A new Melbourne-based company is leaning hard on 1970s nostalgia, old-school lollies and the joyful memories of riding your first bicycle. Milkbar Bikes co-founder Matt Hill tells Broadsheet the idea for its series of lowrider bikes came from a good ol’ reminiscing session with his brothers.
“We were talking about that once-in-a-lifetime experience that your first bike gives you,” says Hill. “Whatever age you are and whatever era of bike you live through, that nostalgia never leaves you.
“We were also struck that, whether you were in Australia, the US or Europe, the experience was the same.”
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In collaboration with design teams based all over the world, Hill took this nostalgia and turned it into inspiration for Milkbar Bikes’ debut model: a classic lowrider, featuring a steel frame and sissy bar (aka a “sister bar” or passenger backrest). It comes in four colours, delightfully named after childhood memories – “Black Licorice”, “Icy Chrome”, “Cherry Cola” and “Pink Lemonade”.
“They’re a statement piece, but equally comfortable to ride around town,” says Hill.
Each bike has a spacious banana seat (with extra cushioning) and spring-fork suspension, as well as high-rise handlebars, which let you lean back and cruise.
For those keen to personalise their ride, there’s a selection of fittingly fun accessories including rainbow-coloured handlebar streamers and rear-view mirrors. For the full ’70s look, you can add valve caps in the shape of dice, and vintage lights. Hill says more accessories are in the works, such as a milk crate-inspired basket.
“We want to make our bikes customisable to match your lifestyle,” Hill says. “Whether you’re a muso, surfer, skater or want to head out for a coffee run, we want you to be able to accessorise to cover your needs in ways that aesthetically enhance your bike.”
So far, Milkbar Bikes has launched in Australia and New Zealand, and are available online as well as at various stockists. The company plans to launch in the US and Europe in 2022.
“Milkbar is a nod to a simpler time, when you’d roam the streets with your friends, head to the local milk bar for an ice-cream, or to the beach – when it was as much about the journey as it was the destination,” says Hill.
“It makes you think of that first feeling of independence and freedom to hang out with your friends on a hot summer day.”