2023 Bespoked Handmade Bicycle Show Part 3: Avalanche, Ballern, Black Sheep, CMG, Fern, Huhn, Rheintritt, Rossman, Repete, and Timba

The 2023 Bespoked Handmade Bicycle Show just wrapped after three action-packed days of talks, parties, and drooling over the heaps of amazing craftsmanship on display. Josh was on the ground at the Dresden, Germany airport where this year’s event took place, and, below, shares his final gallery of bikes and a couple of interesting components. Let’s get right into it!

Danke Schön

So here we are; it’s already the third and final day of our coverage from Bespoked. Before we jump into the bike gallery below I want to again thank Petor, Josh, and all the volunteers for working so hard to put on an awesome show. I’m sure there were stressful aspects behind the scenes but, to me as a spectator, it was as smooth as a well-oiled chain on an 80-year-old tandem. Additionally, the Saxony cycling community showed up in a big way to support this event and I want to thank you all, too. It’s clearly because of you that this event was able to happen in Dresden and why it will hopefully be returning next year. Okay, now let’s look at some bikes!

Avalanche Cycles Neorandonneur

Marie and Laurent of Avalanche Cycles build fully custom bikes in their Paris workshop from steel, stainless, and titanium. At last year’s Bespoked, Marie was awarded a SRAM Inclusivity Scholarship and presented a gravel bike with “randonneur spirit” drawing on the French roots of the discipline. Similar in concept to the Rossman randonneur below – which was designed and used in both the Paris-Brest and Concours des Machines this year per the event requirements – this new Avalanche build strays pretty far from the classic randonneuring construction approach.

The customer wanted this build to deliver a bunch of things in a single package and hoped it would serve as a road bike, gravel bike, and travel bike. To meet the challenge, the team at Avalanche went down a creative rabbit hole and designed a variety of 3D-printed elements to use in the frame construction. In the case of the truss fork, using 3D-printed parts makes pricing more approachable while also speeding up the build process. Further, it allows for customizations like the special yoke that fits fenders or big gravel tires.

See more at Avalanche

Ballern Cycle Works Tracklo Packer

Ballern is a state of mind. In cycling, it basically means to go fast for no reason; giving your all in whatever you’re doing. Ballern is redefining your limitations and pushing boundaries one pedal stroke at a time. This is the approach Bennet Janz takes with most things, from building and riding bikes to dancing front row at a rave. Bennett has only been building bikes for a few years but showed up with some really ballern bikes to Bespoked. This one is his “Tracklo Packer” that also rips tracklocross and in the streets. Yeah, fixed offroad touring. Oh to be young again…

The frame is fillet brazed with bronze, apart from a few silver-brazed details, and dropouts were welded before brazing for extra strength. And it’s definitely not designed for brakes! Geo-wise, it has a 72⁰ head angle, 53mm bb drop, and 51mm of fork rake. The 1 1/8″ segmented fork has an integrated Dynaplug holder and anything cage mounts. The polished racks are also fully custom and somewhat integrated. The paint is fully custom by Jule (i draw on bikes ) and pink glitter-coated by the legendary Hagen Wechsel himself. Jule sent a nice note about her paint process so I’m including it here:

“Together with Bennet, I suffered a lot on the bike during rides and bikepacking trips, we are always having a good time and try to support each other. And that’s what my contribution to this bike is about. The raw frame is painted with a violet pen which has this glitter effect when the sun hits the frame. Whenever I paint bikes for people, I try to incorporate their wishes and for Bennet it was important to transport the joy of cycling and the culture behind it through the build. There are a lot of smileys and snacks, but also mountains and clouds.”

Black Sheep Bikes Titanium Full Suspension

My goal at an international show like Bespoked is to focus on the builders we don’t see much of in the US. But there are always exceptions – like Black Sheep – and I couldn’t resist documenting Tarryn’s incredible prototype full suspension. And it wasn’t an easy decision because James was there this year with a prototype FS as well!

