Bespoked Handbuilt Show 2019
The Bespoked Show 2019 opened on Friday, gathering some of the UK’s (and the world’s) top framebuilders and component companies together with handmade bike enthusiasts under one impressive roof in Bristol Temple Meads Station’s Passenger Shed.
On Friday morning, the press were given a couple of hours to look round and see some of the bikes before the hundreds of show-goers flooded in. In addition, I was there to award three Singletrack Choice Award rosettes to bikes that really appealed. Below there are some of the highlights of that first day (the show runs until Sunday). It did seem though, that every booth you went to there was some extra detail lurking for anyone who talked to the builders themselves – some extra feature or add-on that wasn’t immediately obvious on first look.
Ted James Adventure Bike – Singletrack Choice Award
Take this Ted James adventure bike. It features a four-legged titanium fork because the owner kept breaking suspension forks while touring in the wilds of Asia, so they wanted something compliant but still light weight. This was hidden under the weight of luggage freshly back from a tour of the Scottish islands. How freshly back? The bike turned up on the day before the show…
Smithy Frameworks – Singletrack Choice Award
Smithy Frameworks is run by an actual blacksmith, who is transitioning from beating solid lumps of metal into shape to these beautifully shaped bikes. There were two contrasting mountain bikes on show – a laden bikepacking bike and a full-on enduro hardtail, freshly refinished after a hard year on the Welsh Enduro Series (where it took first place in the hardtail category…)
It wasn’t only steel bikes on show. Arbr Bikes were showing a smart version of its Saker carbon full suspension bike, made in the UK.
The impressively named Vlad Yordanov was there showcasing his VY Works Sequence downhill bike, along with the moulds that he used to make it. With some beautiful in-mould layup and organic shapes, he was keen to stress that the bike was built to be tough as he only started making his own bikes because he was breaking too many of other peoples’ frames.
Starling Spur – Singletrack Choice Award
Starling Cycles was there with a couple of impressive looking frames. This Spur is currently a one-off to test out the concept of a long travel, gearbox bike. Joe from Starling likes the idea of internal gears but hadn’t really liked either hub gears or the Pinion gearbox. He’d been impressed recently with the French Effigear system though – especially as it was customisable and importantly could run on a regular SRAM trigger shifter.
The Spur uses the gearbox as the centre of the single pivot point, so there is no need for chain idlers or jack drives. There’s just one jockey wheel to take up the small amount of chain slack as the bike has fixed dropouts. Combined with the silent clutch hub, the bike is said to be almost unnervingly quiet to ride on the rough stuff.
The gears offer a 440% range and work with a SRAM GX shifter. The bike’s weight is said to be in the low to mid 30lbs-range. With 170mm of travel front and rear, Starling chose this bike to test out the system as a bit of extra weight isn’t as crucial compared to an uppy-downy trail bike.
And it wasn’t all super complicated gearbox machines… How about this Starling Flyer? It’s a BMX cruiser style pub bike, town bike, dirt track bomber and looks a load of fun.
For more details, see Starling’s website.
Eighteen Bikes – No.7 and No.9
It wasn’t all bespoke one-off prototypes though. Eighteen Bikes was there to show off its range of production (made in the UK) steel hardtails. The bikes are, as the names suggest, 27in and 29in wheeled hardtails. The 27.5in wheeled bike is designed around a 140mm fork and the 29er will take a 130mm fork.
The bikes will be sized on reach so that riders can find something that suits their riding styles. There’s a more comprehensive explanation here but the idea is that longer dropper posts make choosing bikes on seattube length is a bit irrelevant these days. Eighteen bikes suggests two lengths depending on whether you’re going to run a teeny 32mm stem or a 50mm one, but the bikes on show had reaches of 500 and 525mm
Eighteen Bikes is just building up its range of demo bikes now. Framesets (which included a mudguard, top cap and rider-only tee-shirt) will be £900 with complete bikes starting at £2400.
See 18Bikes for more details. 18bikes.co.uk
And it wasn’t all gravel bikes and mountain bikes at the show. There were cargo bikes, bikepacking luggage, racks, Chris King himself, saddles and suspension forks. Even this beer bike had been hand crafted for Butcombe Bitter (the beer of my, er, early years as it happens…)
Restrap Bags was there from Yorkshire with some new bits and pieces. It was showing off its new range of waterproof panniers as well as some new commuter backpacks.
There seems to be a return to racks in touring that isn’t fully off road, with many bikes on show featuring brazed-in hand-crafted racks. Restrap had a couple of bags to suit these too. They feature the Fidlock magnetic securing system and are super quick to put on and off the bike.
And it wouldn’t be a Bespoked Show without an ogle at the latest bikes from Curtis Bikes. Now in a new workshop in Glastonbury, the tiny company is still crafting some amazing bikes. This downhill bike was a one-off for a team rider, but I’m sure that they’d make you one if you asked nicely.
And so that’s just a quick look at some of the highlights of the 2019 Bespoked Show. If you’re near Bristol this weekend, get along. And even if you’re not close, it’s only a short hop on a train from London and it’s literally in the train station building.
We’ll be dripping out more cool bikes and products from the show over the next few days, but if you’re able to get down, we can recommend it.
More details can be found here: bespoked.cc