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The Metal Guy: A Discussion with Kaleb Olden

In 2024, which major BMX companies don't have an arrangement with a manufacturing operation in Taiwan to create their products? I genuinely would like to know, having only an understanding of S&M (as a USA based operation), what with the genuinely sad closure of the FBM machine shop in 2020. 

This doesn't however mean there aren't small time operators out there, doing their bit to keep the dream alive for the creation of high quality, personalised BMX products, without the behemoth of the dreaded bottom line ruining all that is sacred. Come on man, it's the DIY spirit that drives this whole thing and must never be lost! 

One such small time operator is a fella out of Tasmania, his name is Kaleb Olden and he makes frames in his shed under the name of 'Oldenimade'. A fitter machinist by trade and a long time biker out of Launceston, a series of fortunate connections, combined with the dudes love for metal and problem solving, have landed him as one of the handful of guys making BMX products out of Australia, for Australians (and anyone who wants one, if you're from OS or not!). 

Without the assistance of magazines and with what I can only assume is a 0$ marketing budget, I thought there may be the potential for this to be a fascinating read - to get deep into the mind of Kaleb and his process around producing a BMX frame from scratch. We linger in this theme for quite some time, as well as delving into his home state, guiding forces, music and a recent full-length video 'Royal Skum' filmed and edited by the dude. 

Proudly presenting, Kaleb Olden!

Kaleb in his 'happy, not so happy' place, where bikes are born, mistakes made and character created. Photo taken from socials. 

Kaleb Olden, for the uninitiated, can you please describe who you are and what motivates you to keep on keepin' on?

I was born in Launceston (TAS) in 1996 and currently reside about 5 minutes away in a suburb called Riverside. I would describe myself as somewhat of a loner but also loyal to my main friend groups. Keepin' on keepin' on, sometimes that's a hard question to answer but I keep myself busy, from working full time, riding, building frames from home, doing odd fabrication jobs, having a relationship, looking after my cat and also renovating an absolute piece of a shit house, there's always something to be done, so no time to be down for the count.

I'm not entirely certain, but my memory indicates that I first came across your name on socials through your machining work - which now involves making super dialled, 4130 frames under the 'Oldenimade' name, including custom requests. I'm keen to find out from you yourself, but from my perspective, fabricating your own frames is about as BMX as it gets. Can you detail your journey from the first spark of an idea all the way through to 2024? 

The beginning of Oldenimade is almost like a perfect storm scenario or a right place multiple times kinda thing. I learnt to TIG weld when I was about 14. Later on in college, due to some of this prior knowledge, my art teacher at the time pushed me more towards steel sculpture work rather than painting (obviously couldn't paint haha). At this stage I'd already been riding BMX for 7 years and was riding everyday so when you combine all these things that are happening in my life at that time, it becomes an art journal entry in 2014 that says 'maybe one day I'll be able to make my own BMX frame'

Straight out of college I went into an apprenticeship as a fitter machinist. Going into the fitting trade I was lucky enough to be trained by a fella called Michael Mohr (RIP) and he was actually making a bike while he was teaching at TAFE. He was making his own frame, gooseneck, forks, you name it, he was tackling it. At the same time, I was lucky enough to meet another fella at my work place called Russel Burt who had made more than his fair share of lugged road bikes. 

As knowledgeable and helpful as these two fellas were, reaching a point of practically making a BMX frame (as oppose to other styles of bikes) was not able to be assisted by these two. So I did masses of research on YT, Google images, sent multiple emails to people in America and just started drawing fixtures, writing down websites and really piecing together where I was going to get the things I needed to firstly make a frame-jig/fixture and then the actual frame parts like a head-tube, bottom bracket and 4130 steel.

While all this was happening, I got in contact with an old fella that lived down the end of my street at the time called Phillip Hadley (RIP) who had his own little machine shop and he was willing to let me use his machines and help make up these prototype components for the fixture.

Once I started investing into the idea of frame building my parents gave me a 3x3 tin garden shed plus a solid ass timber work bench which I decked out with nothing more than a Bunnings drill press and a low-end TIG welder. 

The first frame was completed in June 2017 and boy was it a piece of shit, from the tubing fit-ups, the welding and the worst part being the angles. Instead of the 74.5 degree head-tube it was meant to have, it ended up being more around the 64.5 degrees due to the bottom bracket height being through the roof. So, at this point it turned out I had all the gear and no idea, especially about bloody geometry.

