The 2014 Sydney Rides Festival is a two week celebration of cycling in the Harbour City, organised by the City Council. Its increasing popularity is a good indicator of how far the city has come in accepting cycling as a feasible and fun mode of transport.
Only a few years ago, it would have been difficult for a shop like Cicli Spirito to become established, but Sydney now has a very strong culture surrounding our beautiful sport. It’s a fertile ground for Ben Kamenjas and his enterprise to take root and become a hub for the joy of Sydney cycling.
Ben is a self-confessed Italophile with a great knowledge and passion for classic Italian culture, and especially cycling. A few weeks ago, Cicli Spirito held its opening party, just off a major cycleway in St Leonards on Sydney’s Lower North Shore.
It’s more of a workshop than a retail space, and it’s more of a dream hangout than a workshop. Whether you need a wheel trued or a frame built, or just want a coffee or a beer and a chat, you’ll be welcome. Ben’s one of the most amicable guys you could meet and naturally, the space reflects this.
The interior is awash with bright yellows and reds, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and the air is filled with a varying mix of coffee, grease and funky beats. Think Faliero Masi’s workshop under the legendary Vigorelli velodrome in Milan and you’ll begin to get the idea.
The workshop is a timeline that spans vintage and modern bike mechanics, where rare Simplex freewheels share a shelf with Campagnolo Super Record. A 134 gram ENVE 1.25 and Extralite wheelset was being laced together in one corner, while a Lynskey was being adjusted in another.
One of Ben’s personal projects was a Serotta MTB frame that he’ll be getting off-road with this summer. Like many of us, he rode plenty of BMX as a kid but graduated from that to the velodrome, racing track before moving into road bikes, so trail riding will be a fresh terrain.
Ben loves music too and under the record player is a wide variety of vinyl. Most of the local passers-by are drawn to the tones resonating from the cabinet speakers suspended above the frame jig. Cicli Spirito will be host to plenty of evening events over the upcoming summer.
Ben travelled to the US to study frame building under Michigan’s Doug Fattic, came back and built this classic racer, which he took to the 2013 L’Eroica event in Chianti, built up with drop bars. An all-inclusive shop, Cicli Spirito now offers a fitting and frame building service.
While the frame building won’t be limited to just classic-styled racers, the palette will be limited. You can have your frame in any colour, as long as it is from Alfa Romeo’s colour chart. Which is quite extensive: the original Spirito frame is giallo ocra.
Alfa Romeo automobiles are another passion of Ben’s. His 2002 Alfa Romeo GTV Spider, styled by Pininfarina, is his pride and joy, and makes a stylish entrance at the front of the building, extending the rosso corsa colour scheme from the interior to the exterior.
The front of Cicli Spirito is a delightful place to soak up the rays and Ben is looking forward to screening the Grand Tours from a projector onto the wall. In summer, the fairy lights will ignite, making this a pre-eminent destination for all cycling fans and locals. See you there!
Cicli Spirito is open from Wednesday to Saturday. Opening hours can be found on the Facebook page, and you can keep up-to-date via the Instagram feed, too. See more snaps on the Cycle EXIF flickr album.