Sunday, 12 June 2011


Just for a change, yesterday we took a trip to Bristol to visit the opening day of Bespoked - the UK Hand made and bespoke bicycle show. Held in The Paintworks, an old factory complex which houses a number of businesses and exhibition space near the city centre, this is the first year the show has run and I don't think anyone really knew what to expect. Not surprisingly for a new venture, the show was quite small with about 35 exhibitors. These ranged from the established - Condor, Brian Rourke & Enigma to the newly started - Feather, Paulus Quinos etc. through the slightly left field - Il Soigneur, Pete's Bikes, Paper bikes and the more traditional racing end of the market - Guru, Strada etc.
In all a very eclectic mix representing frame and wheel builders, clothing and accessory sellers and publishers, a mix I sincerely hope the organisers do not dilute when the 2nd edition takes place in March 2012. We arrived quite early to find the hall buzzing and left shortly after lunch, by which point it was getting pretty rammed, a good pointer for the future.
This is all a very welcome development from the situation about 10 years ago when you could name UK custom frame builders almost on the fingers of one hand and outside of these all you could find were mass produced alluminium and plastic bikes from the manufacturers who rule the pro peloton to this day. But, as one exhibitor noted, there is no such thing as the wrong material to make a frame out of, it all depends what you want to do with it. For an increasing number of people a reversion back to an artisan, bespoke building industry making predominantly steel frames (with a few titanium specialists such as Burls and Enigma it must be added) individually to order and specification is exactly what they want. It is also clear that recent cultural changes like Sustrans, city centre cycle routes, cycle polo and the present "Fixie" craze, not to mention the more traditional touring/audax types such as Mrs. Kipper and I are starting to exert an effect on this return to more traditional values, albeit with a bit more "street cred" than in the past - long may it continue.