Tech features Handmade Bicycle Show Australia 2023: Part one
Kicking it off with stunning Australian creations from the likes of Baum, Devlin, and Killen, plus Italy's Officine Mattio.
Handmade Bicycle Show Australia (HBSA) is something I look forward to each year. Held in the beachside suburb of Williamstown across the bay from Melbourne city over the weekend just past, it offers a beautiful backdrop for some of the world’s most desirable and often forward-thinking boutique bikes.
The Aussies punch well above their weight in this scene, and every iteration of this show impresses. With much to capture (and even more not captured), I’ve broken up my coverage of the show into three (maybe four) parts. Each instalment will offer a mix of everything from internationally-renowned names to exciting newcomers, from mountain to road, from the dreamable to the attainable, from fully-custom creations to more off-the-shelf options, and from Australian-made to other corners of the planet.
If you enjoy this first part, I offer you a money-back guarantee that you’ll enjoy the other parts (coming soon).
On with the show!
Are you viewing on a mobile-sized screen? This gallery is best experienced on a TV with a bowl of popcorn in hand, or perhaps on a Desktop computer. If sticking with the phone, please do these builders a favour and turn your screen sideways.
Want to know how to buy a custom bike? We’ve got you covered there. HBSA is held at SeaWorks, Williamstown, an old shipbuilding shed that’s now an event venue. It’s a large open space, with many other exhibitors hidden out of view of this shot. Sean Doyle of Brisbane-based Devlin Cycles has been exhibiting at HBSA for a number of years. An engineering draftsman by trade, Doyle’s custom brazed steel bikes often merge classic lines with modern flourishes. Pictured is the Flagstone, a fully custom All-Road style bike with room for 40 mm tyres. A tapered head tube is dressed with Devlin’s polished head badge. The twin-bolt integrated seat clamp is a perfect example of Devlin’s approach to classic detail with modern flourish. Clean. Painted by Wallis Paints, the rear end is given a clear finish to show off the raw detail. Doyle revealed his first full suspension mountain bike at the 2021 edition of HBSA. Then the following year saw the release of the Jester, an enduro-style bike. Another year of testing and tweaking, the Jester enduro bike returns with a lot of easily-overlooked refinement. As shown, it sits at 15.3 kg, not a bad figure for a sturdy and somewhat modest build on a steel 160/150mm Enduro-style bike. The twin-bolt brazed seat clamp appears here, too. This design would help spread the load on the dropper while securely holding the post, a detail less likely to cause binding with the internal workings. The rear brake has been moved to external routing for simpler repair/swapping in a race situation. Older IS-style brake mounts remain a fairly common choice amongst custom frame makers. While the old IS design now requires the use of an adapter, it does have benefit through having an easily replaceable thread and more adjustment potential for the caliper. Details. 3D-printed steel cable routing inserts offer smooth transitions. Happy with the way the suspension is working, Doyle has moved away from his prototype brazed steel rocker links. The links are now CNC machined aluminium. A few sneaky 3D-printed parts await those who look close enough. Devlin is happy with how the four-bar layout is working. A bit of cut steel plate offers a stiffening bridge for the rear end. I can’t get enough of Devlin Cycles’ brazed and polished head badges (if you can call them that?). And yes, the Jester is available for purchase. Devlin started with making road frames and that option continues. Evan of Terra Rosa Gear continues to upcycle materials into wholly functional garments, bike bags, and camp accessories. It’s a philosophy and skillset that’s led him to become a design ambassador for Arc’teryx. Set in inner Sydney, Newtown is known for its vibrant culture, night life, and good food. With dense living it’s not a part of the world you’d expect to find someone making custom steel bikes, but that’s exactly the case for Sean Killen of Killen Bike. Killen is another that specialises in steel creations. He should also be top of the list if you need a steel frame repair in Sydney. Shown here is his SheepSkin gravel model, customised for a local high-distance road rider who sought a sporty-handling gravel bike. Killen’s bikes have long featured a handmade wishbone seatstay and brazed joins that are worth showing off. As requested by the customer, this particular one features Columbus Max downtube and MiniMax bi-oval-shaped toptube. This raw finish is protected with a durable clear powder coat. Killen also brazes his own stems, something he likes to do in order to achieve a more precise placement of the hands in relation to the wheel and for the more complete aesthetic. This particular one is 116 mm in length. This bike had seen