Give us your elevator pitch; who is Loop Cycles and how did it start?
G’day I’m Olson. I studied engineering fabrication and industrial design and have worked in the cycling industry for over a decade. Loop Cycles was founded in 2015 and combines my passion for cycling, design and fabrication.
From a Brunswick-based workshop in Melbourne, the name Loop Cycles reflects my operating manifesto. I view the design, prototyping, testing, manufacturing, and end-of-product life stages together with customer interaction and feedback as a loop. My logo symbolises the human hands involved in crafting products.
I aim to foster a brand and community that supports and celebrates the things we love about cycling culture. Loop Cycles embodies tenets such as: environmental responsibility, community inclusion and empowerment, art, healthy lifestyles and mindsets.
You’ve got a few different frames on offer, can you talk us through them?
Our design ethos values simplicity and specificity.
All our titanium bikes have been developed specifically for their owners around considerations of fit, riding style and intended use. Many riders have come to us with a specific vision for how they plan to use the bike, whether that’s a race or a dream touring trip.
Design considerations are made to enhance the rider’s experience from the information gained.
The Tangram 29er was the first model we released. It’s intended to be a rigid 29” mountain bike that is fast and fun. It’s worth noting all our core models rely on geometry that hits certain sweet spots to make the bikes ride great, but we do not have fixed geometry. If you’re 6ft-plus with a lot of power but poor flexibility or a sub 5ft contortionist, we’ll take this into consideration when designing the bike.
The Tangram is a standout option for the single track and more adventurous off-road touring.
The All Road Tourer (ART) is a 700c drop bar touring bike with clearance for 40c tyres. It’s fast enough to set out on a bunch ride that includes some gravel and it’s comfortable enough to load with panniers for an adventure that goes further afield. It is equally comfortable touring through the mountains of Japan or hustling through the streets of Melbourne.
Have you ever wondered if your bike would be suitable to ride a given route?
The HereNow was designed to erase this question from your mind. It’s a drop bar bike with big clearances and a big appetite for fun. Take the HereNow anywhere you’re game to.
More recently, we had a limited run of flat bar 4130 double butted steel commuter/gravel prototypes made in stock sizes (S, M and L). We’ve been sitting on these for two years with the view of releasing our first complete bike that can be assembled and ridden out of the box.
Steel (modern alloy steels) have developed immensely since the gas pipe bikes of yesteryear. The ride quality is great and they appeal on a number of levels relating to sustainability, from extraction to life-cycle costs to durability. I plan to develop more in this space.
What excites you about the AUS/NZ bikepacking scene and how would you like to see the scene change?
Australia is a big country and the events that encourage people to begin exploring and appreciating our own backyard are great. I love all the peripheral knowledge and experience people can develop through bikepacking. Lewis Ciddor is doing some terrific work in promoting the Indigenous place names that the Victorian Divide traverses and earmarking a registration allocation for underrepresented minorities.
It’s typical to see technology and behaviours from racing trickle down to become more pervasive. For the most part this is great but it does come with complexity. The boom in composite race products, electronic gearing and motors serves many riders very well. They can improve our riding experience and even act to afford greater accessibility to trails for a broader user group.
At the same time, we need to educate consumers to make conscious product decisions that maintain the ethos of environmental responsibility that is so core to the bikepacking scene. Planned obsolescence where products break down prematurely, become unfashionable or are discontinued is a risk. I’d like to see the industry be held more accountable for its sustainability claims. A lot of the smaller manufacturers and designers are doing great things in this space because they are so connected to their manufacturing processes – plenty of examples are featured in the Desire Lines series!
Where’s your favourite place your gear has taken you? Or that someone has taken your gear?
For a small company our bikes have seen some remarkable undertakings by some very spirited riders. To name a few “local” events, we’ve had riders set out on Race to the Rock, The Tassie Gift, The Vic Divide, and the Hunt 1000. Going further afield, the Tour Divide has seen a Loop make a run for the border.
Aside from races or organised bikepacking events we’ve set some legends up for bike tours in Japan, Chile, around Australia and through Europe.
One of the standout journeys I’ve taken was the Tour du Mont Blanc, traversing France, Italy and Switzerland. Staying in the mountain refuges meant carried gear had to be kept to a minimum while getting squiggly coming down the mountain passes could be maximised.
You’ve got a set of handlebars on your site, any plans for more handlebars or other bikepacking accessories?
The Loop handlebars were designed to open up more positions on the bike. Comfort and control were key design targets. We’ve been very lucky to have some really talented riders take them up and Commuter Cycles has taken delivery of some stock.
We have plans for more products which will be launched next year. We have invested in more tooling and have been quietly working on a number of projects in house. Keep your eyes peeled.
What’s next for Loop Cycles?
We have some designs which are now in the prototyping and testing phase. We’ve also increased our tooling and in-house manufacturing capacity to create more products here in Melbourne. To date, a lot of the things that have been shown to the public have been made by some really talented manufacturers overseas. This has become more complicated with the pandemic and supply chain disruptions. In saying that, the vision was always to push what we can execute locally. I exist as a real human in a real workshop. I complete bicycle repair and fabrication work by appointment and plan to strengthen and expand my local offerings.
Any other Aussie/NZ makers, creators and scene builders you want to shout out:
All the framebuilders and brands I was inspired by as a teenager. A glimpse of Australia’s rich design and manufacturing history in cycling can be seen in the works of Llewellyn, Gefsco, Perkins, and bikes as dramatic and diverse as the RMIT superbike and Gellie’s AusPost bike. There’s plenty of truly talented framebuilders of yesteryear, and heaps of established and emerging builders and business to take inspiration from.
Local cycling clubs and groups like Melbourne Durt who provide training and promote inclusion are of huge value as are good local bike shops!
A key thing to remember is that cycling is about so much more than cycling so I’d like to thank all the artists that draw inspiration from their rides, the vibe bringers in the grupetto with the essential rubbish talk, the bakers that bring snacks to share, and anyone else who is happy to share a smile as well as “the road”.