Here’s my write up of the Bespoke Bike show. Written at 36,000 feet, flying over the Bay of Biscay, Spain and Portugal. See you all in about 4 weeks’ time. Cheers, Sam.
Having previously exhibited in Northern locations, this year, 2022, the Bespoke Bicycle show was being held in the Lea Valley Velodrome London, so I thought I’d go and see what was on offer.
There were 90 stands spaced out in the central area of the Velodrome with some well-known names, and some I had never heard of. Most were frame makers, or frame suppliers, who sourced their frames from abroad.
Every mode of cycling was covered: mountain bikes, gravel bikes, tourers and road bikes; manufactured in steel, titanium, carbon, and even bamboo and wood (more on these later)
It was evident that the more versatile gravel bikes outnumbered all other bikes on display. These seem to have taken off since the advent of disc brakes where wider tyres can be accommodated, not only for gravel tracks but for extra grip on roads in the winter. In fact, I’m considering one myself…steel of course. There’s also the added bonus that some come with attachments for racks and panniers turning the bike into the ideal tourer.
As I wandered round, a young lad (well probably late 20’s, but that’s young to me!) approached, asking for my thoughts on the bike in front of me. Well, it transpired he was the frame maker, and after a short career in aviation engineering, he decided to turn his hand to making Columbus frames down in Bristol. Amazing!
Other stands that attracted my attention because of their uniqueness or oddity, was a man selling a measuring stick for the precise distance from the bottom bracket to the saddle. After listening to his spiel on bike geometry, I walked away more confused than ever.
This being the age of 3D printing, it’s no surprise that this technology is now being used to manufacture bike parts. One example I saw were 3D printed lugs, whereby carbon tubes and titanium lugs come together to form a strong and beautiful carbon/titanium bike, made by an Australian outfit.
Bamboo and wood must be the most eco-friendly, renewable material to make bikes from. I’ve seen bamboo bikes before so to see them on show here, they must be finding customers. Natural wood, however, was a new one on me. There were two examples of wood framed bikes exhibited here; one used a laminated process and the other pure ash.
As cricket bats are made of ash, it should be tough enough to make bikes. First, the bike is made in two halves, ie as if the frame is split down the middle with a left and right side. Each section of half tube is joined to another tube section with a mortice and tenon joint shaped like two jigsaw pieces, using metal inserts for the stem and bottom bracket. Full credit to the owner, who is a one man band making only 2 or 3 bikes a month. I can just imagine what the reaction would be if I turned up at Shurguard for a Tuesday morning ride on one of these: “WHAT’S THAT!!!”