Mark Hester has had a sizeable career to date in ‘making’ things. Inspired at a young age by his Grandfather to pursue engineering, the craft of ‘making’ courses through his veins. His Dad made him a custom billy cart when he was a kid, instilling an earlier love for motorsport. At school he made a carbon F1 chassis for a project, which led to a paid career tinkering with V8 Supercars – again in a search of speed.
He briefly lived in the UK and was a test pilot for Land Rover / Jaguar. A story from that time involves a wheel disintegrating at 120kph and ‘dealing with it’.
The name PROVA derives from his youth, a passion for Ferrari’s. The prototype models would always be badged ‘PROVA’, he knew even then that one day that would be the marque he’d use on his own creations.
It’s an apt title as each PROVA is a refinement of the previous learnings. When they include the aforementioned projects it’s fair to say the first frames to bear PROVA are of an incredibly high standard, with great emphasis placed on the engineering of the frame, stress points and handling.
While aesthetics are not an after thought they are simple, classy and uncomplicated, finished by another Canberra resident – Velopaint.
Some of his upcoming PROVA-jects are a race geometry road bike with Campagnolo EPS and disc road bikes, all with a new CNC machined dropout design.
Mark has also been working with Melbourne based Bastion Cycles on 3D printed stainless components for internal routing entry ports which will feature on the EPS adorned frame. Never one to have idle hands, he has been working hard on his TIG skills and will build some prototype frames soon, one will be for a trying a Pinion gearbox to build a stainless 27.5+ bike packing rig for himself. The year ahead looks bright.
The use of even simple simulation tools can be very useful to understand areas of significance in a structure like a bicycle frame. I have been building a model and SIM using the ISO frame strength and pedalling fatigue tests as a basis. In this case it has backed up what I was told by the chaps at @btr_fabrications regarding the effectiveness of a light weight x-gusset. The numbers could be bananas without correlation, but it shows a direction and that is decrease in stress in the chainstay near the BB of around 20-30% without introducing a large stress raiser like a conventional bridge. My goal is to correlate with an actual frame test. #framebuilding
I took him out for a tour of my backyard, and his PROVA singlespeed tackled the most technical parts of the trail with ease – largely due to the pilot.
At the rides end we had a chat about his singlespeed build and future PROVA’s.
This Violet Crumble MTB is a Columbus | Reynolds blend, with brazed construction. Mark bends his own seat stays and an 853 ovalised top tube was used for increased stiffness. Extensive cable guides for sweeter routing, paragon drop outs with 20mm~ of adjustment is ample for this setup and aesthetics are considered with anodised mounts and dropout for 12mm thru-axle.
Paul Component hubs with a White Industries freewheel is a simple and fuss free arrangement, though he did admit some wider / stiffer hoops than the Stan’s might pop up in the future. Onza Canis 2.25’s give it a great look.
Other build choices include Syntace bar and stem, SRAM stoppers and turners, CHRIS KING headset, ESI silicon sleeves, Rock Shox SID 100mm up and downers, and KING cages.
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