Darrell McCulloch from Llewellyn Custom Bicycles spills the beans on how he got started building custom bikes

Out the back of bespoke bike frame builder Darrell McCulloch’s suburban Brisbane workshop, roams the most contented Eastern Water Dragon you’ll ever find. Animals feature prominently in and around the Llewellyn Custom Bicycles workshop, one of Darrell’s popular lug sets is named after a local bird, the Manorina. The sound of the Manorina, more commonly known as the Bellbird is one of Darrell’s favourite sounds which accompanies bike riders up and down Brisbane’s Mount Nebo.

Darrell’s fascination with sports started out with running, as a teenager he quickly progressed to bike racing and was immediately hooked on being a bike mechanic and frame builder. As a teenager, Darrell saw a world of possibility when he read about a pro race mechanic …“spending his life in hotels and washing bikes in car parks”. Thirty five years on Darrell has travelled with the Australian Institute of Sport to twenty three different countries, working as a team mechanic. Darrell’s fastidious eye for detail sometimes drives his colleagues mad, yet this trait is what’s driven Darrell to produce some of the most sought after bespoke bikes on the market. Now Darrell produces his own custom lug sets including the Manorina lugs and markets his customised frame building products to frame builders around the globe.

Darrell McCulloch proud creator of Llewellyn Custom Bicycles

Darrell McCulloch proud creator of Llewellyn Custom Bicycles

Darrell recently built a bespoke Randonneur for himself. The Llewellyn dragon had to share it’s lair with me, at the bottom of Darrell’s garden, while I photographed the pinnacle of thirty five years development in bespoke frame building. Afterwards Darrell told me exactly how he learnt to design his own lug sets and why other frame builders love them. For those of you who need to know every small detail, Darrell explains step by step how he builds the most durable, reliable bikes available today. If you’ve ever wondered what makes the difference between a bike that handles well and doesn’t shimmy and shake when you ride it over any small bump in the road, Darrell talks about alignment and how to get a permanent reliable result, delivering a bike that’s a delight to ride.

The Llewellyn Lizard an Eastern Water Dragon I. l. lesueurii

The Llewellyn Lizard an Eastern Water Dragon I. l. lesueurii

What was your motivation to start racing bikes and then as I understand at about the same time, begin thinking about the mechanical side of cycle sport?

I left school at the end of 1978, worked as a storeman and packer, I was in athletics, I wanted to try bike racing and fell in love with it. By 1979 I ended up getting a job with Eric Hendren the frame builder at Hoffy Cycles. At the age of sixteen I had decided I wanted to be a craftsman, someone who does something with their hands and I’ve been suffering ever since! In 1978, here in Australia you didn’t have much choice with bicycle magazines but in the 1970’s you got International Cycle Sport by mail order from the UK. You’d be busting to see the latest instalment with those graphic pictures of Roger de Vlaeminck, Moser all those blokes. Bicycling Magazine came from America, I had just two magazines in 1978 that I could afford to buy. I was broke because I was paying back a loan for a bike I bought, which replaced one that got stolen. In that magazine was an article about some blokes that built bicycle frames and also a story about an American team mechanic who talked about spending his life in hotels and washing bikes in car parks. I always wanted to do something with my hands, it just started from there.

So I left school as soon as I could and went and ordered a bike frame from Eric Hendren to try bike racing, then joined a bike racing club. (Hamilton Amateur Wheelers) I was already fit from running in cross country racing and track training. When I joined the club I went pretty well because I was super fit from all the running. Some bloke from the club said learn to pedal, so I set my bike up and trained for some time on 68” inch fixed. I liked bike racing, and my then coach helped me ask Eric Hendren for a job at Hoffy Cycles. I rode down there on a Thursday night when it was a quiet time at the shop, so Eric said sure but you won’t be a frame builder to start with, you’ve got to fix this “rubbish” his exact words were “it should be thrown to the tip”. So I learnt how to do three speed Sturmey Archer hubs, Shimano coaster hubs, I could do it all blind folded, everything, we fixed bikes we didn’t throw them away, we fixed everything. We fixed bent frames and re-sprayed them, Eric came from an era where everything they sold was made in the shop, the kiddies bikes right through to the racing bikes.

This was a very good grounding for me in the bike trade. Eric was a good boss and patient.

How did the transition begin into frame building?

