This weekend I decided to make the long journey down to Bristol to visit the bespoked handmade bicycle show. I haven’t attended this show for a number of years, and decided that it was time to go again. But what makes this show worth the 300 mile round trip? There are certainly no big-name brands, no pro-rider guest speakers and if I’m being totally honest the catering facilities leave a lot to be desired.
However this show does offer something that no other show does – which is some truly unique bicycles.
I have always viewed my bicycles as objects of desire more than objects of function. I love bicycles that make me fall in love, bicycles that blend form with function to the point where you can’t decide if you want to ride it or hang it on your wall.
So that's exactly why I like to visit the bespoke bike show. The bikes and the brands that are on show aren’t likely to appear in the next Tour de France, and you’re probably not going to see them lining the walls of every local bike shop in the country. Instead, each bike is a rare one-off; handmade and custom built to order for each customer.
There are a lot of interesting innovations at the show, including wooden bikes, folding racing bikes with rear suspension and much more. But for me, the highlights of the show are always the custom bike builders. These are the companies who – rather than attempting to re-invent the wheel – are simply offering something beautiful and unique. Handmade steel frames, custom built to order and each finished off with a custom paint job.
These steel frames won’t be as light as most carbon frames, and they won’t be branded with names that will get you recognition from your peers. They are also not cheap, with many custom bicycles costing £2000+ for the frame alone and lead times of up to 1 year for completion.
Despite this, each year I leave the show thinking about all the things I can do to my own bikes to make them more unique. I don’t know if I’ll ever go down the bespoke route, but in the mean time I continue to upgrade and modify all of my bikes to make them as unique and personal as I can.
In summary, this show is one of two things: on the one hand it’s a collection of companies selling custom-built bicycles to customers who want something a little different to ride on the weekends. On the other hand however the show is an art gallery, a collection of beautiful pieces that you want to hang above your mantle piece and stare at every day.
By James Chester, Customer Service Manager
Got a question?
Send it to us on Facebook or Twitter, using the hashtag #askRC and we will answer your questions in our video Q&A.