The wheels are turning on a resurgence of custom-made bicycles and a Beechworth man is at the forefront of the movement.
Shane Flint, who is a mechanical designer by day, launched his business Tor Bikes earlier this year and is one of a handful of people in Australia focusing on handmade mountain bikes.
Riding has been a hobby of Mr Flint’s for the past 20 years, the most recent decade of that living in Beechworth.
“It was something I took up when I was 18 or 19 for a bit of fitness, and I got right into it and started racing,” he said.
“I’ve gone all around Australia, I’ve raced in Europe a few times as well, and gone on plenty of riding holidays in New Zealand and Tasmania.
“Because I’m working in design engineering and have a fabrication background, at some point I wanted to have a go at designing my own bike, and did that about three years ago.
“It was about building a bike I could drag through the mud without ruining expensive components.”
That prototype has since racked up 10,000 kilometres and attracted the attention of mates.
“It moved on from a hobby to something bigger after a couple requests and I got a bit of experience,” Mr Flint said.
“I saw that the Handmade Bicycle Show Australia was on in Melbourne; it happened annually about ten years ago and had been revived this year.
“I thought that was a perfect chance to set myself up properly.
“A tor is a rocky piece on top of a mountain or a hill – I was going for a simple, strong name that had some meaning to it.”
About 20 bicycle makers from across the country attended the show in April, and Mr Flint found most were focused on road bikes.
“Mine was only two mountain bikes out of 40 on show; the custom mountain bike scene is quite small,” he said.
“This handmade custom bike scene is starting to take off again, it was big in the 80s and 90s.
“Now it’s growing in popularity, materials are becoming easier to get a hold of and people are relying less on the big brands.”
It takes Mr Flint 30 to 40 hours to build a bike in the workshop at this home.
He uses a 3D CAD model to design the bike digitally, selects the materials, orders Italian Columbus cycling-specific steel tubing and cuts, bends and joins the tubes to fit the design.
Mr Flint then paints the frame and builds components to form a bike.
“People get to go through the process of specifying things they want, being a part of the whole building process, to end up with their dream bike,” he said.
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