I was really keen, I bought myself a little lathe and I was teaching myself metal work. Eric’s methods weren’t changing, but bike frame technology was, from investment casting, methods and different tooling.  I was into learning as much as I could so I self funded my own frame building education. People ask me who taught me, they say Eric, well yes Eric did teach me a fair bit, I might have started close to his style, but I don’t build frames anything like Eric did, no where near it. I worked for Eric close to six and a half years and then I was getting bored.

Did you ever build frames side by side with Eric?

grand prix des nations

Grand Prix des Nations

No first of all I’d just work on getting punctures repaired, lace wheels, build wheels, service the hubs, stuff like that. By my own motivations I learnt to cut lugs. In those days Eric had a lot of Tange lugs, big boxes of them, I’d take them home and I’d cut the playing cards into them, I used to get paid fifteen dollars to do a set of those. I had a little vice in the corner of my bedroom so with a pistol drill, some jewellers files and away I would go, that way after work I’d make some extra pocket money. Payed for my racing tyres. At the shop I helped Eric file frames, prepare frames for painting, I started doing some repairs like pulling tubes out, putting braze on’s on, all that sort of caper. I wanted to do more, I was getting sick of doing repairs, same old same old. Nothing more to learn there. I said to Eric I was bored, and he just kept on saying “we’ll do something about that”. I was twenty three and getting a bit “itchy”, so I went and worked for Brett Richardson the Berretto bicycles frame builder, then I was just full steam ahead with only building frames, this suited me, I was like a pig in mud. I’d build the cheap frames at night so I could earn some extra money to buy my first lathe and that first milling machine. Crikey I worked long days, 7.00am till 10.00 pm but I would have Sunday off.

Was Brett’s frame building technique something that influenced you?

Yes, I refined Brett’s techniques, I always wanted to go further, better quality, better alignments, I was always learning and improving. Brett was painting the frames, I think he painted them better than Eric at that stage. There were some brazing techniques that Brett did that were better than Eric’s, but I wanted to do it better, I’ve always been hard on myself. I bash my head on the wall on small details at times!  This annoys others!

It shows in your work.

Over the years the clientele have associated my work with respect and value, I’ve been at it for thirty five years now and I don’t really need to do much marketing. I’ve always got another frame to make. I have always approached my work with the attitude “Let the fit and metal work give the client value for their hard earned dollars.” The word gets around.

You ended up out on your own after working for Brett.

I had to leave due to a partnership problem between Brett and the co-owner, which was pretty sad for me at the time, so I started working for Mike at Lifecycle and then later for Blair Stockwell when he bought the shop, mainly as a mechanic. I wanted to start frame building for myself in 1988, but I also wanted to race the Golden West Tour that year, so I concentrated on racing that year, rode the Golden West Tour then the Aussie road titles at Chandler. I didn’t even have any tyres to use for that race, I had a pair of Vittoria Pista tyres left, so I stuck on a set of track tyres . Once that was out of the way I concentrated on getting my jig together and ordering the alignment table and all that sort of stuff. The first Llewellyn frame I made was early in 1989 for Blair Stockwell. I used to build them in my parent’s garage, push the car in and out so I had room to move. I made benches and got a mill/drill, I was selling my frames at the shop and working after hours to build them. It was hard, on my mind and body. Then I went part time frame building, it was simple and probably the best way you could do it. Working at the shop paid the house hold bills while the frame building caper was becoming established.

Eventually you stopped working for Blair and went out on your own building frames.

Tour de Limousin

Tour de Limousin

I’d built a following in New Zealand and things were going well, so I asked Blair about selling direct and it wasn’t a problem. Which is how Richard Sachs inspired me and I think it’s the biggest mistake Australian frame builders have made … they never had the confidence, skills or understanding to sell direct themselves, instead of building a frame and it’s just a client number then selling to a shop, the shop makes more profit than the builder and what did the shop do, just took the order. A lot of Australian frame builders did that and  they tried to compete on price and so it was a downhill slide till they folded. Some of their stuff they turned out was pretty rough. It was too cheap and degraded the value of what was possible by Aussie builders.

After I went direct I continued part time for a while and due to a few of life’s things occurring to me, I decided to go and race in France! I had a great time racing over there with Luke Stockwell and James Nitis for a couple of seasons. Finally I came back to Australia after living like a vagabond, I used to live at a friend’s place as my parents place was just two blocks away with all my frame building gear still sitting in the garage, waiting. I would come home from France, work at the shop a bit, build frames and train.

But you didn’t go back to full time frame building right then either?

