Bespoked is the UK’s handbuilt bike show and it’s on point. It combines a friendly charm and exquisite craft with professional execution, and it represents the vibrant British scene while also attracting builders from around the world. The 2018 edition was last weekend and we went along to check it out.
Fitted neatly into one hall no bigger than an ice rink, Bespoked isn’t a big show, but such is the depth of quality on display that we barely got around everything despite staying way after the official closing. That was actually the best time, hanging out with the builders and chatting over beers once the hall had cleared and everyone could relax.
At ENVE, we love working closely with so many talented builders and we always feel proud when they and their customers choose to fit ENVE. At Bespoked, that feeling reached a new high. We were truly humbled to see our products on so many bikes. Here are our highlights.
Angel Cycle Works, Spain
For a firm that launched just six months ago, Angel Cycle Works is off to a flying start. The range already includes carbon fiber road, MTB and gravel bikes, the latter also mixing in some titanium tubes. Rather than a certain genre or material, founder Jose Angel told us that innovation and high performance are what the brand will stand for. He really means it – Angel is about to launch the first bespoke monocoque carbon fiber frame, with molds machined for each customer using Formula One technology. The road and all-road bikes on his stand were almost completely ENVE’d out, including forks and the main frame tubes.
Baum Cycles, Australia
There was no doubt that the sharpest looking bike at Bespoked was this Baum Orbis all-roader. Beneath the brand’s signature crisp aesthetic is a made-to-measure titanium frame with tubes custom-butted to the rider. The ENVE RD Disc fork and SES 4.5AR wheelset are perfectly matched to the character of the Orbis and its 34mm tire clearance; this one is finished with our handlebar and seatpost, too. Nothing short of sensational.
Calfee Design, UK
Always one to push boundaries, Calfee is one of the first to offer a suspension gravel bike. The lugged carbon Manta Adventure, first shown late last year, offers 12mm of travel from a coil spring housed internally above the seatstay fork. There is no pivot; instead, the center of the chainstays is made from solid carbon fiber in a flattened shape to allow vertical flex. Calfee told us they are currently searching for an appropriately short-travel front suspension solution. ENVE and Calfee go way back, to when we started suppling carbon fiber tubes for Calfee frames as a very young firm in 2008, something we still do now. This heavy-duty gravel bike wore M525 wheels in 650b.
Feather Cycles, UK
Elegance and performance. Two words that sum up this sublime build from multi-award winning Brit, Ricky Feather. It’s hard to imagine anything offering those attributes in greater measure, nor with such perfect balance. It’s achingly beautiful and almost impossibly tasteful in slate grey paint with color-pop orange Chris King hubs and headset, plus vintage brown bar tape and saddle, and natural sidewall tires. The nods to eras past are in sharp and deliberate contrast to the cutting-edge build – the electronic Dura-Ace Di2 groupset, disc brakes, and full complement of ENVE RD fork, SES 4.5AR wheels, SES Aero Road handlebar, stem, and bottle cages, promise immense ability. It’s an athlete in a sharp suit and we love it.
Custom carbon fiber bike builders are a rare breed, but membership to the club for builders of bespoke aero-profile TT bikes and track tandems is a lonely business indeed. So far as we know right now, it makes Filament entirely unique and it has attracted the attention of national federations in search of advanced track tandems for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. Builder Richard Craddock told us that it took years of work and some rather special technology to enable the combination of a customizable tube-to-tube process and Kamm-tail tube shapes. We plan to visit the factory to find out more, photograph one of the bikes, and bring you the full story.
While Filament makes «almost every type of bike», the traditional round-tube racer remains its most popular offering. The purple, ENVE-equipped bike pictured here is Craddock’s own, and features a carbon laminate that’s made to his spec to suit his performance-driven, ex-racer tastes. The Jackson Pollock-esque paint is a recurring theme, if not quite a signature look. Craddock says anything is possible and encourages clients to «let your imagination soar».
Isen Workshop, UK
New this year, Isen is a collaboration between London builders Talbot Frameworks and Hartley Cycles, offering high quality steel frames in stock sizes with customizable candy fade paint that’s so lustrous it won Bespoked’s Best Finish award. Two models are available, the All-Season and the Crit; you can guess what each is for. They’re made from a mix of Deda and Columbus, to which the Crit adds a custom carbon fiber seat-tube made by ENVE.
Prova Cycles, Australia
This bike requires some background in order to be fully appreciated. Mark Hester set up Prova in 2015. Like all builders, he was and is inspired by a huge passion for cycling in many forms, but he also brought with him an exceptional level of engineering expertise which began with working on cars as a kid with his dad, progressed through a degree, and was honed over the course of a decade working for top automotive engineering companies such as Jaguar Land Rover.
The all-road Prova Speciale is a showcase for Hester’s ability. It’s built from a combination of Columbus XCR and Reynolds 953 stainless steel tubing, with a carbon fiber seat-tube that was made in-house. The seat lug and flat-mount dropout are 3D printed in stainless steel; the seatpost topper is 3D printed from titanium and reverse-engineered from an ENVE seatpost in order to use our two-bolt clamp. The Speciale is Hester’s own bike and uses an ENVE cockpit and SES 4.5AR wheels. On top of all this, his Ripido hardtail won the Singletrack magazine award for the Best MTB. We’ll have more on Prova soon.
Saffron Frameworks, UK
Matthew Sowter’s Saffron Frameworks is a leading light among UK builders and one of the must-see stands at any show. The collection on display at Bespoked was outstanding and, remarkably, it consisted entirely of customer bikes, with not one ‘show special’.
The story of this mixed-material singlespeed sounds as if the customer thought up the most difficult commission possible, simply out of mischief. The discussion on it began five years ago; the customer wanted a winter bike featuring some wood. Later, it became a singlespeed project, but with the possibility to convert it to geared, so it has vertical dropouts with an eccentric bottom bracket providing chain tension adjustment. Sowter selected ash for its supple characteristics and sourced a specific variety from furniture maker Sebastian Cox, who grows his own. The ash was steam bent, hand-shaped and bonded to the custom ENVE seat-tube with a softer resin that can cope with the movement of the wood under load. Under the toptube is a cut-out with magnets to hold an Allen key for the bolt-thru axles. The rest of the frame is stainless steel. It was left raw for the show, partly to display the construction and partly because it was only finished half an hour before the doors opened!
We also lost many minutes staring at the grey and copper all-road ‘Bulleit’, and the candy fade road bike. Both feature ENVE product, including a custom integrated seat-post for the latter.
By the end of the weekend, Sowter had three more award wins to add to his extensive palmarès: Best in Show and Outstanding Finish for the Bulleit, and Cycling Magazine’s choice for the ash singlespeed.
This is a name with deep roots. Stephen Maurice Woodrup started building bikes when he returned home from World War Two and founded his shop in 1949. It’s still going strong, with three subsequent generations working together in the family business.
This ENVE’d-out customer bike is made-to-measure from Columbus Max tubing and runs on Shimano Dura-Ace Di2. The customer is a big Star Wars fan, so the seat-lug carries the symbol of the Jedi Order and we guess the color is light sabre green. Apparently, he hoped ‘the force’ would save this bike from the same fate as its predecessor, under a car.