We Are Explorers are big fans of bikepacking, heck we’re founded by a bloke who cycled 38,000km from London to Sydney. We’ve hooked up with three artisan Aussie makers producing the goods to get you on, or off, the road.

The Rise of Bikepacking

Bikepacking has enjoyed a huge rise in popularity over the last few years. Many of the bigger bike brands now producing quality bikes and bags. No doubt, these are a great place to start.

You could probably walk into your local bike shop tomorrow and ride out the door on a brand new steed fully equipped with a couple of bags for your gear.

However, if you like your gear a little more custom, a little more niche, and a little more ‘Made in Australia’, then you’re in luck.

Australia’s home to many cottage manufacturers who are producing top-notch bikepacking gear – we’re bringing you three of them to get you started.

Read more: The Faces Behind Handmade Aussie Ultralight Gear – The Maker Series

Framework Designs

Working from her studio in Melbourne, Tia has transitioned from textile designer to bike bag maker and now focuses on Framework Designs full time. She’s a maker, designer, rider, and spreadsheet lover, creating bags for people who want to get outside and immerse themselves in nature.

 

Aussie Adventure Makers / Bikepacking Edition by Mattie Gould, photo by Framework designs, workshop

Mattie: Where did it all start for Framework Designs?

Tia: Just before a trip to Japan with my partner Joel. I was pretty confident that it wouldn’t be too hard to make the bags we wanted to take with us. So, we bought some canvas and I sewed us up a few simple handlebar and saddlebags (on my tiny little domestic sewing machine, mind you).

Mattie: What’s it like to run your own bike bag business?

Tia: At the moment I’m doing every stage of production from cutting the canvas to hammering in the press-studs. I always knew I wanted to be creating things for a living, but I don’t think I’d ever have guessed they’d end up being bike bags!

Designing a new product, drawing up the pattern pieces, and then seeing it come together is my favourite part of Framework Designs.

The thing about running a small business though, as many people can relate to, is that the ‘making’ often ends up being a much smaller part of the big picture than you think.

You end up spending a lot of time emailing, coordinating materials, making spreadsheets… the list goes on! I weirdly enjoy making spreadsheets though. I have one for everything.

Mattie: What do you find most difficult and most rewarding about what you do?

Tia: Working for yourself is equal parts challenging and awesome. The thing I find hardest is probably battling my own demons and self-doubt. I spend the majority of each week alone in the studio. So you can imagine it’s pretty easy to get wrapped up in your own thoughts and forget to take a step back and see the bigger picture.

 

Aussie Adventure Makers / Bikepacking Edition by Mattie Gould, photo by Framework designs, bike bag

Mattie: You make adventure gear, where do you like to go to test it out?

Tia: We (Joel and I… and Iris our dog) are in such a great spot at the moment. We’re about 5 minutes from The Yarra Trails so we don’t need to go far to get off the beaten track. We’re definitely trying to make the most of it before we have to move again… the joys of renting!

Getting away for longer rides and weekenders are high on the priority list – especially for Joel, who’s done a lot of touring and bike packing in his time.

A few places we’ve ridden together are the Grampians, Murray-Sunset, The Goldfields Track, Plenty Gorge, and trails through the Yarra Valley.

Mattie: What’s next for Framework Designs?

Tia: We’re heading to New Zealand at the end of October, with the bikes of course, so I’m pretty damn excited about that!

There are also several new products that are very close to being released – I can’t wait because they’ve been in the works for a long time.

The Handlebar Snack Pack will be the first of these and I can confirm there will be various different sizes coming. We also have some pretty flashy canvas colours that I’ll slowly be rolling out (pardon the pun) in the next few months too.

Find out more – Framework Designs | @framework.designs

Kumo Cycles

To put it simply, Keith builds steel frame bikes. But bike building is so much more than that.

Aussie Adventure Makers / Bikepacking Edition by Mattie Gould, photo by Kumo Cycles, Keith workshop

Mattie: Are you a maker? How would you describe what you do?

Keith: I am a maker, maybe more specifically a craftsman, pushing my work as far as it’ll go. I live my craft, I’ll keep being better till I’m dead and buried!

Building steel bicycle frames for a living requires many skills, machinist, brazer, welder, aesthete, R&D guy, salesperson, workshop assistant, marketing, etc etc!

Mattie: Why adventure bikes?