This job came up with the Australian Institute of Sport working as head road mechanic alongside Heiko Salzweidel. I did two seasons with Heiko, it was tough. What he expected of us and how he did it meant that the programme was spread too thin. Three teams when there should have been two, that’s how it got into financial problems. But he did good things, he changed it from the joke that is was into a proper setup, but we never had a home base in Europe. We were just vagabonds living out of suitcases. I’d do a race at Slovakia and then I’d drag my suitcase and go straight to a tour in Germany, Switzerland or wherever. I’d get a day off here or there, but you’d be stuck in a hotel somewhere in Germany and it would be raining, what were you going to do. A lot of reading. If there was a base to go back to, it would have been more like home. Eventually after the Heiko days we had a base in Germany and then Italy and I’d spend my spare time making model gliders out of balsa wood and running to keep fit.

Heiko would get stressed and vent it out on us. I had two years with Heiko and in the car on the way to the Atlanta Olympic road race he was going off his nut at me and I resigned there and then. I finished the year out with the team and came back to Brisbane. The year before I did the world championships and I was the only mechanic, only one, now they take three or four.

At the end of that Olympic year I went home, but at the Tour de L’Avenir in France Heiko tried to convince me to stay on. I said “no I don’t need this job, I can make more money at home”. Then James Victor got the job as the women’s coach, so I went and did shorter trips as mechanic for James and the women’s team, I really enjoyed that because we had a base, we got breaks and James is a super coach and I had my part in developing and assisting the women’s team into the number one team in the world. Then I was full time right up to the Sydney Olympics. At the end of 2000, after all that, I worked in Blair’s bike shop for a few days I realised that the mainstream retail scene is horrible for me and decided to go back to frame building and for the first time go full time. For years I’d been building a few frames over the summer, I’d come home and the phone would ring and I’d be building say a track frame for Danny Day, plus a few projects like building ergo’s for the Australian Institute of Sport. By 2001 it was full steam ahead and I was building frames full time.

Tour of Luxembourg

Tour of Luxembourg

So your steel frame building career really took off to new levels in 2001!

Yes, however I gave myself three years to see if it would work because the whole industry had changed. People thought I was mad to be wanting to build steel frames, but I knew the value in making steel frames with the best of contemporary materials and the best of traditional methods.  By the end of the year I was reasonably secure. I taught myself how to use a computer, got the CAD programmes and learnt them. I was buried here working. Still did a few trips with the A.I.S, Neil Stephens and James Victor asked me to do some more but to stay on you have do a good solid block, by then the frame building was now the focus.

How did that transcend into your current mode of operation, your own brand of lugs etc?

In 2004 I decided I wanted to design some lugs, that was the start of what I call my “PHD” in frame building. I used to make stems by machining parts up and fillet brazing them. I was also going back to lugged frames rather than fillet brazed work with funky shaped tubes, which are a pain to build and a lot of it is just fashion. I didn’t like this and I wanted to go back to round tubes, they work best in torsion at most of the joints, good alignments, less stresses, makes for nicer riding bikes, seeking purity in the build. It might sound like hocus pocus but there is something in that. I worked on developing lugs, I used the equity in my house to pay for the tooling. I’d stop work and design the lugs, it was all a new adventure for me. Back when I was working at Eric’s in 1983 – 1984 I used to look at the Cinelli lugs and go wow, I’d like to have my own designs one day. Well come 2003, 2004 it started happening.

It’s obvious that you weren’t going into large scale manufacturing in the hundreds of thousands, investment casting could fit the bill for design, a smaller scale of production and functionality.

The days of large scale manufacturing by thousands and thousands is finished, now it’s only got to meet the needs of a niche boutique market. A lot of stuff that was on the market had been around for 15 years or longer, it didn’t really meet today’s needs. Not only aesthetically but structurally, like cable guides cast onto the head lug and proper six by one millimetre cap head seat binder bosses instead of the old Campag bolt which used to break all the time, also the style of some of the old lugs left something to desire, you used to have to re-work them a lot. The cast lug, sure you can use them out of the box, but you can re-work them. Some people look at my frames and say that’s beautiful, but they don’t quite know why, but it’s to do with the re-working, it’s the curvature, changing radius to the shorelines of the lugs, I make changes that effect styling and functionality, for example cutting a lug down and reducing stack height.

How did you begin the process of designing your own lugs?

