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Posts Tagged ‘bespoked’

Bespoked Bristol and me

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013 by Mick Allan

I was at the first annual Bespoked Bristol, the UK’s version of the NAHBS (North American Handmade Bicycle Show) and named it as my favourite bicycle show of all time. And I’ve seen a few let me tell you. And I exhibited (the Cyclorama book) at the second annual Bespoked Bristol after which I declared it better than the first and still the best bicycle show of all time. This year was even better, a subtle change of exhibitors including the very welcome addition of The Brompton Bicycle Co. who seem to go from strength to strength … to strength (BTW – their new brake levers will be available ‘in a few weeks’ I was assured. Yay). In the first year, and the second (and at the European Handmade Show held in Germany four years ago) I wandered the hall for hours in thrall to the assembled loveliness. Round and around I went, inspecting the lugs and mitres, paint finish and components, as if searching for the holy grail. These bikes are the cream of the crop. The very best that you can buy. There were a few more ’showstoppers’ than in previous years, blatant attempts by exhibitors to capture the attention of the media/visitors. And, actually, my favourite part of the show. Donhue had his wicked looking draft speed racer – the like of which we haven’t seen since the seventies. (as ever – right click and ‘view image’ to see full size)

Donhue draft speed racer

What appeared to be the most technically advanced Bakfiets in the world was present with this extraordinary front suspension incorporating the first bicycle ‘hub centre steering’ set-up I’ve ever seen (it crops up occasionally on show/custom motorcycles). Very awesome, if a bugger to keep clean – and I enjoyed the irony of such an over-engineered front end on a ‘utility’ bike. It didn’t have a rear mudguard either. Tut!

Blingy bakfiets

a brown bike

Slate

Beirdy weirdy

Tracker

My highlight of the show – I was really chuffed to have an opportunity to shake the hand of Paul, of Paul’s Components. He was, by all accounts, taken aback and somewhat overwhelmed by the fandom and hero worship he felt from the British crowds. Nice. I didn’t take so many pics this year, partly because trying to get a clear shot was a nightmare with the sheer number of droolers present (I couldn’t make the press day on Friday), but mostly because, about two hours after I arrived, I ran out of any desire to see another bike. In a moment of profound realisation, standing there amongst the throngs and with some of the most finely crafted and beautiful bikes on the planet, I realised… that I was bored.

I hadn’t seen that coming at all.

I love handmade bikes, don’t get me wrong, and I’ll definitely be there next year. It’s not you Bespoked Bristol, it’s me. What I wanted to see wasn’t present at Bespoked. What I wanted to see was not elitist, posey, hyper expensive bicycle shaped jewellery. Without me even knowing it I’ve moved on. What I wanted to see was ‘usefulness‘. None of the bikes at Bespoked are going to persuade a non cyclist to take up cycling to work. None of these bikes are the answer to the problem of how to transport kids to school. I want solutions to everyday folk’s everyday problems.

This feels like my Damascas moment.

I am really excited by a bike which was sent recently from Barcelona. It’s sort of mass produced (once they get going and hit some production numbers) it’s heavyish, slowish and (relatively) cheap. I’m riding it home tonight. Watch out for the review. This. Is exciting. This:

urbanbiba

Bespoked. The last word.

Friday, March 30th, 2012 by Mick Allan

Last year’s Bespoked was, genuinely, the best bicycle show I’d ever attended. This year was even better. The quality was outstanding, easily on a par with anything coming out of the US or EU. If you love exotic bicycles and you fail to attend the show next year you’ll be kicking yourself. After two storming years it’s into its stride now. It has momentum. You can bet that the assembled engineers, artisans and craftspeople will spend all year thinking of ways to outdo each other next year. I can’t wait.

One of the best builders who attended the show didn’t have a stand. In fact he turned up unannounced and wandered around on his own. The ‘bike’ he brought to the show was one of the most innovative and forward looking I’ve ever seen. But he left it locked up to a railing outside where passersby largely ignored it. Over the last few years Steve Parry of SP Designs has produced a small fleet of innovative small bikes largely based on Bromptons. When I worked in a Brompton dealer in Bristol he would pop in from time to time to show us his latest machine. Steve is a man seemingly possessed. His purpose in life is making the Brompton folding bike better. I should add that Brompton are not great fans of his work. He’s made ‘Bromptons’ with Titanium frames, with front and rear deraileurs, with carbon fibre forks and seat posts and ‘Bromptons’ with disc brakes. He’s made ‘Bromptons’ which weigh a fraction of the weight of the bikes which roll out of Bromptons own factory. Parry’s bikes may or may not be suitable for production. Perhaps there is no great market for hand made super folders. Whatever. They might never make it to production but it warms my heart to know that there are people like Steve out there pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the world of pedal power. He’s a man on a mission.

The thing he rolled up on is no less innovative than any of his previous machines, and true to form it uses Brompton components. Its an electric scooter which folds. And it’s a brilliant, brilliant thing.

SP Design Folding lecky Scooter

Here it comes....

Voila!

Folks in other parts of Europe have embraced scooters for their short distance convenience. They fill the void between walking and cycling perfectly. An electric one makes a lot of sense. I goes without saying that I want one…..

The Tribe.

Thursday, March 29th, 2012 by Mick Allan

When I was packing to head off to the Bespoked Show in Bristol last weekend I trawled through my collection of T-shirts to find the best ones I’ve got. Only the rarest and coolest would do. Seems I wasn’t the only one!

The following are just a tiny percentage. Maybe next year we should run a competition! Sorry about the blurry images…. cant get the staff…

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Even More Pics From Briz..

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 by Mick Allan

As ever, right click on image and ‘view image’ to see full size.

Enigma

Enigma

Racer Rosa

New builder Mundie

There was a great buzz at the show..

Slate bike. Like a Vibrant rear triangle but not.

Foffa Bikes

Viliers Velo

Milk bikes

Burls new line

Spotted outside the show

Quoc Pham shoes, just lovely.

Dynamo works posters

More tomorrow folks!

More Pictures from Bespoked

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 by Mick Allan

Crisp

The return of elevated stays! Yay.  But where's the purple anodizing??

Ted James 29 Gnar

Ted James bike for his mum. Just lovely.

Mercian won Best Utility with this beauty.

New street-tough wheels from Brick Lane Bikes.

LHD Super Ted. 14 Bike Co.

14 Bike Co. Well hard.

Kurtz from Hungary

Hidden away on Roberts' stand - carbon overkill.

Roberts again. With carbon rings.

Maus. Industrial finish hides immaculate construction.

Curtis 24" Cruiser

Shand

Ancient and modern.

More tomorrow folks!

Bespoked Brizzol

Monday, March 19th, 2012 by Mick Allan

After the enormous success of last year’s show I’m looking forward to this year’s event with eager anticipation. It really was an awesome show last year and this one will be even more awesomer.

But the best thing about this one is not the larger premises nor the hugely expanded exhibitors list. No.. It’s that Cyclorama will have a stand there this year. And on that stand will be our new book! I’m so excited I can barely focus and I keep having to go for a lie down.

As a gift to show visitors we’ll be selling the book at just £10, a saving of £2.99. And if that wasn’t enough, if you buy a book we’ll sell you a Cyclorama t-shirt for just a £iver (while stocks last).

See you there!

bespoked bristol