It’s nearly 13,000 kilometres from Santa Barbara, California, to Melbourne, Australia, and Hamish’s new Stinner Gibralter road bike will travel many more times that during their time together.
Hamish, curator of the Kitwatch blog — which speaks for itself — has just taken ownership of his dream bike, and it was expertly captured by Andy Rogers of Fame & Spear — one of Cycle EXIF’s favourite photographers.
The latest Californian import to hit Australian roads is dressed in a vibrant pink-to-blue-fade, inspired by the sunsets seen at Hamish’s parents place in the Victorian countryside. He spared the time to tell us of the background to his new ride.
“So Stinner Frameworks originally popped up in my Instagram feed, and that’s where my interest was piqued. They looked amazing aesthetically, the welding was sharp and the paint jobs were pretty next level.
“I’d be lying if I said the look didn’t play a part in drawing me in, but buying a custom frame goes beyond face value. As I read more about the brand I noticed an attention to detail and a real love of cycling that flowed through the brand and craftsmanship.
“I discovered they’re based in Santa Barbara and had a love of the hills. The Gibralter, the model I opted for, is named after a famous climb over there that featured in the 2016 Tour of California and looks like an absolute banger that I’d love to ride some time.
“The most fun I ever have on the bike is also going up (and down) hills and mountains like the Dandenongs, Yarra Glen/Kinglake/Healesville, their surrounds and the Victorian Alps. Whenever I travel I try to take my bike with me and hit as many famous or not so famous climbs in the area.
“When I climb I like hitting it hard and as fast as I can. And I like having a bike underneath me that feels responsive and agile; so when I get out of the saddle I get instant feedback, but then also something that I can settle into for the long haul, and brutal road ahead.
“On top of this I wanted something aggressive that would carve up corners and descend like a demon, something that yielded to my command, allowing me to feel confident and fearless on the descent. This is where the custom element came in, and where the team at Stinner really listened, because what I got was everything I hoped for and more.
“I know you’re probably thinking that if I like going up hills so much, why would I add the extra weight of a steel frame? In reality, with the quality of steel tubing available these days (and of the tubing Stinner uses), you only gain about half a kilo on some of the most lightweight carbon (read: not much on most carbon frames).
“And, to me, the added confidence, handling and fun I get from a steel frame — built perfectly to my requirements and measurements — plus the feel and beauty of a steel frame, outweighs the extra 20-30 seconds on my PB that I might gain on an hour-long climb. The process was really easy and my point of contact, Mark Edwards, was quick to respond and thorough in his answers to my questions.
“The whole process was quick, detailed and easy. I sent through my measurements, bike fit, and what I did — and didn’t — like about my current set up. Stinner then came through with a couple of geometry drafts before I gave the go-ahead. The paint job was the next choice. Stinner’s in-house painter, James Bellerue, is a real talent. He does amazing paint work and especially good fades!
“I’m really into colour fades/gradients and have loved seeing them in the kit and fashion world. My parents now live out in the Victorian countryside and they get these amazing purply-blue sunsets up there, so that’s where the inspiration for the colours came from.
“I could then mock up the colours on the Stinner website, play around with them for hours on end and once I was happy — send it off to Stinner with a couple of extra thoughts. Then it was up to Mr Bellerue to work his magic.
“I’ve put about 1000+ kms into the bike so far and not only does it handle really well but it’s super comfortable and is perfect for an entire day or multiple days in the saddle. This is a real bonus, because I’ve built this bike up as a bit of a weapon. It’s completed by a 3T cockpit — Ergonova handlebars (a personal favourite of mine) — wrapped with Manual For Speed ‘Reach For The Dream Space Tape’ (which I love and had sitting in my garage, waiting for just the right build), Arx II alloy stem and an Ionic carbon seatpost.
“There’s a Specialized Power saddle (which is soon to be repurposed by Busyman), H+Son Archetype rims laced to Chris King R45s, CK headset and bottom bracket, Pioneer power meter and Shimano Dura Ace Di2 group, with Hawk Racing alloy pulley wheels on the rear derailleur. This was all meticulously put together by Dan at Shifter Bikes. Dan really put the final bit of polish to the bike and totally stepped it up to another level.
“I’m a big fan of his and was super excited to hand over this build to him and he truly surpassed all my expectations. The amount of care and attention to detail he puts into his builds is something to behold — from the way he wraps the handlebars to his knowledge of what part is going to make what sound and why, or even just the way he cleans and services parts.
“He not only has a technical and mechanical mind, but he also has a great eye for design and really got behind the vision of the build and added his own finesse and style. The pièce de résistance of this build would have to be the way he’s hidden all the Di2 extras.
“You’ll notice, or not notice, that there’s no junction box to be seen, and my D-Fly wireless kit, which transmits Di2 battery level (among other things) to my Garmin, is also hidden. The cables look super minimal and clean after being specially routed and hidden, and make for a spotless build, especially in the front end.
“Dan took a lot of time and effort in perfecting the build, even confirming his ideas with some engineer friends to make sure everything was perfect. It was another great aspect of this bike journey.
“I run the Kitwatch Instagram and website which specialises in finding the hottest, most innovative and interesting styles in the cycling apparel world. I then post pictures, write reviews, interviews and tips, tricks and tidbits that help people fall in love, find and buy awesome kit.
“I’m particularly into small brands and people/companies who take a lot of pride and care in what they do. Most of the kits I write about are kind of underground and on the small production side of the industry, yet the bike I had been using for my own photoshoots was from one of the biggest bike manufacturers going around.
“Although I loved that bike, it didn’t really sing true to what I’m all about at Kitwatch, or what I’m about in general really. So it was only natural to find a bike manufacturer that was on a similar mindset and into similar things to me.
“The whole experience has been super fun, and the outcome more than I could have dreamed. It’s been great working with such creative talent right through the build process, and watching everything come together (and at really quite an accelerated pace). I’ve been super happy with everything so far, and can’t wait to see where this bike takes me.
Well, reading about the journey has been an experience for us too, but just reconfirms everything that is great about a personalised steed from a custom builder. And how else can you ride a bike with so much personal relevance?
Massive thanks to Andy Rogers for the fine photography.