Stems made from a CNC machined block of alloy just look wrong on a fine lugged frame,  I was making fillet brazed stems and my customers liked them, but then I thought a lugged stem would look good on the lugged frames I was making. There was already a set of lugs for stems about that had an impossible to work funny shaped tube which didn’t fit into the lugs, and the lugs didn’t fit the modern oversized bars, so I decided it was time to design and produce my own lugs. So the first lugs I designed and produced were the Llewellyn stem lugs. I sat down and made some drawings, worked out some dimensions and how versatile the lugs could be. I designed them with a six degree rise, I wanted ease of mitring the tube and alignments and to fit inch or inch and one eighth forks, 31.8 handlebars. I then fabricated some patterns, I wasn’t able to do 3D CAD then, they were just 2D drawings with dimensions.

Llewellyn custom lugs designed by Darrell McCulloch

Llewellyn custom lugs designed by Darrell McCulloch

What were the steps taken to go  from the design phase to production?

Initially I talked to the foundries in Australia and they said with a 1.2mm wall the pour failure rate on those will be high, we’d like to experiment?  No way, you’re not experimenting on my lugs with my dollars at my cost. I made some patterns to get the shapes so sent these off to the Long Shen foundry in Taiwan. Long Shen make all the lugs now, you name it they make them.  I went with Long Shen because that’s the industry benchmark for guys like Richard Sachs etc.  These lugs are a complicated casting and the process took some time and effort. Eventually Long Shen sent back some drawings which I signed off on and production started. Columbus make a .8mm Nivacrom extension tube for me. Once I got the stems out there they were a hit. They nicely compliment my frame sets.

Next I wanted to make a replacement for Columbus MAX tubes as the supply was drying up so I designed my first frame lugs and with improvements in design to replace MAX lugged frames. I wanted an inch and an eighth fork with provision to use a carbon fork, it was important to have bigger diameter round tubes and a sloping top tube. The frame set had to be aesthetically pleasing and structurally have some sense. So I gee’d that up through a guy who was selling some gear for me in America, he sourced some seat posts that fit directly into the larger Columbus seat tube, believe it or not Columbus never had a product, they just supply you with a sleeve! That’s not to my standard. I made patterns, and once again by hand and then made some drawings, and off they went. These are lugs in my Llewellyn Crescendo frame set. At first when I started selling these lugs overseas to builders in the UK and America, it was slow but now these are one of my best selling lug sets, which gives me a little bit of income and paid back the tooling costs I financed with the equity in my home. What this allowed me to do was to design and produce parts that I wanted for my own production here to justify the cost. I sell them to other builders either direct or through my agents in the UK and the USA. Otherwise I would never have been able to recoup the tens of thousands of dollars that I spent developing the product, the tooling is expensive and then the design time is considerable.

Now you have a reputation for not only making fine frames but you’ve also expanded your frame building product range!

Initially I was not completely satisfied with the results from my drawings and fabricated samples to the draftsman’s drawings, they were using a 3D programme called Solid Works,  there was a loss of interpretation of the shape of the lugs, it was a minor aesthetic issue. More experienced builders have a critical eye for the curve of the lug. I thought bugger it, so I got the Solid Works programme and I bought the text books and I sat down for as long as it took, many long evenings and weekends, to learn Solid Works. There are ways of doing a shape by a method called cuts, but it’s not perfect, it doesn’t give a true perpendicular shoreline to the axis of the tube, but I worked out a method to do that, I was told it couldn’t be done by the professional draft persons, but despite that I now have a good system of my own working. Now I can do a 3D design of a lug, email it to a rapid prototyper who does the 3D printing. A couple of days later a box of plastic shapes of the lugs arrives as the proving versions. I can then critically assess the shape of the model and make changes to the 3D computer model, send it off to the prototyper again, then when I’m happy I email the final 3D model to Taiwan. The tool maker in Taiwan gets it and makes his adjustments for the casting draft, and the casting plus shrinkage, then sends cast samples back for my approval.

I first used this 3D modelling process for my Manorina lug set which I named after the local Bellbird Manorina melanophrys, you find these birds on my favourite ride which is Mt Nebo – Glorious. I named the lugset Manorina because Nebo is a real bike rider’s ride. This process has allowed me to do frames the way I wanted to do using lugs. Some of the lugs I’ve designed have been built into bikes which have won best in show at the North American Handmade Bike Show, no one would know, but they are my lugs. Guys like Dave Wages has won with them.

You’ve collaborated with Dario Pegoretti on a lug set?

The last frame lug set I designed and produced was a joint collaboration with Dario Pegoretti. I use these lugs in the Llewellyn “Cadenzia” frame set and Dario uses them in his “Day is Done” model.

Complementing your fastidious work is another successful collaboration working exclusively with Joe Cosgrove for your frame painting. Only Joe is authorised to use your decals, how did this come about?

