Thursday, 17 April 2014

REPORT: Bespoked The UK Handmade Bike Show 2014 (London)

This year's Bespoked UK Handmade Bicycle Show was held for the first time in London. (Previous years it was in Bristol in a venue no longer available and in any case now far outgrown.) I hadn't been before but of course with my interest in custom bicycles and local craftsmanship (as opposed to mass production), I seized the chance to go this year.

I hooked up a partnership with one of the exhibitors, Nisnas Industries in Wadi Nisnas, Haifa, Israel, for a very special exhibition - more about that in the next post!


The show was held at the Lee Valley VeloPark formerly known unofficially as the Olympic Velodrome, designed by UK architects Hopkins Architects. The track itself was designed by Australian Ron Webb, who designed the velodrome tracks for the Sydney and Athens Games, is built of Siberian pine and is considered the fastest velodrome track in the world. It is now open to the public. (So here's your chance to ride it!)

Throughout the duration of the Bespoked show, the track was open to members of the public. Riders were given access to the track in small groups following briefings by track staff.

Look Mum No Hands! provided hot beverages, pastries and sandwiches. The coffee was excellent.


In the past, I've only been free to attend one day of any multi-day bicycle show. This time, I was able to attend on both Friday and Sunday. On Friday, I got entry during the "Press Only" morning hours, which provided a fantastic opportunity to walk around all the stands before it got crowded. Most exhibitors had completed setting up their stands and so had time to talk. (Sunday morning, it was also pretty quiet but everyone was exhausted and quite a few were losing their voices!)

My Nisnas friend and I had tentatively arranged for a handful of framebuilders to talk to camera on Sunday morning. With the anticipation of getting video interviews later, I did not take any notes during conversations I had with builders on Friday. Unfortunately, the video interviews couldn't be done due to the acoustics in the velodrome (and the lack of a handheld microphone), which sadly means I can't provide the in-depth write-ups here that I had hoped for.

But we do have photos! So here is a run-down of the bikes and related items on display at the show, with notes quoted from the Show Guide.


Brick Lane Bikes
Location: Bethnal Green Road, London

"Begun as the dream of a former courier, Brick Lane bikes is one of the Uk’s most notorious fixed gear specialist bike shops.  Brick Lane Bikes offers a huge range of vintage and new components from their own in-house range 'BLB', as well distributing the products from US hand made giants such as Phil Wood, Paul Components, Aerospoke, Holdfast, Velocity Wheels and many more.  With an international reputation for the quality of their hand made wheels and their made in the EU 'La Piovra' range of custom frames there is little that the small East London shop doesn’t offer."

(Nisnas was displaying its wares on this stand, so this was my base during the show.)

All seven bikes on display were built by a framebuilder based in Poland who works in steel and aluminium across a range of styles including:

The upright city tourer in steel with a classic aesthetic proved very popular.

The 'La Piovraaluminium-framed track bikes with matt black finish were a hit with a lot of young men!

Brick Lane Bikes also displayed various components accessories such as 'Ass Savers' (clip on mudguards), multi-tools, Phil Wood cranksets and these Ribcaps.

Whiter Cycles
Framebuilder: Roger Whiter
Location: Bristol

"Roger Whiter, son of a North London framebuilder, returns to his roots with hand built, fillet brazed, lightweight bicycles for mid-century kids. Custom built with an eye to batch production in the future."

I loved the feature-perfect Junior Road Bike with 24 inch wheels.

Teague Bicycles
Framebuilder: Matt Teague
Location: East London

"Matt Teague started building bicycles in 2011 in east London, mostly for friends and family and mostly because he was unable to find exactly what he wanted for everyday use in and around London. He believes that bicycles are the ultimate personal transport solution for medium and short distances (and long ones too – time permitting) and seeks to build machines that will soak up the rigours of daily life on the road. Frames are built in a variety of techniques, but lugged steel predominates because it is strong, lightweight and timeless."

There's a definite touring/audax sensibility here. Both of these bikes are custom frames built up to the owner's specifications. 

Oak Cycles
Builder: Ryan McCaig
Location: London

Oak Cycles is a workshop that specializes in the design, fabrication and repair of custom steel bicycle frames. Every frame is a unique project. There are no stock sizes; nothing comes “off the peg”. We focus on fit and geometry, and look forward to collaborating with you on your design. Our bikes have toured the world, crossed finish lines and stood up to long days on the courier circuit. We understand that a bike is more than just transport, it’s a passion.

The Cargo Bike looks very capable. This was a custom build for a carpenter needing to carry all his tools. 

'The Time Machine' looks like it'll go anywhere, any time. 

Framebuilder: Richard Baldwin
Location: Beverley, E. Yorkshire

"We are a true British brand specialising in building high end, custom fitted titanium bicycle frames to customer’s exacting specifications. We only build to order and we only build them one at a time. We understand the relationship of how important the fit of your bike is to the enjoyment and performance that you get out of your riding. Each and every bike is hand crafted in Beverley, East Yorkshire. We believe that by focusing like this on one bike at a time, a truly special bike evolves. Each and every bike is made with passion and love – something that is hard to achieve in a mass production bicycle factory. Added to that, we also believe that titanium is the ultimate material to build a bike with. The space age metal is super strong, light weight and corrosion resistant. Using only the highest quality, cold-worked and stress-relieved Grade 9 (3AL/2.5V) and Grade 5 (6AL/4V) seamless titanium tubing and components, we believe that a Baldwin Titanium bike frame truly is the ultimate bike frame for the discerning rider."