So fast forward a few years and I believe the first 10 frames were made in that exact set up, the 3x3 shed of disasters! But I ended up taking myself to school and learning what geometry was and how it affects a bike and how people ride their bikes. I also managed to secure a really solid shed set up when poor old Phil died. He'd left everything to his family on the mainland and I made a real point of reaching out to them when he did pass to tell them I would love his machines to not only better myself but preserve the legacy of his tinkering which he did his whole life. Since securing my own lathe and milling machine, Oldenimade has only been improving.

As 2024 now stands, Oldenimade is made up of a more advanced frame fixture which is a V3 of the original fixture, there's a dedicated seat stay layout jig, a dedicated chain stay lay out jig, 4 aluminium tube holding blocks, 8 plastic tube holding blocks, a top tube crushing jig, wishbone notching jig and a heap more little tidbits laying around. All these jigs/fixtures were fabricated and machined by myself and the plastic blocks were 3D printed in Launceston.

Every frame build to me has been memorable, they’re all different in their own way and as a frame builder I grow every time. But stand outs, Sammy Barnard’s frame, because he didn’t know anything about geometry, he put all his trust in me to create his geometry from the ground up based on how he rides and because we’d known each other forever I think I got it pretty right! Ben Kingston’s rig, this was a full circle moment for me because I was able to re-create the frame from my first ever BMX, being a Mongoose 'Villain'. Then of course, project grindcore, being the first frame, even though it was a massive fuck up I still rode the shit out of that frame and it held up so that gave me faith to move forward and that all the prior hard work to get to that point wasn’t for nothing.

I need to note that if it wasn’t for the massive amount of help I’ve received from Ben Smith/WHTHOUS in Montana, Oldenimade would’ve sunk as Solid Bikes kept running low on stock, he’s been instrumental in keeping me going.

"...that’s the beauty with doing customs, everything changes every time and I never get angry when there’s a fuck up, I just keep on rolling..."

Kaleb and James Ivett, as noted below, good mates and someone who has helped with 'Oldenimade' in its journey. Photo taken from socials

It must seem like you've come a long way since high school, completing TAFE in 2018 to now building custom bikes for dudes all around the country. How does it feel from your point of view in reflection?

Honestly it's surreal and a little daunting. I really enjoy the people I’ve been able to interact with and get to know during this process. I’ve never been the best BMX rider and nothing BMX wise has ever come easy to me so I guess to even be in the head space of people like Will and yourself is pretty crazy.

Assume you work full-time as a fitter/machinist - can you go into more detail about what you do for work on a day to day? I get the sense that you align with traditional values, someone who appreciates hard work, modesty, resolve, fealty, quality over quantity, toughness and determination, likely not influenced by fashion, shortcuts and slick haircuts. Probably not a fan of emojis haha. Or maybe I'm not even close! 


Yeah, I stayed with the company that I finished my apprenticeship through, which is an aluminium smelter in the north of Tassie. I worked a rotating day/night roster for a few years as a breakdown maintainer and that was great at the time but you do get sick of just doing band aid repairs on the run. Now I’ve managed to slide into a day work role overhauling these big weird looking cranes.

They’re a site/smelter specific unit that is designed to tend to a furnace from a cabin rather than a person interacting with molten material. Day to day at the moment is pulling shit apart repairing cracks, replacing seals, replacing hydraulic rods, checking stuff is tight, cleaning and then putting it all back together and testing for functionality.

I really appreciate when people put their passion into things, give it their all, because that’s what they truly believe in and I’ll always support people, especially Tasmanians, that are willing to go that extra mile to produce a quality product for others.

It really sounds like you have a clear, coherent and committed focus around manufacturing frames, nothing was going to stop you. You also seem highly patient, which is a helpful trait to embody with a hobby like this, not a quick process! No doubt there were plenty of mistakes and arduous moments of piecing all the relevant information together, which I can only imagine in terms of the depth of detail and various connections. I'm interested to hear more about your approach to making mistakes and working through a problem solving process. 


Yeah, there has been some solid mistakes, which luckily have all turned out to be awesome learnings. I guess when you genuinely don’t know and don’t have dedicated people to physically show/help you along the way, it all becomes a trial-and-error problem solving process. I still make mistakes flat out, from a wrong bend, wrong cut it’s all still going down to this day haha. But that’s the beauty with doing customs, everything changes every time and I never get angry when there’s a fuck up, I just keep on rolling and document everything. 

I’ve got an Oldenimade frame building procedure which is a step by step on exactly how I go about making a frame and has room to put the measurements along the way, best thing I ever did, think it’s about 6 pages long now.