 In 1981 Joe raced with the Hamilton Amateur wheelers when I was a junior and he worked not far from Sandgate and after work at 5.15pm we would meet up and ride over Eaton’s Crossing and loop back to Samford, I would finish at home at Enoggera and Joe would continue on to his home at Annerley. Training in the dark with our feeble by today’s standards Sanyo dyno 3 watt lights and a section over Eaton’s Crossing was still dirt. Later Joe started making frames and painting as his own entity from his home.  So when I started making Llewellyn frames in 1989 some 8 years after those evenings in the dark and often wet evenings back then I went to Joe to look after my painting, this was so I could concentrate on the metal work and fit-ups of my clients.  Joe has since moved more of his gig into paint and fine restorations with the occasional frame build and so from there we have enjoyed a collaboration of our skills.  He is a master of decals and good paint on a bicycle and this was realised by a Llewellyn frame set winning best paint at the North American Hand Built Show. Good metal work is finished off with his colour magic. It is good collaboration and one that will continue till we both retire.

I’ve seen some fancy work with laser cut dropouts, what’s your thoughts on that sort of work?

You see these long slender rear dropouts with their logo’s in them, they break, you’re not going see them in ten years. New builders are trying to add features to make their product stand out, along the way they make mistakes! There’s a reason why experienced builders have the stay go right up close to the dropout, it adds rigidity and strength, people think that rigidity is all at the bottom bracket shell but it’s at the rear end, the movement is at the ends. People think that rigidity at the bottom bracket shell is important, but it’s at either end where it’s critical. In effect the “swinging arm” starts at the bottom head lug and at the rear drop outs, the bracket is what is swaying and the movement point is at either end. When you beef up a bottom bracket it just puts more load on the head tube.

Lllewellyn Custom Bikes tools of the trade.

Lllewellyn Custom Bikes work area.

When you build a frame, your core principle is building a solid reliable unit?

I am conservative with my selection of the materials and will not allow any compromise with regards to the design and build technique that will effect durability. Materials, technique, design, with selection of materials I’m conservative, I won’t use paper thin tubing, there’s nothing to be gained by saving 200 grams because then crash resistance drops dramatically. In ten years time the customer will still be happy. Good design to fit the client, correct material selection, nice shapes to the lugs, methodical construction process, clean brazing, the design of little features, there’s no sacrifice. My goal is to deliver a bicycle that gives many years of enjoyable riding and with each passing year will continue to give great value.

I use many stainless steel parts, I fully silver braze, the brazing material that’s melted goes between the two materials the tube and the lug, it flows through the lug with capillary action. Getting your clearances right, cleaning the joint, fluxing it, the skilled use of the torch with the flame, you flow the brazing material through the whole joint, it becomes one, steel and silver. It makes a permanent and strong bond for ever.

You’re not going to do that as an apprentice in the first week.

To learn the torch, Eric used to guide my hand and help with the eye hand co-ordination, he’d tell me when it was too hot or not hot enough and when to feed it, but now it’s sort of automatic. There’s no problem ever having a safe joint if you’ve been doing it all your life, you don’t hammer things in too tight and your clearances are right, you’ve left space for flow, all the gaps are closed up and not too big. The skill is in the fit-up when you put it all together in the jig. Getting the fit-ups right so there’s no stress in the tubes and lugs is time consuming, but it must not be rushed.

How do you typically go through the process of brazing up a frame and getting correct alignments?

When I start the process I clean it and I check the clearances then I pull it all apart, flux it all up, then put it back together, then do the tacking in the fixture, then it goes to the alignment table because that’s more accurate, making sure everything is stress free. Next I do it by one joint at a time, and I do it in a sequence that allows me any corrections if anything distorts. You’re using heat and there’s expansion and contraction, you don’t braze in the fixture because the tubes are growing in length by about a millimetre and a half, then they contract again, you’ve got to allow that freedom.

So you tack it and use a small braze amount in the fixture to hold an alignment, sometimes some pins as well then it goes onto the alignment table, then to the stand,  you braze the joint. Let it cool, wash the flux off, then I mill the bottom head lug. Then I put it on the alignment table where I allow three tenths of a millimetre twist tolerance over 300 millimetre’s from head tube to seat tube. Nineteen out of twenty times, by taking care with my procedures, I can get that tolerance without any cold setting. Cold setting is where you re-align the frame post brazing, in the factory it’s an acceptable way to do it though.

