Bespoked UK 2021: Bikepacking Bag Makers Roundup
In our final look at the 2021 Bespoked UK Handmade Bicycle Show, we check out the work of three UK-based bag makers: Wizard Works, Aravis, and Restrap. See the colorful creations they had on display at this year’s show here, plus a little about the bikes their bags were attached to…
Words and photos by Matty Waudby (@getwildmatty)
Although it’s predominantly aimed at framebuilders, Bespoked is also a space for other handmade cycling companies to share their work. Along with wheel builders, clothing companies, and component manufacturers, three UK-based bag makers turned up to show their wares to the public. Aravis, Restrap, and Wizard Works all had unique stands with a selection of bags and bikes to showcase their luggage carrying products. It was cool to see the different approaches to bag making from the three companies, with Restrap showing off their new iridescent Look collaboration, Aravis teasing some prototype bags, and Wizards Works displaying their signature saturated colours.
Aravis had a cinema-style setup with levitating bags suspended from fishing wire. Restrap went for a nightclub-esque look to show off their rainbow bags, and Wizard Works had a custom-made stand made from Valchromat. All three companies are in different stages of their evolution, ranging from a single-person outfit to a 70-plus workforce. From all accounts, the bag makers talk in a local brewery on Saturday was well worth going to, involving stories about manufacturing dog collars to get by and a shared desire to create handmade products. I think it’s a testament to the popularity of loaded riding that all of these domestically made brands can coexist within the UK.
Aravis is a small bag maker based in Walthomstow, East London, manufacturing a range of stock bags and custom-made frame bags. Pete Rutherford is predominantly a one-man band but uses this to his advantage to offer quite a range of different fabric colours and choices due to the small order volumes. Pete had prototype front and rear dry bag harnesses attached to a rather snazzy-looking Red Fox gravel bike in a fetching navy colour. These prototype bags are designed for longer trips than the current stock selection of bags, which cater more to day riding, such as the Échappée handlebar bag, Nomad small saddle bag, and Piste Basher hip bag.
The new bags should be released in the coming months. Aravis also offers a custom frame bag service whereby you send in a photo of your frame with a ruler next to it to get the bag made to the exact dimensions. Pete joked that the first few he sent out were quite nerve-wracking but is now pretty confident in this service and has a helpful video on the website on how the method works.
The Red Fox gravel bike on display at the Aravis stand is made by Sam, a Bristolian export to Copenhagen. The frame featured stainless steel throughout with a bonded carbon seattube for a little extra compliance and weight savings. The clean internal routing features hooks in the bottom bracket shell, ensuring the cables don’t rub against the BB. This is Sam’s personal bike, so is built up with a lovingly curated selection of parts from Ingrid, Redshift, Yohozuma, and SRAM. The frame features a full collection of cage mounts on the seattube, downtube (above and below), and the seatstays (Sam agonized over the placement but stated he doesn’t get heel strike).
You can learn more about Pete and Aravis Bagworks by following him on Instagram @aravis_bagworks and via AravisBagworks.com. To check out Sam’s work, head to @redfoxcycles on Instagram and RedFoxCycles.com.
The dynamic Wizard Works duo of Ve and Harry showed up with a bright green Scandinavian style stand complete with wooden dowels, a pair of adorned all-terrain bikes, and seemingly matching T-shirts for the whole weekend. They had a range of different types of bags on show, including the Shazam saddlebag and Alakazam basket bag, which we have reviewed previously on the site, and their new top tube bag, the Go-Go.
The purple UK-made Stayer Groadinger show bike stood out from across the room with the bright pink bags contrasting against the green backdrop like candy in a sweet shop. The soon-to-be-released stock frame bag utilised a laced top tube attachment, which Wizard Works explained to me wasn’t just for looks, but also to reduce strain on the zipper. This was the largest of the three stock frame bags (its release date is slightly ambiguous). The company currently isn’t doing custom frame bags but hopes to start offering them again in spring 2022.
The Stayer was kitted out with a Ritchey carbon fork and finishing parts, a gorgeous Simworks stem, and an elusive SRAM Rival AXS drivetrain. Its 650B Teravail Rutlands were mounted to the Stayer-built carbon wheels, clearly aimed at rough UK gravel riding.
In other news, expect the latest edition of “Wiz Viz,” the brand’s high-visibility winter line, to be released in the very near future. I saw a sneak peek but was sworn to secrecy until the release…
Restrap used the show to launch their new limited collaboration with Look, featuring some rather jazzy iridescent bags matched with the decals on the 765 Gravel RS frame. The bags are reflective, and Restrap head honcho and founder, Nathan, said they’ve been in the works for 18 months. The hardest thing, apparently, was matching the frame decals to the bag colour.
In daylight, the bags take on a greyish hue, occasionally catching the light and reflecting the rainbow hues. The extra-long top tube bag seems especially sturdy, not suffering from the flippy-flop affliction common with this style of bag. Nathan stated this was due to the rubberised grippers on the bottom of the bag with a similar laser-cut material used for the top tube straps and a super low stack strap to go around the steerer. These grip the bag to the frame while also lessening damage to the paint due to the minimal movement. These bags seem like a great option for winter commuting or road-based ultra-racing where visibility is paramount. They also had a full range of their standard bags on show.
The Look 765 Gravel bike looked like it meant business with its high modulus carbon material with flexible 3D double-weave seat stays. I can’t help thinking that someone is undoubtedly going to get the frameset and bags and match them to a plethora of oil-slick components to create a full chameleon bike. It would certainly be interesting!
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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