Bespoked Bristol, The UK Handmade Bicycle Show

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There's something special about a handmade bike. There is absolutely nothing wrong with factory built bikes but they just don't have that uniqueness, that personal touch, that sense of timeless British craftsmanship. I've no use for a handmade suit, my furniture is all flat pack, but a handbuilt bike is a luxury I can just afford – a thing of beauty made especially for me. Now in its second year, Bespoked Bristol offers a unique opportunity to see the work of both long established and up and coming framebuilders under one roof. Pegoretti from Italy and Winter Bicycles from Oregon were also present.

Every single bike on display was absolutely superb, the craftsmanship was first rate. I don't know how the judges were able to pick 'Best in Show' or even best in its category but they did and some bikes were sporting rosettes to prove it. I was pleased to see that Roberts was awarded joint first with Winter Bicycles in the Touring Bike category. Full details of the show, the award winners and all the exhibitors can be found here.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so these are some of the bikes that took my eye. Apologies for the quality of some of the pictures – people would keep getting in the way!

The first bike to take my fancy was this one by Ricky Feather, it won Best Road Bike and was incorporated into a display by Rapha before you entered the main hall. Their stainless steel bikes are lovely and I particularly like the way the builder's name appears in stainless steel under the paint.

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Best Road Bike

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Another beauty from Feather

Randonneur type bikes were much in evidence. I particularly liked Paulos Quiros' polished steel model which won last year. They had a very attractive stand with postcards showing pictures of their bikes in scenic locations in their native Camarthenshire. Best in Show went to Robin Mather's French inspired beauty. I have the same chainset on Roberta but the cranks and inner spider are black. According to TA's website the triple spider only comes in black so he must have machined it himself. I wonder if he would do me one...?

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Paulus Quiros Randonneur

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Best in Show for Robin Mather

People tend to assume that a steel bike must be relatively heavy. Both Roberts and Mercian exhibited steel bikes with carbon forks and carbon rear end. The components on the Roberts were all carbon or titanium and it weighed absolutely nothing. Mercian will supply their version for a mere £5200. Roberts' was a special order and I dread to think what it would cost. Chas did say that it was not a bike for the real world!

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Steel and carbon offering from Mercian

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Roberts' version complete with S&S couplings

Southampton based Demon frameworks recently won Best in Show at the North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show. Tom has a passion for lugs. I usually like my lugs curly and lined in gold but his more geometric contemporary designs certainly work.

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Winner of the recent North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show

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A modern take on lugs

Best New Builder went to Wilkinson Cycles with a beautifully built bike with both horizontal and vertical dropouts so that it can be run either fixed or geared. It comes complete with a sprint wheel carrier at the front to carry the necessary spare wheel. He got the idea when he wanted to ride to the World Courier Championships and needed a fixed wheel when he got there but gears to make the long journey.

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Take your pick – fixed or geared

It was a most enjoyable day. Steel has a bit of a reputation as the material of choice for old men with beards but the number of young exhibitors and young people of both sexes admiring their creations proved that this is very much not the case. British bike building is alive and well!

7 comments on “Bespoked Bristol, The UK Handmade Bicycle Show”

  1. Patrick wrote:

    Yes, alive and well. Horizontal crossbars still seem the thing in handmade. Very good photos Hilary, and I enjoyed the report.

    I'd have a Roberts if my Ridgeback tourer ever got lost or broken. I've always thought his welds are lovely (although they also look nice on the Mercian) and I'm not keen on fancy lugged frames. Mine would be a hybrid though, with a sloping down tube and space for bigger tyres.

    Is that blue Feather frame in your house? LOL

  2. Kern wrote:

    Patrick also noticed the number of "blue" photos ...

    I'm surprised there are enough bespoke manufacturers to support a show. This sounds like a very interesting spot to go and drool.

  3. Hilary wrote:

    I was surprised just how many small builders there are, particularly how many new ones. It was a great opportunity to wander round constantly saying 'Ooh, that's a lovely bike!'

    Is that blue Feather frame in your house?

    LOL. Unfortunately not!

    I'd have a Roberts if my Ridgeback tourer ever got lost or broken. I've always thought his welds are lovely

    They certainly are, but its actually fillet brazing not welding.

    Blue bikes? I can't help it if I've started a trend! :)

  4. Patrick wrote:

    Hilary wrote: ... its actually fillet brazing not welding.

    Thanks Hilary. I think the frame on my old 531 Peugeot is fillet brazed. I should probably restore it.

    Kern wrote: I'm surprised there are enough bespoke manufacturers to support a show.

    I'm not really surprised. Enthusiasm for making things is amazing even in these times of the web, TV, etc. I assume it's the same elsewhere – the USA especially. Creative pursuits of all kinds seem as popular as ever and the UK does seem to excel in small-scale specialist engineering (eg: Formula One). Unfortunately we gave away the big stuff to Germany and Japan.

  5. Chris wrote:

    Some smart looking bikes there, Hilary, although I don't think the modern take on lugs works for me. I am reminded of something off Flash Gordon. And not in a nice way :sad: My favourite from this lot is the Feather, btw.

  6. Mary wrote:

    What a fab post. For anyone looking or thinking of a nice handmade bestoke bike this blog will help to lead them there.

    I loved all the bikes. The hours of love and personal pride in making them all. And I quite like the quirky lugs too. Producing such an item of both versitility and art all in one package. WIsh I had been able to attend the show, just to drool not to buy though. The gleam on that stainless steel one... oooh....

    Like you Hilary, although my comparison is with jewellary and not clothing, I would rather a grand bike than a diamond – hense my 50th birthday prezzie 2 years early of course! :)

    My favourite is the second feather. The blue one with that rather nifty rack pad on the back.

  7. Hilary wrote:

    Mary wrote

    I would rather a grand bike than a diamond

    Absolutely, what can you do with jewellery apart from lose it? 😀

    That blue feather is a beauty.

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