Although it’s tedious and leaves more room for error, Oldenimade is a 100% manual process, all measurements are converted from imperial to metric on paper and every single notch/cut angle is worked out using an angle dial and a fairly good set of peepers haha. I’ll always do things this way because I actually enjoy the mathematical process and it keeps my brain ticking over with numbers and also what’s the fun in a computer doing all the work for you haha.

Very, very interesting to hear of your connection with Ben Smith at WHTHOUS. I just sussed a couple articles on the dude, including a DIG piece. Can you go into more detail about your relationship with Ben and how he has been so helpful? What's his connection to Solid Bikes? 


I don’t think he has a connection with Solid Bikes. But what I meant was Solid Bikes have a frame building store which you could jump on and purchase your head tube, bottom bracket and drop outs and that’s where I originally was getting all my goodies from. I don’t really know what happened but they just ended up continuously having no stock of the bits I needed.

I can’t really remember how Ben and I actually started talking through, but it was via Instagram and we were just firing questions back and forth about frame building. WHTHOUS was already cranking but they were using FBM (and S&M) to manufacture their frames/parts. In true outback style, Ben decided he’d tackle the manufacturing things in house, so he acquired an old FBM jig, learnt to weld, got machines and started really dialling things in for WHTHOUS. Through watching all this go down and constantly conversing with him I reached out at some point and asked if he would sell me all those bits and he was super supportive and really looked after me to keep things down here turning over. 

So, over the last few years he’s not only given me tonnes of knowledge, which he’s acquired from hanging out with the likes of John Corts (power house of a frame builder), but he’s also sent me a bunch of packages over the years at very reasonable prices.

At this point in time though I’m stoked I’ve finally got some head tubes and bottom brackets machined here in Tassie by the legend Tom Bruza!

"Honestly everything about Tasmania keeps me. The nature here is an absolute power house, the climate, the diverse wildlife, the world class beaches, the freshest of local foods and even the people."

Circling back to your response to the first question, I can empathise with your loner comment. The feeling after being around tonnes of people, bright lights, lots of noise and general busy-ness, it can be overwhelming. I find myself being drawn to quiet spots, yearning for alone time after a busy day at work. 


I guess growing up down here and especially in a semi-rural area you learn early on how to keep yourself content when you are alone and as life gets busier and busier, I find I crave that connection I have with myself.

The best feeling for me is going on a 1–2-hour mountain bike ride in the bush with no headphones, no one else, it’s just you and your thoughts and the world around you, solid anxiety release that’s for sure.

I can then easily visualise you tinkering away in your shed, a retreat and a happy place for you? Is there a plan to upgrade the space over time? Although it does sound like for the minute, you have a dialled setup. Really cool to hear of the relationship with your neighbour Phil, vale. It sounds like over a decade or so, you had a series of serendipitous occurrences which worked to 'organically' guide you on this path, or maybe it was less coincidence and more due to your clear motivation to fulfil your goals and continue to work away at something that you loved. 

Ahh, happy place is probably a stretch and it’s far from dialled unfortunately! 

The latest Oldenimade set up is a 6x5 under house garage which is a bit of a piece of shit, water comes in through the roof, water runs along the floor during a big rain, the ceiling is only just high enough for me to walk around without hitting my head. Man, an upgrade is the dream, I really regret not buying a house that actually had a decent shed. I didn’t prioritise it when I was house hunting and given the tools ‘n’ shit that I've got that was really fucking stupid haha.

I think the whole idea of manufacturing frames in Australia let alone Tasmania is a bit of a weird one, there’s only a handful of people in the country making them at this point in time and when I was seriously looking into it, the only person I knew that was actually doing it was the fella that runs Industrail bikes. So I guess stumbling upon people like Michael Mohr and Russel Burt through life’s natural progression really just sling shotted me to really knuckle down and work my ass off to make the dream a reality just as they had.

Probably should have asked this straight up, but can you clarify the 'Oldenimade' name, is that simply your last name? Which would make sense. If not, is it meant to be pronounced as Olden-i-made? 

Nah my last name is just Olden. It’s pronounced 'Oldeni-made'. I guess it’s kind of a piss take, only a few people over the years have ever called me that, my brother was always 'Oldy', but for some reason when my friends said it, it was 'Oldeni'. The whole (i) is also kind of a piss take at all the old school Italian bike brands over the years, but in all seriousness, they’ve always made world class bikes.

