To be fair, we haven’t seen too many cyclocross bikes made by Australian custom builders. But it’s a sure sign that the sport is on the ascendence in the Antipodes when we do, and it’s a positive one when they look as spectacular as this one: a collaboration between Adelaide builder Rogers Bespoke and Melbourne artist, Sam Songailo.
Adelaide is home to both James Alderson of Rogers Bespoke and Treadly Bike Shop. Anyone who’s travelled to the South Australian capital for the Tour Down Under — the first leg of the UCI World Tour — has probably visited Treadly or had breakfast in Ebenezer Place, the address of Treadly. Locals will definitely be aware of it and the hospitality of its proprietors.
Sam Neeft and his wife, Emily, run Treadly and have been instrumental in building up the cycling community in Adelaide, especially once the hordes of professional cycling fans have headed home. Hamish is employed there as well and he commissioned Rogers Bespoke to build him a CX racer, giving James free reign to decorate it as he saw fit.
About eight years ago, when James was studying, he worked at a restaurant that exhibited the isometric work of Sam Sangailo, which James loved. James had been following Sam’s work since and had the idea of him painting one of his frames, so during a discussion with Hamish about how it should be decorated, Sam’s work was shown and Hamish was sold on the concept.
Sam was living in Melbourne by this stage and James managed to track him down, proposing the idea of his art adorning a bicycle frame. A look through Sam’s online portfolio will reveal his customary media: he’s primarily an installation artist, creating ‘spaces’, rather than traditional canvases on a wall, and agreed to apply his designs to the frame, rather than paint it himself.
Once the frame had been brazed together, it was coated with a white base layer by James’ painter before being packed into a container to Melbourne. Sam laboriously masked off his design before repacking it into a suspended box back to Adelaide, so as to not damage the design. Once unpacked, it was sent back to the painter.
Bicycle frames must be one of the hardest canvases to work on, due to the curved tubes and angles. A layer of black was laid down, then the candy green, but in some areas, the masking had begun to lift, and some edges had spread. It required some retouching and, initially, James had reservations about the finish but if you look closely at Sam’s outdoor work, you’ll see similar imperfections..
All in all, it’s an exemplary interpretation of Sam’s work — just applied to a bike frame — and you have to agree, it’s a spectacular result, one which is a fitting addition to the portfolio of both Sam and Rogers Bespoke. The bike debuted at the recent Melburn Custom Bicycle Show, where it generated a very favourable response.
It’s exciting to see world class construction and finishes like this from a fresh Aussie builder. There’s already some great looking road and ‘cross bikes in the Rogers Bespoke portfolio, including the Proto track bike that was photographed at the 2014 Tour Down Under, and a tourer for Sam at Treadly. Keep an eye out for more.
Special thanks to Sam Roberts for the photos.