During my own investigations into titanium, I came across Baldwin as one of the few UK-based builders. The bikes looked nice in photos online but, as with Burls, the graphics do not appeal to me. A recent review didn't help improve my opinion. The frames (and welds) do look better in the flesh. And the mirror finish is very nice.

DMO Frameworks
Framebuilder: Olly Webb
Location: Chippenham, Wiltshire

"A genuine, grass-roots family affair! DMO stands for ‘Dennis Michael Oliver’, Dennis is Oliver’s Granddad (a retired fabricator and sheet metal worker from Jaguar), Michael is Oliver’s Dad (a retired engineer from BMW) and Oliver is, well, the guy who sticks all the bits together! The frames are manufactured in Olly’s workshop in Chippenham Wiltshire (his own words) “I say workshop – it’s a brick built 8′x6′ shed I like to call a workshop”). Olly’s target is to make 10 frames a year, initially focusing on completely bespoke (no lugs or pre-bent, off the shelf tubing) 29′er mountain bike frames aimed at mountain bikers interested in extending those single day rides into Bike Packing adventures! For the uninitiated, Bike Packing entails strapping all your kit onto a bike for one, two or more nights out in the wilderness!"

I wonder, has Emily Chappell seen these bikes?

'DMO Element' Mountain Bike

Framebuilder: Ricky Feather
Location: Yorkshire

"Feather Cycles uses traditional methods to create custom cycle frames from the latest and also classic materials. Building frames to suit the customers needs and wants, all the while adding unique details to separate your bike from the masses. At Feather Cycles the highest quality is key and many, many hours are spent on each and every frame to make sure you get your perfect bicycle!"

Here is a posse of 6 matching "Feather" racing bikes. And yes, the Feather Cycles Racing team has been launched! Supported by Rapha, Easton and Giro. 

Framebuilder: Marcello Faggin
Location: Padova, Italy

"We are a little Italian family still producing frames with love like the old times. Cicli Faggin born in 1945 in Padova. We are part of the Italian cycling history. Our frames have won world and Italian road, track and cyclocross races. We are still producing custom steel, alloy and carbon frames."

Nice classic frames. Love the curved fork on the silver one.

Framebuilder: Matthew Sowter
Location: Camberwell, south London, UK

"At Saffron Frameworks, we create beautiful and functional bicycles by understanding first, who you are and what you want from your bicycle. We design frames which fit your cycling goals and your geometry. And we turn that into an aesthetically attractive frame. We believe in turning your ideas into designs, and those designs into truly awesome bicycles, making you the perfect traveling partner on two wheels. Primarily we built with steel but throw a bit of carbon into the mix from time to time. Each one of our frames is unique, made with our own hands."

The bike that caught my eye the first time I passed Saffron was this. It's part of their Kinoko Collection. The paint job is custom, called Death Spray. The frame is Columbus Spirit HSS, with Paragon breezer drop-outs, all fillet brazed.

It's a very difficult paint job / colour scheme to photograph!

Here is Collyn Ahart's brand new cyclocross bike, finished just in time for the show. She hadn't even seen it herself yet! 

Saffron is now one of the custom framebuilders used by Cyclefit and this beauty is a Saffron/Cyclefit collaboration, with just 10 being made, available to Cyclefit clients. The frame is made from Reynolds 953, with hand-carved stainless steel head tube lugs. The colour is Pearl Teal. 

Framebuilder: Tiziano Zullo
Location: Italy
UK distributor: Mosquito Bikes, Islington, London (

From Mosquito's website: "Zullo produce a small range of individually built custom steel framesets in their small workshop in Castelnuovo del Garda on the shores of Lake Garda near Verona. All the frames are built and painted on site, nothing is contracted out, Tiziano Zullo building the majority of frames himself. Although relatively unknown in the UK the Zullo name has a long and interesting history. Nowadays production runs at a couple of hundred hand-crafted steel framesets a year. Tiziano builds using both Deddaccia and Columbus tubing (depending on the model). The range includes both contemporary tig-welded steel models such as the Inqubo (Dedacia 16.5) and the Vergine (Columbus XCR) alongside retro-styled lugged models and even a Tour ‘91 replica model, a homage to the Zullo supplied TVM team of the era."

What a unique paint job on this! It's the Inqubo, I think.

Framebuilder: Dániel Merényi
Location: Italy
UK Distributor: Mosquito Bikes, Islington, London (

From Mosquito's website: "Hungarian framebuilder Dániel Merényi learnt his framebuilding craft  from one of the undoubted masters, Dario Pegoretti. Indeed we first met Daniel  on one of our annual trips to visit Dario in Italy.  Having spent four years learning his art Daniel decided to go it alone and set up his own business, Merényi Bicycles. Each and every Merenyi frame is unique, numbered and built for custom order, Merenyi do not build stock frames."

Very well-regarded framebuilder, though the bikes don't appeal to me personally.

