Everyone here at Tyres and Soles loves to hike and ride bikes, so what could be more natural than bike packing?
The idea of bike packing appeals to us so we were keen to delve into this area of activity a little more. We did some research online and found a lot of information, but there was one brand that really stood out from the rest…Hunt Bikes.
The imagery and story behind Hunt Bikes struck a chord with us. So our hunt for the perfect bike packing bike has ended, because we think we’ve found it.
We managed to get some time to chat with Daniel Hunt who owns Hunt Bikes, to find out more about this exciting Australian bike brand.
T&S: Hi Daniel, thank you so much for taking time out to chat with us today, we know you are an incredibly busy man, so thanks again for this opportunity.
Daniel: My pleasure, I love the concept of Tyres and Soles and what you guys are building.
T&S: Ahh, thank you Dan! That means a lot to us as we are still in our infancy and positive feedback like that goes a long way. It means we must be doing something right.
More than just a functional piece of machinery
T&S: Straight off the bat we have to say, your bikes are beautiful! We could end the interview right there but I feel our readers would not be impressed. So; How long have you been building and designing bikes like these?
Daniel: Thanks! I definitely put a big emphasis on the aesthetics of the frames in addition to the functional design and quality. I think a cyclists bike is more than just a functional piece of machinery and it definitely has to be pleasing to the eye.
The 29+ Hunt is actually my first attempt at frame design, although there were several iterations throughout the development process.
I wish that I had the time and workshop to build the frames myself. However, I decided to hire an expert in the field to do the frame building and I couldn’t be happier with the way they’ve turned out.
Simple and Clean
T&S: The MTB industry is racing ahead in terms of new innovations and gadgets that change so fast it really is hard to keep up. It’s refreshing to see bikes made with such craft and artistic simplicity. It reminds me of a time when bikes didn’t need to be so complex. Do you think this is the appeal of your bikes?
Daniel: I rode BMX for half my life and BMX bikes are inherently pretty simple, so I guess I’ve carried that preference for simplicity into my MTB design. From a functionality perspective I’ve used frame components that allow relatively universal use of parts, such as the 44mm head tube, while keeping the look clean and simple.
For example, rather than using ugly, in my opinion, sliding dropouts, the frames use small simple fixed dropouts and chain tension (for single speed) can be achieved with an eccentric bottom bracket.
With regards to the finish of the frames, I’ve never been into the flashy graphics that so many MTB brands seem to go with. Again I decided to keep things simple and clean with a black and brushed chrome option. A well built steel frame & fork should last for a really long time so it needs a finish that will also stand that test of time.
T&S: We can see the evidence of that simplicity carry over into your frames. There’s a lot to be said about elegant design. We think it can sometimes be an elusive thing to achieve but when it’s done right, it can result in something quite beautiful.
A Love for Camping
T&S: We really love the imagery on your website and Instagram channel. You’ve nailed that spirit of adventure and travel really well. It’s obvious you’re an are explorer yourself. Have you always been a bit of an outdoors person? Where did it all start for you?
Daniel: I guess there’s always been a bit of a tendency towards exploring and adventure. BMX riding took me on a lot of adventures including two round the world trips, although I was chasing skate parks and sleeping on peoples floors back then.
I always had a love of the outdoors and camping but it wasn’t until about six years ago that I combined camping and bikes. Some mates and I decided to ride classic touring bikes across Tasmania. We had the best adventure and my love for bike camping just grew from then on.
Its been really fun trying to capture the fun with a camera and share it with others via social media. Hopefully the images have inspired others to pack up their bikes and head out to explore.
A Love For All Things Geometry
T&S: So, tell us. To get excited over geometry and want to build your own bikes, you must be an engineer or have some sort of engineering background yes?
Daniel: Ha, your spot on. I definitely get excited about geometry and I do have a Mechanical Engineering background. I also have a metal working trade certificate and a degree in Environmental Science/Sustainability. Hunt bikes is really a culmination of all of these.
Having the mechanical engineering and trade background has been key to the success of the frame design while my sustainability background has had and will have a big influence on choices for the business as they relate to environmental impact.
T&S: We like to connect with brands that offer something unique, bespoke and have an interesting story to tell and we also lean towards brands that adopt an ethical approach to their production processes. After all, we all love to be out in nature, but at what cost? The balance of how we produce products versus how much we damage the environment to get them, must always be in check.
Can you tell us a little bit more about how you maintain a zero carbon footprint and is this a challenge for the business or is this something you see as a fundamental part of your ethos and are happy to face the challenges it brings? Sorry, lots of questions there.
Daniel: Having studied environmental science and sustainability I gained a real understanding of the impacts our actions can have on the natural world. Producing a consumer good such as a bicycle frame inherently encompasses its own environmental impact however, I’ve tried to reduce that impact in several ways.
The cardboard packaging of the frames is made from recycled material, the painted frames are powder coated rather than using the standard liquid spray paint, and each frame has its carbon footprint offset through the purchase of carbon credits.
I feel that the frames should be accountable to the environments they’re made to ride in.
T&S: Sorry, we just had to wipe the tears from our eyes there. Well said and we are 100% in agreement. Sir, you are a beautiful man!
T&S: In terms of frame builders out there, are there any that inspire you?
Daniel: Keith from KUMO cycles is definitely an inspiration. He’s a real craftsman and each of his bikes are a real piece of art. He has a waiting list for good reason.
T&S: As well as creating beautiful frames you also design the bags to go with them. These look like they have been designed and created with a true craftsman touch. Do you personally design these?
Daniel: Again, rather than try to make the bags myself I collaborated with one of the best in the bike bag world. I actually purchased some bike bags off the same guy many years ago and they’re still going strong today. So, when I wanted to do some Hunt Bikes bags he was the natural choice. I contacted him to float the idea and he’s been making awesome quality Hunt bags since.
T&S: Well, we’re all questioned out. Thank you so much for allowing us to chew the fat with you today Daniel. It’s been a real pleasure.
We love what you’re doing with the brand and your products and wish you all the very best for the future. We’re positive Hunt Bikes will go on to become an Australian icon in the bike industry.
Snowy Mountains 100 Event
As well as being the owner of Hunt Bikes, Dan also organises bike packing events. The next big one is the Snowy Mountains 1000 and is going to kick off on November 26th. Head over to the Hunt Bikes website or click on the event logo below, to find out all the details about this amazing event.
I hope what we do here at Tyres and Soles will inspire people to get out there and experience first hand, the natural wonders that surround them. So, pump up those tyres, don your favourite boots. Grab a mate, a partner, a pet… and head out into nature. But tell us all about it when you get back.