Any fan of classic Australian bicycles will be familiar with the name of Eric Hendren. Eric was a frame builder who worked at Hoffy Cycles, a Local Bike Shop in Sandgate, Queensland. This exceptionally well-preserved example of Eric’s frames has been re-imagined as a single speed commuter.
Established in 1928, Hoffy Cycles is one of Australia’s longest running shops and their proprietary frames, built in-house, are now sought after by collectors, as much for their craftsmanship as for the opportunity to own a piece of Australian cycling history.
Hoffy Cycles was named after the founder, Bill Hoffman, who hired a young Eric Hendren in 1942 as an apprentice to help out around the shop. Eric was eventually handed a brazing torch and tasked with basic frame building, setting forks and such.
When Bill tragically died of a heart attack, Eric took over the shop, subsequently hiring a young Darrell Llewellyn McCulloch in 1979 — another name which should be familiar to any custom framebuilder — for his cast lug sets and specialist accessories.
Darrell worked there from 1979 to 1986 and Eric sold the shop 10 years later. Today, you’ll be lucky to find a Hoffy anywhere but the most closely guarded of sources. One fell into my hands many years ago, which I immaturely converted into a single speed to ride at Australia’s one and only L’Eroica.
Eric primarily used Reynolds tubing for his frames, although as a result of his scrupulous record keeping, we can reference his order book which reveals the occasional frame made from Columbus tubes. This Reynolds 708, Hendren-built track frame is able to be dated from 1991.
Although it was originally destined for the velodrome, it’s been sympathetically built up as a ‘street-tracker’ with an impeccable selection of vintage and new components, chosen for functionality — not necessarily to please the purist.
A heady mix of cultures has been represented on this Hendren, ranging from a French Stronglight headset to a Japanese Nitto Pearl stem and brilliantly mirror-polished Campagnolo cranks, hubs, pedals and seat post.
The wheel set consists of TB14 rims by H Plus Son, which bring back a classic profile coupled with modern construction. The front has been laced to a high-flange Campagnolo Record hub, while the rear holds a Czech Velosteel coaster brake unit.
An immaculate coat of paint doesn’t give away the 22-year-old age of the frame: before it was rebuilt as a street tracker, it was procured from the original customer. Eric Hendren would be proud. Special thanks to Gavin Bannerman and Gypsy for the words and pictures.
PS: For an iconic insight into two Australian framebuilding legends and their passion, Gavin recorded an interview between Darrell McCulloch and Eric Hendren. Watch it on his Vimeo channel.
PPS: I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a fantastic new year, and to thank you for reading Cycle EXIF. I’m continually amazed by how the site has grown, thanks to the frame builders, photographers, riders and readers who have contributed to making Cycle EXIF what it is today. I’m really looking forward to bringing you even more beautiful bikes in 2014.