Following on from part one where we looked at three Australian boutique custom builders from the Fyxo Melburn Custom Bike Show, we now continue with another three.
The three names below are single-man shops, with a new generation of young builders continuing the process of handmade made steel bicycles with obvious passion for the craft.
During a visit to Japan, Keith Marshall found his true passion for building bikes. Five years on and his full-time job is creating one-off complete bikes from his workshop in Australia’s capital city – Canberra.
Marshall puts it simply. “I love bikes, I love making things – actually I have to be making things, and somehow those two things came together.”
Marshall proudly states he’s been strongly mentored by Darrell Llewellyn McCulloch of Llewellyn Custom Bicycles. Something that’s clearly working, as he's exported bikes to Dubai, England, New Zealand and the United States.
“I started just doing my own thing, which soon led to me taking deposits and working full-time in this business. It’s all I do. It’s been this way for two years and now there’s a waiting list of 12 months.”
A bike built for Mick Peel of Busyman Bicycles
On display, Marshall was showing off one of his recent creations – something that was made for a fellow industry member – Mick Peel of Busyman Bicycles. Busyman is a custom leatherwork brand from Melbourne, where Peel’s specialty is in using Kangaroo leather to re-cover saddles and produce matching bar tape.
Marshall explained how the bike came about. “Mick needed a bike to take his saddles and bar tapes to and from the post office and to collect his leather. His townie decided to turn into a pile of dust. This one is meant to be a utility bike, but he’s afraid to ride it as it’s so shiny.
“The frame is a bi-laminate construction, which is halfway between lugged and fillet brazed. The paint is designed by Mick’s wife and done by Simon Tennant of Velopaint in Canberra.”
Astonishing amount of detail at every corner
“Despite the initial appearance, a huge amount of work went into this bike. I wanted it to look effortless,” Marshall said, before telling us of the 100 man-hours in the front rack alone, and then pointing out the polished and engraved fork crown, done on an old manual Pantograph engraving machine.
Other details include a fillet-brazed stem and stainless steel bar ends Marshall made himself. And if that weren’t enough, the stainless steel headset top cap has been engraved, and then infilled with 14c gold. Of course, the leather saddle and bar tape are Mick Peel’s own.
Despite all these aesthetic touches, Marshall was clear that he hopes his bikes are “ridden until the end of time”.
A track bike from Rogers Bespoke
Soon to celebrate a one-year anniversary, Rogers Bespoke hasn’t been around for all that long. James Alderson is the man behind the new brand based in Adelaide, South Australia.
It’s interesting to hear of how people find their way into making frames, and for Alderson, his story started with a near-fatal bike crash that left him in hospital for a month.
“After the crash, all I wanted to do was get back on a bike. It triggered in me, that if I’m willing to do something that almost cost me my life, that’s what I should be doing and it’ll stick with me forever. From there, I taught myself how to weld and here we are. You have to follow your passion, you’re only here for a short time.”
Ready to race, this 'cross bike belongs to a local bike shop employee
Working exclusively with steel, Alderson works mostly with fillet brazing, but says he does some lug work too. On display, he had a very clean looking track bike, and two cyclocross bikes – one of which was centrally positioned and covered in a striking black, green and white paint and apparently took about 25 hours in the paint booth alone.
“This one is masked by one of my favourite artists, Sam Sogailo who’s originally from Adelaide. He paints installation pieces, buildings and bridges. He’s unique in how he works with shapes, where he compensates for what looks straight to the eye, not to what is necessarily straight to a ruler. He has his own philosophy.
“I managed to talk him into doing a frame for me, but he wasn’t comfortable painting it so I had to get my painter to lay down the white.” From here, Alderson had to create a suspension box to get it to Sogailo who taped it up for paint.
Sooo many hours in this paint
“Once Sogailo had returned the frame, the masking tape had started to lift and so it took a few days alone to retouch the paint that bled.”
Despite the amazing paint, this one is destined for the hard life of cyclocross racing under Hamish at Treadley bike Shop in Adelaide.
Tai Bell and some unfinished belt-ready street frames
As a former bike courier, Tai Bell took himself to the United States to officially learn frame-building techniques through the United Bicycle Institute. Since then, he’s worked under some well-regarded builders both local and abroad. At the beginning of the year, Bell returned to Melbourne to open Belle Bicycles.
It’s still early days for Belle Bicycles, but with an open approach to online business, we suspect the fillet-brazed frames to start gaining some attention.
For a closer look at these bikes, click or swipe through the gallery up top.