two months of hard use prior to be cleaned for the show. You wouldn’t know it. The Paragon Machine Works dropouts used here feature a bolt-on insert for both the flat mount brake caliper and rear axle. Such modular designs leave room for future (and often unknown) fitments still to come. Wonderfully brazed. Killen’s bikes are fully custom, with a frameset like this one starting from around AU$6,000 (approx US$4,000) including a Columbus carbon fork, White Industries headset, and a single colour paint or powder coat. The matching stem is an extra charge. The bike and stem feature a matching mini badge, a flourish that the customer, a novice jeweller, had made themselves. A bike that’s handmade in Italy at the Handmade Bicycle Show Australia? Yep, and Officine Mattio certainly weren’t the only international producer on show. Based in Cuneo (North-West Italy), Officine Mattio offers an impressive collection of both custom and production-geometry bikes spanning carbon fibre, stainless steel, and aluminium options. Pictured is the Santiago C, the company’s carbon gravel bike. Most of Officine Mattio’s carbon bikes are made with a tube-to-tube method that allows for open customisation. However, where its approach differs from most is that the tubes are bonded in a similar approach to lugged frames, except there are no obvious overlapping joins to be seen. The result is a more modern aesthetic. All of Officine Mattio’s bikes are produced in-house. There’s room for up to 700 x 47 mm rubber in the frame and plenty of scope for choosing specific details such as the bottom bracket shell type, cable routing, or even an integrated seatpost. An unpainted frame is claimed to weigh just under one kilogram. Kaos Custom Bikes is a Melbourne-based retailer always present at HBSA. In years past they’ve showcased bikes from the likes of FiftyOne and Parlee; this year it was all about the Italian creations. Wheel Society is a Melbourne-based custom wheel-building company that brings an impressive amount of engineering, experience, and detail to its laced creations. Every wheel is built with custom-cut bladed spokes (to ensure the thread is perfect) and even includes wheel balancing (the jig shown on the left, a process that of course needs to be repeated if the tyre is changed or moved). Moving forward, all of Wheel Society’s wheels will be built on Chris King hubs, with either DT Swiss or Sapim bladed spokes, and own-branded carbon rims (mostly open mould, but unique designs are on the way). Expect to pay AU$3,800 (approx US$2,500) for a set of these. Located in the mountain biking-friendly town of Beechworth, Victoria, TOR Bikes has long produced steel bikes for going off-road. On display was this steel hardtail, a custom bike built for Will Barrett from Flow MTB. Shane Flint, the mind and hands behind TOR Bikes, commonly has some clever approaches to common problems. Here tyre clearance is maximised with a plate-style yoke. Out back sit rocker-style adjustable dropouts from Paragon Machine Works. This system gives future alternative gearing options (including single speed), but can also be used to adjust the chainstay length. Forever nudging manufacturing perfection, Baum Cycles has always been one of the drawcard names to HBSA. This year, Baum of course had their own stand, but then their bikes were further spread across the venue in booths from suppliers such as Shimano, Rapha, and more. SRAM’s recently released Eagle Transmission with its T-Type derailleur mounting is fast becoming a thing in the gravel world. Pictured here is a fresh Orbis X gravel bike, Baum’s first to feature a suitable Universal Derailleur Hanger (UDH) dropout. The SRAM T-Type derailleur sandwiches the dropout, with the rear thru-axle tying it all together. The SRAM Transmission is designed specifically for a 10-52T cassette. Darren Baum started Baum Cycles some 25 years ago. Today Darren leads a team of specialists that each play a critical role in the creation of each bike. Baum truly does hold an international reputation for creating flawless bikes. Seriously, look at those welds! The Cane Creek eeWings cranks are a perfect compliment to such a titanium bike. In addition to that new UDH dropout, Baum has created its own Flat Mount 160 brake mount, meaning a caliper fits directly without needing an adapter for a 160 mm rotor. It’s just another minor detail of what makes a Baum that you don’t notice until it’s pointed out. Every Baum is handmade in Geelong, Victoria. A huge amount of the process, including the external tube butting, machined head tubes, and paint, is done in-house. This Orbis X is headed to a customer who just so happens to be an Escape Collective member. Enjoy the new bike, Fenton! That’s it for part one of the Handmade Bicycle Show Australia 2023. Don’t worry, there’s plenty more on the way! If you love seeing our coverage from this quieter side of the industry, then please consider supporting what we do. 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😐Meh 😊️Solid 🤩Excellent