Top 10 things to look out for at Bespoked 2016
If you're into riding a bike that's one of a kind, has that degree of quirkiness about it, or offers a really-useful and not off-the-peg customised option, then the Bespoked Handmade Bicycle Show in Bristol should be on your to do list this weekend. Here are the ten things to look out for this year.
1. The Warwick-based Meteor Works cycle by custom-builder Lee Prescott is full of character, has a beautiful design, a personal story, and benefited from some 'open source' technical drawings. Parts of this bike have been built through a 3D printer including the dropouts and brake arms. The brake arms are also a scaled down version of a design that Lee's father once made for a BSA Rocket Goldstar motor bike. The handmade 8-speed hub uses the designs developed by Alan Clark, MD at Dutch-based Sturmey after Lee made the trip to Holland to share his vision of this bike with Alan. He bought into the concept wholly and handed over his technical drawings and permission to reproduce them.
2. Dear Susan Bikes offers up this miscellany of a mountain bike, with a pinnion bottom bracket concealing the gears, a carbon frame, cantelever 29 plus wheels, and a rather eclectic colour palette. When I asked whether the frame has a name, Petor at Dear Susan confessed that he had only finished building it this morning!
3.Our Cycle magazine technical editor, Richard Hallett, had is Hallett Handbuilt bikes on show again this year (he won best touring bike in 2015). This one has 650b wheels, and mixes modern with classic designs, like the bar end levers and the old school brakes.
4. The Adjustable Geometry Bike looks a bit like it's been put together by a rather indecisive Frankenstein. This experimental bike explores varying head angles and measures steering angle, lean angle and steering torque in an attempt to make conversations about handling less subjective. What it certainly does do is make people adjust their own head angles while looking at it!
5. OK they aren't bikes, but these Flandriens classic series miniatures are very detailed. There are various figures you might find on an over-designed and built model railway scene - think of your very own Tour de Yorkshire landscape with a miniature peloton passing a train station.
7. We've featured Bamboo bikes before, but not one like this. Boo bicycles are a 'hybrid' frame with carbon or aluminium featuring as well as bamboo. Boo frames are built using tube-to-tube construction. All of the frame’s bamboo tubes are hand-cut to fit together before they are bound with carbon fibre. The average Boo frame takes 40-50 hours of labour to make!
8. The Shand Stoater was one of our top three bikes on the podium in the best touring bike competition. the hydraulic disc brakes, shimano 105 groupset, and solid Shand own-brand hub and wheels were all a big plus, and the only downside we could see was that it could do with lower gearing than they had on offer here.
9. Karen Hartley also featured in our top three best touring bikes competition this year, with this women's bike. Karen explained to us that the integrated cabling for the rear lights took her right up to swearing point before she developed a neat trick to thread through the labrynthal frame - to solder the end of the cable to a brake cable and thread them through together, before snipping the solder off and removing the brake cable. Great problem solving from a great bike builder!
10. If we were asked to pick one of our top three to be an out and out winner (which we weren't) then our champion tourer this year would be this women's touring bike from Sven Cycles. It topped the table because Sven Cycles really had the customer in mind – in fact one customer!
Building a handmade bike from the customer upwards is really what bespoke handmade bikes should be all about. The frame size, width of the handlebars, USB charge point in the headset, Rohloff hub, dropped pannier rack, and preference for cantilever brakes were all requested or offered up in the continuous conversations between bike builder and the customer.