Whether you’re commuting to work, striving for a softer carbon footprint or training for the Ironman, cycling can quickly become an integral part of your life. The most recent census data suggests over three million Australians ride their bike weekly. There’s even a popular adage: cycling is the new golf. It’s the latest arena for gear-junkies with expendable incomes. And it’s precisely this clientele who buy Bastion Cycles’s custom-built bicycles.
Bastion Cycles was founded by three avid cyclists: Benjamin Schultz, James Woolcock and Dean McGeary. Their Kensington headquarters feel more like SpaceX’s research and development lab than a bicycle workshop. This engineering trio worked together at Toyota’s Melbourne office, designing cars, until being made redundant. They took the opportunity to apply their design savvy to cycling.
“Bastion was really our opportunity to explore both our passion for bikes and advanced engineering. We get to play with all the technologies we are super excited about, but just weren’t an option on a mass-produced Toyota. We’re now using the same technology used in Formula 1 and high-end supercars,” Schultz tells Broadsheet.
This technology is utilised from step one: each bike is computer generated, and put through digital simulations using measurements of the rider-to-be. The joints, or lugs, for each bike are 3D printed in New Zealand in a hermetically sealed, inert-gas environment using titanium powder sourced from the United States. The lugs are then fused with each bike’s carbon-fibre frame, entirely in-house. The physical assembly takes about 40 hours, a synthesis of handmade and computer-aided construction.
“We developed the first commercially available 3D-printed bike in the world,” Schultz says proudly. “We were the first ones to have it fully tested, validated and on the market.”
And they’re beautiful. Sleek and NASA-esque, these bikes are an exemplar of clean design. Bastion’s base frame design costs just under $10,000, which is a competitive price in its field. The rider’s choice of components and custom finishing requests, such as specialised paint jobs, can nearly double that price tag. A custom bike built for a buyer in Dubai features black-gloss lugs, bright gold inlays and a specially designed triangular design on the frame tubes.
But while some of Bastion’s clients desire a bespoke bike replete with luxe finishings and a one-off paint job, the majority just want their custom-fitted bike for a better ride.
“Most of our customers aren’t aggressive athletes,” Schultz explains. “They won’t be riding 800 kilometres a week, but closer to 100 or 200 kilometres. That’s still more than most people, but they’re not professional athletes. They’re enthusiasts – it’s their way of relaxing. They end up on a [race] bike, but they don’t have the flexibility of an athlete.”
With a comprehensive fitting session, Bastion can tweak the geometry of its frames to relieve some of the pressures placed on a rider by racing frame geometry.
Schultz says many of Bastion’s customers have atypical proportions, for which a custom-build is the only permanent solution. When you’re getting fitted for a Bastion design, bike fitter Stewart Morton performs a full medical evaluation, assessing flexibility and mobility. Then you’re placed on an adjustable bike – essentially a template – which is dialled to your exact specifications as you ride in real time. Anyone can have any bike fitted to their needs. Schultz thinks it’s the best entry-level customisation for a cyclist.
“I see a lot of people riding around and I can instantly tell they’re going to end up with a back or knee injury, just based off their positioning … If you get a fitting done, it’s not specific to just that bike. It’s a measurement you can set on any bike from then on. In terms of reducing injuries and being more comfortable on your bike, and making that experience more enjoyable, that’s the best value.”
6 Bakehouse Road, Kensington
0417 311 626
Mon to Fri 10am–5pm
This article was updated on July 27, 2018 at 10.56am.