Just 9 months after the first ever UK Handmade Bicycle Show in Bristol, the 2012 edition was upon us. There was a new venue, the pre-show publicity looked like it was going to be bigger, much bigger. John, armed with his 'My First Canon', and I went to find out. What follows is very much a personal perspective.
The UK Handmade Bicycle Show 2012 www.bespokedbristol.co.uk
was based at Brunel's Old Station, basically part of the Templemeads complex. Waiting for The Guvnor to negotiate the one way system (he was within 10m a good quarter of an hour before he actually pulled up), I lounged outside on a wall in the sun, people watching. It was a battle between pretty girls with their floaty dresses and summer legs and bicycles. Steel bicycles. Although they were only Surly (frames not girls), the bikes won out. I'm not sure if that is necessarily a good thing to admit. Anyway, before I got the fury at a fixed conversion of a Corsa Extra, John arrived.
As we made to enter the venue we were stopped by a pleasant security guard - "have you got tickets?". I was affronted - didn't he know who I was? Clearly not, as he would have realised that I don't need anything as grubby as a ticket to gain entrance. Thankfully John said "our names are on the list" and we were whisked inside.
First impressions? Bigger than 2011. Much, much bigger.
And even more earnest young men with beards and what I took to be ironic caps. The sleeve tattoos were an addition though.
To the bikes. Many builders had returned (Rourke, Donohou, Enigma, Feather etc.) and it was great to see that Roberts and Mercian were represented, although I was sorry not to see a Bob Jackson stand. Here's some that caught my eye in particular.
The Brian Rourke 953 with SRAM Red looked superfast and it was great to see that on such an up to date bike there were still some visual throwbacks, like the wraparound seat stays
Everywhere you looked there were Brooks saddles, even when they clashed with the build. It was refreshing to see that some builders bucked this trend - see the Rourke above for example - as to my eyes a blinged up titanium frame with SRAM Red and a Brooks looks sort of clunky (and with leather bar tape? Seriously?). Still, the tyranny of the Brooks may continue for some time
Royce were well represented and their hubs and bottom brackets were as jewel like and silky as always. They also had some tasty engraved cranks on one of the stand bikes
Showing that steel can be as feathery as anything made of carbon, Waterford had a crazy light bike on display - not sure how they got it sub 16lbs with a standard Ritchey WCS stem and post but if light is right and steel is real then, like the late Davy Jones, I'm a believer.
Pride of place on the Demon was their NAHBS winning bike, unfortunately replete with Brooks (this is sounding like I have an issue with Brooks, I don't at all, but can't really see them as the ideal saddle for a modern racing bike). Tidy enough detail although I wouldn't have placed it in the Top 10 of the bikes I saw. Which clearly says more about me than about the bike.
I'm not sure that it was the most expensive frame on show, but the £4,600 Independent Fabrication must have been up there.
Can't recall which bike this was on, but loved the deck of cards spider
Counterpart to many of the try hard builds was this beautiful Chorus equipped Swallow in Columbus Max. It might have been from 1988 but it looked bang up to date for a steel bike. Good use of a Rolls too.
So, what was my bike of the show? As soon as I saw the Pergoretti Lugino I knew that it was 'the one' (ok, so it's got a Brooks, but who says that I can't be contrary?).
I started off by saying that the 2012 show promised to be bigger but wondered if it would be better. There were many, many more stands and loads of bikes but, strangely, for me there was less to see. That might have been due to attending the quiet press launch last year and having chance to talk to people on the stands, whereas this year was part of the show itself and really buzzing with people. Or perhaps there are only so many pretty steel lugged bikes topped with a Brooks that a man can view before becoming jaded (did I really just type that?). Regardless, "chapeau" to the organisers for pulling off such a great event although, for me at least, bigger isn't always better.
The Show is on until 25th march 2012, so get along if you can.
Check the whole set of images here
, on Flickr.