Framebuilder: Dominic Thomas
Location: Lincolnshire, UK

"Launched in January 2014, we make bicycles in Lincolnshire. Our bikes are designed and built with function and utility as their core. Our manufacturing process has an emphasis on precision so that a very high level of quality is repeatable on every single frame that leaves our workshop. 'Wold by Bentley' is the arm of our business designing and machining parts and tools for other frame builders to purchase. At the Bespoked show we will be launching our production range of frames as well as displaying our full range of 'Wold by Bentley' products."

Another new English framebuilder following a classic aesthetic. This does seem to be what the English like. The more framebuilding workshops like this that spring up, the better for everyone, I feel.

Nicely specc'd city bike: mudguards, front and rear rack, disc brakes, comfy saddle and grips. Popular colour too.

Framebuilder: Kevin Sayles
Location: Leeds

"Each Woodrup frame is individually hand crafted to the customers requirements for geometry and specification leading to a completely unique frame and a true work of art. We have over 60 years experience of frame building and export our work world wide. All our frames are made from steel and we can design and build you anything from a very traditional touring bike, modern hub-gear belt drive do-it-all bike, hardtail Mountain Bike or modern 953 Stainless Steel race bike."

Woodrup caught my eye because I know two people who are very happy with theirs. With pressures of time, however, I did not take a very close look. I like the classic graphics on the red model, though.

Framebuilder: Mathias Scherer
Location: Germany 

"Bikes say a lot about yourself. Why then should a frame not be every bit as unique as the human being riding it? That's why I love and build custom frames. I don't do production runs. I build bespoke bikes, one by one, starting with design and the geometry to fit you like a glove, continuing with a hacksaw, a file, a TIG welder, a pipe bender and finishing everything off with an extensive manual finish and a bolt on headbadge. If I had a say everybody would ride a custom bike."

Mawis specialises in titanium frames and it shows. The workmanship is beautiful.

Framebuilder: Tim Leicester
Location: Derbyshire

"Sword Cycles is a new custom framebuilding company, based in Derbyshire. Framebuilder Tim Leicester has nearly a decade of professional framebuilding experience and individually hand makes each steel frame. Sword Cycles builds both beautifully functional fillet brazed and classically beautiful lugged frames, to suit your frame type and your own tastes. Your intended use, riding style and physique are matched to a personalised tube selection and custom geometry to produce your ideal bespoke frame. To discover more visit the website."

This framebuilder can build custom bikes for just about any riding style. Here's an off-road bike. (A beautiful road bike was also on display but I seem not to have taken a photo. Do check out the website - some beautiful bikes there. This framebuilder would make my shortlist if I were custom-steel shopping.)

Framebuilder: Chas Roberts
Location: Croydon, Surrey, UK

"Our aim is to build your perfect bicycle: a bicycle that's unique, superbly efficient, fits you precisely and is a delight to ride. Every Roberts is custom-fitted and made by hand to increase your comfort, boost your performance and take you closer to achieving your cycling ambitions. Whether you're striving to get fit, get to work, get onto the podium or get out and see the world, we can build the ideal bike for you."

Roberts is a family-run business going back 60 years -- one of the venerable bicycle builders from England's cycling heyday. I know a couple of very petite lady road riders who turned to Roberts with their fit requirements and are now riding beautifully made and perfectly proportioned road bikes.

Framebuilder: Ken Aoi
Location:  Taiwan

"Five years ago, our designer, Ken Aoi, hoped to own an unique bike; this is the beginning of AOI.CYCLE. Ken Aoi saw there will form a beautiful curve on riders’ back when they are riding bikes. AOI.CYCLE’s prototype occurred to him. He decided to change the traditional style of geometric diamond-shaped structure and apply this unique curve to bike design. In order to let people ride bike more elegantly, he innovatively created the design that omitting the seat tube. AOI.CYCLE choose to adopt stainless steel SUS304 which is rarely be used to make bikes. It does not use paint coating and need to grinds and polishes every tube by handiwork. This can make AOI.CYCLE present its unique mental gloss."

Bicycle designers in the Far East take quite a different aesthetic approach from that of the Europeans! (See also Veloboo below!)

Framebuilder: Vitas Zukauskas
Location: Lithuania

"Already well known as a frame-builder for COLNAGO, Vidmantas “Vitas” Zukauskas has been building best-selling frames from the mid-90s, going by the names Monotitan, Ovaltitan, Ovalmaster, Master BiTitan, CT1, etc. These works of master craftsmanship are broadly recognized and their quality speaks for itself. Over time, Vitas has become more and more well known as a master in ti frame building with worldwide orders from cyclists that value craftsmanship. His son has become involved in ti frame building and they have embarked on a new journey with WITTSON. These are bespoke tailor-made frames built to last a lifetime."

Both classy and modern -- I'd have one!

Designer:  Dr Alex Moulton
Location: Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, UK

"Dr Alex Moulton pioneered the small wheeled bicycle revolution nearly 50 years ago. All of today's small wheeled cycles owe a debt of gratitude to the original Moulton 'F' frame design which not only introduced and proved the concept of full-size bicycles with small wheels, but also, right from launch in 1962, have utilised front and rear suspension systems for improved comfort and performance. The Moulton bicycle has been developed and refined constantly ever since and is held in high regard throughout the world."

The quintessential English approach -- innovative and eccentric, from a revolutionary engineer. Alex Moulton pioneered several new technologies long before other manufacturers took notice, e.g. full suspension systems which decades later become standard on mountain bikes. I have two riding buddies who turn to their Moultons as hands-down favourites for long rides across several days (and usually several countries).

