The first weekend of June saw another lap around the sun for the Handmade Bicycle Show Australia and while there was no blowing out of the candles, the show turned five this year. This edition was once again hosted in the incredible Seaworks building in Williamstown. Overlooking the city skyline, Melbourne looks close enough that you could touch it. Massive shipping vessels bring goods into the port, making a spectacular backdrop for a celebration of the craft and culture of the Handmade Bicycle. Andy White of FYXO share a gallery of beautiful bicycles and backstory about the builders at this beloved event.
As I sit in front of a screen and type these words, a thought occurred to me that I would never have had in 2022. ‘Hey ChatGBT, write me a report about the bike show.’ I have no doubt it could produce a mountain of text resembling a humanoid, especially if you are predominantly a visual creature and brush over words. One thing I doubt the machines will ever capture is my favorite thing about the show: The community.
In the many conversations I had with consumers, builders, industry and trade, cycling has-beens and never-weres, baristas and bar staff, it has never been more explicit that the bicycle is a conduit for this community’s existence. And, while it’s easy to marvel at the output of machines, I consistently marvel at the output of the humans.
I’d be telling pork pies if I said I didn’t have some personal favorites of 2023, with a caveat that what appeals to me now is a reflection of where I am in my ‘life of bikes’. The teenage me was all about MTBs – when suspension was emerging and V-brakes were a revelation. The 20-something-year-old me was all about track bikes, going fast, and traveling the world, which is how John (Watson) and I initially crossed paths. The 30-something me became obsessed with restoring classic road bikes, reconnected with my MTB roots, and—with spare time on my side—did many rough-road rides which today is arguably the biggest category in the industry.
Now well into the 40s, what pulls at the heart is bikes that can carry gear, building custom car alternatives, and incredible mountain bikes. That is the beauty of the Handmade Bicycle Show. It covers all interest categories no matter where you are in your own bike life.
The Seaworks exhibition hall is divided into thirds of sorts. The bulk of the main hall is the simple arrangement of the bicycle exhibitors, free of the clutter of stands, where the bikes shine brightly. The ‘Melbourne end’ is the parts and accessories, with the big names and local makers side by side. Friday night is the opener and social peak with attendees coming straight from work. Beers and food flow fast, it’s noisy with banter, and glistening bikes divide the groups of people circling the stands.
Now, let’s look at a batch of this year’s beautiful bicycles!
Barely a BMX yarn has come from Gonz’s mouth without Trevor Weber’s name being mentioned. They worked as teenagers at ‘Bicycle Depot’ in Epping and spent their youths riding bowls and parks, and creating with their hands.
A true larrikin spirit, Trevor has been manufacturing BMX components since the 90s under the Rsole BMX banner. A fitter and turner by trade, as the breadth of his tooling expanded, so have his offerings. After repairing countless frames, he began to offer custom handlebars for the market, and launched his full BMX offering at this year’s show.
The bikes all feature custom geometry and bars to match the rider’s preference. It didn’t take much twisting of my arm for me to visit his workshop and custom bend my own bars. Stay tuned.
Recently featured on the site, Shane Flint of Tor Bikes had a stunning hardtail MTB on display. The owner is Will of Flow MTB fame, which speaks volumes for this builder from Beechworth. The tubeset is steel, and keen eyes will notice the seat stays are Columbus chainstays which allow for greater clearance and ovalised at the seat tube junction.
This bike is clearly a great blend of form and function. Shane credits a Cobra Frame building tube ender with help in manipulating the tubes and bends. The frame is finished with lush paint by Velo Craft and a polished Tor head badge. Ready to shred!
A trio of bikes were on display by Paul Brincat and Dane Anderson who form the Paradigm Bikes partnership. The ‘ThunderCat’ dirt jumper was a show favorite and Dane’s personal bike that he has been traveling the state, from one pump track to another, with this between his legs. A playful name and paint for a bike that spends almost as much time off the ground as it does on. The bike was custom built for the 6’4” / 105kg (230lbs) pilot with gussets to handle the burden of burly riding.
Dane Design Components offer custom narrow/wide chainrings, chain tensioning devices, and other BMX-specific components – made in here Australia.
The veritable ‘Father and Son’ of Trinity were back, with the Holy Spirit (Chase Warner) viewing the show via instagram stories. Nigel Petrie and Mic Williams with V4, V5 and a milestone bike to the show – the first Trinity production frame bearing 001. Mic’s bike was still covered in dust from racing Crankworx’s Cairns, and featured his own gearbox which he is prototyping with a long term view of it becoming commercially available. You can watch him talk about it here.
Whenever I chat to Nigel or Mic it’s abundantly clear that they are running a much more sophisticated operating system with more processing power between their ears than regular humans – which you might take with a grain of salt, if you hadn’t seen them ride.
For the Trinity Gravity bike shown, Nigel highlighted the importance of choosing chromoly steel for the front triangle as the material offers a level of ride tuning beyond suspension and tires that mass produced frames are limited to. Featuring the effiegear drivetrain (which unlike the Pinion gearbox will shift under load) and a single cable to shift, durability and reliability are consistent design themes.
What separates the Trinity offering is a unique ability to dream, execute and shred at the highest level! Mic is already talking about hitting the Pemberton rail gap (again) on the V4 next time they travel to North America. Don’t forget to check out the customized La Marzocco Linea they made to match their bikes!
Zac and Josh Woods brought many stunning bikes to the show, with a history of displaying BMX, dual suspension MTB and road – the one they chose to roll through the booth was Josh’s partner’s new whip. The brothers have been producing bikes since 2017 from the Northern River’s region of NSW, Zac coming from the BMX / MTB side of the sport, Josh the fast paced road racing scene.
