When it comes to the Great Outdoors, Australia has a vast amount of it. Historically, however, cycle touring has never been a popular pursuit. Instead, we’ve tended to live vicariously through our American and European cousins.
Thankfully, we’re starting to find our own voice, and beginning to realise that adventures of our own are accessible from our very doorstep. Melbourne’s Tinker Bikes are intent on proving how easy and awesome exploring our magnificent country by bike can be.
Operating out of a shed in a Melbourne backyard, Tinker Bikes have been building up a portfolio of classic steel bikes that have been reconfigured into capable and, crucially, fun touring bikes, like this Gary Fisher Montare from 1990.
These bikes don’t need much to turn them into adventure machines. Their near-indestructible frames were designed and built to last, and can already accept racks. And unlike their modern equivalents, they seem imbued with a personality.
Isaac Rae, proprietor of Tinker Bikes, simply brings their personality out and aligns it with their new owner, ready to traverse new trails. The Montare’s eclectic paint reminded Isaac of his favourite Wes Anderson movie, The Life Aquatic, and was accessorised accordingly, with bright red bar tape — a reference to the headwear of the Belafonte’s crew.
Tinker Bikes is not unlike the Team Zissou, as Isaac explains: “I do most of the building but the business is dependent upon my friends who provide advice, help with photos, rides, graphic design and aesthetic advice”.
The Tinkered Fisher, now named ‘The Zissou’, is a fair representation of their philosophy: high-quality vintage steel frames with Japanese componentry and “the widest, sickest tyres we can safely fit into the frame”.
You don’t really need the latest carbon fibre fat bike for a fun weekend away. As Tinker Bikes demonstrate, the most important piece of equipment is the spirit of adventure.