes as it is a place to meet and greet like-minded people.
The show’s symbolic cargo bike comes from Luke Laffan of Fikas Bikes. Based in Canberra, Laffan is an impressively skilled maker who has built some truly unique machines.
A plywood cargo bed sits within an incredibly sturdy steel tube frame.
The bike is powered by a Shimano Steps motor. Check the arrangement of the tubes in front of the motor.
The battery is hidden underneath.
Project Flock is a rear lighting solution that aims to use biomotion for better visibility. The light achieves this by illuminating the rider’s legs and feet in addition to acting as an ordinary taillight. Project Flock hopes to launch on KickStarter in the near future.
The light offers a battery level indicator that lights up when you turn the light on or off.
The mount is often a weak point for many innovative light designs, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue here. The mount doubles as a sealing plug for the USB-C charging port.
Perth-based HTech’s Hayden Francis was unable to make the final HBSA due to Western Australia’s strict COVID travel restrictions. Fortunately, the border reopened and the young wooden bicycle manufacturer was back to show off his skills. Pictured is the Svelter, an aero disc brake road bike like no other.
Hayden also began experimenting with mixing carbon fiber and wood. This unfinished road bike combines carbon lugs with wrapped veneer wood tubes, all made by Hayden. Impressively, this frame weighs only 1,400 grams.
To look closer. Yes, it’s real wood. However, in this case, it is veneer sheets that have been wrapped in a tube.
This bike is still a work in progress according to Hayden. He thinks the ride quality won’t be as smooth as his all-wood bikes, but will still offer noticeable advantages over more common frame materials.
Have you ever built an all-wood e-bike for your mom? Me neither, but Hayden yes.
It doesn’t get more Australian than that. Boxed wine is an Australian invention, affectionately known by locals as Goon Sack. Goon Wash is a new bike care company that thought efficient ways to pack liquids might also have a role to play for non-drinkables. Inside you will find a concentrate designed to work as a degreaser or can be cut with water to be used as a bike wash.
Once you go through the 4L box, you will find this small amount of plastic. It can be recycled through soft plastic recycling services.
Wait, Moots is not Australian! The Handmade Bicycle Show Australia has grown over the years to include a growing number of manufacturers from around the world.
The Bossi Strada SS is a titanium aero road bike that I reviewed last year. The lush paintwork on this one is done by Air’N’Paint in Wollongong (the small town in NSW that will soon host the upcoming World Road Championships).
Bossi Bicycles is headquartered in Sydney and the designs are James Bossi’s own creation. However, as you would expect for a die-cast titanium frame, they are made in Asia.
Many of the bikes shown at HBSA are painted by VeloCraft. And if that wasn’t enough, VeloCraft had its own display of freshly painted couriers. This stunning revival of Cannondale CAAD5 is owned by Erik (@erik.son) of Melbourne who handled the intricate engraving, while VeloCraft is responsible for this sweet candy painting.
I can’t help but think the color choice started with these limited-edition Cane Creek brakes.
Stunning details throughout. And superbly built by Superbe Velo Service.
And even more. Congratulations to all those who participated in this construction.