Bespoke 2017

Bespoke 2017

An excellent display of custom building again this year with many highlights. I doubt if I spotted them all.
Lugs are back
Although they never went away it seemed to me that there were more lugged bikes than ever this year and in particular with stainless lugs, my own favourite. The standard of stainless steel polishing also seems to have gone up, though once again the bikes displayed by Darrell McCulloch (Llewellyn Custom Bicycles) were on another level.
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There was some brushed stainless in evidence, not something I have tried and I suspect difficult to do well.

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Lovely seat stay tops too, from Feather.

Oversize Head Tubes
Apart from a resurgence in lugs and their associated  narrower head tubes my overall impression previously was the trend towards large head tubes, with the fat frame tubes which look increasingly like carbon. They do perhaps lend themselves, however, to the more exotic paint schemes.
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This Huge frame from Swallow had to have the head tube custom made it was so big. I thought their bikes this year were particularly appealing.
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This is probably a 650b
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650b Touring Bicycles
There were several 650b touring cycles in evidence this year. Promoted by Richard Hallett (Now Technical Adviser to Cycling UK) and others, previously favoured by the French.
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Hallet’s own model exhibited a vintage Huret derailleur, a split stem machined out of a solid piece of aluminium and an own make of rear carrier designed to clip a standard saddlebag to it without using the saddle loops.
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Feather’s example probably would have looked good in the Palace of Versailles.
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Sven Cycles example featured a very clever arrangement of dynamo lighting. The negative wire is replaced by the frame and the positive feed runs through the front fork from a connecting washer that is protected from the front dropout by an insulating washer.
The negative runs from fork to frame using the metal mudguard and internal wiring also runs to a rear light positioned on the back of the seat tube, maybe not an ideal position.
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This impressive build featured an unusual lock which at first I thought was custom made but is commercially available: https://www.tigrlock.com

Weird and Wonderful
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Another beautifully finished bike from Feather, featuring  an unusual two speed gearing system which I believe to be known as retro direct. This means you can have one gear by pedalling normally and another by pedalling backwards. There are obviously some people who wish to do that
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This could be the height of bling from Winter Bicycles. I understand the extensive engraving of parts is inspired by the art on shotguns. Personally I am with the anti gun lobby.
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This bike just has to be made in Switzerland – yes it is!
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The Flying Gate is still alive and well and Trevor Jarvis still appears to be making them.
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Paulus Quiros – just so well executed
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Curtis Bikes specialises in Custom bikes for Dwarfism, probably largely for people with Achondroplasia judging by the design. This is typically where custom builders can have an edge.
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Speaks for itself. Might make me feel like I am sitting on my shoes but I guess with padded shorts shorts it could be OK?
https://www.graftonsaddler.com

Carbon and Carbon/Steel
For me the most interesting full carbon frames were by Donard. No Richard Craddock this year so these made in N Ireland frames were a perfect substitute. Made entirely by hand, the tubes included, by a Physics graduate and former materials scientist, and a thoroughly nice person too.
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There were quite a few Carbon and steel bikes, the main style now seeming to be a carbon seat post and seat stays. One larger builder even used it’s own seatpost seat stay  one piece unit.
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Some Frame Details
Here are some frame details that caught my eye, starting with the well known Rourke seat cluster.
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I like the way Caren Hartley does her fork crowns; two thick plates perforated by the fork blades and steerer.
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A novel way to incorporate a rack and mudguards and a couple of bespoke mudguards
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Mountain Biking
Not my area of interest but one cannot help being impressed by all these joints and springs.
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Curtis bikes, usually known for their BMXs, showed a Prototype mountain bike
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A display of mountain componentry bling, from Rideworks. http://rideworks.co.uk
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Tools and Frame Building Parts
A lot of new frame building tools and a new jig on display by Academy Tools. The first is the latest version of the original displayed last year. The second is a prototype in steel, which is very heavy.
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These are universal disc brake fixtures designed to fit all three types of disc tabs currently used, with axles and fitting bits.
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On the left a clever device for measuring the length of butts at the ends of tubes and on the right device for setting chain stay clearance  from the chainwheel on the drive side. Sadly none of these tools are yet available but the website is now live. http://www.thebicycleacademy.org/academytools
Bear Frame Supplies now has a dedicated website for their frame building components business which is a welcome source of UK made frame parts. http://bearframesupplies.co.uk
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Reynolds Technology have also produced some 3D printed dropouts, which are due to be available from Reynolds soon.fullsizeoutput_5f0
They will be available in both titanium and stainless steel.
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The current Columbus fork range, and below all the details needed  for a design.
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Classic Frames

I still love traditional frames, and you cannot argue against 80 years of frame building by Ellis Briggs
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Folding Bikes
A new folder was on display. Not yet in full production but awaiting orders. The Whippet Bicycle I thought was beautifully made.
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More details at http://whippetbicycle.com

Kit
I have just taken delivery of a phone wallet I saw at the show. It is the first (of many I have tried) that actually fits my iPhone 6 with defender case without having to remove the case. Made of water resistant material though not guaranteed to be absolutely waterproof.
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You can see a full range of Jon MacKinnon’s luggage here: https://www.mackworkshop.com

And Finally a Special Mention
- – - – - for contributor Charlie Merivale who scooped the runner up New Builder prize for his personalised road bike.

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Looking forward to next year.

 

 

 

 

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