The 2023 Bespoked Handmade Bicycle Show just wrapped after three action-packed days of talks, parties, and drooling over 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 first gallery of bikes and a couple of very interesting components that will be launching soon. Let’s get right into it!
After historically being held in UK, Petor, his partner Josh, and the Bespoked team decided to expand the show to an additional Central European event, which was in Dresden this year. Ideally, there will be another UK-based installment next spring. While I am sure there was some anxiety over hosting outside the UK, those trepidations were quickly assuaged by the massive turnout of both builders/makers and the general public. Germany, and Central Europe in general, is full of amazing fabricators and makers, many of whom we were fortunate to see here at Flughafen Dresden.
I spent the weekend wading through crowds of excited event-goers to find a collection of beautiful bikes to document in addition to some handcrafted components and accessories I think you, our readers, will enjoy seeing as well. Right now, I’m too fried to wax poetic on the event itself which, was actually phenomenal, so I’ll jump right into my first gallery with more to come over the next few days…
One of four SRAM Inclusivity Scholars, Swanee Ravonison of Atelier Pariah made a strong statement with the Black Queen road bike. Swanee has been focused recently on achieving different finishes on her frames and this one was done with hematite applied to directly raw steel. The natural chemical reaction created by the minerals helps to prevent rusting/corrosion while also offering a variety of color tones from blue to black. An old blacksmithing technique, the steel frame will also appear to age over time in a Wabi-Sabi sort of way.
Swanee is an anti-Racism advocate and to reflect her ideas as art in this bike, the finish pattern is modeled after an invasive plant to her home in Nevers, France. Coveted in parts of Asia, Japanese Knotweed is invasive and unwanted in Europe, thus emblematic of the black community across many parts of Europe as well. Like a piece of functional art (with a Basquiat-esque headbadge no less!) Atelier Pariah shows that bikes can be simultaneously beautiful and thought-provoking.
See more at Atelier Pariah
BCB is both a community bike/center shop and workshop for creating comfortable and affordable bikes from scrap frames. I met the crew from Leuven-based BCB at last year’s Bespoked (they cycled all the way to London!) where they had a few of their favorite comfort bikes to display. This year, they returned with a special comfort bike that was supported by the SRAM Inclusivity Scholarship.
Using fancy parts provided by SRAM, rather than on-hand components, this bike is decked out and the first they’ve outfitted for disc brakes! Cutting and flipping the swoopy dual top tubes of an old European commuter gives this build a distinctive appearance. Other standout features are, of course, the custom-etched fork blades and very well-done paint that was rattle-canned with graffiti paint.
See more at BCB
With an eclectic mix of bikes – from wild full-suspension cargo to textbook randonneurs – there was no shortage of sleek and modern road machines. This fully integrated model from Cicli Bonanno in Berlin looks to me like a combination of builder Niccolo’s Italian heritage with his German home: efficient and FAST.
Dubbed “Futomaki” by Niccolo’s Japanese mechanic, the fully integrated frame fits it all in just like its namesake sushi roll. Featuring the first integrated bar/stem from Beast Components, with a full Di2 kit, there are hardly any wires or cables to be seen here. Seatstays are Columbus stainless with a front end made of steel. The fork is also from Columbus for internal routing capabilities. Other light and fast parts include the prominent wheelset, also from Beast, and bits from Rotor. Velociao in Berlin finished the bike in this flaked racing red standout paint and assembly was completed locally by Dresden’s own premium shop Lightwolf Studio.
See more at Bonanno
Leipzig-based Dlouhy Cycles presented what might be the first-ever steel bike with an Eightpins Dropper post. These posts were not on my radar before this show yet its operation is pretty remarkable. The post height is micro-adjustable with a switch right beneath the saddle clamp and it bolts into the seat tube with custom fittings.
Geometrically, the bike is well appointed with a 76° seat angle and 65° head angle. Both the frame and fork (140mm Rockshox Pike) have clearance for up to 3″ Tires. The frame was also built around Paragon’s UDH-compatible dropouts for SRAM Transmission. Frank, for whom the bike was built, has close connections to SRAM and was lucky to get a prototype colored XO AXS Transmission rear derailleur, which matches perfectly with the other parts.
See more at Dlouhy
One of the major show-stoppers this year was this wild 29″ wheeled cargo bike from Konstantin Drust. We’ve seen various bikes by Konstantin on the site before, and while this one is very next-level it retains much of his stylistic DNA including the bare brazed construction, delicate touches like the intricate light mount, and truss fork with a strong personality.