The father/son duo have been experimenting with squishy designs to determine if it’s something they’ll eventually want to offer to customers. The pivot on Tarryn’s bike uses oil-impregnated bronze bushings and a titanium axle so it stays silent and maintenance-free. He drew up and built the prototype with a 140mm fork but it can be run with up to 160mm before geometry changes too much. All of the pivot parts were machined in-house and it uses titanium bolts on both ends of the shock as well as the pivot to keep it a lightweight overall 31.5 lbs. He has 29×2.6″ tires in the rear, but the swingarm has clearance for up to 29×2.8″. The head angle is 65⁰ and seat tube is 74.5⁰ with 18.375″ chain stays. It’s equipped with new Paragon T-Type dropouts but uses a regular hanger to run mechanical SRAM X01. Tarryn also finished and anodized the frame himself! Is there anything these two can’t do with titanium?!? Sheesh.

See more at Black Sheep

CMG Bicycles Rigid Touring MTB

This rigid MTB tourer from CJ McGovern of CMG Bicycles rounds out the group of four SRAM Inclusivity Scholars at this year’s event. Having built multiple race-centric bikes most recently, CJ wanted to use this opportunity to focus on something more fun and enjoyable for day-long adventures in rough terrain. The result is this super creative rigid bike with an excellent stance and plentiful detailing.

CJ’s artistry abounds with fully double top and down tubes that appear to connect and wrap around through the bottom bracket and dropouts. The braces in the bottom bracket and seatpost cluster also follow this same design language. The fork is something they’ve had for some time, which is from the late 80s or early 90s. It was originally made to replace suspension forks on 26″ bikes, with suspension correction for about 80mm giving it around a 425mm axle-to-crown and much bigger tire clearance than modern gravel forks with much less stack than modern rigid mountain bike forks. This was also CJ’s first time making a bag or rack and I have to say they both turned out so good!

See more at CMG

Fern Bicycles Ultra Rando

I’m not sure where to even start with this one; it’s just so damn cool. Florian of Fern builds some incredible bicycles and he seems to be approaching a legendary status for the neoclassical touring rigs coming out of his Berlin workshop. This Ultra Rando is his personal machine and it exemplifies all of the style and pragmatism he’s developed during his ten years as a framebuilder.

This bike, like many Ferns, is based on classic randonneuring frames, but features a fully brazed modern Columbus Life thin-walled tubeset. To achieve an overall low weight of around 20lbs, Flo used a very intentional parts selection throughout, including custom deep carbon rims with rim brake surface and the now-vintage Extralite V-brakes. Why V-brakes, you ask? Well, it allows for a lightweight and compliant steel fork void of reinforcements necessary in disc brake applications. Other notable Fern component specs are the square taper bb with NOS Dura Ace 7000 cranks, custom carbon fenders, Gevenalle shifter/levers, custom stem and fork, and the list goes on.  The integrated Busch and Mueller lighting system is powered by a SON dynamo hub and 12-volt Forumslader charger with both high and low-beam options. Of course, the Ultra Rando features a Diamond Rack from Flo’s other brand Allygn (which we highlighted in yesterday’s gallery) and custom bags from his partner Tine of Gramm Tourpacking.

And the icing on the cake is the pink-black fade inspired by Flo’s favorite pair of Nike Trainer 1s. While you need to actually touch it to believe the rubbery finish – applied by Velociao – the Soft Touch coating features a texture I never felt on a bike before.

Huhn Cycles Touring Hardtail MTB

Huhn bikes are always wildly varied and amazing (check out this 36er or gorgeous Ti full suspension). And I was bummed I didn’t have a chance to document one of them at last year’s Bespoked so sought out this decked-out touring MTB in Dresden. The frame shapes are achieved by 3D-printed steel parts – from the headtube to the elegant seat stay/seat tube junctions – and classic elements such as fillet-brazed joints on the bottom bracket. The yoke is from Konga Cycles and can fit up to a 29×3.0″ tire. This bike is built around a dropbar as pictured but can also be swapped over to a flatbar depending on rider and terrain.

Attempting to use only European parts, the handlebar is from Beast Components with Leonardi Racing cranks and cassette, Ingrid Derailleur, Trickstuff Brakes, Vecnum dropper, and Intend fork. Custom luggage is made by Reisefix out of Leipzig and features a bunch of innovative aspects like the Fidlock snap attachments on the top tube bag and clever access points. Plus, the cheetah print and perfectly aligned material with the bike’s paint design is just stunning!

