10 More Bikes from Bespoked UK 2021
For our next post from the 2021 edition of the UK’s Bespoked Handmade Bicycle Show, we rounded up an eclectic assortment of 10 bikes that caught our attention for one reason or another. Find a gallery of photos and details on each bike here, with a little something for everyone…
Words and photos by Matty Waudby (@getwildmatty)
The UK’s Bespoked Handmade Bicycle Show features an incredible array of beautiful custom bikes each year. With so many on display, it was difficult to narrow the selection down, but here are 10 more bikes from the show that caught my bikepacker’s eye, from flat-bar gravel bikes to trail-oriented mountain bikes.
After a nearly two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the atmosphere at the show was notably welcoming and open, and you could sense a real feeling of coming together, with framebuilders visiting other builders’ booths to compliment their work and talk through the intricacies of the design. Indeed, this year’s Bespoked was as much about building community as it was the bikes themselves.
Just a note: many bikes feature singlespeed drivetrains or unexpected component specs due to the current worldwide parts shortage.
Enigma (@enigmabicycles) had a large stand at the show with plenty of bikes on display. The Escape model, in particular, caught my eye. Whatever you want to call them, flat-bar gravel bikes, 90s style mountain bikes, or maybe even hybrids, bikes like these are becoming increasingly common for the added control over rough ground that the flat bars give. In the UK where “gravel” riding is basically XC mountain biking, this makes perfect sense.
The frame can clear up to 700 x 50mm tyres, a 50/34 double chainset, and features a BSA bottom bracket, meaning it can be built up in a variety of different configurations to suit the rider’s needs. The frame is manufactured from ever-desirable titanium, and they also do a drop-bar model for those with more traditional tastes.
Brevet Cycles (@brevetcycles) made the trip over from France for the Bespoked show, and they had two bikes on display. One was the bike they made for Concours De Machines (see our additional coverage) and another was a beautiful 650B randonneur bike. Sebastien, the man behind Brevet, demonstrated a clever little detail in the integrated top cap/light switch that works using magnets to switch the dynamo between different modes, USB charging, on/off for the light. The ingenuity of the system is that it is almost completely sealed away from the elements with the top cap easily reachable and easy to remove.
Robert Wade and Pete Bird created Ironbridge Bicycles (@bicycles_by_design) in 2015 utilising their skills from Swallow Bespoke Bicycles to, in their words, “Share the elegance and craftsmanship of a hand-made Swallow frame, without the extra time and cost required to produce a bespoke one of a kind frame.” This involves three standard models, and the one shown here is a new fillet-brazed, Pinion-equipped version of the 1779.
This isn’t just a fine-looking frame, however—it’s designed to be future proof. The Polydrop dropouts allow the rider to install a Neodrive rear wheel if they ever want to move towards a power-assisted setup. Along with the Pinion gearbox and Gates carbon belt drive, this bike is aimed at going the long haul with minimal maintenance. You can get the frame with either a carbon or steel fork (with bosses and rack mounts in places of your choosing) for approximately £2,395 ($3,300).
Chris Lord (@lordcycles) showed up to Bespoke with this beautiful rigid mountain bike specifically designed for multi-day bikepacking trips. This was his personal bike that he made for Grinduro Wales and was made from a mixture of Columbus Spirit, Life, and Zona tubing. Chris is of the opinion that once a gravel bike is loaded up, it looses a lot of its playful character, so finds a rigid MTB much more enjoyable for his trips.
This is one of three standard models he’s offering, the others being a gravel bike called the “Antur” (Welsh for adventure) and an as-yet-unnamed road bike. The build was well thought out with dependable wheels from local wheelbuilder PuraVelo, Rockshox dropper post, Columbus carbon fork, and a custom Straight Cut frame bag. The Vap butterfly bag support/aero bars were a neat addition to stabilise a front handlebar roll with the added benefit of allowing Chris to get tucked away on smooth road segments. I could well imagine this bike being ideal for a route like the GBdivide or GBduro.
RA Bikes Valravn
RA Bikes (@ra_bike) had several of their steel Valravn gravel bikes on show at Bespoked. A couple of the bikes had recently been on tour around Wales and Scotland, while the XPLR-equipped one was set up much more aggressive for UK riding. Ralph, the man behind the brand, has quite an extensive history within mountain biking, showing up to the Fort William DH world cup with a prototype 29er back in 2012, a good five years before industry teams went there. It’s fitting, therefore, that the geometry on the XPLR-equipped Valravn is similarly forward-thinking.