Dazza’s A Grade steel inspection plate, bike frame building alignment table. Minimal cold setting applied here.

What’s the advantages of using silver instead of brass when brazing?

The silver rod has 56% real silver, I use that instead of brass brazing which is at higher temperature. Brass rods cost ten cents a stick compared to silver rods which cost fifteen dollars, and you go through a few of them. The advantage of silver is it has a much lower temperature, so there’s less degradation of the steel grain structure. You also obtain better alignments, you get much more control, plus it’s the only way to join stainless together. This is what the customer doesn’t see, but if you build a frame without any inbuilt stresses and minimal cold setting, and you invest your time in that, it does improve the ride of the frame. Some people say hey I’ve got the same frame but it rides different. The thing is if you haven’t got this right the frame might look aligned but the stresses are in the wrong place, for example the top tube and seat tubes yield but the main tube is pulling it out of line, but it’s aligned yet there’s a stress that’s holding it! The bike will shimmy as you ride over rough ground, it does some weird things. That’s what I’m really fastidious with, I use an A grade steel inspection plate, the next one up is granite, but I’m not building a space shuttle. My old boss used his alignment table as a work bench, that’s a no no.

These days you’re building a lot of touring / randonneur bikes.

I don’t do cyclo cross bikes or city bikes with belt drive and Rohlhoff hubs, that’s not my scene, I do touring bikes. I’ve got a long cue of work at the moment, I don’t think you can be everything to all people, as long as I’ve got work and work at the rate I work at I don’t need to add more. I’ve done those stainless steel fancy jobs, they are tuxedo bikes, beautiful as they are they are very labour intensive, I don’t like doing many of them now, they hurt … my body.

Working for Eric we did some touring frames, not to a high degree though. I like touring bikes and randonneurs because they take people on adventures, they are useful bikes. I’ve got pictures from people at the top of Stelvio on Llewellyn touring bikes, chaps in Sweden on touring bikes and South America. With Randonneur bikes, I’m not into reproduction of 1950’s 60’s, Singer’s or Herse bikes, mine are built only with the best of contemporary components. I’m not going to go back and fit one out with a TA cotterless crankset from 1955. Some people think that nothing progressed past 1950 in France, well no! Mine are integrated, connectorless front generator hub, Schmidt headlights, internal wiring inside the mudguards, Honjo mudguards, titanium bolt kits, Campagnolo triple chain rings, Paul cantilever brakes from the USA, I’ll put a Brooks saddle on. It’s a template bike and then you can alter your specifications from there, I’m am really enjoying that. Blending the best of traditional frame construction and design with the best of contemporary design and materials is the direction of my work and art. The bikes have been good to me. Racing, travel, working in 23 different countries. Making bespoke crafted bicycles with my hands is my chosen path of professional expression.

Here Darrell explains more about the details that go into the making of one of his bespoke bikes. It’s not just the self designed lugs and skill in the build. Darrell custom builds every small part that’s required, finishing off with the most reliable components to match.

GLOSSARY

1. Fixture - A tool to hold a part for a process

2. Jig – A tool to hold parts for welding of brazing or other joining method

3. Alignment Table / Inspection Plate –  A large flat table with a very accurate surface, used as datum surface for alignments

4. Braze –  is a metal-joining process whereby a filler metal is heated above melting point and distributed between two or more close-fitting parts by capillary action.

5. Flux –  a paste that is required to prevent oxides from forming while the metal is heated.

6. Silver solder /silver braze –  is brazing using a silver alloy based filler.

7. Tacking – Only small portion on a joint is brazed, used for holding things in alignment before completing the full brazing of the joint.

8. Cold Setting – Bending the structure till it yields and sets permanently

9. Fillet brazing – Brazing  a joint without lugs by building up a fillet of braze

10. Shoreline – The edge of the lug

COMPONENTS for 2014 Llewellyn Voyageur – Randonneur – by Darrell McCulloch (Dazza)

Main features – Integrated racks and lights, inspiration going back to builders like Alex Singer, Rene Herse, built in house, no bolt on generic parts, making a  clean, lightweight and fully integrated machine. Seat stay attachment style inspired by the restoration of Brian MacLean’s Ron Cooper, who was originally inspired by Bianchi. Other features – Tail light wire is routed inside the rolled edge of the mudguard, all lights double earthed, all wire connections are via soldered spade connectors. Spare spoke holder under left hand chain stay made in stainless steel.

TUBING - Columbus Spirit for Lugs

LUGS Llewellyn Custodian – designed and manufactured by Darrell Llewellyn McCulloch, Frame and stem lugs have hand cut customisation.