See more at Huhn

Rheintritt Bikes “Ruffer” Freeride MTB

Phillip of Rheintritt Bikes is based in Korschenbroich, Germany, and previously launched a handmade down-country bike – the “Luffy” – that was refined over multiple iterations through testing with other riders/builders on the forum. Now, this bigger version he’s named “Ruffer” has grown out of a similar design. It features 176mm of travel through VPP linkage in the rear and is recommended to use a 180mm fork. One of Phil’s callouts in our discussion about VPP was the notable anti-squat in smaller gears yielding quick and light-feeling pedal performance in flat terrain. Each front triangle is custom-made for each customer with a double top tube providing ample attachment points for bottles and tools. Additionally, all of the CNC’d parts are made in-house.

While I realize this is not the type of bike many of us here will run out and purchase, the story behind it is super cool, and, well, the construction and finish are what really pulled me in. The frame is galvanized yielding a copper appearance that protects the steel frame and also ages over time for a unique appearance.

See more at Rheintritt

Rossman Cycles Randonneur

While the “official record” only indicated one builder participating from the US (Black Sheep Bikes), Hahn Rossman is really a Seattleite by way of recent “digital nomadic” residencies in Europe. He’s become something of a legend in randonneuring circles and it was really nice to finally see some of his bikes in person. This show bike, which was made for a customer, is Hahn’s most recent expression of the kinds of randonneurs he’s been building for Paris-Brest over the past ten years. It was also an entry into this year’s Concours des Machines. An iteration on his previous frames, this one features a choice medley of tubing to help the rider feel confident descending while retaining climbing performance. Of course, the dropper post also assists in confident descending as well as speed/neck comfort in an aero tuck position.

Not satisfied with options for 1” threadless stems on the market, Hahn made this one in his shop inspired by Rener Herse and Cinelli stems of the ‘90s. Additionally, Rossman bikes are typically equipped with larger tires, but this customer had been running fenders with smaller tires and plans to swap when it’s time for dry gravel riding.

This is also the first bike to feature the next-generation headlight switch that eliminates the need to disconnect any wires on the bike for Rinko travel. Rossman introduced the first improvement of the classic Ducheron/Herse lighting brush in 2017. He was able to integrate it into the headset with modern materials and also make the headset Rinko compatible. This year at the Concours des Machines and at Paris Brest, Wilfred Schmidt from SON Nabendynamo was able to see it in person. They had a true meeting of the minds and came up with a really interesting revision of Hahn’s original design. The prototype was on display at Bespoked, but the production version should be available in 2024 from the usual channels that Schmidt products are distributed. We’ll be sure to announce when it launches!

See more at Rossman

Repete Forged Dropouts and R3 Road Bike

In a world of 3D printing, Czech builders Repete are going in another direction and having custom dropouts forged locally in Czech Republic. While I didn’t have time to shoot an entire gallery of the R3 road bike on display, I really appreciate what Robin and the Repete team are doing to set their bikes apart (just check out this wild video!)

There is a stong tradition of this fabrication methodology in Czech Republic that Repete has tapped into. Their dropouts have a flat-mount brake attachment with a very distinctive shape. The goal with this is to have a smooth connection with the chainstays and also carve a cavity for replaceable inserts and potential cable routing through the dropout.

We’ll be seeing more from Repete soon, but in the meantime check out their work here.

Timba Equipment Collaboration Bags

As I was preparing to leave for Germany last week I got a frantic message from Petor asking to bring a set of our white YO water bottles to accompany a display bike. While we’ve been sold out of them for a while I fortunately had a set squirreled away. But why? What was so special about these bottles that they needed to travel around the world? Well, once I got there and saw Thea’s collab Timba bags on this Selemma Cycles build, it was obvious.

Thea, also living locally in Dresden, came up with the idea for this color scheme a while back after being inspired by a vintage Peugeot bike. This project was an attempt to capture the retro feel with simple stripes on white while still making modern, light, and water-resistant bike bags. This show bike is one visual unit with stripes running around and passing through both frame and bags. Selmma Cycles partnered up and not only built up a stunning bike but nailed the paint scheme perfectly. And, wouldn’t you know it, our bottles are a perfect complement. Timba bags are usually ECOPAK RX fabrics but these show bags are in Courdura and include nearly everything you need to head out on tour – half frame bag, seat pack, two top tube bags, and handlebar roll.

And that’s a wrap! Thanks for following along with this series from Bespoked and I’m now looking forward to sleeping for the next few days. Be sure to check out Part One and Part Two of our coverage in case you missed it… Auf Wiedersehen!