Tonight, I attended the 40th anniversary celebrations of Clarence Street Cyclery. While my earliest memories of the shop — one of Sydney’s oldest — was when I was working as a bike messenger and being asked to leave because it was pouring rain outside and I was dripping water all over their floor.
While I sought refuge under their roof, I also remember ogling the Rastafarian-coloured Bontrager MTBs and fat-tubed Kleins, two brands that were stocked before they were swallowed up by Trek. I’m sure there was a Quantum Race on the floor, and it would’ve looked very similar to this one.
David Hume is a South Australian artist whose work is his vision of the Australian outback — a source of inspiration for artists for more than 40,000 years. He was also inspired by the work of Gary Klein and his bikes that stood proudly on the floor of Clarence Street Cyclery more than twenty years ago.
David wrote this story for us:
“In 1997, the Klein Quantum Race was certainly one of the world’s most beautiful bicycles. The paint — in this case two-tone metallic ‘Caribbean Linear Fade’ was finished meticulously. The logos are not decals, rather they have been masked out of the topcoats to reveal a white layer underneath.
“The proportions of the frame, with its large diameter tapered and ovalised tubes, are near perfect. The carbon forks match the shape and finish of the alloy. The Klein’s aesthetic comes in addition to the frame’s technical innovation, its craftsmanship, finish, and and no less important, its ride quality.
“My wife and I were staying at Velo Vercors in the low Alps, and I had arranged to hire a bike for the week. When I saw my hire bike was the Klein I was blown away. My cycling aesthetic was formed in the 80s, and I remember the beauty of the big-tube Cannondales of the time.
“Aluminium was so space age then, and I loved the proportions and the colours. The Quantum Race knocked all those guys into a cocked hat. Riding it for a week sealed the deal. The search was on.
“The Klein started its life as a triathlon bike in the US before finding its way to Sydney and finally to Adelaide in South Australia. The scars left on the handlebars by the tri bars are still visible, and the seasons of racing have left their toll of minor scratches and dings.
“The paintwork is still gorgeous, but the alloy frame has sweated a bit around the internal cabling inserts and bottle cage holders. “I’m not precious with my bikes, I like to ride them, so I don’t mind the odd scrape or two. That way I don’t feel so bad if I add another.”
“The original wheels were long ago upgraded to Spinergy SR-3s for race duty, but a bent rear axle and shot bearings persuaded David to retire them in favour of some similar period-appropriate Mavics.
“It’s all done now. I was hoping to keep it original and the eight-speed Shimano still changes okay — well, most of the time. I’m not racing anyone so a missed change is not going to cost me a podium position. I put a dinner-plate 11-30T on the rear to get me up anything the Adelaide hills have to offer.
“This works surprisingly well with the 53-39 up front. The dual pivot brakes are fine. You do notice a bit more flex with the square-taper crank and one-inch steerer over a more modern frame, but it’s still a great ride. I plan to enjoy it for many years to come.”
The Klein Quantum Race is the stuff of boyhood racing dreams. We’ve featured a few of Gary’s mountain bikes here but this is the first of those classic fat tubed road-faring frames — and it’s been well worth the wait.
Special thanks to David Hume for the photos and story. See the rest of his artwork on his website.