Designers / Framebuilders: Darren Sven Coppin / Andrew "Mog" Mogford
Location: Weymouth, Dorset, UK

"Darron Sven has been building and repairing vintage race cars and motorcycles for many years and in 2012 returned to his first love, bicycles, setting up Sven Cycles in Weymouth Dorset. Building lightweight road and track bikes he has recently been collaborating with Mog Mogford (ex Brixton Cycles) to build classically styled hub geared roadsters with a modern twist. Also offers bike fitting service and frame repairs/renovation."

Sven was on my "Must See" list before the show and did not disappoint. They can build virtually any type of bike, anyway you want it.

I was especially intrigued by their "touring" bike. The frame looks lovely -- as indeed the quality of the entire build -- but the choose of components was not what I would have expected. I had a nice chat with one of the three chaps on the stand. The Rohloff Speedhub (14-speed internal hub gear) covers a very wide range, quite comparable to that on my bike which has 30 gears!

The show judges obviously liked it and were persuaded of the capabilities of the build, awarding it Best Touring Bike.

Velo Orange's Grand Cru Chris' Rando Bar

Rohloff's Speedhub 14-speed twist grip shifter... on drop bars!

Rohloff Speedhub

Framebuilder: Christy Boothroyd
Location: Gwynedd, North Wales, UK

"Artisan steel-frame bicycles from the heart of Snowdonia. Precision, elegance and economy of design are themes that run innate through the work of silversmith turned framebuilder and Slate Cycles founder, Christy Boothroyd. These qualities, combined with an uncompromising bespoke approach to framebuiding, form the underlying ethos that defines Slate Cycles."

This lovely, understated modern road bike caught my eye. I'd never heard of Slate Bicycles but apparently they've exhibited at previous Bespoked shows running back several years. I'm not normally a fan of yellow but the contrast with the grey is very nice on this bike. 

Designer: Isla Rowntree
Framebuilder: Keen Burns
Location: Ludlow, UK

"Islabikes was founded by renowned British bicycle designer Isla Rowntree, one of the few female designers in the industry.  The company has singlehandedly redefined children’s bicycle design with products unparalleled in their depth of design detail.  Bicycle engineering forms an integral part of Islabikes’ history with over 25 years of experience.  Our dedication to staying at the forefront of innovation in bicycle design has produced a collection of exquisite adult hand built bicycles which we are proud to display at Bespoked.  These unique ‘Islabikes’ have yielded outstanding results and although not available commercially, enable us to continually test and refine concepts which ultimately influence our intelligently-designed children’s range."

I've always known Islabikes as the maker of quality childrens' bikes. They've recently expanded to making custom adult road bikes and urban commuters as well.

Framebuilder: Joseph Ahearne
Location: Portland, Oregon, USA

"I'm a custom frame builder. I work with steel and stainless steel, and build lugged and fillet brazed frames, custom racks, forks and stems. I'll be displaying a touring bike, and a bicycle for city riding."

Joe Ahearne brought a stainless steel truss-framed bicycle to this show. For me, this kind of thing is a curiosity, a "I'll show what can be done" work of... art? But apparently it can be ridden... if you're very tall. 

Ahearne also sell a variety of own-branded accessories, such as these elaborately engraved flasks and the cages to hold them.

Framebuilder: Eric Estlund
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA

"Winter Bicycles manufactures custom bicycles and luxurious necessities including forks, stems, racks and other fittings. All products are individually tailored for the customer’s needs by Eric Estlund in Eugene, Oregon.  Winter Bicycles carry a sense of year round versatility with an emphasis on fresh, clean design, practical features and subtle detailing. 
Eric will work with you to incorporate the design and features relevant for your uses and priorities, from performance race bikes to everyday city bikes and commuters. Winter Bicycles’ goal is to put you on the best fitting and performing bicycle for your specific needs."

This track bike is aesthetically beautiful, unlike so many. For me, the most attractive aspect is the font used for the lettering. That's not very "technical", I know, but there it is. 

Winner in the Best Track Bicycle category. 

Fitter/Designer: Paul Smith
Framebuilder: Joe Walker
Location: Hailsham, East Sussex, UK

"Passion, experience and pride – these things define the Enigma brand, these along with a fervent desire to show the world how good British manufacturing can be. Our experience comes from a dedicated team of British craftsman with decades of knowledge of lightweight bicycle design. Years spent designing, building, and riding the world’s finest lightweight bikes and components. Our pride and passion is in the work we do and the products we produce. We are proud to be producing world class British products to sell to the world."

No real surprise here: Other than time spent on the BLB stand talking about Nisnas and Lucy the Brompton, I hung out with the Enigma guys most of all.

They had a range of models on show, each and every one a beauty. They were one of the few brands (along with BNB, Condor and Vulpine) with large stands at concourse level. While this caught attention early on as people arrived at the show, the one major drawback was the flood of natural light that created a lot of glare and shadow. Looking at the bikes required some squinting; photographing bikes often required contortions just inside the window to "look back inside". Ah well.

Remember the bike featured by that I talked about in my Armchair Critics post? That custom Etape was built to a customer's specification but Enigma got such a positive response from the online exposure that they built up another almost-identical bike for the show. One of the most popular bikes on their stand.