Roger. Just before we move on from frame building, I was interested to know if there is there a sense of anxiety around the frames integrity (once you've built and sold a unit), almost like your reputation is on the line but in an ongoing sense? Putting myself in the shoes of a manufacturer, I would want to crawl into a hole if the frame I'd built cracked and the dude was riding it at a jam in front of a bunch of people I respected, kinda thing. 


Integrity, for sure, I’m an extremely anxious person at the best of times haha. But no anxiousness around reputation, that doesn’t faze me in the slightest, people can think, say, whatever they want. I sleep well at night knowing that from the beginning I’ve put my all into each and every frame that I’ve made, no matter who it’s been for.

Right we have UK import and Tasmanian local (after marrying a Tassie girl) Thomas Bruza Ivett, who is understood to have played a significant role in the Oldenimade journey as Kaleb explains, "Has been around the block, BMXing forever with all the big name UK guys like Jason Phelan, Nicky Croft, he is a machinist by trade and made the last big batch of of headtubes and BBs for me! His brother is James Bruza Ivett who used to ride for Mongoose back in the Paul Ryan era, has a wicked section in one of the Ride to Glory's"

Moving on, let's go back to the beginning. What do you think has shaped you into the person you now present as? For most, it's parents, where you were raised and friendships, but I get the feel that dudes in BMX also have to add in bikes to that list as they have such a widespread impact on development and growth.


For the most part it has been my family, I get the music from Dad and the bike riding from Mum and fakies from my brother haha. My main school friends have always had a big influence on me, they’re all so different and bring something unique to our group which luckily still functions strong today.

Growing up I lived in a suburb called Legana which had a fucking awesome set of dirt jumps behind the local supermarket and there was a mass of BMX riders in the area so they all left their mark on me in one way or another. Out of the roughly 10-20 people that used to ride down there back in 2007-2009 I’m the only one still riding consistently, rest in peace Tom Byrnes, he had a massive impact on what I thought BMX should look like.

To this end, have you always lived in Tasmania and what is it about the place that grounds you here? Everyone I hear from loves the place, citing it's wilderness, big rural town type setting and an intangible sense of feeling like you've left Australia, but not so much as to have left the creature comforts and conveniences. 

Honestly everything about Tasmania keeps me. The nature here is an absolute power house, the climate, the diverse wildlife, the world class beaches, the freshest of local foods and even the people. Doesn’t matter if you’re in Launceston, Queenstown or Rossarden you know what you’re going to get from someone here. The lifestyle here in Tasmania is also something to be envied, I drive 50kms to work every day and it only takes 35 minutes in the car. In the big cities on the mainland that’s just unheard of. You can go from the city, to the bush and then the beach all in the matter of 60 minutes which in my opinion is unreal.

A couple shots by Kaleb from his native home, Eddystone Point & Petal Point, located in the north east of Tasmania

Can you talk more about your relationship with your parents? Seems like they've been a big influence on you, which is really cool. Love to hear about your dads record collection, my old boy is the same except he's into blues and roots as opposed to punk, metal and rock. I kinda wish he'd been more active in showing me his music, my love for music was a slow burn and was ultimately something I explored on my own - under the forceful influence of videos like 'Criminal Mischief' and Etnies 'Forward'. 


In 2024 I’d say our relationship is good. They’re very generous people and love helping out when they can and I also enjoy returning the favour. Even though we do live so close it can be hard to find the time to see each other these days.

Dad is still right into his music, going through waves of new and old and always has something new for me to listen too. He’s been slowly getting rid of his record collection over the last few years, I’ve been lucky enough to get a large majority of the good shit haha. The collection I’d have to say was extremely unique, especially for Tasmania. He had just about everything in the thrash realm, underground Aussie stuff, big American bands, obscure European and Latin bands, just shit you’d have never heard of and literally will never find.

CD’s though, geez, I’d say he’s probably got over a thousand at the moment and my brother and I would easily have a thousand between us also haha so the collecting has never stopped.

Mum is a trooper, she’s been lucky enough to be involved in 3 separate vehicle/bike accidents over the years haha, which in cumulation have caused her great pain. Not many people can say that aye. She’s been a florist her whole life and does absolutely amazing work, I definitely think I get the patience from her when It comes to toiling away at things to make them look as good as they can.

On the influence of your dad and his music taste, I see you recently uploaded the 'Royal Skum' video to your YouTube (which contains a bunch of thrash metal). Having been in the pipeline for 10 years, at close to 40 minutes long and produced around the balance components of your life, how does it feel to see the video off into public for all to consume? Can you talk to the background of the video and some tales from its making?


