Highlights from the Bespoked Show 2019

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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.

Press Preview
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…

ted james titanium fork
It’s like half a titanium octopus…
ted james adventure bike
The owner had run out of chain oil and had to use tinned mackerel oil on the chain. Not nice.

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…)


bespoked show, handmade bikes, smithy frameworks
Reinforced head tube and fully tubed internal cables
bespoked show, handmade bikes, smithy frameworks
The finish is unlacquered nickle plating – and looks lovely!
bespoked show, handmade bikes, smithy frameworks
Not bad condition for a year-old frame, eh?
bespoked show, handmade bikes, smithy frameworks, nickle plating
Nickle plating is an option, as is a number of super-technical ceramic coatings.
bespoked show, handmade bikes, smithy frameworks, head badge
One of the nicest headbadges at the show – though there were many great examples.
The owner’s own bikepacking bike with trick ceramic coloured finish.

Carbon too
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.


bespoked handmade bike show, carbon arbr saker
It’s refreshing to come to a bike show and see so little carbon. But what was there was impressive

Vy Works
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.

bespoked show 2019, vyworks sequence carbon downhill bike
So much shiny! The impressive VyWorks Sequence
bespoked show 2019, vyworks
‘Oh this old thing? I made it myself…’

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.

bespoked show 2019, starling spur
The Starling Spur. Quite the beast. The rider is over six foot, which puts it into proportion.
bespoked 2019, starling spur, effigear
The drive of the gearbox is the centre of the suspension pivot point.

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.

bespoked show 2019, starling spur
Prototype or not, it still has to have a smart headbadge, right?
It’s not a chain idler, it’s just to take up a tiny amount of chain slack.

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.

Pub bike? Hold my pint and check out this wheelie…

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.

bespoked show 2019 eighteen bikes
All made in Sheffield

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

bespoked show 2019 eighteen bikes
Only bike customers get the special tee…

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.

bespoked show eighteen bikes
Great colours and graphics from Eighteen Bikes
Another cool head badge

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…)

bespoked show, butcombe bitter
While no one’s looking…

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.

bespoked show restrap
There’s a high-tech taped version and a more ‘street’ looking version. Both made in Yorkshire

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.

bespoked restrap bags fidlock
The smaller(!) of the two sizes of rack bag. Both feature magnetic catches at the base.
bespoked restrap bags fidlock
Ta da! The bag is removed for that trip into town. Even the bag base is machined in the UK.
And no, it wasn’t all gravel bikes either. This bike came to the designer ‘in a dream’.

Curtis Bikes
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.

bespoked show 2019 curtis bikes
Longer swingarm, longer shock and a head angle in the low 60s. Looks pretty spot-on to us.
bespoked, curtis bikes
Mmm… brazing…

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

It’s like this, only bigger. Get along!
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Chipps Chippendale

Singletrackworld's Editor At Large

With 22 years as Editor of Singletrack World Magazine, Chipps is the longest-running cycling magazine editor in the world. He started in the bike trade in 1990 and became a full time mountain bike journalist at the start of 1994. Over the last 30 years as a bike writer and photographer, he has seen mountain bike culture flourish, strengthen and diversify and bike technology go from rigid steel frames to fully suspended carbon fibre (and sometimes back to rigid steel as well.)

More posts from Chipps

Comments (5)

    That ARBR bike looks like old news, his new RB2 Carbon 29er looks far better.

    All absolutely gorgeous bikes, lots of character. Thanks for posting Chipps

    So excited to be there tomorrow,
    So Starling need a jockey wheel on the fixed dropout expensive Spur but not the fixed dropout Flyer? How does that work?

    Excellent stuff.

    I love the detail on the Smithy bikes and the nickle plating is beautiful, but undecided on the split lower seatube. Amazing detail on the finish and build.

    Those Restrap front bags and racks look good. Was looking at the Surly alternative, the quality and design is fine but the cost is seriously prohibitive – twice that of a Tubus rear rack, panniers and a racktop bag of similar quality.

    Eccentric bottom bracket?

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