Bespoked is now the biggest handmade bike show in the world, following the winding up of NAHBS. Last year it was held in Harrogate, but this year the show relocated to the Olympic velodrome at Lee Valley, London, to allow bicycle-starved members of the public from the capital and far beyond to ogle a dizzying array of custom bikes. We’ve already brought you a thorough rundown of the best-in-show winning 3D-printed time trial bike from Sturdy Cycles, and now we’re going to treat you to a further look at five of our favourites from across the bicycle spectrum. You won’t find these atop our lists of best road bikes, best commuter bikes, or best gravel bikes, not because they aren’t exceptional machines, but because they are all unique.
Cast your mind back a few years and bicycle divergence was at its peak. You had the best road bikes split into the best aero road bikes, the best lightweight bikes, and the best endurance road bikes before you even thought about sprinkling in the best gravel bikes (which has itself further split into the best gravel race bikes and those for more general use).
Based in Cardiff, this Antur model from the brand’s adventure collection aims to be as many bikes as possible in a single build, which is why you’ll see an “N-1” graphic painted on the inside of the chainstay, which counters the more common ‘N+1’ phrase of how many bikes one should own, where N is the current number owned.
With geometry that can handle the rough stuff without being a slug on the tarmac, this Antur also utilises sliding dropouts to allow the owner to either run the bike geared, in this guise with a SRAM Rival AXS groupset, or singlespeed for the last word in utility. Or fixed, if they happen to come over slightly unhinged.
Pura Velo wheels are shod with some multi-purpose Hutchinson Touareg tyres, and the build is finished with an Enve fork and Easton finishing kit. The paint, a Jackson Pollock-inspired splatterpiece, is courtesy of maestro Jack Kingston, also responsible for the paint job on the Feather we’ve got below.
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The majority of custom bikes you’ll see at Bespoked, as well as other hand made bike shows, will be steel. It’s easy to work with comparatively, requiring less tooling and equipment. Of those steel bikes, the majority will be fillet brazed (with brass and an oxy-acetylene torch). In years gone by, Ricky Feather has brought many many beautiful custom bikes to Bespoked and has often gone home with an embarrassment of riches in the form of winner’s rosettes, but until now he’s not brought a TIG welded frame for us all to leer at.
Built for his wife, Sally, the frame is made of Columbus Spirit tubing and finished off with Enve and Pacenti kit alongside a Shimano 105 Di2 drivetrain. Let’s be honest though it’s all about the paint here, something Ricky himself freely admits.
When you go custom you can really push the boat out on the paintwork. Not to be outdone by a Jackson Pollock-inspired frame, Ricky went even more niche (again with the help of some wizardry from Jack Kingston) with inspiration taken from the pottery of Nicola Moore. Our favourite bit? The way the Chris King headset blends in so well and matches the downtube lettering.
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Were you waiting for a perfectly setup segue from one bike to another? If so, brace yourself…
While the paint of the Feather above was inspired by the pottery of Nicola Moore, the paint on this Quirk Mamtor was also ceramically influenced, this time by the Japanese art of kintsugi, or ‘golden repair’, whereby broken vases and plates are repaired with gold-impregnated lacquer, making the repair a prominent part of the object rather than something to be hidden.
We’ll let the images of the paint speak for themselves, given that this won the ‘best paint in show’ award, thanks to the hard work of Lucia of Velofique.
Worry not though, the bike is all still in one piece and built up with some seriously bling Enve gear, and a SRAM drivetrain mated to some 3D-printed titanium cranks from Sturdy Cycles.
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At this point, you’d be forgiven for thinking Bespoked was only for skinny-tubed road and gravel bikes hell-bent on reaching Mach 3 on the café run. Well, Pi Manson of Clandestine might have something to say about that.
The Carrier, his ‘off the shelf’ model (in heavily inverted commas, as each has bespoke geometry and vastly differing builds) is part everyday commuter, part touring bike, and part mountain bike. Front load capacity is the name of the game here, with a large integrated front rack dominating the fore of the build along with some Velo Orange Crazy Bars that offer multiple hand positions without opting for drops.
The 650b wheels are shod with plump Teravail Rampart tyres and turned by a 1×10 drivetrain, and while the simple and durable powder coat may not have the head-turning effect of those we’ve featured above, the details in the build itself truly stand out. The rear rack, designed to support a Carradice style saddlebag, is fully custom too and the dynamo lighting is internally routed to protect the wiring, with the cabling even running through the tubing of the front rack to keep things super clean. To cap things off are a kickstand and an integrated steering lock located in the back side of the headtube to stop the front end from toppling over when heavily laden.
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Spoon Sestriere Scandium
Unless you’re blessed with the knowledge and equipment to make your own bikes, if you want a custom frame you have to go to a frame builder or a custom bike company. Thanks to the time and effort, plus added costs like fancy paint, these bespoke bikes can cost an absolute fortune.
Enter stage left, Spoon Customs, with its Sestriere model. Made of scandium – read this as an aluminium alloy with a small amount of scandium added into the alloy – it is available with fully custom geometry for under £5,000, putting the Specialized Allez Sprint well and truly in the crosshairs. If you just need the frame you can have that alone for £1,895, which is pretty astounding.
If you have trouble getting a bike to fit you, this may be a much more affordable way to get the benefits of custom geometry without breaking the bank.
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