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Lovely Bikes

31

Dec
2014

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In Lovely Bikes

By Gavin Bannerman

The Spirito of Christmas

On 31, Dec 2014 | No Comments | In Lovely Bikes | By Gavin Bannerman

I enjoy going to bike shops, particularly those that have stood the test of time. My trip to Hoffy Cycles a week ago reminded me how nice it is to have a local bike shop catering to a range of cyclists, with the knowledge that they have done so for years and years.

I also really love going to visit single operators. These people, generally guys, but there are some great women operating, have often worked for shops, seen the retail and trade perspectives; now they need their own space. I believe there is a real niche for these kind of workshops. Dan Hale of Shifter Bikes is obviously doing his thing at an incredibly high level in Melbourne.

Ben Kamenjas from Sydney has worked for a range of bike shops over his career. Now he has set up his own space in St Leonards in Sydney’s north. His workshop Cicli Spirito is within a creative precinct supported by developers TWT. With my community/arts development hat on, it was fascinating to see the artists, photography studios and other creatives that had taken advantage of reasonable rent and flexible workspaces. Ben’s workshop backs on to a shared space for visual artists, beautifully highlighting the aesthetic characteristics of both their work.

Ben came up to Pushies in 2014 with a special bike he’d built himself. The bike was first set up as a classic down-tube shifting road bike that he road at L’Eroica. Then he turned it into a porteur of exceptional taste. So much so that it took out best cargo/utility in the show ‘n’ shine.

 

When I popped into Ben’s studio on Christmas Eve, he was finishing the last job for the year: converting his porteur into a gravel-grinder for the holidays. It involved some 10 speed Chorus  to 8 magic, putting on new bars and de-fendering.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but Ben’s space is dripping with character. Cartier-Bresson prints on the wall, stacks of vinyl around the record player, abundant Amoretti and espresso, this is a place that rewards observation. Look carefully and you’ll see parts of wall lined with the deli wrapping paper – the kind you get your finest Grana Padano in.

The words, “Fatto A Mano” (Italian for “Made By Hand”) are painted on the workshop wall. The personal touch can not be overstated in this “bicycle tailor.” Everything in the workshop has a story, everything in some small way reflects Ben’s personality and knowledge. If you’re in Sydney, do yourself a favour and say “ciao” to Ben. You won’t look at bikes the same.

See plenty more pics here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben also kind me lent me a bike while I was staying in Sydney. Possibly a Centurion frame, with braze-ons for centre pull brakes, Grand Bois tyres, bar-end shifters. The perfect bike for poking around town.

 

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