Bespoked, the handbuilt bike show kicked off with a truly fabulous selection of bikes from some of the world’s best and most interesting bike builder and designers. The show is on all weekend in the Engine Shed at Temple Meads in Bristol and yep, we know the sun is shining but if you are interested in that point where craftsmanship, engineering excellence, innovations - and dare I say it ‘art’ intersect… on a bicycle then treat yourself and get along.
In the meantime - ahead of something more in-depth in the week - here’s a quick, scratching the surface, taster of some of the superb stuff you can see, starring the road.cc road bike selection (there are also selections in other bike categories chosen by other mags and websites too). Our three bikes were picked by Vecchiojo (who also gave a talk on his training for the Trans Continental Race on Saturday afternoon) and our esteemed book reviewer, Richard Peploe.
Our road.cc selection criteria were based on a mix of innovation, technical excellence, craftsmanship and attention to detail (natch) and being bikes we’d really like to ride. And they are…
The road.cc road bike selection…
The Donard custom carbon road frame. Pretty much all carbon bikes are handmade, but the Donard takes things to another level - the carbon tubing itself is made in-house in Newtownards in Northern Ireland, and you can have any layup you want and any geometry you want. The finish is great and the frames are all stringently tested - including being x-rayed so you can be sure they are built to last. Donard also build steel frames too. www.donard.cc
The road Toad (well, that’s what I’m calling it until told different) - is a classic steel road bike - you just know it would be a blast to ride and again the attention to detail is superb. As the other frames on his stand also attest Mr Toad really does know how to filet braze. Lovely. www.toad.cc
The English Cycles custom steel/carbon road bike. Whoa! Look at those seat stays… and all those holes, …and that Enve fork with the special carbon wrap. Head turning doesn’t really cover it with this one. It’s amazing just to look at, we can only dream about what it must be like to ride. This bike also bagged an award for technical excellence - and his gorgeous touring bike also got two awards. No surprise then that Oregon based English is a long running star of NAHBS - the US equivalent of Bespoked. Oh, and all the fancy stuff on this bike it’s not just there to mess with your melon there’s also a reason be it be to do with ride handling or weight - English may be a bike building artist, but he’s also a Cambridge trained engineer too. www.englishcycles.com
Other cool stuff…
Well who could fail to admire Richard Hallett’s fantastical stem (check out his bar tape wrapping skills too) possibly a warning as to what can happen if you polish your stem too much to while away the long Welsh winter. Oh, and Hallett couldn’t make a boring bike if you commissioned him to - so well worth a look.
The ‘how light?!!’ Well 5.9Kg T°Red steel road bike (we bumped in to T°Red at Eurobike last year too) - this baby uses a super-light tube set made to T°Red’s own specification (perhaps understandably designer, Romolo Stanco – the man behind T°Red wouldn’t tell us by who), they were also showing the latest version of their disc braked titanium road bike - this time with SRAM eTap and TRP’s Spyre mechanical discs - e-Tap hydro discs won’t be available until the summer. Oh, and check out the drop dead gorgeous cross bike if you’re there too.
The Brevet V urban bike - well it’s just lovely, as is pretty much everything else on their stand.
The Tsubasa Bicycles frame(s) - don’t know anything about these guys really beyond what’s in the show guide, which says they’re a custom carbon frame building and design studio based in Hackney. The frames look very interesting - particularly the finish on this one, which presumably is designed to disrupt laminar flow as air passes over the fork - like wot Ridley do - in a bid to reduce drag and make you more aero …Or it’s just there to look cool - either works for me.
Gilles Berthoud who knew that my personal favourite maker of shiny mudguards, (he also does cool leather bags and saddles) also made bikes? Well clearly not me. As you’d expect they are beautifully done (in the same French factory where everything else is made) and as you’d also expect they have some very lovely mudguards and saddles too.
Bespoked is on all weekend - you can find out more about what there is to see by looking at our previews (click on the Bespoked 2017 tag) and visiting the show website www.bespoked.cc – or you could just go.
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.