First look: Bespoked UK Handmade Bike Show… There's a lot to see, so get on down there!

Saffron, Feather, Festka, Baum, Craddock - Brit made carbon bike, Rourke, Condor & more

by Mat Brett   April 11, 2014  

If there’s even the remotest opportunity that you could get to the Lee Valley Velodrome, London (home of the London 2012 Olympic track cycling) this weekend for the Bespoked UK Handmade Bicycle Show, seize it. You’ll be stunned.

Where should we start? There are about 150 brands here and pretty much every one of them has some fantastic products on show. Honestly, we could write dozens of stories from this place thanks to the amazing level of design and craftsmanship.

Sadly, all we have time for here is the (almost insultingly) briefest of tasters to whet your appetite.

Check out this road bike from Saffron (main pic). It’s built to a racing geometry from filet-brazed Columbus Spirit tubing and it’s been named Darling. The fork is Columbus Grammy and it has built up with a Shimano Dura-Ace groupset, Reynolds 46 Aero wheels, and the stem, handlebar and seatpost come from 3T.

Saffron haven’t gone with a normal seatpost clamp, instead opting for a bolt between the seatstays.

That quote on the top tube says, “It doesn’t get any easier, you just go faster.”

Who said that? A point for everyone who said 'Greg LeMond'.

Baum’s pink Corretto won the award for Best Road Bike. We’ll tell you more about this bike in a future story but the basic facts are that it’s made from titanium and Baum butt every tube with an individual rider in mind; they don’t pre-build frames or hold stock.

The Czech-made Festka Mist is another titanium bike – using thin-walled oversized tubes. It is compatible with either mechanical or, as in this case, Di2 electronic shifting, and disc brakes.

Next up, the Leaf Spring bike from Irish brand Woodelo.

It’s a pretty special looking bike that’s made from ash.

How many British carbon fibre frame manufacturers can you name? Craddock is a new company offering exactly that, and will charge £2,500 for the frame and fork, which though a lot of money seems like reasonably good value for a handbuilt British carbon fibre frame.

Founder Richard Craddock is self-taught and spent the past five years researching and developing carbon fibre fabrication, and building his own manufacturing facility with all the tools and machinery to produce his own bespoke carbon frames. He reckons he can produce up to 50 frames a year.

Craddock constructs the frames by bonding precisely mitred roll wrapped carbon tubes and then wrapping with pre-impregnated carbon, then curing in his own oven. It's certainly very neatly finished.

You might recognise this Brian Rourke bike as the one Guy Martin used for his recent speed record. Check out the gearing – that’s what you need to get up to 112mph.

Donhou is well known for some of his stunning custom builds, but the framebuilder used Bespoked to launch his Signature Steel range of stock bikes. Partly inspired by the Rapha-Continental bike project from a few years ago, and many of the customer bikes he has made, he plans to offer a stock frameset, and here it is. He's looking to offer three sizes to begin with, and they'll all be made from Reynolds 853 with a stock geometry, and will be equipped with disc brakes. 

Check out the incredible cable and hose routing on this 29er fat bike from Titchmarsh Cycles, we've never seen internal gear cable or brake hose routing anywhere near as clean as this. More details on this standout bike soon.

Ricky Feather is going racing. He launched his own race team at the show, which aims to get back to the old days of local racers going to local framebuilders for custom steel race frames. The frames are made from Columbus Spirt tubing with tubing company's brand new D-shaped down tube. Look out for these at a race near you this season.

Want a British build carbon fibre frame? Well there are now a few more options. Along with Craddock above, you can add Nerve, just launched at the show, to that very short list. Nerve are claiming just 630g for this frame, and it's built by a chap who works in the F1 business so he knows a thing or two about working with carbon fibre. Every frame will be bespoke of course, and they reckon a lead time of aroiund six weeks. We reckon get in there quick before that waiting list gets a fair bit longer. 

Condor Cycles are showing two Classico Stainless prototypes. This one is lugged, there is another out of shot which is TIG welded. They tell us they had a lot of requests for a bike like this, so they set out creating on, and very fine it looks too. They're not sure which version frame to put into production, we can't decide as they both look lovely. 

