We had the pleasure of attending another excellent edition of Bespoked last week, the UK’s only handmade bicycle show and really one of the finest bicycle shows in the world. I’ve not been for a few years but to visit this year was to be reminded how buoyant the bespoke framebuilding industry and community is, with a diverse and varied array of bike builders showing everything from paint splattered steel road bikes to carbon fibre reinforced bamboo bikes.
Here are some quick highlights from the show, we'll have a lot more over the coming days and weeks. Did you attend the show over the weekend? We'd love to hear what your highlights were by popping them in the comments section below. And if you missed the announcement for the road.cc choice awards, you can view the article about the three winners here.
Spoon Custom is a new framebuilder based out of Brighton but the bikes have been inspired by the founder living and riding in northern Italian, and more than that the bikes are made by framebuilders in this region too. The paint job on this bike was commissioned by the M.C.Escher foundation to bring his work to a new audience.
Woodrup won a road.cc choice award with beautifully elegant road bike that had just been ridden in the Paris-Roubaix Challenge, and elsewhere on the company’s stand was this lovely road bike.
Check out the lugs on this bike! Bespoked is the only place where you'll see some lovely lug work, and Woodrup prides themselves on their expertise at producing bespoke lug designs, as these Jedi inspired ones demonstrate.
A Sven Cycles bike ready for an adventure, with 1x and fat tyres and additional bottle cages on the fork blades.
You can always rely on Field Cycles to produce a jaw-dropping bike. And check out that gold chain. Blingtastic!
One thing that is clear at Bespoked this year is that custom carbon is getting more popular, and Dublin-based FiftyOne is small outfit doing it really well. There's something satisfying about the simple round tube aesthetic of the bikes.
Getting a custom frame means you can demand whatever you want. In this case, the 140kg rider wanted the frame as stiff as possible, so carbon plates were bonded at the junctions to add extra stiffness to the bike.
Isen is a collaboration between Caren Harty (Hartley Cycles) and Matt McDonough (Talbot Frameworks) and launched a range of stock bikes all featuring a stunning fade paint job that is apparently very tricky to pull off. We can believe them. This bike is custom for one of the brand's sponsored women bike racers and weighs 6.8kg with a 1x11 drivetrain and Lightweight wheels.
If there's an award for best splatter paint job since 1994, this Feather Cycles bike would get it.
Even the stem has been splattered to match the frame.
But it faces tough competition from Filament, a bespoke carbon fibre framebuilder. love a good splatter paint job, though it makes me feel a bit old...
Would love to see this mad Quirk Cycles time trial bike at my local evening 10.
Speaking of which, this crazy steel track bike from Karussell Cycles of Slovenia is an absolute showstopper. Karussell's founder literally built it out of curiosity and for his own personal use, garnering plenty of attention at the show from visitors and other exhibitors alike.
US carbon specialists Calfee have built a gravel bike with a small spring in the rear stays to provide 10mm of suspension for added traction when you're scrambling up a technical climb.
Calfee were also showing off this Bamboo bike, and the frame is actually lined with carbon to make it much lighter and stronger. They're the only bike makers in the world doing it, and this gravel bike comes in at 7.7kg... extremely impressive.
There's no getting away from the fact that this custom e-bike from Taurus XE will prove divisive... but you can't deny it's extremely unique. The battery is fitted in the seat tube, and the handlebars are super narrow, simply because that's what Taurus XE's founder prefers!
It's a wacky blend of new and old, fitted with this completely bespoke front brake that was designed and made from scratch. Campag Delta, anyone?
Prova Cycles is Mark Hester, an Australian framebuilder with a background in engineering in the automotive industry, and the bike brand is his outlet for putting all this experience into producing custom handmade steel frames.
The quality of workmanship and attention to detail on this disc-equipped road bike is just extraordinary.
Last year Toad won a road.cc choice award and this year, due to an injury delaying the build, they displayed this nearly finished road bike. It's been designed for taking part in events like the Transcontinental Race and can be used either with bikepacking bags or with a custom made rack.
Nice cable routing into the fork leg.
Werking is Italian framebuilder Andrea Sega who builds each carbon frame entirely to order, with several different grades of carbon fibre used throughout to deliver the desired performance and ride quality.
He’s also branching out into accessories with a brand called Aptitude and was showing a 10g carbon water bottle cage and a single bolt computer out-front mount.
We acknowledged the cutting-edge work Reynolds is conducting in the field of 3D printed steel and titanium lugs, but they are not alone. Métier Vélo is a bespoke carbon framebuilder based out of New Mexico who combines carbon tubes with 3D printed titanium lugs.
The frames are built to be extremely tough and very lightweight, and also repairable so should a tube get damaged in a crash say, it can be replaced. The lugs can also be shaped in interesting forms to give an organic appearance.
The unusual seat tube on this steel racer from Staal is a new old stock 1930s Reynolds tube that was originally intended for Tandems.
This is a fully loaded Stanforth Conway, the signature Sean Conway bike that he's currently using in his attempt to break the record for the fastest crossing of Europe (follow Sean's progress here).
More highlights and coverage from the show soon.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.