Billed by its organisers as ‘The UK Handmade & Boutique Bicycle Show’, British cyclists will be treated to top custom frame builders all under one roof for this new exhibition to be opened at Bristol’s Paintworks tomorrow.
Over 40 exhibitors including such legendary names as Condor, Rourke and Enigma are represented but they’ll be rubbing shoulders with exciting newcomers like Feather cycles from Leeds and Donhou from Norwich.
The idea according to the show’s organiser Phil Taylor is to represent the full spectrum of custom frame builders from across the country. “We’ve clearly been inspired by the successful North American Handmade Bicycle Show over a number of years but we know we have the talent in this country, too.”
Jason Rourke from Stoke-on-Trent has seen a satisfying increase in orders for Reynolds’ premium stainless steel 953 custom framesets since the author Rob Penn wrote his book “It’s All About the Bike” and appeared in the supporting TV show about the sourcing and building of his dream bike at Rourke. Penn is one of the judges tonight in various show categories; it remains to be seen whether he’ll be able to vote for one of Rourke’s models. The frame held here by Jason features stainless steel S&S couplers which allow the bike to be dismounted into a case hardly larger than the two wheels. The option adds £400 to the £1,450 price for a 953 frame and lead time is around 12 weeks.
Burls Cycles custom business has taken off since they started offering titanium frames made in Russia about five years ago. While this aero time trial bike with all the bells and whistles including KCNC chainset and USE base bar isn’t quite as light as the 15lb road race model also on display, it shows that carbon-fibre isn’t the only option if you want something special. Lead time is reliably 6 weeks, from measurement to delivery, according to Burls.
KCNC components offer every conceivable weight-saving and colour-enhancing option for the fully tricked out custom bike. Tiny aero time trial brake levers weighing 35g each and costing £108 the pair are new, as is a seatpost designed to fit on a 34.9mm carbon seat tube mast for £84.99. Full marks, though, from weight-weenies everywhere for these hollowed out steerer spacers in all depths and diameters.
Donhou is a new workshop in Norwich still in its first year but showing three of the most finely fillet-brazed bikes at Bespoked. The handlebar and stem combo on this track bike are indicative of the quality.
Downland Cycles from Canterbury in Kent have taken the unusual step of showing all their frames ‘in the rough’ along with all the fixtures and fittings used to correctly build a custom frame. Partly because they’re showing off the workmanship but the most exciting aspect is their apprenticeship collaboration with Canterbury College.
Ricky Feather from York has our personal favourite bike among some tough competition but also one of the most traditional and subtle. Chrome lugs and a perfect headbadge.
Demon Frameworks prove that the south coast around Southampton has become a veritable hotspot of custom activity. The frames are exquisite but they’ve also become known for their comfortable living room exhibition settings.
Condor Cycles have their ‘lightest ever’ steel frame made from Dedacciai Zero tubing and called Gran Corsa d’Italia. The only trouble is they’ve sold the six they made but it offers a tempting glimpse of features that are likely to appear on a more widely available model towards the end of the summer, most notably that its geometry is carefully positioned between ‘race’ and ‘sportive’ for what Condor hope will be a good number of all-round road riders. £800 including a Deda Nero Corsa 5 fork and integrated headset.
The United States of America is represented by Waterford Cycles from Wisconsin. This R-33 all-round road model can be delivered to custom order within 6 weeks, along with an Edge carbon fork for £2,250. It’s unusual in the assembled company for being made from True Temper tubing and TIG-welded but none the worse for that. The joints are the tidiest you’ll see.
The Bespoked UK Handmade & Boutique Bicycle Show 2011 runs Saturday & Sunday 11th-12th June 9am-6pm. Entry £5. The Paintworks, Bristol BS4 3EH