One of the other eye-catchers was the custom Elite that the team built as a surprise birthday present for their boss, Jim Walker. The colour scheme is a nod to his first road bike and the workmanship on that really showcases the skills of Jaco, Finisher Extraordinaire. (More photos by Enigma here.)

I nearly drooled over this bike then asked Paul "but didn't you guys make Jim a custom frame last summer? A lovely pearlised white one. I remember him polishing it at his desk the day I visited you."

Turns out... Jim sold that frame.

The team were determined he would not -- could not -- sell this one, so it is marked all over with personalised touches, from his name on the top tube to the Roman numerals for "60" on the stem. 

Framebuilder: Peter Bird / Robert Wade
Location: Coalport, Shropshire

"Since 1981, Swallow has hand-built only bespoke frames for discerning clients around the World. Each Swallow frame is unique to match the owner's size, needs and style. You will speak with the person that will design and build your frame during a detailed consultation, using a Calfee sizing jig and BikeCAD Pro.We use Reynolds 953, Columbus and other selected stainless and steel tubing with fillet brazing or hand-cut lugs to achieve exactly the bicycle or tandem you desire. Adventurous clients can build their own frames with one-to-one tuition on our frame-building courses."

More classic steel bikes...

Swallow also design and build custom tandems and act as dealer for Co-Motion. I've bookmarked their website for future reference, should Adam and I ever start thinking about a proper touring tandem that fits both of us equally well!

Framebuilder: Tom Donhou
Location: Hackney, London, UK

"Using traditional methods but not afraid to throw in a few modern ones we build beautiful bicycles. They're built with the foundations of clear thinking and a love for working with the customer and the design process in which your dream bicycle is translated from mind to physical being. Parts are sourced from the UK as much as possible and its important to be as gentle on our world as we can. But in the end, it's handing over your bicycle knowing that it is truly an extension of yourself and both of us excited about the road that lays in front of it..."

Tom Donhou is a name that started getting attention a few years ago, at the leading edge of the new wave of framebuilders setting up shop throughout the UK. This was the first opportunity I've had to look at his bicycles. The stand was extremely popular so I wasn't able to linger or chat with Tom, but I liked the look of this road bike.

Donhou won in the Best Utility Bicycle category, with the step-through framed bike shown here.

Framebuilder: ??
Location: ??

"We founded our company in 2009 with one purpose: to create something unique. A product, that we can be pride of. After 5 years of hard team work, it is the right time to present the amazing result to the public. Our vision was to create a bicycle, which is valuable and exciting by combining classical looks with a state of the art technology. We handcrafted this bike from bottom to top just for you from bamboo and 24K gold platted components."

This was one of the "oddities" of the show. Only 30 of these bamboo-framed bikes have been made. Components are plated with 24K gold. Each bike costs €28,000. Yikes.  (Another example of how the Far East just looks at bicycle aesthetics differently. For more examples, hang out for a few weeks in the London Brompton Club's Facebook group for postings from Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia...)

I thought about omitting a place to enter the framebuilder's name but left it in because, really, "??" seems to say it all for me.

Framebuilder: Christopher Igleheart
Location: Portland, Oregon, USA

"I am a frame , fork & stem builder. I have been making bikes since 1980. I mostly offer TIG welded steel bikes to order, customer's choice as to what they want, all styles of upright bikes are considered. I like making frames for hard to fit people, very tall or short & in the middle sizes too. For this show I am making a Break Away tandem & a zippy porteur style city/ round town bike with a front custom rack."

After 30+ years' framebuilding work on the East Coast (Boston area), Christopher Igleheart has recently re-located to Portland, Oregon, and now can't keep up with his order book! His frames are in high demand and it's easy to see why. This lovely touring bike was one of the highlights of the whole show for me, and a textbook example of the current popularity of bicycles designed around 650b-sized tyres in the USA.

Lock 7 
Framebuilder: Kathryn Burgess
Location: London
Website: [coming soon]

"am Kathryn Burgess. I founded Lock 7 in 2007 which was London's first and original cycle cafe. Since then I have learnt to a lot about bicycles and built my first frame and forks in Arizona with Dave Bohm in 2010. It was an ambitious lugged, stainless steel frame based the designs made popular by Georgena Terry. Frames for a small person. This frame will be on display as will the second bicycle I made."

In the "New Framebuilders" area (along with Whiter, featured above) was Lock 7, best known as London's first cycle cafe. Owner Kathryn Burgess is one of only (insofar as I can tell) two female framebuilders to exhibit at Bespoked this year. This rather steam-punked raw steel bike really appealed to me.

Fresh Fabrications
Location: Croydon, Surrey, UK

"Fresh Fabrications builds engineered TIG welded steel and stainless steel bikes. I work with respect to the old style of frame building, but by using modern materials, technology and carefully tweaking geometry I can produce lighter, stiffer more reactive bikes which feel as good to ride as they do to look at. Fresh Fabrications produces well designed, modern, stylish bikes with a hint of the old school and a heavy leaning towards new technology. We also offer subcontract services to other frame builders and cycle companies, including CNC machined frame tips and small batch production runs of frames and forks."

Milk Bikes
Framebuilder: Mark Meadows
Location: Chelmsford, Essex, UK

"Milk Bikes has been designing and producing beautiful, simple and practical bikes since 2010. Our goal is to build bikes that make people want to get out and ride. This show marks the launch of our first small batch of bikes, called Series 1. We’re massively excited about this project because there will only ever make 12 of these bikes, and each bike within the series will be unique – just like its rider. And just like the pretty little Jersey cows on the dairy farm where Mark grew up each bike will be named." 

