Bespoked, Day One
HBG’s Paul Skilbeck set off this weekend to the Bespoked show in Bristol, UK, where he’s reporting from the hall floor about all the exciting happenings at the UK’s own handmade bicycle show. Read on for more about hand-carved lugs, stainless tubing, engraved saddles, titanium, drillium, and Brexit.
Opening day at Bespoked 2017 suggested zero Brexit anxiety and the passenger shed at Brunel’s old station was filled with knowledgeable bike enthusiasts. “These people are really intelligent, they know a lot about bicycles and ask very interesting questions, they’re very well informed about bicycles,” said Craig Calfee, who was exhibiting at Bespoked for the first time. He finished the day with a Steve Worland Innovation award, presented for his suspended road racing/adventure bike, the Manta Pro.
Craig Calfee won the Steve Worland Innovation award with his Mantra Pro bike.
Dave Yates, a veteran UK frame builder, was one of the show judges. Asked about the overall standard of work he’d seen in the show hall that day he responded, “Overall the standard is quite good. There are a couple of iffy bikes, but quite a few are very good indeed. The work of Daz McCullough at Llewellyn is outstanding.” Llewellyn won the Technical Excellence award for a frame built with filed Cadenzia lugs.
Daz McCullough's lug work at Llewellyn is outstanding.
Toad showed up with collection including a spare-no-expense road bike that was a joy to behold with its light grey paint that faded to white and a fine webbed masking job in the front half of the frame. Built with Columbus XCR stainless tubing, the bike features custom made head tube rings and rear dropouts, and a hard edged seat lug. “That’s the aesthetic the customer was looking for. It took quite a bit of extra time to do the machining, particularly the rear dropouts. And I put a time-trial-style rear brake, mounted behind the bottom bracket, which makes a very clean looking rear end,” said Toad.
This stainless tubed Toad spared no expense and included elaborate paint masking and a tucked out of the way rear brake.
The paint is by Cole Coatings in London, and the bike as you see it weighs 6.5kg (14.3lbs)
The engraved Winter bicycle is the result of a new partnership that Eric Estlund has entered into with an acquaintance with a background in engraving who was looking to get into the bicycle industry. He had approached a few builders before coming to Estlund, who was open to the idea.
Estlund show's off his unique and ornate engraved show entry.
Estlund’s typical clean lines and tidy fillet work are less visible on this frame, because the eye is drawn to the detailed engraving on the head tube, stem, seat post, the saddle itself and the crankset and derailleurs. Estlund says he’s unsure how the saddle will wear with the engraved leather, although he thinks that’s unlikely to be a major issue since the super-comfortable Selle Anatomica seats in his experience have a shorter life expectancy than some other saddles.
This engraving on the head tube takes this bike's head badge to the next level.
“It’s not flashy to be flashy,” explains Estlund. “Even the engraving is balanced by other features of the bike. Function and performance are the things I shoot for in designing and building a bike. We won’t give up anything for the engraving, it will only ever be an embellishment.”
Winter bikes are seldom, if ever, purchased as framesets alone. Rather, Estlund chooses components that will best suit the rider and the purpose of the bicycle.
Italian builder T-Red have expanded their line to include cyclocross and track models which are now available in steel or titanium. Their titanium Camobeast cyclocross bike was ridden in the world championships by Czech rider Lubos Pelanek, and the Italian Mattia Finazzi rode a steel-framed model to win the Lombardia regional championship before taking it to the national championships.
T-Red sources its titanium from American Special Metals in Florida - a new name in the ti tube market.
The geometry of their cyclocross frames has settled to approximately 74 degree seat and 72 degree head angles, give or take a tenth or two.
Disc brakes allow T-Red to build this frame with minimalist and clean wishbone seat stays.
With a background in the manufacture of biomedical and aeronautical equipment, T-Red sources its titanium from American Special Metals in Florida, which is not usually associated with cycle manufacturers.
“Cycling has been our passion for many years now. Four years ago we decided to invest our know-how from other fields to bring something new to cycling in the handmade sector,” explained Romolo Stanco of the company, which is based in Desenzano del Garda, Brescia.
An unpainted scandium alloy hillclimb bike made an arresting presentation in the Engineered booth. This diminutive machine weighs in at 5.1kg, (11.25lbs) including power meter and pedals. A carbon fiber seatpost is used to further reduce weight, a material departure for Engineered which normally uses only metal in its frames. The 200-300g that paint and lacquer would add to the weight were forsaken, and instead the frame was bead blasted with a drillium pattern (indents offset at 60 degrees to each other) and mirror polished. The alloy of the welding rod blends with the colour of the scandium tubing, giving the impression of a coated frame.
This unpainted scandium hillclimb bike weighs just 11.25lbs.
A THM front brake and fork have been used, along with a Rotor 3D+ crankset. The bicycle was ridden to 16th place in the English national hillclimb championship last year.
The cockpit is super minimalist and built for efficiency.
Engineered, established in 2013, is a Bristol-based bicycle design company that has its manufacturing operation in Veneto, Italy. According to David Fong, the technical head, this arrangement allows them to spend considerable time discussing build projects with customers and the company has developed a reputation for offering a high standard of customer service.
All Photos by Paul Skilbeck