SC Bastion QA 07


To follow up our incredible tour of the Bastion factory, we sat down with the founders for a Q&A.

Founded by ex-Toyota engineers, Bastion create some of the most technologically advanced bikes in the world. Always at the cutting edge of technological innovation, they're the only bike manufacturer in the world with in-house titanium 3D printing.

Here, they take us through their journey from cars to bikes, their core design principles and what makes Bastion bikes so covetable.

We hope you enjoy this Q&A.

SC Bastion QA 14

SC: What’s your background before you started creating bikes?

B: Our founders worked for Toyota in Research & Development across Australia, Japan, South East Asia, South Africa and South America.

SC: Can you tell us more about SpaceTank and the inception of Bastion?

B: Initially we had a computer and plastic 3D printer set-up in James’ garage, but as development progressed, we needed to build a filament winder and bonding fixtures, and we needed more space. But with no revenue yet, we weren’t ready to sign a lease on a facility, so for the first year we based ourselves out of a maker space called Space Tank. This is where we made our first prototypes. It was more than just a hot desk facility, providing the space and permission to make noise and mess, and install our own equipment which a lot of so-called maker spaces don’t. At least not in Australia. We quickly grew out of there within 12mths, but we like to think we are one of their success stories.

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SC: Why did you move to cycling from cars?

B: In 2014 all three automotive manufacturers (GM, Ford, and Toyota) in Australia announced they would be closing production by 2018. Toyota decided to also close R&D. We were faced with the decision to stay within Toyota, but that would mean migrating overseas, change industries, or venture out on our own. We chose the latter. We were all passionate cyclists and saw an opportunity to create something truly special in the space.

SC: Bastion bikes are unlike anything we’ve ever seen. How did you come up with the design for the first models?

B: Our primary design language is based on celebrating the structural elements of the bicycle. This means the materials, the textures, the finish, the patterns and the form of the raw materials. The Carbon Fibre weave is on display at 45 degrees, because that’s what we need for torsional stiffness in the Down Tube. The interface between our Titanium Lugs and Carbon Tubes is controlled and finished as a feature, not hidden under body filler and paint, you can see how loads are carried and distributed in the arrangement of these interfaces. The character lines and sculptural elements of the lugs are certainly influenced by our automotive design heritage and we exploit concave to convex transitions and non-tangent continuity to give the lugs an aesthetic that projects flow and purpose as a dynamic piece of moving art.

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SC: To someone who’s never heard of you, how would you describe the difference between riding a Bastion and another high-performance bike?

B: The feedback we get from customers is that there is no comparison. It needs to be experienced to be believed. They are impressed with how refined and smooth the ride is. How fresh they still feel after a long ride. But they also comment how precise and responsive the handling is. How connected to the road it feels and how much confidence that gives them. The differences to other bikes are easily noticeable when you ride one. From amateurs to ex-professionals the feedback is consistent. You don’t need a long ride on familiar roads pushing the bike to its limits to notice any differences. A simple ride around the block is sufficient to realise you are riding something special.

SC: Your 3D printed titanium lugs bonded to carbon fibre tubing are iconic. Where did you get the idea for this?

B: Bikes have been made in this way since the late 70s albeit using cast aluminium lugs. The idea is not new, but we have been able to modernise and re-imagine it using the latest in advanced manufacturing. When you start out with the vision to elevate the riding experience as far as possible, this method of making frames is the result.

SC: What are the advantages of building a bike in this way?

B: Done right it enables customisable geometry and stiffness, and a refined ride quality that silences road noise and buzz.

SC: Who is your biggest inspiration?

B: Probably Christian Von Koeniggsegg. Like us he came from outside his industry (automotive) but revolutionised it with beautiful, innovative, record-breaking cars.

SC: What does Bastion look like in 5 years?

B: Over the next 5 years we will further our vision of delivering the most coveted bikes in the world. We have a road map that sees us triple in size, which sounds like a lot, but will continue to be a very boutique and exclusive brand as we enter more markets around the world. But we want to remain limited in our production volumes to be able to continue to deliver unforgettable and highly personal experiences to our customers.

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SC: What’s the first question you ask when designing a new model?

B: How do we evoke “desire” in the customer? This is a really hard question to answer, and customer surveys are not going to answer it. Often people don’t know what they desire until they see it. I believe we have a good feel for it. We are extremely passionate about bikes, design, engineering, and technology and so we know that when we get excited, we are onto something. Everything we do has to generate that excitement, that feeling of “I want it”. Sometimes it is aesthetics, sometimes a material choice, or a performance metric, but it has to excite the customer.

SC: What are the advantages of custom geometry?

B: The biggest advantage is being able to get a bike that rides and handles the way you want, in the perfect size for you. Often the more relaxed fit you need comes with dulled down performance you don’t want. Many of our customers are coming to us from endurance bikes and those come with a relaxed fit, but also dulled down handling. We are able to give them something tailor made for them. It fits and handles perfectly, for them.

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SC: Will you ever do stock bikes?

B: We offer curated options for some customers, but a big part of what makes a Bastion special is that it is crafted just for you.

SC: What’s your favourite local loop?

B: If the local loops can be extended to Adelaide, then the loop from Adelaide to Willunga through Cherry Orchards and the Mclaren Vale is right up there. As I am sure the guys from Signature would agree!

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Signature Down Under: Q&A