This little city bike (vaguely inspired by Raleigh shoppers) has a Shimano Nexus internal gear hub and belt drive, plus "drum" brakes. Check out the coffee cup holder on the back of the rack platform!

Brian Rourke
Framebuilders: Brian and Jason Rourke
Location: Stoke on Trent

"Brian Rourke framesets have been hand made in Stoke on Trent England since 1972 we have been synonymous with made to measure racing frame having hundreds of major race win including World and National titles."

On display was the highly customised bike used by Guy Martin in his attempt to set a new land speed record just last year. I am baffled by the cross-over chainsets.

This is frankly now a museum piece, surely.

Also on display is this drop dead gorgeous classic roadbike built by Brian Rourke for a friend. The detail is just stunning.  The groupset is Campagnolo 50th anniversary group – Gruppo del Cinquantenario – from 1983.

Paulus Quiros
Framebuilder: Jonathan Paulus and Jose Quiros
Location: Burry Port,  Carmarthenshire Wales

"We design and build handmade bespoke steel bicycles. All are one-off commissions; they incorporate unique and distinctive design elements that are exclusive to Paulus Quiros. Whatever type of bicycle we create for you, you can be assured that your bicycle will receive the same meticulous attention to detail and precision craftsmanship as all our bikes. Most importantly your bicycle will receive the engineering input necessary to enable it to perform exactly to your requirements. Bicycle design is part artistry and part engineering. We believe that beautiful design and elegant engineering solutions are timeless."

Each and every bike on this stand was totally unique. The one at the front was in Welsh colours and featured very detailed emblems: Prince of Wales’s feathers on the head tube and a dragon on the seat tube.'s photographer got some great close-up photos

There's apparently consumer appetite for this kind of thing... I don't get it, myself!

This, on the other hand... Reynolds 921 stainless steel frame with some 23 carat gold leaf finish to create an engine-bronzed appearance. A patterned Gilles Berthoud saddle sets it all off. Hmmm mmm mmm.

Framebuilder: Mark Reilly / Neil Fitzgerald
Location: Brighton, East Sussex, UK

"Based in Brighton on the south coast of England, Nerve is a new company but started with a huge amount of experience and talent. Having been frame building for over 25years Mark Reilly has established himself as one of the pre-eminent British bicycle designers. Mark has teamed up with Neil FitzGerald who comes from Formula one and Damon Fisher, graphic and product designer. Mark, Neil and Damon have been friends for many years and make Nerve the innovative brand that it is. A new range of components is currently in development and this includes carbon wheels and forks, amongst others. Frames are made from steel and stainless steel and all made right here in England. Nerve is also working on another exciting frame which will hopefully launch at Bespoked."

Nerve is the new venture of the framebuilder who designed my own custom bike, Mark Reilly. This show bike is made of Reynolds 953 stainless steel... and it's lugged. Yes, lugged. You can see more photos here. Rare? I should think so!

Advanced Velo Design - Windcheetah
Designer: Mike Burrows
Builder: Karl Sparenberg

" Burrows designed Windcheetah recumbent trike, hand made in the UK bespoke to customers by Advanced Velo Design. We are hoping to also launch and showcase the latest design, a two wheeled recumbent Ratracer SL this revolutionary front wheel drive with carbon spring suspended seat."

Having several friends who ride recumbents and a few with recumbent tricycles, these caught my eye. I don't know much about this types of human-powered vehicles but these struck me as quite elegant in appearance. 

Framebuilder: Liam Murray and Daniel Murray
Location: Co. Tipperary, Ireland

"Woodelo is a new company with the aim of producing high performance wooden bicycle frames. We take traditional materials and craftsmanship source everything as locally as possible, then combine with modern design and manufacturing techniques to produce frames of natural beauty and unique ride comfort. All frames are made to order, we do of course have our stock geometry but you can also have a wooden frame made to your individual geometry and specifications. We can even show you a picture of the tree it came from!"

I heard about Woodelo a few weeks ago and had them on my "Must See" list. I was not disappointed! These bikes are simply exquisite. I love the proporations of the road bike (at the front of the display). Wood is so tactile -- I'd be forever stroking a bicycle like this.

I'm obviously not alone:  Woodelo won the People's Vote award, as well as being the judges' choice in the Best Alternative (Non Steel) Material category.

Designers:  Alexander Hatfield and Jamie Younger
Framebuilder: Lee Cooper
Location: Coventry

"Designed and developed in Coventry, England, Hobo Bicycles create individual, quality bicycles, frames and accessories for the cycling enthusiast. Traditionally hand-crafted and individually tailored, each is designed to tackle touring, town and trail with style and assurance."

I don't know much about the Hobo brand, but framebuilder Lee Cooper has been around for several decades, building bicycles under various trading names (L A Cycles, 1992-2005) and for other companies (currently for Colourbolt, see below). The Hobo line look beautifully made, designed by a couple of chaps in Coventry, the heart of traditional English bicycle manufacture, with that classic old-school aesthetic brought sympathetically up-to-date, often with Velo Orange components sourced through Jamie's company Freshtripe (see "Velo Orange" below, under Accessories).

