Handcrafted frames, paint schemes, saddles and more
This article orginally appeared on Bike Radar.
This weekend marked the first Fyxo Australian Custom Bicycle Show, with bike builders and craftspeople from all over Australia converging on a South Melbourne studio to share their expertise and display their wares.
With bikes from pedal-free gravity models to classic steel racers and stands by everyone from experienced leatherworkers to paint enthusiasts, the show drew thousands of attendees over the course of the weekend. For more images, see our image gallery.
Patrons were greeted by a shock of brightly coloured frames, the first of which was this 'circuit board design' road bike from frame-building newcomers Kumo Cycles road bike.
Kumo Cycles’ unusual looking road bike.
The company’s Keith Marshall described the bike as a “fun project” made for his younger brother. Marshall Junior had demanded a strong, stiff frame, which meant Marshall was forced to use Columbus Ego tubing with some of “the fattest lugs I could find”.
As one of the earliest frames built for Kumo – and with exceptional paintwork by Melbourne’s Sun Graphics – the bike didn’t go unnoticed by more experienced builders at the show.
Of course, when it comes to experienced builders, there are few more seasoned than Llewellyn Bicycles’ Darrell McCulloch, who was on hand to speak at length about the bikes bearing his middle name.
Particular enthusiasm was saved for his own randonneur frame, which features internal wiring via a front wheel dynamo, plus wireless light sensors and integrated front and rear racks.
Declaring his unhappiness with the usual racks available on the market, McCulloch extended the theme of the weekend by showing BikeRadar a custom-made jig from his workshop. The machine enables him to construct stainless steel racks that attach seamlessly to the frame without straps.
The handbuilt jig designed to perfect McCulloch’s integrated racks
McCulloch also outlined the attention to detail that’s gone into the construction of his road bikes. He found that a majority of carbon forks on the market were dampening vibration from the road but lacked stiffness, but that if he layered carbon at the top of the fork crown while marginally increasing the weight, fork stiffness could be increased without impacting on comfort.
Local leatherworker Mick Peel brought his Busyman Bicycles saddles, bar tape and toe straps to the venue, only to discover that a considerable amount of his work was already on display – a number of the custom-builders had added Mick’s artistic eye and impressive needlework to their own frames.
A custom saddle for a Benson Cycles custom frame
Working mostly with vegetable-tanned kangaroo leather, Peel produces saddles with a number of intricate patterns and designs, all in close partnership with individual clients.
Drawing patrons like moths to a flame was the Baum display, with relative newcomer Darren Baum’s perfect welds, distinctive paint and titanium frames drawing admiration from builders and attendees alike.
He had a variety of frames on show but it was the road bike collaboration with Rapha that gained the greatest attention. Baum explained the process of integrating the clothing label’s promotional newspaper, the Rapha Gazette, within the overall paint scheme, without losing the individual Baum aesthetic.
The Baum/Rapha collaboration bike
The bike took more than 80 hours to produce, with a lot of trial and error involved in stripping back the frame, laying down the print, smoothing it out and clear-coating the frame before perfecting the look. The bike was set off with Enve wheels, new SRAM Red and 3T components throughout.
Baum told BikeRadar that one of his favourite things about the weekend was the growing sense of community between Australian frame-builders.
Organizer Andy White agreed that this was one of his main aims for the weekend: “The builders have been really excited for someone to do this. They’ve reacted in the same way as the public. Like any community, it thrives because you get all these creative heads together, and the net result is always greater than the sum of the people in the community.”
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