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02

Dec
2012

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In Lovely Bikes

By Gavin Bannerman

The Bicycle Market

On 02, Dec 2012 | No Comments | In Lovely Bikes | By Gavin Bannerman

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Every weekend, people get up early, gather their granny trolleys and go to the markets. “Market people” go because they don’t want to be forced into shopping at Coles/Woolworths, they want good produce and they want to do it in a social atmosphere. South Melbourne is home to a very good food market, but this weekend it’s also hosting a very good bicycle one too.

The Australian Custom Bicycle Show (a Fyxo Production) is really a farmer’s market for bikes. If you don’t want to support homogenous products (tomatoes that all look the same, frames that all ride the same) and you want to talk to the producer, this is a good place to do it.

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I went along on Saturday and I have to say it was a real buzz for me personally. I’ve individually interviewed Joe Cosgrove, Ewen Gellie, Darrell McCulloch and Darren Baum – all exhibitors. And I’ve also had the pleasure of getting Keith Marshall and Mick Peel in on the Pushies Galore act. So to see all of these fantastic, often solitary people in the one spot, having their products appreciated, that just gives me a special warm feeling.

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Locally grown fruit and vegetables might cost you a bit more than imported produce – but it tastes better. Buying a frame from your local framebuilder used to be the normal thing to do. If you lived in Brisbane and you were really keen, you went to Hoffy or Tom Wallace. In Melbourne, you had a range of options, from Ken Evans to Kypo. Then imports became easier to get and globalised distribution had its effect. I see this show as an attempt to re-establish that broken link. Bravo to Andy White for putting it on.

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Many of these framebuilders, when I’ve spoken to them, have said how they want their customers to keep and cherish their bikes for 20 years or more. They want them to last and develop over time. In some ways, this is contrary to how many businesses operate. The basic idea is that you want to maximise how many of your products people have to buy. Hence you get the dreaded “planned obsolescence” and the push to get the 2013 model with slight cosmetic differences to the previous year’s effort. I like this approach – it shows a respect for the customers and displays how much these people care about what they make. I don’t think they’re doing themselves out of business, they’re doing themselves into it.

Outside the show, I ran into a guy (I am so sorry I’ve forgotten your name) with his father’s Hoffy track frame. One custom frame passed down through the family. Maybe a couple of the bikes featured in this show will be parked outside ACBS 2032. Let’s hope so.

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Later in the afternoon, I stopped by another celebration of bicycles. The FOA Show ‘n’ Shine had quite a few bikes made by ACBS exhibitors. As somebody mentioned at the show, “how many Giants are in the Show ‘n’ Shine?” Custom bikes are made to last and be appreciated. This event was testament to that.

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See a whole stack more photos of the weekend’s events here and here.

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29

Nov
2012

In Lovely Bikes

By Gavin Bannerman

Handcrafted in Geelong

On 29, Nov 2012 | In Lovely Bikes | By Gavin Bannerman

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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.

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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.

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It’s a small thing, but it’s all these small things that come together to make Baum the operation that it is.

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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.

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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.

Darren Baum from Gavin Bannerman on Vimeo.

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.

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