In loving memory of Ewen Gellie: 1968-2022


That’s how I would describe the small but thriving Australian handmade bicycle scene. The world famous frame builders such as Baum, Llewellyn, Prova and Bastion often compete for the same customer, but sitting together in a room creates an unmistakable sense of camaraderie, teamwork and family.

The Handmade Bicycle Show Australia has always given me this close family atmosphere. Each creator walks their own path, but in many cases they do it together with their fellow Australian builders. Bastion’s 3D printing skill is also seen in bikes from Baum, Prova, Mooro and more. Baum’s extensive knowledge of tube selection and welding has helped train other makers. And Llewellyn’s eye for detail has shown that the art of lugging frames is still very much alive for newer builders to follow.

I fully expect the Handmade Show next weekend to be the usual showcase of Australia’s skilled and very passionate builders, taking the needle one step further. This year, however, will be different with the disappearance of a family member. Ewen Gellie’s infectious smile was ever present in the center of the room — as were his unapologetically functional first steel bikes (first under the Yowie brand and later under Gellie’s own name). His unexpected passing in March had a huge impact on all who were lucky enough to know him.

Below are some loving thoughts from just a few of Ewen’s friends – friends who will be celebrating his life together this year at the Handmade Bicycle Show Australia, a show that Ewen played a major role in.

Although I am incredibly talented as a cyclist, craftsman and environmentalist, I never got away from meeting Ewen and felt less than awe. Every time I adjust my disc brakes I think of the tip he gave me, every time I approached ‘the plank’ at Plenty Gorge I thought of the tip he gave me for emergency dismounting. When I see him now, he gives me more wisdom, in his decidedly Australian twang, generously sharing his knowledge that encompassed a life devoted to engineering, durability and form – on his bike, with a one-handed wheelie.

Strange as it may seem, we once seriously rode together. It was the annual Smiths Gully Christmas ride. Along a fast and flowing section, I found myself behind Ewen’s wheel, captivated by watching his gazelle-esque style on the trail. Once all I needed was to make sure he could support any technical design claim with a grace and prowess that made him win multiple years and disciplines.

Both Ewen and Darrell McCulloch (Llewellyn) were the buzzing bees in my ear that led me to host Australia’s first Custom Bicycle Show. They had both talked about the importance of nurturing the craft of handmade, and as someone passionate about documenting them and displaying their talents to the world, it was a definite match.

Years later, a mutual friend ordered a Gellie gravel bike and wanted a touch more dazzle in the aesthetic than Ewen was known for and enlisted me to help. As an engineer, I felt in the first place that a micrometer, stylized as a (hard) ‘G’ would represent his mantra perfectly. That design became a laser-cut stainless steel head decal and a staple for his future bikes and it’s a privilege to be intertwined with the story of his life’s work.

Although none of us has figured out how to live forever, his steel works live forever and bring joy and delight to their owners.

Thanks for making the world a better place.

Andy White, Fixo

I first met Ewen many years before starting Prova when he repaired an old steel commuter for me. I later came to know him as someone who enjoyed and learned a lot from the process of analyzing and repairing failures on frames around the world, while also keeping people on their bikes.

Years later we got in touch, after I returned to Australia and made my first frames, he invited me to his workshop with a frame to photograph the wind. His genuine and open attitude towards someone looking to start a competitive business in a relatively small market was incredibly nice to encounter. From then on we had many discussions about critical design in lightweight tubular structures such as a bicycle. His passion was intense and he would never shy away from an opportunity to talk about the distribution of stress, and how tube butting was originally designed to achieve this and not to save weight that has become the marketing game over the years. .

I will remember Ewen as someone who was always willing to listen and consider the views of others without shutting them down. His many posts on frame-building forums and Facebook groups were never preachy, but rather encouraged people to think about why things could be the way they are, rather than just spoon-feeding the information. Ewen has been an amazing influence on the custom bike industry, I know I will be tapping tubes to listen to the ring, and I will tell anyone who will listen about the importance of butting for years to come.

Mark Hester, Prova Cycles

He could ride and was cheeky in his own way.

In his early days of serious riding, he saw an opportunity to better engineer his gear. And he did. He modified and built his own frames. He won two national titles on those frames.

From there he developed and defined his mechanical engineering skills. From Uni he went to Holden, Ford and Toyota. And these experiences in his own development formed his simple and honest approach to design.

He respected the country. He regularly proclaimed his ecological and thus political concerns. He shared his values, he wasn’t afraid to say what he believed in.

In 2006 Ewen followed his passions which was to engineer and build his frames, Gellie frames, Hard G, full time. We know Ewen didn’t do things half way, so every step of his process was done by him.

In his studio studio in the hills: machining, manufacturing and even painting. He really understood his craft and loved it. And while he didn’t shine, nor bling as it were, he loved the simple aesthetic of a nice weld. And his end product was and will always be beautiful.

His passion ran deeper than that, he was never absent-minded. As one of the country’s most legendary frame builders and one of the main instigators of what is now the Handmade Bike Show, he believed in the greater good – he shared it with us all. He was a generous friend, a nice guy, a mentor, an environmentalist.

Words are not enough. Ewen you will be missed. You’re missed. Quirks, passion, last minute shots at the bar that always drove me crazy, shared cups of tea and coffee, and all that. May the wind always be at your back.

Nathan Lorkin, founder of Corporate Cycling (the event company that runs the Handmade Show).

Ewen Gellie, 1968-2022.

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