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.
Today, we’re continuing our coverage of bicycle frame builder Rob Roberson with a detailed look at Zach Small‘s touring bike inspired, in part, by stoner doom band Sleep’s album “Dopesmoker.”With hand-carved lugs, custom racks, and perfect paint courtesy of Jon Pucci, there’s a lot to take in so let’s get right to it!
Yesterday, we shared a profile of Rob Roberson that traces his storied bicycle fabrication career from the 1970s to present day. Today, we’re taking a look at seven bikes Rob built during that impressive 50-year window, from early track bikes to road frames and his most recent personal all-road build. There’s a lot of intricate eye candy here, so let’s get to it!
Growing up in a small South African town in the late 80s and early 90s meant David Mercer was largely shielded from the travesties of the apartheid era. But in 1994, in a coincidental coming-of-age historical convergence, the status quo was cracked open, not just for Mercer but for the whole country. The same year he turned 16, South Africa officially ended apartheid as the country held its first democratic elections. At this point, Mercer was well enmeshed in his love affair with bikes, having grown up a young BMX ripper but becoming fully infatuated with mountain biking as a teen. Many youthful afternoons spent pouring over bicycle magazines like MB UK and Mountain Bike Action led him to develop a fast fascination with steel-wielding magicians like Dave Yates and Chas Roberts and were responsible for his own framebuilding aspirations. However, the end of apartheid brought a wave of foreign frames as longtime sanctions were finally lifted. This swift influx quickly decimated the local steel bicycle manufacturing industry and a deflated Mercer went on to become a veterinarian. The dream of bikes was always there, simmering in the background, but it would be nearly a decade-and-a-half before he’d pick up a torch himself.
From its crowd-funded origins in 2011,The Bicycle Academy (TBA) has arguably become the most influential framebuilding school in Europe. With names like Ted James, Robin Mather, Paul Burford, and Tony Corke of Torke Cycling, gracing the past and present roster of instructors, it’s no wonder that TBA has seen over 1,000 framebuilder graduates leave its halls.
TBA’s current space is a large, purpose-built warehouse with a semi-open plan on a labyrinth-like industrial estate just outside of the town center in Frome, England. Even with its spacious design, every corner is jammed full of amazing bits of work, every surface adorned with tools or momentos and every wall covered in paraphernalia that induces positive vibes. It’s a fortress for community building and the halls themselves seem built to foster forward-thinking, where shared mantras include, ”what good will I do this day” “make the new” and my personal favorite “flux is thicker than water”.
Many of the faces are TBA come and go—that’s, of course, the nature of a school—and the fluid shifting keeps the place brimming with energy and dynamism. But a few figures have become cornerstones of the institution. Below, let’s dive into some of the conversations I recently had with a few TBA long-haulers.
Saying we woke up would imply sleep, which is a luxury the night before the Concours de Machines race hadn’t afforded us, owing to thick black clouds of mosquitoes that infested our van. I lit a church of citronella candles and closed all the doors and windows, while Josh rolled himself up in a sheet and slept outside on a decrepit shezlongé that sat outside the factory. Mosquitos spent the night screaming and raging in our ears while doing their best to tear us limb from limb. At 4 am they sat lining the window sills, fat and bloated, drunk on our blood.
I killed a dozen of them with an old sock in one limp sleep-deprived swipe as a tokenistic act of vengeance, knowing they’d be saving their strength for another assault the next evening. I stood in Andreas’ elegant la fraise workshop contorting my body to scratch bites between nerve endings on my back, craving coffee as the pilotes clip clopped in on road shoes. For many of them, road shoes were a terrible choice. The 204km route billed as a road with some cobbles and gravel somehow encompassed 1466m of short sharp climbs in an oppressively pancake-flat landscape, as well as some muddy singletrack. The singletrack must have caught teams rolling on 28c slick tyres off guard, and would prove catastrophic for some.
This is the second of two reports from the 2022 Concours de Machines. Be sure to check here for the first installment!
Based in Pawtuxet Village, RI, Brian Chapman builds intricately detailed bikes blending classic design and vintage parts with a modern approach. Brian is no stranger here, as we’ve documented a number of Chapman Cycles over the years. Jarrod Bunk linked up with Brian once again at this year’s Philly Bike Expo to photograph the Basket Commuter bike Brian recently built for a customer that wanted to carry a dog on-board. Continue reading to learn more about this bike and to see all of its exquisite detailing!
Unlike the bike expos and builder showcases we are fortunate to document on this site, such as the recent Philly Bike Expo and Bespoked UK, the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival is not typically the event to attend if you’re interested in encountering custom frames or ogling otherwise unique bike builds on display. Instead, group rides, production bike demos, and other community-building shenanigans are the focus.
This year, however, there was much ogling to be done. Thomson featured two bikes from builders they often partner with – Oddity Cycles and MONē Bikes – in addition to a couple of their own Hooches available to demo; Why Cycles had a booth connected their sister brand, Revel Bikes, offering demos in addition to showcasing two head-turning builds; Celilo Cycles had a collection of their handmade wooden bikes on display; and Atherton Cycles sent a custom 3D printed enduro bike with a friend from the UK to show off at the event.
Continue reading below for an in-depth look at these marvelous machines and be sure to scroll all the way through to the last one — it’s a trip!
The Norwegian city of Oslo recently played host to the Service Course Oslo‘s Bikes of Oslo Showcase, featuring a plethora of custom bikes during a weekend of riding and soaking in the summer sun. We’re honored to host the report here, at the Radavist, featuring the bicycle photography of Magnus Nordstrand and the riding/lifestyle shots from Herman Ottesen. Check out the bikes along with an interview with the Service Course’s Jonas Strømberg below…