In Lovely Bikes
By Gavin Bannerman
On 29, Nov 2012 | In Lovely Bikes | By Gavin Bannerman
I’ve been interviewing framebuilders for a couple of years now. During that time people have often asked, “have you interviewed Darren Baum?” It’s an obvious question, the Baum custom framebuilding operation is the biggest in Australia. His bikes are regularly featured in publications and this year he attended the NAHBS in Sacremento.
Darren has been building frames for over twenty years. He now operates out of a workshop just outside of Geelong. I headed out on a train to visit him and cross another framebuilder of my list.
The immediate impression you get is that this place is all about the bikes. Outside is fairly non-descript, hardly anything visible to alert you to what lies inside. I’ve been to a few framebuilding operations now, and what struck me about Darren’s space is how collaborative it is. This is not a one-man-band show, this is a team effort. Yes, the space reflects Darren’s personality, but it’s a sum of its parts.
There’s little things about the workflows of this workshop that I just loved. The team has developed a method for organising customers’ orders. The tubing and necessary parts go into a box on a wall, in a particular order. Then, on the outside of the box, there are the details and the customer’s photograph. Being a highly visual person, it allows Darren to quickly put a face to a bike.
It’s a small thing, but it’s all these small things that come together to make Baum the operation that it is.
So, yes, the bikes are amazing. Each Baum, whether it’s a 29er, a road bike, a track bike, a BMX or a kid’s bike feels amazingly fit-for-purpose. But I was just as impressed by their white boards, paint room and office space. These guys know what they’re doing.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Darren for a “workshop coffee” and talk about his business, his philosophy behind framebuilding and a bit about him – how he learned to file right and left-handed under Brian Cross’s tutelage, how he used dealing with side effects of a serious bike accident to improve his understanding of biodynamics and bike fit.
If you need more of a Baum fix after watching that and you’re around Melbourne town, you can catch Darren in conversation with Darrell McCulloch at the Meet the Maker event happening this Friday (only 2 tickets left at time of writing), or you can check out his stall at this weekend’s inaugural Australian Custom Bicycle Show from 1-2 December.
Plus there are even more photos from Baum HQ on this Flickr set.