Adelaide’s Treadly Bike Shop played host to a number of colourful characters over the final weekend of the 2014 Tour Down Under. By the last stage on Sunday, Ebenezer Place became a constant stream of familiar faces and new friends. One character who was not very colourful, but whom I was grateful to have met, was this matte black track bike, the work of new local frame builder James Alderson of Rogers Bespoke.
In between beers, I managed to convince James to let me photograph Proto, one of the first frames to roll out of the Rogers Bespoke workshop, and eke a little history from James: “I’ve been a bike nerd for many years now. Always building, rebuilding, breaking and rebuilding bikes. The thought of frame building was in the back of my mind as I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of building and making things. But it wasn’t until a bike accident that things really got moving.
“Three years ago I was involved in an severe accident that almost cost me my life. With a month in hospital and a couple for recovery, you certainly have a lot of time to think and reflect on what’s important to you. For me it was getting straight back on the bike as soon as I was physically able to, and that’s exactly what I did.
“It soon dawned on me that If cycling can almost take my life and the thought of never riding again never once crossed my mind, it’s probably something that will stay with me for life. At that point I decided to pursue frame building and try to make it a sustainable career.”
“So almost two years ago I ordered every piece of frame building literature and began reading and reading. Soon some friends who have a Porsche workshop offered to help me out. A couple of days a week I would go in and practice welding and fabricating.
The owner, Richard, has an engineering background and has been a big help by letting me pick his brain and break all his tools. Still he smiles and pats me on the back.
“So a year ago I set about building Proto, the first bike. It was a pretty old-school build, all done by hand and aligning off the table. I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but in the end I was happy. All the welds came out great and the frame is straight and pretty sexy if I do say so myself!
“Over the last year I have invested most of my time building jigs and tooling, all the while doing repairs and modifications to get my skills up. Now I’m at the point to really start building.”
Proto is a lugged Columbus SL frame, with an interesting integrated bar/stem combo that utilises a pair of Deda Velocita bars. The drivetrain consists of Campagnolo’s classy Pista cranks that turn a pair of carbon rims laced to an ultralight pair of handmade Mack hubs from Poland. Sheriff star-style flange windows were cut out of them, before being custom painted to match the frame.
I have to admit, with that stealthy, matte coat of black paint, the first thing that jumped out at me was the gold logotype on the down tube, which reminded me of every retro Hillman, Hillbrick, Hoffy and Bundy that I’ve admired over the years — all proud Aussie builders, and it looks like James is well placed to carry on that tradition.