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Bicycling Australia Show

Sydney, Australia, October 21-23, 2005

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Part 1 - Homegrown hardware from Baum, Leggera-Teschner & Knog

By John Stevenson

Over the weekend of October 21-23 the Bicycling Australia show was the annual opportunity for the Australian bike industry to get together, hang out, do a little business and display its wares to dealers and rider.

As you might expect at a show coming toward the end of the August-October trade show season, there wasn't much that we hadn't already seen at Eurobike, EICMA, Interbike and London, but there was a significant mount of interesting stuff from local companies, plus the chance to catch up with a few folks whom we'd missed in the insanity of the bigger busier shows. And with summer coming to Australia as the winter begins to bite in the northern hemisphere we weren't too surprised to bump into a few industry figures who'd decided a few days in warmer climes sounded like a good idea!

For starters, we'll look at a few of the homegrown Australian companies that had new and interesting stuff at the show.

Baum & Reynolds

Baum's Reynolds 953 frame
Photo ©: John Stevenson
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I'm going to kick off with my personal highlight of the show: Reynolds' new 953 stainless steel tubing, as built into a frame by Melbourne's Baum Cycles. Like just about every British rider my age (late 30's, thanks for asking) my first decent bike was made from Reynolds 531 steel, so I have a soft spot for the Birmingham, England tube maker.

However, the rush to build lighter and lighter frames has left steel behind in recent years. Aluminium and then carbon fiber have been the materials of choice for riders seeking a very light frame. Reynolds launched its 953 tubing just a couple of weeks ago and if it delivers on its promise it will put steel back in consideration. At the Bicycling Australia show, Baum had on display what the company's Jo Banks believes is one of just three 953 frames in the world at the moment (the other two tubesets went to Boston, USA builder Independent Fabrications). The weight: 1000g.

Baum's Jo Banks told Cyclingnews that this prototype frame was built to the exact same dimensions as "a well-known titanium company's 800g frame." In other words, this is a weight for a smallish 'medium' sloping frame.

Baum Ristretto Ti
Photo ©: John Stevenson
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By any measure, a 1000g steel frame is a jaw-dropping achievement. What's made it possible is the extremely high strength of this new material, which Reynolds describes as a "maraging stainless steel, specially manufactured for Reynolds by Carpenter SpecialtyAlloys, USA". 'Maraging' is a hardening and strengthening treatment applied to a class of high-nickel steels. After it's been treated, the ultimate tensile strength of 953 is 1750 to 2050MPa, depending on exactly how long it spends in the over and at what temperature. The strongest steels in widespread use before 953 - air-hardening steels such as Reynolds own 853 - had ultimate tensile strengths of 1200-1400 MPa,while good grades of regular chromoly run 900-1000MPa. A stronger material means you can use less of it, of course, and 953 has tube walls as thin as 0.3mm.

Reynolds admits it's not a frame design company - it makes tubes. It's therefore working with companies such as Baum, and Independent Fabrication to fine-tune the tube design of the 953 set. The advantage of the new material, according to Banks, will not be "stiffness or weight but strength. All steel is the same weight and stiffness but this is twice as strong." That will allow builders like Baum to make ultra-light steel frames that are still durable. As 953 is a stainless steel it will also have the advantage of being corrosion-resistant and being able to dispense with the paint.

Tidy welding
Photo ©: John Stevenson
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Banks estimates that a Baum frame in Reynolds 953 will cost about AU$4,000, which is comparable with the company's plain gauge titanium frames - but lighter.

Speaking of titanium, Baum also displayed the Ristretto Ti frame it announced at last year's Bicycling Australia show. In butted Reynolds 6Al/4V titanium with carbon fiber seatstays this is very much one of those 'lifetime' frames and will set you back AU$5215 with an Easton EC90SL fork.

Leggera - Teschner

Teschner track frame
Photo ©: John Stevenson
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Back in August Gold Coast carbon specialist Leggera International and renowned Coffs Harbour aluminium builder Teschner Bikes announced plans to merge as Leggera-Teschner International. This year's round of trade shows has seen them exhibiting together for the first time, starting at Eurobike back in August.

The collaboration between Peter Teschner's frame design expertise and the contacts of Leggera's Paul Farrell with carbon fiber manufacturers is already beginning to bear fruit, with two new models taking pride of place at the BA show.

We're suckers for the simplicity and purposefulness of a nice track bike, and the Leggera project code-named 'Pista' has turned out to be a very clean track bike under the Teschner banner - which makes sense as dozens of top Australian track riders have ridden Teschner bikes over the years. A frame and fork will cost AU$3490.

Leggera Sirocco up close
Photo ©: John Stevenson
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Also new at the show was the Sirocco, a carbon fiber frame that's a little less spendy than Leggera's flagship Piuma. With a mostly-Ultegra spec, a Sirocco is a very reasonable AU$4,499.

Knog

Knog Toad
Photo ©: John Stevenson
Click for larger image

Most people don't realize that the makers of the very nifty Knog Frog LED lights are Australian, but in fact Knog is a branch of Melbourne's Catalyst Design Group, whose activities cover the whole design range from Knog's lights and bike bags to contract design for NEC, architectural and interior design and more. Catalyst was even responsible for the redesign a few years ago of an Australian icon, the Esky cool box.

With this heavyweight design background it's no surprise that Knog's stuff has whizzed round the world incredibly quickly in the three short years since it first introduced its Bello hardshell backpacks.

New from Knog at the BA show was the Toad, a multiple-LED front light with an inbuilt strap so you can just wrap it round your bars and go.

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by John Stevenson/Cyclingnews.com

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