You can disagree with my choices or complain that I’ve missed something important, but I had a fairly briefly dash around Bespoked yesterday and these are the things that caught my eye and heart. Mostly, I wasn’t thinking about writing a story, I was just enjoying getting to talk to people about bikes and beautifully made things. It’s still on tomorrow, so if you can make the trip there I’d recommend it – or book it into you diaries for future year and make a long weekend of it.
A BMX with Manitou fork, stainless/rusted steel mix, and an extendable seat post so you can cover some decent ground to get to your local ride spot. This makes my list because it’s fun and I like the renegade vibe to this. If I could jump, I’d want to turn up to my local spot on this. Plus, when I asked what he called the pair of bikes next to it on the stand he said ‘my kids’ bikes’. Lucky kids! I’d bet few birthday cakes can be made with as much love and passion as these bikes.
I’d met Ben before when he was at the now defunct Islabikes Imagine Project. He’s now making bikes in Shropshire. This one he’d made for his wife – the artist who drew his ‘hop’ logo – as she’s a bit small to fit many bikes and couldn’t find just what she wanted. Ben is hoping that this is the kind of customer he’ll be making bikes for – people who aren’t served by the mainstream market so have a specific need for a custom frame.
If I’m allowed to pick a favourite stand, this might be it. A tall bike, a 3-speed hybrid, a track bike, a singlespeed gravel bike… it’s not so much the bikes themselves that got me, but more the vibe. It felt more like an interactive art installation than a bike show stand – fun, playful, and full of ‘ooh, let’s try this!’ experiments. The Surly Moloko homage bars though…I reckon I’d give them a go.
These bikes are built by Gavin, who was the framebuilder at Stanton when I visited there and he showed me how to weld. He’s now part of Coal Bikes, and they’re just finalising their design. For me, this was the best dressed mountain bike of the show. Looking more than skin deep, there’s a really interesting frame underneath that bears closer inspection.
It was great to meet Petor, the builder behind the Bicycles Pubes bike at NAHBS, and also behind Grayson Perry’s Princess Freedom bike that I saw when I interviewed Grayson Perry a few years back. His stand had two bikes on it reflecting the fact that Hope and Paul Components are both the same age. One has an American theme, built with Paul Components parts for Dynaplug’s stand at the 2020 Sea Otter that never happened. The other is built with Hope parts, painted by a friend who’d never painted a bike before, and the last bike Petor says he’ll make as Dear Susan. In future he’ll be running Bespoked with new business partner Josh. They have some plans that sound great and made my whole flying trip over there have a nice warm glow of hope. Watch this space.
I think I’d give this bike the ‘Bike I’d Like To Own’ award. The twin top tubes run through into the seat stays and give a nice aesthetic balance with the truss fork up front – which I think are really comfortable and practical on this type of bike. There’s internal routing for the dynamo and rear derailleur, adding to the tidy look. Yes, I’d happily own and ride this. Yum.
It’s a great day out, I would have happily spent a whole weekend there instead of half a day, and I highly recommend you go along and pick your own favourites.
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