Drust talks about raising his dog in a laundry basket, which became his safe space aboard his Omnium cargo bike, so he knew he needed to incorporate a dog-ready container on his own custom cargo iteration. While the Omnium bike was great for city riding, Konstantin wasn’t always happy with the 20″ front wheel for off-piste riding so building around two 29″ wheels on this machine was a priority. The Pinion gearbox integration came as part of a sponsorship from the brand associated with Bespoked. And a quality sponsorship it was, as the bike won the coveted Best in Show award. To find your own special stuffed dog pillow, look no further than AliExpress.
See more at Drust
Being in Central Europe, I’ve certainly caught the rando bug this week and, thankfully, there was no shortage of these bikes on display. One of the most remarkable was from German builder Tom of Meerglas. First off, the word meerglas is essentially sea glass that has been polished over time with rocks and water in oceans and lakes. This is the approach Tom takes to bike fabrication, producing exquisite custom machines with full accouterments from steel, often with lugs he makes himself to achieve modern-ish geometries with a custom variety of tubing.
This particular frameset was built using Reynolds and Kaisei tubing mated to custom hand-carved lugs. The front and lowrider racks are stainless steel with Honjo fenders. The bike was another painted by Velociao in Berlin, whose work was seen in many booths throughout the show. Dropouts are laser cut in-house with braze-on stainless plates. The headtube contains an invisible transmission system for the rear light. Parts are, of course, a rando mixture of Rene Herse and Berthoud. There are so many more details – take a detailed look through the photo gallery for more!
See more at Meerglas
Sour Bicycles Prototype “PBJ” Full Suspension
I’ve been talking to the Sour team about their experimentations with full suspensions for what seems like years now. So it was neat to finally see one in person. This SRD (Sour Racing Development) “downcountry” bike was made for team rider Quinda Verheul to use for, among other things, rugged ultra racing.
Accommodating 120-130mm front and 120mm rear travel, this PBJ platform is a steel front triangle and aluminum seat stays and rocker arm from fellow Dresden-based machinists ACTOFIVE. With this suspension platform and 65° head angle and 78° seat tube angle, long-ish reach, and short stem, its geo isn’t super progressive but should, rather, prove an efficient ride for Quinda’s long milage pursuits. Oh, and it weighs 28lbs with pedals. Chris, let’s get one of these over to the States for more testing!
See more at Sour
The long-awaited flat and drop bar shifter/levers from our friends at Ingrid Components are nearly ready for production, and they had a few samples on-hand to, well, hold in my hands. Furthest along of these prototypes, the “TTS Thumb Shifter” is a single-lever mechanism that will initially be equipped for 12-speed systems, but later there could be 11 and 13-speed versions.
Like Ingrid’s other components, the design is reminiscent of 80s and 90s thumb shifters. Inside the machined body, there is a simple ratchet system inside on a precisely machined bushing. Shifting occurs by pushing the lever forward, one click at a time, and then releases through pushing in a lateral direction. Ingrid claims that installation and cable fitting will be easy due to the shifter’s simple structure. Oh, and the lever is adjustable up to 360 degrees.
Ingrid is also working on a drop bar lever with integrated shifting, but since it’s not as far along as the TTS, we only got to see this static version. There’s a lot of fine-tuning yet to be done, but the ergonomics look promising. In the comments below, make sure you let Ingrid know how much you want this lever to support mechanical brakes!
See more at Ingrid
If the above news about forthcoming Ingrid shifters wasn’t cool enough, Cyber Cycles finally has a release date and pricing for their Cross Blade Fork. A modern take on the classic Switchblade, the Cross Blade features an independent crown and fork legs (like the FTW version on my Alumalith) but with modern dropouts and materials.
The CNC-machined aluminum crown bolts to interchangeable titanium or steel blades, which can be swapped to suit riding style or terrain. Blades will be available in 0.9mm thick Columbus chromoly steel or 1.2mm thick titanium Titan Blades. Cyber Cycles claims nearly 20mm of travel can be achieved with the titanium blades while still retaining steering precision. And, yes, there is a special plug to keep your Lezyne Pressure Drive pump secure inside. Blades will be trimmable to customize axle-to-crown height per individual bike. At 1050g and 599€ (for ti) this looks to be an intriguing alternative to carbon gravel forks. Look for the Cross Blade next month!
See more at Cyber Cycles
And that’s a wrap on today’s Bespoked coverage. We’ll be back tomorrow with plenty more, so stay tuned!