Shand have updated their Stoater, now just the one frame is available but by using the Paragon dropouts it can be offered in singlespeed, Rohloff or regular drivetrain options. Plenty of tyre and mudguard clearance and loads of eyelets for mounting racks. 

As we said, that’s just the briefest of brief snapshots of what you can expect to see at Bespoked – a random selection. There’s plenty more where that lot came from.

You’ll find the opening times, ticket prices, directions and all the other essential info you need on the Bespoked website. Take our word for it, you won’t be disappointed.

We’ll have loads more pictures and stories from Bespoked on road.cc over the next few days.

16 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Dear Mr Craddock, your frames look really rather nice and I particularly like the uncompromising orangeyness. That said, I implore you to seek out the services of a designer to help with the creation of a simple logo and frame graphic that do not look like they were created and printed out in Microsoft Word. Thanks

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [779 posts]
11th April 2014 - 22:40

like this
Like (35)

The Craddock is kinda growing on me - I know its handmade and just as much an artisan product as the others in the article but I like the utter lack of frivolity and beautifying that has taken place - its 100% function and nowt else matters.

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
11th April 2014 - 22:53

like this
Like (26)

That said, some of the frames on the Saffron website are truly stunning - the steel/carbon ones particularly. I'm a bit meh on the really retro lugged steel frames, but some of the Saffrons look utterly modern and hugely desirable.

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
11th April 2014 - 23:06

like this
Like (19)

Jesus. Font snobs have discovered cycling. Funny how bike names sound like fonts though.

I won't be at Bespoked. Rather than gawping at a pretty bike I'll be riding it.

It's a Knockout Sans Serif. With a Helvetica 12pt chainset.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1031 posts]
11th April 2014 - 23:24

like this
Like (38)

Popped along last night for a couple of hours. Some tidy bikes on display (why no Rusby mention?) and also clapped eyes on cycling demigods like Chris King, which was nice.

Having gone to the last two shows in Bristol, though, suspicions about the new venue have been confirmed. Didn't have half as much atmosphere as last year if you ask me. Nice to see the velodrome if you haven't had the pleasure yet but it does basically feel like a tradeshow inside a sports centre. Which it is, to be fair. But I can't help thinking a more 'organic' venue like Truman Brewery would have worked better for this kind of show. Presumably will be way busier today/tomorrow, though, so that should help with the atmosphere.

posted by Yennings [205 posts]
12th April 2014 - 8:06

like this
Like (25)

Baum looks fantastic and with custom butted Ti, unique?

Pity they are in Oz

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [467 posts]
12th April 2014 - 8:26

like this
Like (16)

MercuryOne wrote:
Jesus. Font snobs have discovered cycling. Funny how bike names sound like fonts though.

I won't be at Bespoked. Rather than gawping at a pretty bike I'll be riding it.

It's a Knockout Sans Serif. With a Helvetica 12pt chainset.

If you're spending 2.5k on a frame it's not too much to ask that the decals don't look like they were stuck on with letraset is it? Besides, if you've got a rather blunt brand name like Craddock it needs a bit of sensitivity with the typeface. Anyway, I'm off to the shops to tut at the palette choice on some cereal boxes.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [779 posts]
12th April 2014 - 9:02

like this
Like (33)

Yennings wrote:
why no Rusby mention?

The article wrote:
Sadly, all we have time for here is the (almost insultingly) briefest of tasters to whet your appetite.

posted by Mat Brett [1819 posts]
12th April 2014 - 9:33

like this
Like (25)

I quite like the Craddock simplicity. Also reminds me of Penguins books and that can't be bad Smile

posted by JonD [177 posts]
12th April 2014 - 9:36

like this
Like (16)

@Mat Brett: Fair point but they still managed to find space to mention some of the usual suspects...

posted by Yennings [205 posts]
12th April 2014 - 11:38

like this
Like (19)

As mentioned, this is a brief, random selection and your favourite wasn't included, like the vast majority of others.

posted by Mat Brett [1819 posts]
12th April 2014 - 13:04

like this
Like (19)

The light blue Saffron at the top of this story is a piece of utter loveliness Day Dreaming ...