Honestly it feels awesome, like a weight has been lifted. The 'Royal Skum' video was really one big accident. I was given a camera by my friend back in 2013 and just started playing around with it, filming the lads here and there, no one thought too much of it at the time I guess, maybe just that we might make a web edit one day. 

Then a few years later maybe around 2017-2018 I pulled out my parent’s old Hi-8 tape camera and started filming with tapes but at this time pretty much every one from the original camera’s recordings had stopped riding bar Cory Sengstock, James Patterson, Hugh and myself. So, I guess around this time conversations started around making a video as I already had shit loads of footage. I had and still have absolutely no idea how to edit/film so the gruelling task of actually tackling something like this sucked and to be honest it stressed me out big time.

I didn’t pull the trigger on getting Adobe until about 2022 and the video literally took me 2 years to put together, what a rookie haha. Cory contributed nearly all the Cal footage and some of his own stuff so that made the video grow too which was great. I’m stoked it’s together, done, signed, sealed and delivered. The video really is a homage to my friends and the good times we had over the years because there was a bloody lot of them! The name purely comes from the royal skatepark and what we used to call ourselves.

Top photo is the local scene 'Homeless Crew' scene with Kaleb top right lurking the quarter, and bottom we have Kaleb second from left with some mates from the early days, Matt Bates on the left and Harry Weeding on the right. 

I love how it took me more than 20 minutes to get to a track that wasn't metal, and it was only slightly less metal being Amyl and the Sniffers. Also, huge shouts to an almost entirely Tasmanian based soundtrack, that is sick as fuck. I wanted to touch on your taste in music, which is obviously centred around classic, heavy metal, with your 'Oldenimade' logo being in the vein of the Megadeth typefont. Tell us about your love for metal and the Tasmanian music scene? I had heard of Psycroptic (and then Domination Campaign), particularly with their spot on the Prosthetic Records label, pretty cool for a band from Hobart. I also recall there being a bunch of local metal acts either apart of Dark Mofo, or simply playing in town over that week.


Hey, cheers for that. I guess I was somewhat born into metal haha. When I was a kid my dad had well up over a 1000 records on a big shelf and hundreds of CDs, mostly rock, metal, thrash and punk. Growing up my brother and I hit the nu-metal genre pretty hard so when you look through our music collections there is a very wide span of distorted guitar music haha. 

I feel a very deep connection to music and really have an appreciation for any human that has the ability to produce music from a tool in their hands, If it’s made with a computer I’m not interested. The Tasmanian music scene has punched out some solid artists over the years, Psycroptic probably being the biggest of them all, Tyrant being the coolest of them all, forming over 40 years ago, heavy metal through and through too! Also, Courtney Barnett doesn’t count because she sucks. At the end of the day, I’m willing to pay money to see any local band that’s willing to have a crack and I really wish Launceston had more of a scene like Hobart does. We get a bit dry for local metal bands up north for some reason.

Kaleb and another good mate, Cory Sengstock, also known as Roy. Nu-metal boyz. Photo taken from socials. 

Just finally, I'm interested to hear about how you view yourself in terms of the context of the Tasmanian BMX scene, what with your 'Oldenimade' work and filming the 'Royal Skum' video, you must certainly be one of the key dudes growing the scene down there? This also extends the work done by the 'Two Wheels 'n' Pub Meals' crew, the names of which I'm not familiar with, so feel free to shout them out as well as any up and coming groms.


Ahh, that’s kind of a hard one, I think I’ve been consistent enough over the last 17 years of riding to be somewhat of a key person in the “northern” Tasmanian BMX scene. Contrasting, BMX here in Launceston has been weird over the years, it’s gone in waves, one minute there’s lots of dudes shredding and 2 seconds later there’s no one. 'Two Wheels ‘n’ Pub Meals' is probably the most influential BMX video of my generation. Forget cranking 'Criminal Mischief' before going for a ride we played this video like it was a bible, I guess probably because these people were riding spots we physically knew and they would actually be down at the local park when you went down. 

Shout out to Hugh Andrew, he’s been nothing but supportive of me and 'Oldenimade' since the beginning. Simon Reid, top fella, super intelligent guy, very BMX and I was stoked he and myself got to work on the squishy bike together. Trav Pennell, absolute peoples champion and It would be fair to say he plays a very large role in building the Hobart BMX scene, also an 'Oldenimade' supporter.


Hope you enjoyed this one, it's been a long time in the works and one that I'm proud to bring to light. If you're toey for an Aus built frame, from someone who truly loves bikes, BMX and quality machining, get at Kaleb on social, his Insta handle is 'oldenimade'.