Bikes bikes bikes. Everyone is all about BIKES at the moment aren't they? And a brand new off-the-shelf mountain bike just won't do at all. You really need a bike that looks nothing like anyone else's bike, and in fact ideally one that is completely unrecognisable and not even available to buy in Australia. Like, some obscure model imported from Japan in separate pieces, or perhaps a one-off vintage find which you've painstakingly re-conditioned using parts ordered online from the UK (one piece at a time to avoid import duty).
WELL whilst I can't profess to be much of a cycling expert (I have a bit of a traffic phobia not to mention basic balance and co-ordination issues), I DO know how to make a bike LOOK cute. And without a doubt, my first port of call would be Busyman Bicycles - aka Mick Peel, who works out of his teeny backyard in inner-city Melbourne!
You may remember I included Mick in a little round-up I did for The Age Melbourne Magazine last year... his exquisite custom leatherwork for Melbourne's die-hard fixie crowd is seriously incredible. This is truly some of the most beautiful hand-craftiness I have EVER seen in our clever crafty city!
Mick is self taught, and made his first saddle in 2008 after restoring a bike to commute to work with. (Not much of a commute because he lives in Carlton and works at RMIT!). Before long Mick was hooked customising beautiful bikes - partly through the great pleasure he found in the creative process, and partly through a project related to his PhD which explores the relationship between the bicycle and fashion through design.
Mick has a masters in fashion design (menswear design, garment engineering and pattern making), and worked for many years in the fashion industry before taking on his current role as senior lecturer in fashion design at RMIT University. It seems this background has naturally equipped Mick with the specific skills required for the expert re-covering of bike saddles!
All Busyman projects are documented through Mick's excellent blog - a site which has propelled Busyman Bicycles into a very busy little enterprise! Mick is amazed at the reach of the blog - he’s picked up some quite unusual international jobs, and has even made saddles for legendary UK bike lover / fashion designer Paul Smith! I reckon it’s fair to say Busyman has a bit of cult following these days.
Mick seems like a lovely modest fellow who was at pains to credit his wife Feride for her design input in much of the work he does. Also with a background in fashion, Feride works on the design/style/colour ideas for many of Mick's saddles - “She just gets colour better than I do” he says.
AND if you like to know about RANDOM Melbourne coincidences, you'll be interested to learn that Feride runs the fabulous Maiike store in Hawthorn with Mick's sister Aly! OH my mind is boggling with all this crossover family talent. NICE work guys!