Six years at Hoffy Cycles and I had become severely bored. There was a limit to how many coaster hub rebuilds I could suffer. I made my first two complete frames the year before and now I was restless. I chatted to Eric, I asked if I could do more frame building work, I wanted to do more and develop the frame building side, to make it brighter, newer, promote it, inspired by the Italians and I had that youthful enthusiasm that is yet to be dulled by the passing of many laps around the sun. Eric said , “yes, we will have to something……………..” Six months later no movement, then I jumped at the opportunity to work for another chap who built frames in Brisbane. I was 23 and I had to make the change. Any change would be good, but most importantly I was now making frames all day, which then allowed me to start progressing, on someone else’s time. Even my racing improved. I got my 6” lathe and a mill/drill, both of which I still use today. However a year later that frame making gig went bad, the owner and his partner had issues. Left me in the lurch, but two weeks later I got a job at the “Lifecycle” bike shop on the Normanby five ways. Working there was like working in the middle of a traffic island, no frame making but it was a good job and I had few good mates working there, so it was fun and got me involved with retail. It was some time in 1987 that the thought went into my cranium that it was time. Time to start making some frames under my own steam if I am ever going to make frames again. The first thing I bought in 1988 was my 200kg surface/inspection table. $2,000 was a lot gold coin for me back then. It left me broke and totally impossible to have a social life. But for me I wanted to have precision in the build process, so the most important thing is a good alignment inspection table. It should be the #1 tool in a frame maker’s workshop! I still had to wait till I could start making frames, so it was work full time, work in the evenings making jigs, learning the basics of lathe work (only ran the tool into the chuck once) spend every dollar on more tools and still no real social life. Early 1989 I was close to making my first frame as a registered business. No idea what to call the frames. I wanted something related to me, but not “McCulloch”or “Darrello” or one of the numerous other stupid suggestions put to me. “Llewellyn” my middle name, there that will do and I struggled to remember how to spell it. I liked having something that was not main stream but connected to me. So “Llewellyn Custom Bicycles” was registered as a sole proprietor and frame number 001 was made.
I made frames at night when not training or racing, worked on frames on weekends and worked full time during the week at the bike shop. I did start to have a social life, but a few wrong turns along the way, crash and burn etc. A few crash and burns is good for you eh!
I raced, got married. Stopped racing, worked part time in the shop and the other 3-4 days made frames. I had orders flowing. Made a lot of track frames, and 99% were racing bikes. Then I was a bachelor again, so I went to France with some mates and started racing before I was too old and to completely get it out of my system. Age 29-30. That was a great experience, I am very grateful I got to do a couple of seasons racing village races in France. Back to making frames in the summer and working at the bike shop. Came home from France after the 1994 season broke, with glandular fever but did I not know I had it then, got a fulltime job as the road cycling mechanic at the Australian Institute of Sport and with the national team. Lived in Canberra and in Europe. Worked the Worlds and the Atlanta Olympics. Washed Aussie team bikes in 23 countries. Came home, worked in bike shops and made frames and did 6-8 months stints till the Sydney Olympics and the worlds in 2000, now that was a big year. After the big year of 2000 it was time to stay home and ponder what is next