The pale blue "tourer" bike is called "Weirdy Beardy". Unfortunately, it did not have a full write-up next to it the way the other Hobo models did -- but there's more on the website. I would have liked to have found out more about the "optional" (with upcharge) hieroglyphic-like graphics on the seatpost.

Designer - Jay Pond-Jones
Framebuilder: Lee Cooper
Location: Coventry, UK

"New collection of ColourBolt bikes for 2013, with handbuilt frames by Lee Cooper, featuring Columbus XCR and Spirit tubing. Spring 2013 sees further innovation in the frame finishes."

I've got mixed feelings about Colourbolt. This stainless steel beauty, I love. (I was pleased but not surprised to learn that Colourbolt perfected the finish under the tutelage of Jaco, Enigma Titanium's Finisher Extraordinaire)

The Ratty Black, on the other hand (to the right but not photographed, as I hate it so much), I really would nominate for the Ugliest Bike award (if Bespoked would allow such a category). Ah well, horses for courses, as they say. (Sorry, Lady Velo!)

Framebuilder: Dan Titchmarsh
Location:  York, UK

"I build quality bespoke bicycles for the discerning cyclist.  Each bicycle is a one-off and is tailored to fit your shape and tastes.  Every frame is individually designed and handbuilt by myself, in my workshop near York.  I like a clean aesthetic and believe that form follows function.  I've been obsessed with engineering and cycling basically all my life.  I have the skills, experience and knowledge to go the extra mile for you to create something very special.  My focus is on building road, cross and off-road bicycles in steel, stainless and titanium, joined with fillet brazing or TIG."

This blue beauty was the judges' choice in the Best Off Road Bicycle category.

Cloud 9 Cycles
Designers: Kris Baran and Adam Garrett
Framebuilder: Kris Baran
Location: Store Street, central London, UK

"Cloud 9 Cycles is a friendly passionate bicycle shop that specialise in Hand Building Frames, Custom Building Bikes and Servicing! Our hand built frames can be produced from Steel or Titanium and once painted can be kitted out in the shop with the appropriate components. We are really keen to make great bikes that look stunning and perform even better. At Bespoked we will be displaying a selection of our frames, bikes and custom built wheels for the world to see."

Framebuilder: Darren Baum
Location: Australia
UK distributor: Prestige Cycles

"Darren Baum trained and worked as a certified aircraft engineer and stainless steel TIG welder before becoming a frame builder. His cycling career began as an A grade rider before a car accident in 1990 sparked a long-term interest in how biomechanics and bike design can be used to increase performance. The rest, as they say, is history."

I tend to forget that titanium can be painted just like steel! And when it is painted, it's often truly stunning. This "Coretto" model from Darren Baum rightly won the Best Road Bicycle award.

Designer / Framebuilder: Stephen Roche / Mark Reilly
UK distributor: Prestige Cycles

"When Stephen Roche set about developing an exclusive range of bikes for Prestige Cycles in 2012, he knew he wanted to design the ultimate cost-easy titanium frame. After three decades on the saddle both as a racer and a race team manager, Stephen recognised titanium as the ‘the material of choice’ for its lightweight attributes, strength and resistance. The only problem was the price. Was it possible to produce a cost-effective titanium frame? After three years of development, perfecting and redesigning and en-listing the skills of Master frame builder Mark Reilly Mustard Bikes have delivered just that – a light but affordable titanium frame. Cool and distinctive, this frame cuts the mustard!"

This, I'd have in a heartbeat. There's definitely a Mark Reilly stamp on it. (So, on leaving Enigma, Mark has got involved with two new brands, Nerve and Mustard. What's with the military gases?!)


Carradice (bags for the rider and the bike)
Location: Nelson, Lancashire, UK

"We have been handcrafting our traditional cycle luggage since 1929. Based in Nelson , Lancashire we make our bags from heavy weight cotton duck and leather. We have recently developed new ranges for the city rider and will be displaying limited edition special editions of our best sellers. Alongside our bags we will also be showing Rivet saddles, an American brand of leather saddles renowned for their comfort, classic looks and short break in period."

I have (at last count, I believe) eight different Carradice bags. The most recent purchase was the Carradice Stockport bag for the S-type Brompton. I wrote a preview post on it here, a year ago. It is still (a) the most popular post on my blog, ever; and (b) the only (p)review of it written by a customer (not a retailer) anywhere on the Internet. 

I finally got to meet David Carradice and have a brief chat with him about my continuing search for a handlebar bag that will fit in around my lights and top-bar brake levers. 

Velo Orange (components and accessories)
Location: Maryland, USA

"Retailer and distributor of Velo Orange products - builder of Vintage, Fixed and Singlespeed bicycles. After spending too long searching the world-wide-web for that all-important “finishing touch” for project bikes, the decision was made to import some of the finer overseas items we had found. Your local bike shop probably doesn’t stock these items - nothing essential, but all very nice nevertheless!"

A number of bikes, from a variety of builders, in the show featured modern but retro-styled components by Velo Orange -- see Hobo Bicycles above, in particular. I have a Velo Orange saddle on Lucy the Brompton and have found it to be much more robust than Brooks' saddles. 

