BikeRadar recently attended the Fyxo Melburn Custom Bicycle Show at the Darebin velodrome, the day before the 10th anniversary Melburn Roobaix event. With builders from all over the country (excluding a few obvious exceptions such as Llewellyn), it’s as close to an Australian Custom show as there is.
In this first article, we look at some rides from Australian builders Gellie Custom Bikes, Tempest Bicycles and Baum Cycles.
Gellie Custom Bikes
Ewen Gellie runs Gellie Custom Bikes, a one-man shop up in the Bend of Islands, some 30km north-east of Melbourne, Australia. For Gellie, building his frames has been a full-time gig over the past five years, having returned to the business from where he left it in 1993 with Yowie bikes.
In that time, Gellie worked as a mechanical engineer for the likes of Ford, Holden (GM) and more recently Toyota. “I learnt a lot in those roles,” he told BikeRadar, “however, the internet is now a valid shop front and that's allowed me to get back to frame building.
“Frame building is exclusively steel for me, I won’t build anything not made from butted tubing. I’m currently looking at stainless steel, but it’s not proven enough for me.”
One Gellie built some 23 years ago
With such a statement as that, it’s obvious that Gellie builds frames to last. At the show, we saw a Yowie mountain bike on display claiming to still be rock solid after 23 years of use. Gellie himself proudly told us of his personal light-tubing racer with some 55,000km on it.
This ‘build it once’ philosophy also helps to explain why Gellie won’t sell his bikes outside of Australia. “If any issue were to arise, I want to be able to fix them properly,” Gillie told us. “If it’s outside of Australia, it’s all too hard.”
Stating that when you have to answer your own phone things take longer, Gellie builds approximately 50 frames a year. He had just a small handful of bikes on show, including a road bike and a Randonneur/Gravel model.
Sitting in a lustrous red coat, the 1600g ‘Acuto’ road frame features Columbus Life double oversized (DOS) tubing and a Pegoretti Falz fork. Gellie explained – “I feel this is the best fork available for a custom builder in steel tubes.”
One ultra neat feature includes the Di2-specific routing, where the wire enters the frame at the brake cable, then tucks back into the head tube (a tapered fork allows this) and is run through the down tube.
Expect to pay about AU$3,200 for a frame like this.
The other bike we looked at was the ‘Atera’ Randonneur/Gravel/Touring. Built around a 650b x 42c tyre, this low trail bike is designed to carry a heavy front load while keeping handling neutral, which is all achieved through considered manipulation of the fork offset. S&S Couplers allow the bike to be pulled apart for easier travel, too.
Sorry for the artsy picture, photos didn't do this one justice
Perhaps the best known of Australian custom brands and one that needs little introduction is Baum Cycles. In fact, it was at the show with just a single bike. The Geelong-based brand has earned itself an international reputation for its work with steel, titanium and carbon.
With the one show bike sitting on top of a mirrored stand, it was nothing short of outstanding. This Corretto custom track bike featured absolutely immaculate finishing and paint work, with even the bar and saddle painted to match. This special titanium ride is made of CWSR (cold worked stress relieved) Grade 9 certified tubing, with in-house butted tubing, CNC butted and relieved bottom bracket shell, internally relieved head tube, bi-ovalised chainstays and relieved 6/4 Ti dropouts.
Rob Benson of Tempest only recently moved back to Australia, where he now resides just over an hour's drive north of Sydney in Newcastle. Previously, he was based in Vancouver, Canada, where he learned frame building from Paul Brodie (of Brodie bikes).
Frame building is soon to be full-time gig for Benson, who is currently setting up his Australian shop. “I’ve done bike retail forever, and it’s so nice to work one-on-one with people and build them their dream bike – whether that’s ‘cross, road, mountain or whatever else”, said Benson.
The bike pictured above is Benson’s own, which is a Columbus Zona tubed, fillet brazed S&S coupled cyclocross travel bike.
“I get super stoked by older Gary Klein paint jobs – so that’s where the inspiration for this came from. I imported some Imron paint over to Canada for it. “
Speaking of Benson’s own bike, his passion for bike design is obvious as he told us that he owns a small collection of 115 bikes. “I tried to just own all of my dream bikes at one time. I brought across a 40ft container of bicycles. Our two-bedroom apartment was a little overwhelmed when we first moved.”
It’s still early days for Tempest Bicycles, although we’re sure we’ll see more from Benson in future.
Custom (Classic?) bike show
In addition to the group of professional builders, there was a classic bike show where the public voted on the submitted rides via Instagram. With near 90 bikes on display, we’re not going to show them all – but here’s the winner and his winning ride (see a couple more in the gallery above).
A classic Perkins Pista takes the win