Were classic bicycle shows as popular ten or twenty years ago as they are now? These days, it seems there’s a show for every major city, with new locations added each year. Sydney is the latest to join the beautiful bicycle enthusiast’s calendar, with the inaugural Sydney Classic Bicycle Show being held on Saturday the 23rd March 2013 at the Canterbury Velodrome in the city’s inner west.
The attendance didn’t come close to that of the NAHBS but it was encouraging nonetheless. Next year’s will be even bigger. The venue, Canterbury (Tempe) Velodrome, is the home of the Dulwich Hill Bicycle Club—established in 1908—and was a perfect location. The Swap Meet stalls lined the eastern side of the lawn in the center of the track while the Concourse d’Elegance lined the west.
There were as many fine examples of racy Italians as you’d like. Numerous bikes from Colnago, Tommasini, Guerciotti, Bianchi and the odd Pegoretti. No, Dario isn’t a ‘Classic’ builder but it’s interesting to note the blurriness of the lines between ‘Classic’, ‘Custom’ and ‘Handmade’. ‘Classic’ seemed to cease to be a judging criteria and instead generally referred to ‘Awesome’.
There were quite a few Aussie bikes on display, many of which were built specifically to race venues like the Canterbury Velodrome or for members of the DHBC. Bates Racing, Eric Hendren, Van Werkhoven, Paino etc. Not to mention the true classics like Clem Eagle and Alcone. The most significant display was Peter Bundy himself and a few of his father Jim’s bikes.
This Peugeot Ventoux grabbed my attention in particular. Immaculate and original, with a wonderfully French graphic flair.
A perfect F. Moser with his hour-record stats emblazoned on the down tube. That Campagnolo Nuovo Gran Sport group set must be the apple of it’s owner’s eyes.
Fancy coming across one of Trevor Jarvis’ Flying Gates at the show. A little under dressed, perhaps, but still resplendent in its eccentricity. Usually the stuff of oddball bicycle encyclopedias, the Flying Gate is actually, by all reports, a superb ride.
One of the most exciting discoveries I made at the Sydney Classic Bike Show was that of Kitchen Cycles. John Kitchen hails from Bathurst, in the state’s central west, which happens to be half-a-crow-flyin’-mile from my hometown. Apparently John owned a shop in St. Ives during the 80s but has since gone west where he is still brazing steel and TIG welding aluminium frames. His early frames feature quite ornate lugwork but he’s now keeping busy with road and tandem frames. I’ll be sure to say g’day next time I’m out that way.
Never ones to miss an opportunity to sit in the sun, drink beer and talk bikes, the Sydney bike messenger crew held court next to the track. Henry had a few bikes on display and for sale. The Swap Meet side of the Show was well-stocked, with many interesting and obscure frames. The Ron Cooper decals nearly swayed me and by the time I’d decided to invest in that garish Campagnolo jersey (purely for conversation value) it had been snapped up.
In the lore of Australian frame building, Eric Hendren is a mythical character. Queensland’s Hoffy Cycles is the source of not only some very fine track and road frames by Eric Hendren, but also of his protégé, Darrell Llewellyn McCulloch. I met the owner of this Hendren track bike, Alex, who couldn’t speak of it highly enough. The clearances are very tight, the geometry is spot on, the wheels are (understandably) rock-solid and the lugs have been smoothly filed down. Keep an eye on this bike, he’s about to begin a thorough restoration of it so hopefully we’ll see the ‘After’ shots soon. There’s a shot of Alex giving it a good thrashing in the Show’s 90-lap Madison.
So the first Sydney Classic Bicycle Show was a success. I’m already looking forward to next year’s edition, as much for the bikes as for the interesting characters. Sydney has a small but passionate cycling community and this Show is not only preserving the past, but inspiring the younger generation.