Cyclo are back at this years Bespoked Bristol – The UK’s premier hand-built bike show. Now in its second year the show has already outgrown its original venue and moved to a larger conference centre right next to Bristol’s main rail station. The station, one of the oldest in the world, is now host to a new transport revolution. As recently as the 1970s the UK was the world’s cycling workshop – maybe this is the start of the comeback.
Bespoked Bristol aims to showcase the best of UK independent builders and designers and to celebrate the art of the hand-built bicycle, with this year seeing around 100 exhibitors. It now also includes overseas companies from Italy, US, Germany and France.
The backbone of the show is still the builders of one-off, custom, frames but has expanded to include accessories, components, publishing and clothing. This year also included a special area for ‘New Builders’ who have just started out in the business and are looking for their first customers.
That brings us to this year’s BB Awards. There were the six main categories covering Road, Track, Touring, Off-Road, Utility and, of course, Best in Show. Added to that were the Public Vote and new awards for ‘New Builder’ and ‘Spirit of Cycling’. Robin Mather’s beautiful ‘Baguette’ tourer won both Best of Show and the Public Vote. Best Road bike went to Ricky Feather for his collaboration with Rapha – which was a unanimous decision although the judges just couldn’t decide in the Touring class; the award was eventually shared between Roberts Cycles and Winter Cycles – from Croydon and Oregon respectively.
One of the best things about the show is the chance to swap ideas, meet fellow builders and to help build the UK, and international cycling community. The show also included a series of more formal talks including: ‘How to get started in frame building’, ‘The US custom cycle scene’, and a lively discussion on whether only ‘Steel is Real’.
Bespoked Bristol 2012 was a fabulous display of the full range of what today’s frame builders can do, featuring every type of bike, in a range of materials, from carbon to bamboo. Visitor numbers exceeded last years total by the second day so the success of next year’s event looks assured. If you didn’t make it this year, put a date in your diary for next which runs from 12-14 April.