DROPOUTS and BRAZE ONS Stainless steel

PAINT by Joe Cosgrove at Cycle Designs

ENSEMBLE Campagnolo Athena 11 speed triple 2013/2014

BRAKES Paul cantilever, neo retro/front, touring /rear

REAR HUB Rear hub Campagnolo Record 2013

HANDBUILT WHEELS by Dazza , Mavic Open Pro rims DT Spokes, rear wheel tied and soldered

SEAT POST Fizik Cyrano Carbon

HANDLEBARS Deda Newton Shallow Alloy Bars

HANDLEBAR STEM Bespoke Llewellyn Custom lugged, painted by Joe Cosgrove

TYRES 30mm Grand Bois Cerf

SADDLE Fizik Pave

PEDALS CRM Clipless Road by KEYWIN

TIME PIECE Quartz analogue in a machined alloy housing fitted with head stem tensioning bolt, by Stem Captain

BIDON – WATER BOTTLE Elite Ciussi Inox

BAR TAPE Llewellyn Eco gel, tied off with waxed cotton twine

HEADLIGHT Schmidt Edelux K 607 6V / 2.4 W, with custom Llewellyn cable routing.

FRONT HUB Connectorless generator, Schmidt SON Delux Lights are earthed via the left hand of the axle end and the live feed is via the right hand axle end. The electrical connection is through special insulated front fork dropouts. So there is no wire plug in connections to the  generator hub .

REAR RACKS Bespoke Llewellyn custom front, designed and manufactured in house at Llewellyn from 316 stainless steel tubing, fully silver brazed, individually made to the fit bike with correct clearances. Tubing curves for the bespoke racks are formed using a specially made former that was designed especially for the Llewellyn rack production and manufactured by Jesse Geisler, at Bike Bar Fitzroy Melbourne.

BAGS Front and Rear – French handmade by Gilles Berthoud.

BAG ATTACHMENT Dzus 90 degree titanium motorcycle fairing clips – world’s first deployment on a randonneur bike.

MUDGUARDS Honjo alloy, fitted using stainless steel studs, leather washers, nyloc nuts – will never vibrate loose.

All photographs and video by Robert Cobcroft

Campagnolo Athena rear derailleur

Campagnolo Athena rear derailleur

Handmade Llewellyn handlebar stem.

Handmade Llewellyn handlebar stem.

Bianchi inspired seat stay top eye attachment.

Bianchi inspired seat stay top eye attachment.

Inox cage - Ciussi by ELITE

Inox cage – Ciussi by ELITE

Paul cantilever brakes

Paul cantilever brakes

Campagnolo Athena chain

Campagnolo Athena chain

Campagnolo Athena braze on front derailleur

Campagnolo Athena braze on front derailleur

Everything is considered and supplied, cable routing, chain tidy, hand polished lugs.

Everything is considered and supplied, cable routing, chain tidy, hand polished lugs.

Campagnolo Athena front derailleur

Campagnolo Athena front derailleur

Campagnolo Athena crankset

Campagnolo Athena crankset

Campagnolo Athena 11 speed cassette

Campagnolo Athena 11 speed cassette

Rear quarter, Darrell McCulloch Llewellyn Bikes 2014 Randonneur Voyageur

Rear quarter, Darrell McCulloch Llewellyn Bikes 2014 Randonneur Voyageur

Llewellyn Custom Bikes custom rear bike rack

Llewellyn Custom Bikes custom rear bike rack

Everything is custom made to original plans drawn up by Darrell for the Randonneur Voyageur project.

Everything is custom made to original plans drawn up by Darrell for the Randonneur Voyageur project.

Voyageur Randonneur by Llewellyn Custom Bicycles

Voyageur Randonneur by Llewellyn Custom Bicycles

Detail Llewellyn lugged handmade stem

Detail Llewellyn lugged handmade stem

Honjo fenders

Mudguard to front rack mount

Dzus titanium motorcycle fairing clips. Dazza dreamt this up to use moto clips on push bikes.

Dzus titanium motorcycle fairing clips. Dazza dreamt this up to use moto clips on push bikes.

Elite water bottle cage - Ciussi

Elite water bottle cage – Ciussi

French handmade bags by Gilles Berthoud

French handmade bags by Gilles Berthoud

FRONT HUB Connectorless generator, Schmidt SON Delux

FRONT HUB Connectorless generator, Schmidt SON Delux

Rear view Gilles Berthoud handlebar bag.

