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Treadlie Street - Mick Peel

18th June, 2012
Jenny Butler
Monday 18th June 2012

Today we welcome Treadlie Magazine to the Guest Blog! Treadlie is a Melbourne-based print publication dedicated to bike lovers who are passionate about design, fashion and bike culture, both locally and internationally.  We're so excited that Managing Editor Tamsin O'Neill has created this series about bike loving folks, starting today with Mick Peel of Busyman Bicycles. - Jenny x

'Treadlie Street' styler - Mick Peel!  Photo by Mario Borg

We're really excited to be the guest bloggers for the week. It was really tricky figuring out what to show you all because over past 18 months we’ve seen some awesome bike stuff, and met some amazing bike enthusiasts thanks to our bike mag, Treadlie.

One of our favourite sections of the magazine is Treadlie St. Generally we photograph random people on the street and ask them a standard set of questions. We get some surprisingly interesting answers. For our week on TDF we thought we’d stick to bike riders who are also designers of some sort, so we added some other questions to the mix.

Today we present Mick Peel who also features in our current Treadlie issue #7.


Mick Peel, a Senior Lecturer in Fashion Design at RMIT University and maker of custom leather components for bicycles, from Carlton in Melbourne.


Many of my clothes are hand-me-downs from my sister, including these vintage Levi jeans and old tailored jacket from Savers. I also have on my favourite old leather work boots and a wool jersey top I recently made for myself.

Some of Mick's fantastic leatherwork created under the name Busyman Bicycles. Photos by Carol Whitehead.

Your bike?

The bike pictured above one of my six bikes – the frame was a hard rubbish find, along with the bars and stem. It's a Master Sports built by Motor Spares. I had the wheels built using some handmade Italian wooden rims and a couple of old steel hubs floating around my backyard. The brakes are coaster/back pedal and I had the stem, bars and cranks chrome-plated. The leatherwork on the saddle and handle bar tape are by me - Busyman Bicycles. It's a nice bike for cruising around on but also goes pretty fast thanks to the drop bars and relatively high gear.

Why ride?

It's extremely convenient, independent, relaxing, therapeutic, exercise. So in a nutshell, I guess it keeps me sane.

Favourite ride?

it’s the 70 km 'Research Loop' which I ride some Saturday mornings with a group of friends on carbon bikes and dressed up in body-hugging cycling kit. It wears me out but I enjoy the hills.

While riding you...?

I think about coffee... And what I need to do when I reach my destination. I always seem to be busy, hence the name Busyman.

Mick's workspace - Photo by Carol Whitehead

Where does the inspiration for your saddle designs come from?

Ideas for how a saddle might be re-covered come together from a range of different sources. The form of the saddle itself sets up possibilities and limitations as to what I could do. Complex forms which need intricate pattern cutting and panelled seams offer fewer options for decorative applications while simpler forms with larger areas work well as an open canvas to apply motif and pattern work in a variety of techniques.

Inspiration comes from the overall feel of the bike for which the saddle is intended. In some cases I do the saddle and handle bar tape to match back to a multi-coloured paint scheme, sometimes the leatherwork is used to bring an accent to the bike by introducing a highlight colour imbuing a sense of timeless traditional craftsmanship often associated with the natural leather colour.

My clients usually have an idea of the kind of design they would like. I think of myself as a bespoke craftsman designer who helps people realise the vision they have for their bicycle. I might propose a design myself or guide my clients through the process of designing based on my experience of the materials, techniques and functionality. Ultimately I am aiming for a fully functional and utilitarian outcome that is not compromised by its design.

Mike aka Busyman working with leather - Photo by Carole Whitehead

Where do you source your leather and the original saddles?

There are two leather merchants in Melbourne from whom I source the majority of my materials. I have also recently started sourcing kangaroo leather from a tannery in Queensland. I have had a few interesting requests to recover saddles in leather supplied by the client including a Selle SMP using ostrich leg leather and I’m currently using the leather salvaged from a basketball to cover a bifurcated Selle Italia saddle for a former basketball player.

Whenever there is a bicycle swap meet on in Melbourne I try to pick up a few old saddles. I have become more and more selective in the saddle I choose as I have learned to identify quality and pieces that are structurally unsound. In most cases though my clients provide their own saddle for recovering. Occasionally the saddle they provide is brand new, sometimes it’s their favourite saddle they have been riding for years and sometimes it’s a retro piece they’ve picked up on Ebay.

Which is the favourite of your six bikes and why?

I cannot really answer this one, all of my bikes are favourites for different reasons. The first fixie I did is a favourite because it’s so classic looking and simply because it’s the first bike I rebuilt and customised and in a way was the beginning of Busyman Bicycles.

I love my second fixie because it’s really comfortable to ride, in a way it’s probably a bit out of fashion now with its red Velocity Deep V rims but I kind of like that about it. It has my fanciest saddle on it which I initially made a for a shoot in The Age’s Melbourne Magazine.

I have a step though shopping bike that’s pieced together from all kinds of mismatched bits and pieces. It’s really practical in that it has two cane baskets and mud guards. Great for shopping and wet weather.

The list goes on, there are two road bikes, one steel and one carbon fibre and an old Master Sports path racer I found in the gutter in Kensington which I rebuilt as a single speed with wooden rims.

Ultimately though I think my favourite bike is going to be my next bike.

- Treadlie

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email