Keith: I’ve been building steel bicycle frames for 8 years now. I started building high-end road and track bikes. However, my history growing up in the country backing onto the gnarly and wondrous Monga National Park drew me back to my favourite style of riding: wilderness exploration, adventure, and camping.

The first prototype adventure frames that I built quickly generated a following and a market and now that’s the direction of my business.

Mattie: You’ve recently moved workshops, how’s the new space?

Keith: I’ve just moved my workshop from Canberra to rural NSW, near Braidwood. I’m in a massive shed backing on to Monga NP, tucked away on a 100-acre forest block. I’m 100% solar-powered now which has long been a dream of mine!

My favorite tool? Depends on the day, depends on the job! My brazing torch is pretty rad, enabling me to melt metal and fuse bicycle tubing. But my 1946 Swiss clockmaker’s lathe is probably the nicest tool to use, so well made.

 

Aussie Adventure Makers / Bikepacking Edition by Mattie Gould, photo by Adam Lee, Keith water-crossing

Mattie: You make adventure gear, where do you like to go to test it out?

Keith: I love getting out bush and testing my shit. The Kumo RADdonneur had cumulatively over 35,000km of crazy adventurous testing behind it before the final version was even completed.

I love heading up to the NSW high country, and also my local Monga and Budawang national parks. Wherever it’s remote, tough, and incredibly beautiful

Mattie: Which bike are you most proud of so far?  

Keith: The RADdonneur frameset, so much thought, and testing to reach what is a nicely refined and versatile product.

Mattie: What’s next for Kumo Cycles?

Keith: Navigating the amazing and new adventure of being a dad! I’ll also be working on two new prototype framesets, each set up for a more niche use than the RADdonneur – watch this space.

Find out more – Kumo Cycles | @kumocycles

Hungry Bike Bags

Harry is Hungry, or perhaps that should read Hungry is Harry?! After working as a bike messenger, and then in an office, Harry realised that the 9 to 5 wasn’t for him. So last year, he quit his job, taught himself to sew, and has been loving it ever since.

 

Aussie Adventure Makers / Bikepacking Edition by Mattie Gould, photo by Hungry Bikes, hungry bike bags

Mattie: Describe your workshop? What’s your favourite tool?

Harry: I was in a warehouse space in Alexandria last year which was sweet. But a couple of hail storms kind of tore the place to shreds, so we were out earlier this year. Now I’m in the garage at home in Marrickville. It’s like a 15-second commute from my bedroom, which is possibly a bit too convenient.

My favourite tool (sewing nerd incoming) is my compound feed cylinder arm synchronised binder. It’s an absolute unit and the cylinder arm means it’s suuuper convenient to move a bag around. If I had to choose just one machine I think it’d be that bad boy.

I also got an eyelet press pretty recently and immediately put eyelets in almost everything. The novelty of eyelets will never get old.

Mattie: You make adventure gear, where do you like to go to test it out?

Harry: Anywhere! I like to think of a lot of my stuff as adventure gear that doesn’t look too much like adventure gear. Comfortable on and off the beaten track I suppose?

That being said, whenever we can, we do get out of the city and try and cover everything in as much dirt and dust as possible…

We’re pretty frequently heading into the Blue Mountains and Royal National Park which is the easiest spot for us to hit for a nice day walk. Mardel and I also rode the Mawson Trail in SA back in March which was extremely dry and dusty (but obviously real nice).

 

Aussie Adventure Makers / Bikepacking Edition by Mattie Gould, photo by Hungry Bikes, hungry bike bags lunch

Mattie: Which product are you most proud of to date?  

Harry: That’s a tough one! I think maybe The Big Lunch? It’s not particularly high tech or flashy, but it’s a super practical and useful bum bag/fanny pack. It’s (this is gonna sound weird to some, for sure) kind of beautiful in its simplicity – I think, anyway… I also really like making them which obviously helps.

Mattie: What’s next for Hungry?

Harry: Good question! I am absolutely just making this up as I go along. That being said, I’ve got a sweet new bikepacking/MTB/adventure bum bag/fanny pack (can you detect a theme here?) in the works. That’s gonna be real nice, keep your eyes peeled for that one. Backpacks are definitely on the list too but that’s a bit longer term I think…

Bigger picture – I guess I should move out of the garage at some point too, ha!

I’m at my happiest making people’s orders, since each product is a reflection of myself. The fact that people like them enough to support what I’m doing is always a humbling and exciting feeling!

Find out more – Hungry | @h_ngry

Read more: The Faces Behind Handmade Aussie Ultralight Gear – The Maker Series