The 69° head angle, longer front centre, 440mm chainstays, 40mm stem, and fact that the bike is built specifically to accommodate the slightly taller axle-to-crown of the Rockshox Rudy all point toward a drop-bar bike that’s meant to be as fun going down the hills as up. Three bottle cage mounts (two inside the frame and one underneath the downtube, plus a bonus name-engraved tube mount) allow the bike to be loaded up with the option of custom racks (as featured on the other Valravns). Keeping the mechanics happy, the internal routing features guided nylon tubes bonded in at either end, so routing is a breeze with any parts where the paint may rub. In the current climate of scarce drivetrain parts, Ralph was keen to tell me that he has 10 XPLR groupsets in stock ready to go, so this build setup is actually available within a reasonable timespan.
Whisky strapped to a downtube—it could only be Shand (@shandcycles). Venturing down to Bespoked from north of the border, they brought a selection of bikes built for off-road adventures. The updated Bahookie and prototype Drove were the talking points of the weekend. The Bahookie features updated geometry, making it longer and slacker (although the Shug is still the all-out aggressive hardtail), with this build featuring a Rohloff and belt drive. The downtube has also been straightened out, an aesthetic choice I think really suits steel frames. There are bottle and rack mounts where you would expect them and internal dropper routing too. Shand use a press-fit bottom bracket shell, which allows them to use a Rideworks eccentric BB to keep the chain tensioned. Stu, one of the employees at Shand (and also the creator of the Badger Divide) noted that steel press-fit BB shells are significantly less likely to creak than their carbon counterparts, and that because the Rideworks BB tightens together laterally, this helps eliminate any unwanted noises. You can also have it tapped to T47.
Also from Shand, the Drove prototype was built around rides like the Highland Trail where there’s a lot of gravel and road riding with some technical singletrack mixed in. The frame features the same press-fit BB shell as the Bahookie and is built around the Columbus Adventure carbon fork, which has a shorter axle-to-crown than most rigid carbon MTB forks, allowing for a taller headtube, which increases frame bag space. The front triangle is made from Reynolds 853 with a Dedacciai rear end. The bike was built up as a belt-driven single-speed but it could be set up with a Rohloff or with a classic derailleur due to the replaceable Paragon dropouts. Both bikes are looking to be released to the public sometime in the following year, so keep your eyes out!
Lurking to the side of the Spoon (@spooncustoms) booth, this monstercross bike caught my eye. Made for Grinduro a couple of years ago and decked out with the latest Brooks Scape bags, this chunky-tired steel machine featured a race-car-inspired paint scheme and a plethora of Hope anodized parts. The stance of the bike was just too good not to shoot, especially with the unusual paint scheme glimmering in the Yorkshire sun. This bike is definitely on the speedier end of the spectrum and was made from a mixture of Columbus Life and Zona tubes.
Ande from Vandal Metalworks (@the_vandal_metalworks) was holding the fort at the Scottish framebuilders stand. His creations definitely brought an element of fun and ingenuity to the show with a compact tall bike and this Mad Max-esque singlespeed. “Do What Thou Wilt” (abbreviated to DWTW) was stamped into the headtube of all of Ande’s bikes. The phrase comes from famous occultist Aleister Crowley and means the pursuit of each individual’s will, unconstrained by popular opinion, law, or conventional ethics. This clearly translates to the bikes Ande makes, often reusing old frames or parts to create new machines with a distinct aesthetic, leaving fillet brazing raw and unfilled while painting bikes rattle-can style. This singlespeed featured some unique handlebars that offer plenty of hand positions with the frame utilising a fork-style rear seat stay. The looks and character of this bike were unlike anything else at the show and the more you looked, the more interesting details you would find.
Teme (@teme_frameworks) are a small frame-building outfit from Shropshire specialising in custom-made frames with a love for making bikes designed for the specific needs of the user. Ben, the man behind Teme, has a passion for designing bikes that look like a normal bike but are outside the typical design aspects of your average bike company. The Grinduro singlespeed bike he had on show may look quite simple, but there were some cleverly thought-out details. The bottle cages were mounted as low as possible to maximise space for a partially integrated frame bag from Straight Cut. The top tube bag uses integrated bosses and the Drj0n stem widget to stop it from being floppy. The tubing is Columbus Zona with a Columbus Futura fork. Finally, the drivetrain features an oval chainring to maximise traction through the singlespeed system. I asked Ben whether the bike was set up singlespeed due to the scarcity of parts but he said he preferred riding singlespeed on both his gravel bike and mountain bike.
About Matty Waudby
Matty Waudby is a Yorkshire-based photographer and creator of things. He aims to create multidisciplinary imagery that documents human interaction with nature and to show that there is always more outside the front door. You can find more of his work at MattyWaudby.com or on Instagram @getwildmatty.
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