The glistening pearl and Atlantic salmon finish fade goes perfectly with the turquoise WOODS label on this tig-welded Columbus road frame. Featuring top-of-the-line Campagnolo Super Record EPS with Bora Ultra’s and Darimo exotica for the seatpost and cockpit, zoom in and you’ll discover prototipo bolts and super lightweight carbon bidon cage.
All Woods Bicycles are adorned with a brass head badge with the serial stamped into it. A timeless statement for beautifully unique custom steel bicycles.
In 2015, Bastion officially launched with a single bike during the Melburn Custom Bike Show FYXO hosted as part of the 10th Melburn Roobaix. The team was just three initially and the brand was characterized by a bold design, like nothing else at the time, and driven by a mission to empower the customer to direct the design of the bike.
As Bastion approaches its 10th year, the team manufacturing their bikes has grown significantly, and their boldness continues to evolve with 3D printed cranksets and cockpits to match their frames and Bastion forks.
At this year’s show, Bastion again brought a single bike – The Arch Angel. A limited run of 88 bikes with even more elaborate details including a frame specific integrated cockpit of 3D printed titanium and carbon fibre, Alcantara leather and Busyman saddle, Meilenstein EVO Schwarz edition Light Weight wheels,3D printed titanium pulley cages, cerakote coated bidon cages and ceramic bearings throughout.
A truly incredible bike for the fortunate few.
Since the last show, Mark Hester hasn’t put his foot on the brake at all, perhaps explaining his prowess as a Go Kart steerer in a previous life. A whirlwind of twelve months included getting keys to his own factory, dashing over to the UK to show at Bespoked, producing world-class frames with the aid of his sister Kelly, and somehow managing to squeeze in more than a few trail rides with me.
Kelly Hester wears many hats for Prova – composite carbon tube construction, 3D printed part preparation, frame polishing, and customer service. Mark, aka ‘Hotshot,’ had a stunning suite of bikes at the show – a purple anodized hardtail, Specialé integrale road, and perhaps the sweetest of all was a 20” MTB made for his niece, which set a very high bar for other Funcles to beat.
The bike shown here is David Evan’s of SRAM Australia’s ‘travel’ bike with an incredible stealth coupler design. Finished by Velo Craft.
The show was a little quieter this year without the presence of Darrell McCulloch at the show. The latest and last lugged Colossus was the bike on display while he was away in the UK.
The lugs are all created from scratch to suit the oversize tubes chosen for the frame. An incredible amount of time and workmanship is poured into all Llewellyn frames and it will be a sad day when his framebuilding torch is finally extinguished, and he turns his attention to his passion for miniature and full-scale steam engines.
Steve Munyard of SunGraphics has been painting bikes for over a decade but it feels like a much longer timespan. Originally a sign writer, he started painting for mates, then mates of mates and the rest is history.
Steve has always lived and breathed bikes, from riding Knox Bowl, and racing cross, to shredding his backyard of Silvan, where he lives in a beautifully converted church. Fiercely competitive on the bike and looking to push himself, he applies the same ethos to painting frames.
Influenced heavily by music, cars, and ‘cool stuff’, Steve is most passionate about the creative paint schemes that will push his abilities – highlighted by this RoxSolt LIV frame for multiple discipline Australian Champion, Peta Mullens. From a screengrab of a concept jersey, he perfectly translated the design to the frame and helmet.
The other half of Steve’s work is classic restorations of frames like Colnago, Tommasini, and Hetchins to name a few using reproduction decals from Cyclomondo creating finishes even better than the originals. Follow him on Instagram because there’s no way you’re holding his wheel on the singletrack!
Htech continues to push the envelope of possibility with wood as the primary material. Using their Selective Carbon Reinforcement (SCR) in their manufacturing, HTech pioneers the combination of the two materials to eliminate their weaknesses.
Of the three bikes on show, Hayden chose to highlight the Imbibe – a dual suspension bike with carbon linkages, and the isolock timber joins used in all HTech frames. This was a bike that was hoped to be ready for 2022, but Hayden underestimated the complexity and time to create it. The wait will surely be worth it once it’s broken in on the trails surrounding his home of Perth.
Australian timbers are used and the gloss paint beautifully highlights the wonderful hardwood. The bike is kitted out with a SRAM GX drivetrain, and Rock Shox suspension.
Geoff Duke remains a staple of the show and a foundation exhibitor, locally making frames and stems by hand in his workshop. He brought a US-based customer’s track bike, which is a timeless lugged construction, silver soldered, with simple details reflecting the Duke marque. The paint scheme is inspired by a Lejeune frame.
Combined with a Phil Wood wheelset, the bike is sure to bring its new owner joy every time they throw a leg over.
Recently featured in the lead up to the show, Ian Michelson brought a trio of bikes to show. An all-road, lugged road and this singlespeed mountain bike which got possibly the most patron fingerprints on the top tube than any other.
Taylor’s Mountain Bike started with a pair of brakes – a component long desired, PAUL Clampers. More PAUL parts accumulated, with the hubs, levers, and he turned to The Lost Workshop to build the singlespeed of his dreams.
Beautiful in its simplicity, a Columbus 29er tubeset, tig welded, with an Enve MTB boost carbon fork was finished in ‘Tanya’ Green with a ‘fade to black’ by Velo Craft. Doesn’t get more metal than that!
Stay tuned for more coverage from the Australia Handmade Bicycle show tomorrow! Got a favorite bike from the showcase? Drop it in the comments!