A little bit of elbow grease and a whole lot of rust-proof paint has turned a collection of old bikes into the latest mode of touring transport. Collette Swindells takes a vintage spin around Melbourne
Set up late last year by Matthew Hurst, The Humble Vintage aims to acquaint locals and travellers with the sights of Melbourne, through its fleet of newly renovated wheels, and quarterly insider-guided maps*.
Hurst says he recognised the need for comfortable and affordable rentals in Melbourne, after seeing all-terrain mountain bikes replaced by alternatives overseas.
“Melbourne is a very bike-friendly city, and it is something that is growing, not just here, but also in Sydney and all over the place,” he says.
Keith Trovatello, from the Melbourne Bicycle Centre, says that the recent trend for retro-fitting old road bikes has seen their repair business expand significantly in the last 12 or 18 months.
“About 15 to 20 per cent of the market is now old-school vintage bikes. We have a lot of people finding old road bikes and fitting them with new big bars, and big seats, and using them to go around the city,” he says.
Trovatello adds that until relatively recently, there was a real gap in the market for vintage-style frames and that manufacturers have only just started to catch up with the demand.
But while big brands like Masi, Mongoose and Schwinn have released newer versions of the old favourites, Hurst says he is still planning to keep re-energising the old ones, and expand his business into Sydney and country Victoria.
And with five locations around the CBD and inner-city suburbs since starting last September, it is no wonder he is finding it increasingly hard to keep up with the demand.
The Humble Vintage
Image above: Jackson Casagrande
*Send a self-addressed envelope to PO Box 361 East Melbourne VIC 8002 for a copy of Hurst’s Melbourne for Visitors and Casual Cyclists