One of my favourite events of the year and now in it's ninth edition, the annual Bespoked Handmade Bicycle show once again returned to Brunel’s Old Station and Engine Shed in Bristol.
Over 100 of the finest frame-builders and bicycle component makers from across the world filled the space in a show that is tailor made for those that love the artisan. It gives you an opportunity to not only view some magnificent bicycles but also to talk to the pure enthusiasts that design, test, build and ride them with an vast knowledge and impeccable attention to detail.
Along with the array of classically beautifully bikes designed for smooth surfaces there's now a real anticipation of seeing the unexpected and experimental at the show. There's a huge variety of machines on offer, many of which represent the alternative cycling visions of their creators. There are your 'smash it down a hill as fast as possible and over everything in sight machines' to 5kg steel climbers bikes and everything in between, it seems anything is possible in the custom frame-building world nowadays and thats what it's all about and what we love about it.
Bespoked is a calendar highlight for many frame-builders who bring along the best of a years work with something new and innovative, while others leave the show inspired to take up frame-building. It's also a reminder of the diversity in the sport both in the machines that we choose to ride and the people that choose to ride them, with a wonderfully eclectic mix of people coming together. As well as photographing the highlights I tried to capture the essence and 'feel' of this years show, enjoy!
This years best in show winner - Prova Cycles 'Speciale'
Ingrid Components with their pretty exciting and currently unnamed Italian 12-speed groupset which is apparently designed for every discipline.
Indie bike builders from Leytonstone, East London are building some great hand made frames and custom built wheels for your adventures. They've also launched an amateur racing team this year.
Academy is a frame-building tool's manufacturer and is a subsidiary of The Bicycle Academy in Froome, Somerset
They picked up this years Steve Worland Innovation award with this frame jig. The Academy has become a central part of the frame-building world in Europe with a huge number of this years frame-builders having had some involvement with courses and guidance.
Look Mum No Hands provided the shows refreshments and quality coffee.
North Norfolk's Crossley Metal in the newcomers section, brought along a compact steel touring bike with a neat custom carbon front storage box. They aim to combine exciting aesthetics and top end performance in all areas of cycling and sponsor Team FSR - racing Eastern/London League and National trophy cyclocross. Look out for some ew carbon products soon.
Mackenze Cyclone - Another newcomer to this years show.
"A keen cyclist all my life, I doodled my design idea way back in 2003. In 2012 I had one built for me but, unfortunately, I was hit by a car and it was written off. I decided to build one myself and learnt at The Bicycle Academy. I obtained the European Registered Design Certificate, passed it through the European Standards and now proudly present to you the MacKenzie Cyclone, custom crafted in my workshop at home and individualised with choice components"
Buying, selling and restoring classic racing cycles. Golden Age Cycles of Bicester was established in 2015 to cater for the growing interest in classic racing cycles made by the likes of Hetchins, Bates, Claud Butler, Mercian and many many others. Their Bicester showroom contains over 200 classic cycles and frames including steel, carbon, aluminium, occasional titanium, magnesium and bamboo. They'll also buy quality used bikes, components and ephemera off you.
I've been a longtime admirer of Sturdy Cycles by Tom Sturdy, another who is involved as a teacher at The Bicycle Academy. This year he brought along a titanium hardtail 29'er with 3D printed titanium components which are left in a raw finish to accentuate them from the frame. Winner of this years technical excellence award. Tom has a background in Aeronautical Engineering and Sports Biomechanics as well as a varied career in the bicycle industry. He uses this unique breadth of knowledge to create bicycles that truly respond to specific customer requirements using cutting edge design and manufacturing techniques.
Custom rucksacks and bags from Colorado-based Alpine Luddites
Feather Cycles made a subtle appearance with this classy and earthy marble effect paint job.
An incredible piece of bicycle engineering from Curtis Bikes, who have been specialised in hand-making nothing but off-road competition dirt bikes since 1972. Every frames tube set is chosen to suit the rider’s size, weight, riding style and frame choice enabling them to build the customer their perfect frame for the job. When they say handmade they mean handmade, there is little in the way of fancy machinery in the workshop, only a vice, hacksaw, files and a hand operated tube bender and in their words "a whole heap of passion".
Anything goes in the world of custom bike-building and theres something for everyone, with Tri-Sept bringing his beautifully crafted laminated bamboo frames to this years show that have an incredible visual texture.
Spoon Customs fabricate bikes in mainly Columbus steel by hand in Northern Italy.
US based Allied Cycleworks Harlequin paint scheme changes colour depending on how the light catches it and what angle you view it from, probably my favourite paint of this years show.
VY Works Limited, a multidisciplinary studio focused on designing and producing high quality composite products and winner of outstanding new frame-builder with this full carbon monocoque downhill bike. The bike was a long term personal project and Vlad's take on what a downhill bike is, encapsulating the whole process from idea generation to bringing the bike to the start gate.
It was while working in the UK that Mark started the journey to becoming a framebuilder after a visit to an early Bespoked and spending time at TBA where the first few Prova’s were built. One of biggest drivers for starting to build frames is a passion for engineering design and while the bikes are respectful to the tradition of building they are also some of the first in the world to incorporate TIG welded 3D printed structures.
One of the themes or trends emerging at this years show was the use of technological innovation that we're seeing in the form of 3D printing to the combination of various materials used depending on their suitability for a certain 'look' or material characteristics appropriate for an individual component. Many exhibitors showed off 3D printing in various forms, each with a unique take on how to use it.
Mawis Bikes from Germany