Rear view Gilles Berthoud handlebar bag.

Gilles Berthoud touring bag

Gilles Berthoud touring bag

Hand cut llewellyn custodian lugs, designed by Darrell McCulloch, here showing a mirror finish to hand polished fork crown

Hand cut llewellyn custodian lugs, designed by Darrell McCulloch, here showing a mirror finish to hand polished fork crown

HANDLEBAR TAPE Llewellyn Eco gel

HANDLEBAR TAPE Llewellyn Eco gel

Honjo alloy bike fenders

Honjo alloy bike fenders

Honjo alloy front fender

Honjo alloy front fender

Darrell polishes his stainless work with up to 1,600 wet and dry paper, giving a mirror finish to his Llewellyn bike details

Darrell files then sands his stainless work down to 1,500 grit wet and dry paper before the final polish buffing giving a mirror finish to his Llewellyn bike details

Llewellyn custodian lugs

Llewellyn custodian lugs

Llewellyn custom bicycle head badge

Llewellyn custom bicycle head badge

Llewellyn bicycles, Darrell McCulloch re-worked Long Shen bridge.

The rear mudguard is held to the reworked seat stay bridge my M5 stainless steel stud and also is the frame mounting point for the bespoke rear rack

Llewellyn custom bike lugged head stem and Deda Newton Shallow handlebars

Llewellyn custom bike lugged head stem and Deda Newton Shallow handlebars

Llewellyn custom bike top eyes inspired by bianchi.

Llewellyn custom bike top eyes inspired by bianchi.

Llewellyn bicycles, voyageur fork crown detail

Llewellyn bicycles, voyageur fork crown detail

Hand made rack by Darrell. Tubing curves for the bespoke racks are formed using a specially made former that was designed especially for the Llewellyn rack production and manufactured by Jesse Geisler, at Bike Bar Fitzroy Melbourne.

Hand made rack by Darrell. Tubing curves for the bespoke racks are formed using a specially made former that was designed especially for the Llewellyn rack production and manufactured by Jesse Geisler, at Bike Bar Fitzroy Melbourne.

Front of Llewellyn custom randonneur bike

Front of Llewellyn custom randonneur bike

Dazza's Rando leant up at the back of Llewellyn bikes workshop

Dazza’s Rando leant up at the back of Llewellyn bikes workshop

More custom work by Dazza

More custom work by Dazza

Stem captain bike time piece

Stem captain bike time piece

Mavic Open Pro rims DT Spokes

Mavic Open Pro rims DT Spokes

Stem and frame painted by Joe Cosgrove

Stem and frame painted by Joe Cosgrove

Schmidt SON Delux bike Lights

Schmidt SON Delux bike Lights

SEAT POST Fizik Cyrano Carbon

SEAT POST Fizik Cyrano Carbon

Llewellyn custom bikes 2013-2014 cockpit, Stem Captain time piece, llewellyn lugged stem, Deda Newton Shallow bars.

Llewellyn custom bikes 2013-2014 cockpit, Stem Captain time piece, llewellyn lugged stem, Deda Newton Shallow bars.

Giels Berthoud cycling bag

Gilles Berthoud cycling bag

Dazza's personal rando in the Dragon's lair....

Dazza’s personal rando in the Dragon’s lair….

RELATED POSTS
Darrell McCulloch Talks about Position Data

Llewellyn Custom Bicycles Voyageur 2013 Randonneur Project

Brian MacLean’s Slant Six custom Llewellyn Road Bike

Comments

  1. ADAM LIVERSEDGE says

    Good article Rob . Great to hear about more of Darrell’s tech . Nice guy . Gotta’ love a rando’ !

    • Robert says

      Thank you Adam, took a bit of work that one. Dazza certainly covers every conceivable detail with his bikes and bits. How’s that Graecross going?

  2. David Weir says

    Great article, good to see Darryl’s keeping the tradition of steel frames alive and well (better than ever in truth). Those close up photos of Darryl’s lugwork really show what super human brazing skills he has. As someone who has occasionally pointed a torch at a pile of tubes and come up with a rideable bike, I still shake my head in wonder every time I see one of his bikes! Bravo Darryl!

  3. Ricardo Fiorelli says

    The guy’s attention to detail is astounding. You really have to pay attention to this. When everyone is obsessed with riding something ‘different’ to pose about on, or how light and cutting edge it is, Darrell sets us straight with high end crafstmanship at the core of his work. Great read Rob, goes deep, thanks to you and Darrell.

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