I'm Tony Corke, a bicycle fitter and custom bike designer and I get to work with a good number of the frame builders showing their bikes at this year's Bespoked 2018.
Here's my run down of the show from my perspective.
This year's evolution was in finish, and manufacturing technology.
There are about five incredible painters doing the majority of the top level paint work in the UK and this year for the first time we saw one of them taking a booth at the show. Insta Doctorbobby aka Colourburn Studio came with a stand and there was talk of more painters' presence for next year. With top level paint jobs going for £1000+ it's really becoming a big part of owning a custom bicycle and deserves more recognition and representation.
The other stand out was wider integration of 3D printing. This tech enables lighter, stronger, more elegant junctions for tubular frames. With the right application it can cut the build time of a frame but currently it will add a significant cost to a bike as a single junction can cost as much as a whole tube set! A couple of builders are pushing this tech forward with really good results. My standout was the Prova Stainless non drive MTB drop out and Sturdy Cycles ti bike.
Enjoy the pics!
Bastion Cycles has pioneered a design tecnique in 3D printing that uses very thin walls and a latice mesh to maintain strength. This is their Titanium lug, carbon tube bike. These lugs were aesthetically manipulated by Demon Frameworks.
Ricky Feather always wins awards. His construction is immaculate and his designs are always on point. This is his cross bike (with shoulder carry strap) that reminds us of our 1990s mtbs with its neon splatter paint.
Paint examples from the incredibly talented Rob of Colourburn Studio - his background in professional model making means he continually pushes the envelope when it comes to new finishing techniques.
US based Allied are making some amazing custom carbon frames, their ethos of full build transparency opens a window into all of their production techniques. Love the cable entry into the eagle wings.
Burcak Erbil is an engineer living in Turkey. He builds bicycles part time under the Brelis Cycles name. Burcak is a rare craftsman with both excellent machining/fabricating skills and fantastic artisitc vision. This stainless bike blew me away, rightly winning best in show. The stem alone took four days to make (about as long as a standard frame)
Few builders care to show a stainless bike with only a clear coat. It shows all the flaws. Even fewer would show a bike with this level of detail. All these parts are made in house and all the chamfers finished with a hand file.
It's a little strange to judge bicycles based on a visual inspection. If the judgements were made based on riding qualities this BTR fabrications would win best in show. Some hand built bikes are built for riding. HARD. and it doesn't make much sense to cover them in fancy finishing or £1k paint, though this one does have a little sparkle.....
Craig Calfee made carbon bikes for Greg Lemond and has been doing it ever since. He has a no nonsense approach so it's interesting to see how much he believes in suspension for road bikes. He claims to have data to prove it's faster and I can beleive that in certain situations it is. Here is his rear travel bike. Word is that they are working on an s-bend suspension fork to match up the front.
Calfee Bamboo and hemp - ecological?? At least incredibly comfortable. Bamboo absorbs so much road buzz it's like floating. However the fibers in the bamboo tube are all longditudinal so the bikes usually lack torsional stiffness. Calfee dope their tubes with an internal layer of bi-axial carbon fibre to add torsional rigidity.
Ted James is way ahead of the game in his ability to manipulate tubing and machine custom parts. Here is a bi-conical down tube (think colnago master) except this is in titanium. My vote for the technical excelence awards. There is no one to match him.
Prova bikes making a rear end look heavenly. Such fantastic use of 3D print stainless steel technology here at the dropout. Makes the rear stay and drop out look like one piece.
3D printed ti and carbon tubes from Metier Velo, this one as a super hard ceramic coating about a micron thick
Duratec are a little known brand that make one of the most high tech custom geometry bicycles on the planet. The bike has continous fibre from dropout to headtube that is made with a proprietory patented process. Super light, super responsive, structurally very strong frames result.
OK this one is mine. Dear Susan X Torke Cycling green lane bike for picking up the shopping at the local farms.... Wheels are 9th Wave carbon beach racing wheels from Beukers bikes in the Netherlands. These 2.35 x 29 tires are the lowest rolling resistance tires Schwalbe have ever made in any size and they are like rolling on clouds.
(Mine again) Torke Cycling custom carbon saddle project. I'll be making a few of these for the Mercredi racing team this year. Will keep you posted through Fauxpro.cc
Field Cycles are always a stand out at the show. the work is impecable and all in house from design, fabrication and paint. I cannot fathom why they have never won an award.
A slightly differnt approach from Mercredi cycles who don't bother to file the brass joins smooth on their bikes. Their point is to make bikes that fit perfectly, are designed optimally for the rider and are not so precious that the can't be hammered. All the benefits of a custom bike without the fear of damaging art work.
Metier Velo 3d printed BB lug
Prova cycles 3d printed seat mast top and seat tube/top tube junction
Prova Cycles seat top showing the Bastion Cycles-developed internal lattice
Quirk Cycles award winning low pro. I got to fit the rider for this bike. It's not art, its going to get hammered. With a high functioning rider it is possible to get a very deep/low position that is powerful and sustainable. Such a cool project. I look forward to seeing pictures of it being raced.
Show winning Saffron Frameworks also had a steel race bike on display. I got so exited to see this stainless steel race bike ridden by Dan Craven in the Commonwealth games. Steel is a fantastic material to make a race bike out of.
Swiss watch for your bike?
Saffron Frameworks blends a wooden rear with a carbon post and a stainless front. Woods have some of the best tonal/vibrational qualities of any material. Currently misunderstood and underrated. I look forward to seeing the development of wood composites in the future.
In alignment with my belief that steel is one of the best materials for racing bicycles I have had the pleasure of working with Spoon Customs to develop this, the Izoard Road Race. Review by Cyclist magazine as one of the fastest bikes they had ridden, smashing their strava segments on the flats and climbs. Go figure.
Spoon Customs X MC Escher - Dutch artists famous for his tessellating patterns. This bike shows off the incredible work of paint shop Cole Coatings
Ride Works makes headsets and BBs in the UK to a very high standard. Great to see their products on the Ted James Ti MTB
Toby from Toad custom cycles came with this beautiful stainless adventure bike that I had the pleasure of fitting. Aerobars are not only about getting more aero. Set up correctly aerobars increase postural stabilisation so can be used very effectively to reduce stress and fatigue in long distance positions.
I love an elegant winter bike with mud gaurds. This was my favorite of the show by Woodrup. Loved the bi-lamiate construction, intricate lug work, carbon wheels, dic brakes, ti seatpost and carbon Selle SMP saddle, finished with leather bar tape.