Handmade Bicycle Show Australia 2023
Another lap around the sun for the Handmade Bicycle Show Australia - and while there was no blowing out of the candles, the show turned 5 with the last 3 hosted in the incredible Seaworks building in Williamstown.
Overlooking the city skyline, Melbourne looks close enough that you could touch it. Massive shipping vessels bring goods into the port, making a spectacular backdrop for a celebration of the craft and culture of the Handmade Bicycle, an event orchestrated by Nathan Lorkin and Michael Hands of Corporate Cycling that saw 2,500 people come over the weekend.
As I sit in front of a screen and type these words a thought occurred to me that I would never have had in 2022. ‘Hey ChatGBT, write me a report about the bike show’. I have no doubt it could produce a mountain of text resembling a humanoid, especially if you are predominantly a visual creature and brush over words. One thing I doubt the machines will capture is my favourite thing about the show. The community.
The many conversations with consumers, builders, industry and trade, cycling has-beens and never-was’, barista’s and bar staff, it has never been more explicit that the bicycle is a conduit for this community's existence, and while it’s easy to marvel at the output of machines, I consistently marvel at the output of the humans.
I’d be telling pork pies if I said I didn’t have some personal favourites of 2023, with a caveat that what appeals to me now is a reflection of where I am in my ‘life of bikes’. The teenage me was all about MTBs - when suspension was emerging and V-brakes a revelation. The 20 something year old me was all about track bikes, going fast, traveling the world and is how John (Watson) and I initially crossed paths. The 30 something me became obsessed with restoring classic road bikes, reconnected with my MTB roots, and with spare time on my side, did many rough-road rides which today is arguably the biggest category in the industry. Now well into the 40s, what pulls at the heart is bikes that can carry gear, building custom car alternatives, and incredible mountain bikes. That is the beauty of the Handmade Bicycle Show. It covers all interest categories no matter where you are in your own bike life.
The Seaworks exhibition hall is divided into thirds of sorts. The bulk of the main hall is the simple arrangement of the bicycle exhibitors, free of the clutter of stands, where the bikes shine brightly. The ‘Melbourne end’ is the parts and accessories, with the big names and local makers side by side. Friday night is the opener and social peak with attendees coming straight from work. Beers and food flow fast, it’s noisy with banter, and glistening bikes divide the groups of people circling the stands.
Already looking forward to 2024!