When it comes to cycling, Melbourne is Australia’s capital city. But there’s one thing in trumps that Sydney has over its southern sister, and that is a mountainous coastline. Skunkworks Bikes is located at the heart of the eastern suburbs, Bondi Beach, and specialises in assembling bikes of the highest pedigree. The latest, having travelled from Boston to Bondi, is Firefly Bicycles‘ FF411.
The flat topography of Beach Road might keep Melbourne’s dawn patrol happy, but the shoreline from Little Bay in the south to Watsons Bay in the north is a literal rollercoaster of grades — like Coogee’s Arden Street (15%), Alexander Street (20.4%) and Carrington Road (22%). Attunga St, in Double Bay, is measured at a sharp 25 per cent gradient over its 250m length.
Naturally, the riders of these roads have developed an appreciation for bikes of the highest level of construction and reliability — and they also need to look the part. That’s Skunkworks Bikes’ forte; making dream bikes come true; like a custom titanium frame from Boston’s Firefly Bicycles with a full Shimano Dura Ace Di2 9000 groupset.
While there are a few frame builders in Australia that specialise in titanium, the customer of FF411 spent some of his childhood living just outside of Boston and remembers the famous fireflies, lighting up the evenings in Summer. That made it a personal choice, but the immaculate finishes of the frames clinched the deal.
Ironically, carbon frames tend to lack the ‘feel’ that bikes made from denser materials have, which was the main reason for the customer opting for a ti frame. “Further,” he tells us, “most production carbon bikes seem to be designed around fast crit-style geometry rather than the all-day road racing geometry that the Italians used to do so well. Custom ti seemed the way to go to address both issues.”
So what about the dimensions? “Distinct features of its geometry, when compared with most current high end production road bikes include longer chainstays, lower bottom bracket and a more relaxed head tube angle.” Of course, the frame received that special Firefly treatment: brushed with bead-blasted logos and graphics, even extending onto the titanium King Cages.
His dream build was finished thus: ENVE Smart 3.4 rims laced to matching DT Swiss hubs, held in the front by an ENVE fork — also custom painted, along with the seat post. The bars and stem are also by ENVE, covered with tape by Busyman Bicycles — all ready for some serious hillclimbing then.