Pastaman

posted by pastaman [210 posts]
13th April 2014 - 1:18

like this
Like (31)

Yennings wrote:
But I can't help thinking a more 'organic' venue like Truman Brewery would have worked better for this kind of show. Presumably will be way busier today/tomorrow, though, so that should help with the atmosphere.

Agreed. Nice bikes but the venue was shit. It smelt like shit, literally. And yes, way too clean, might as well have been in a conference centre in Croydon for atmosphere. Those poor hipsters looked right out of whack. I even saw one scuttling out of Westfiled holding a boutique brewed beer, wearing a flat cap and looking like he was trying to get out of the zombie Apocalypse. Even I, determinedly not hipster, felt at atmoisphere more in keeping with the handmade aesthetic would have been good. It's not like London is short of them. I fear that they will all scuttle back to Bristol next year.

On another note, "How much?!" I know the price tag isn't really the point but it makes Spa cycles £315 725 frames look like total bargains. Someone wanted £1000 for a 725 frame. Yikes. I guess that's the problem when you start putting skilled people back in expensive countries - they want to be paid properly.

And I know this really isn't the point but it's hard not to think that buying a Defy and a TCR for the same price as a single steel bike is not a good deal. I must be soul less Devil

alotronic's picture

posted by alotronic [247 posts]
13th April 2014 - 9:12

like this
Like (14)

Yennings wrote:
And I know this really isn't the point but it's hard not to think that buying a Defy and a TCR for the same price as a single steel bike is not a good deal. I must be soul less Devil

At the end of the day, it's who you want to pay your money to. If you buy a Pegoretti, Sachs or Winter, then you know the guy who's getting your cash (Dario, Richard or Eric) is the same guy you talked to, who is the same guy who built your frame. And chances are it will be a more rewarding frame to ride than a Specialized, Trek or Giant.

As for getting one of the latter 3, you'll get a lighter, better value bike that people will recognize more. Your money doesn't go to the builder, it goes to shareholders and, for some, sponsorship of pro teams.

At the end of the day, it's the ppremium you want to pay over quality versus value that determines which option to take.

posted by Gordy748 [74 posts]
13th April 2014 - 14:32

like this
Like (18)

Gordy748 wrote:

At the end of the day, it's who you want to pay your money to.

Yes Gordy, that's a very good point. I know I would love to be able to afford to know that my money goes to the good guys! If I were a rich man I would have a brace of those bikes I saw yesterday, but as an average punter who likes riding bikes rather than looking at them so much... well I am going to take value decisions.

But yes, maybe there's a balance in there somewhere... An Etape from Enigma versus a cheap Defy+TCR, I would probably buy the Enigma. I guess that's sort of where my value/quality fulcrum sits - a fairly plain off the peg titanium bike, that could last ten + years would be better than a custom 725 in my book, and about the sameish price.

alotronic's picture

posted by alotronic [247 posts]
13th April 2014 - 16:03

like this
Like (11)

With all this discussion over steel frame price tags, maybe it's worth a little historical comparison.

Back in 1979, Raleigh's "Special Developments" operation at Ilkeston, were producing a very limited number of 753 frames per year for their team riders and "discerning members of the public".

The £150 price tag, using an inflation calculator, equates to £643 in today's money, and those frames obviously included the forks.

The four frame builders at Ilkeston would typically craft 1000 frames per year between them, a production volume backed up by the late ex-Gillot frame builder Ron Cooper, who confirmed that he typically built "five frames per week" during his career. It's reasonable to assume that computer assisted design, modern frame jigs, and developments such as lugless TIG construction, probably help to reduce the time to build each custom frame, rather than increase it.

Food for thought, perhaps.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

Neil753's picture

posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
13th April 2014 - 17:13

like this
Like (15)