Columbus (tubing)
Location: Italy

"The story of the most famous steel tubes in the history of cycling began in 1919 when A.L. Colombo founded his steel plant with the ambition to “to do business in iron and steel and make a fair and honest profit,”. The result was the history of cycling as we know it: legendary tube sets AIR, MAX (first tube-set to break the tradition of conventional diameters and introduce concept of orientated ellipses and differentiated sections), SL, SLX, NIVACROM (EL and Genius), Altec, Starship and Spirit right up to the most 2009’s XCR, the world’s first ever tubeless stainless steel tube set which allows for the production of a steel frame competitive (and out-performing in some categories) at the highest level of the sport on all levels: weight (sub-1400g), rigidity, fatigue resistance and of course the remarkably superior handling of steel."

Quoc Pham (cycling shoes)

"Leisure/Touring/commuter style cycling shoes, natural leather upper, rubber sole and hand lasted. Leather has been used to take advantage of its many natural qualities. It breathes, neutralises odours, softens and moulds to fit. It is warm and wind resistant in cold weather yet breathes to be cool and absorbent in summer."

Atomic22 (security system)
Location: Horsham, West Sussex, UK

"Atomic22 design and manufacture the highest security fasteners in the world – to secure your bike components against theft.  Manufactured entirely in the UK from aerospace grade materials, our precision engineered components are designed to offer unparalleled security without compromising on performance or aesthetics.  You can now secure every removable component, from wheels to brakes, from saddles to rear mechs, all using the patent pending infiniti3D security system. With your components secure you can enjoy riding your beautiful bespoke bike, free from the fear of theft, whilst carrying just one compact lock!"

Spoke 7 wooden bicycle components/accessories
UK distributor: Royce (maker of bottom brackets and hubs)

"Royce UK Ltd was established in 1980 by Cliff Polton, a precision engineer.  Royce Bottom Bracket Axles are renowned for their combination of strength, stiffness and low weight.  They are machined from aerospace grade titanium and only top quality bearings are use.  Royce Hubs are virtually indestructible and are designed to be able to cope with the toughest of conditions.  They are supplied with all weather seals for durability.  Royce Bottom Bracket Axles, Front and Rear Hubs come with a lifetime guarantee for the original purchaser.
Royce components are used by cyclists at the highest level both nationally and internationally."

Designer/Builder: Sam Pearce
Location: Boughton, Nottinghamshire, UK

"Sometimes it's good to reinvent the wheel.... Loopwheels are 20" front and rear bicycle wheels with integral suspension.  They are designed and made in Nottinghamshire by engineer and mountain-biker Sam Pearce, of Jelly Products Ltd.  After 4 years of development and testing, Sam is launching loopwheels at Bespoked 2013 and through the crowd-funding site  The 20" wheels offer suspension and incredible comfort on a compact folding bike, plus an exciting new riding experience.  Urban commuting may never be the same again!"


The Bicycle Academy
Framebuilder: YOU!
Location: Frome, Somerset, UK
Contact: Andrew Denham, Headteacher

"The Bicycle Academy provides frame building courses and skills masterclasses for novices, enthusiasts and pro's, and fully equipped workshop hire for those who don't have their own. This year we're excited to be launching our own range of frame building tools and Jigs, bicycle sizing and fitting courses for frame builders, along with other brand new frame building and skills courses too."

Oramkaye / Middle of Nowhere
Designs / Graphic Artists
Location: Edinburgh

"Oramkaye is a cycling inspired design collective comprising of Anthony Oram ( and Rebecca J Kaye ( Designers and illustrators Anthony and Rebecca hand craft and design a range of artisan items including screen prints, greeting cards, organic t-shirts, mugs and musettes."

I've been aware of Anthony and Rebecca's graphics designs but only recently found out about Rebecca's other venture: Middle of Nowhere: "Inspired by empty roads and breathtaking scenery, middle of nowhere strives to uncover the quiet places that are waiting on your doorstep."  

 I'm not entirely sure yet where the "business" is headed but it's all about the journey anyway!


Parked up from time to time within the velopark were these two lovely bikes, attracting almost as much attention as the new bikes on the exhibitors' stands.

Cinelli roadbike owned by one of the BLB crew.

Virtually mint condition Hercules bicycle.
The owner picked it up during an overnight stay in Nurenberg, Germany on a business trip.
First bike, he said, that ever fit him. 

There were of course even more bikes than what I managed to photograph!

Winners in the various show categories were announced on Sunday. These were: 

Best in Show - Saffron Frameworks (Cyclefit collaboration)
Best Road Bicycle - Baum (pink titanium Coretto)
Best Off Road Bicycle - Titchmarch
Best Touring/Randonneur - Sven Cycles 
Best Track Bicycle - Winter Bicycles
Best New Framebuilder - Swarf Cycles 
Best Utility Bicycle - Donhou Bicycles 
The Steve Worland Innovation Award - Talbot Frameworks 
Spirit of Cycling - Moss Bikes 
Best Alternative (non steel) Material - Woodelo

So which of them would I buy? Well, having a custom-to-me bike already safe in my stable takes the edge of that N+1 itch, but if I were a judge picking my own Top 5 across all categories....

Igleheart 650b Break-Away 

Teague singlespeed in Reynolds 631

Woodelo Leaf Speed


Paulus Quiros

All in all, a wonderful show in an amazing venue. I hope it returns here next year, with more food/drink options! And it would be great to see more women designers and framebuilders showing their work. I counted only 2 this year. 


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