In February 2015, Seattle’s two most venerated custom bicycle craftsmen conglomerated their workshops into a single space in the Fremont neighbourhood. Bill Davidson of Davidson Bicycles and Max Kullaway of 333fab are both well known for their expertise and one example of their combined skills is now riding around the streets of Sydney.
Bill Davidson has been building frames for over four decades, a legacy that is intertwined with that of the legendary Elliott Bay Bicycles shop. By the time the store closed its doors in 2014, Bill had been working alongside Max, who was performing the role of Bill’s titanium frame welder.
Max is one of the best welders of titanium bicycle frames in the USA, and the two had realised they shared the common goal of producing custom bicycles to the best of their abilities. Needless to say, they formed a formidable team. After the closure of EBB, the stars aligned and the Davidson & Kullaway shopfront was established.
This titanium Davidson road bike, welded by Max, belongs to Jamie ‘Davo’ Davidson, a Sydney cyclist who, due to his passion for cycling, had already built up a collection of steel, aluminium and carbon frame road bikes. There was one bike left to complete his quiver: A titanium frame built by an experienced master craftsman.
Davo explains: “After doing my research, the US seemed to be the best option for hand-built, titanium frames: US made tubing and US craftsmanship. I had come across Bill’s name before with his beautiful Davidson steel lugged frames… of course, being a namesake was going to be an influencing factor!
“The clincher was the fact that Bill had recently joined forces with Max Kullaway, arguably one of the best titanium welders in the US… done deal. It had to be a Davidson-designed, Kullaway-welded frame.
He continues: “Working with Bill via email and phone, we decided on the frame design. Being a fan of the Spring Classics I wanted a robust, solid frame that would not only last my lifetime but also be an inheritance for my children. My Merckx MX leader and Time VXR Pro team frames were big influences on the design.
“The Davidson name, the Davidson paint scheme — green, red and black being the Davidson tartan colours — these are the elements that make it the special bike that’s become part of the family. It was a 5 month gestation but worth every minute of the wait and Bill kept me up to date with pictures of the progress.
“Keeping the US theme, I decided on Thomson and Chris King components with ENVE forks. The Campagnolo Record groupset and Fulcrum wheels were all recycled from another bike purchased especially for these components only. The DiPell red leather bar tape was my tribute to the exciting, fast-growing Aussie cycling industry.
Once the frame had safely made it to Australia shores, it needed to be assembled: “The frame was built up locally by the boys at Ride In Workshop, Balgowlah. The first ride on Sydney streets was tentative. Was a custom-built, handmade frame really that special?
“The more kms I pedalled the more I found myself sinking into the bike, after a few weeks I feel as though I could never ride a better fitting, more faultless bike that just puts a smile on your face whether you’re riding, pumping up the tyres or washing down after a day in the saddle… perfection!