Bespoked Bristol 2012 was a fabulous display of the full range of what today's frame builders can do, featuring every type of bike in a range of materials from carbon to wood. If you didn't make it put a date in your diary for next year's show which runs from 12-14 April. In the meantime feast your eyes on the first of a series of mighty gallieries of bike that we will be posting all this week, along with stories featuring some of our favourite bikes from the show. First up it's this gallery of road bikes with a smattering of crossers and track bikes thrown in as a bonus.
Waterford 33 Series
Possibly the most hard to photograph bikes at the show because of their deep two tone paint finishes the two Waterfords on display are pure custom bikes - every one unique. Waterford build their 33 series machines from True Temper S3 tubing and combine the highest levels of craftsmanship with the sort of high end design and engineering approach more often associated with high end carbon frames, using finite element analysis to optimise tube profiles for strength and minimise weight while keeping the classic ride feel of steel.
By all accounts True Temper S3 is pretty fancy stuff. It is specially heat treated to boost strength and durability and Waterford say tube gauges can be down to as little as 0.51mm around the weld area… they ultrasonically test every weld, well you would. True Temper S3 also lends itself to oversizing - indeed there was a fair bit of over-sized steel on display and many 33 series frames have oversized bi-ovalised down tubes to enhance stiffness.
Dario Pegoretti - all of them
If Waterford are from the science meets master craftmanship end of the framebuilding spectrum Dario Pegoretti is very much the frame builder as artist, I can't decide whether the effect is slightly undermined by the instruction to "GET IN" on his website's landing page… Peter Kay is an artist too I suppose.
Pegoretti offers a range of frames, all built in steel and not only is he good at building them he's a dab hand at names too. You can choose from the Love #3, the Luigino (classic lugged steel), or our personal favourite, the Big Leg Emma (those chunky chainstays perhaps)… is there a better bike name in the whole world? We don't think so. Thank you Frank Zappa.
As you can see from the pictures the frame graphics are an important part of Pegoretti's creations. There's a wide range of 'stock' options including 'Why not' and 'Blob' (much better than it sounds) and if you really want something unique you can have Ciavete - Dario's choice - whatever he feels like painting on the day, and he only does it once.
All that art is backed up by a some supreme craftsmanship - Pegoretti learned his trade building frames for Milani - a fact he acknowledges on the Story section of his website which is simply a picture of a Milani. Pegoretti was also one of the first builders to TIG weld his frames and he builds in with a variety of different types of tubing and methods from the classic lugged steel of the Luigino through to the oversized lugged Day is Done and the oversized TiGd Mxxxxxo - which we're guessing is what the Marcello, his most popular frame made from over sized Columbus Spirit tubing, is now called.
Truth be told we don't know much about Mawis - I spotted this bike as the stand was being packed away, from the fancy AX Lightness componentry I should have guessed that it was German - cos that'w where Mawis are based - it was certainly very light.
"We don't do models named "Mountaingoat" or "Lightning". Your frame carries your name on its toptube, and that's the only name it will ever get." So a slightly different approach from Dario Pegoretti then, but what both Mawis and Pegoretti do share is a commitment to building you a bike that's truly unique to you. Mawis only builld bespoke frames and prices start at €2200 for a road frame and €2400 for an MTB.
The price goes up depending on what details you want… oh, and did I mention it's titanium? It is. Mawis build in "Ti3Al2.5V tubes and Paragon Machine Works dropouts and bottom bracket shells only" and with admirable German thoroughness they even tell you the the gas mix and welding wire they use; 6Al 4V as you ask. One of my favourite bikes at the show and i particularly like that bolted on head badge. www.mawis-bikes.com/
More titanium this time from Darren Crisp. Originally from Texas but these days based in Tuscanny, Darren won the award for Best Mountain Bike at Bespoked, but our heads were turned by his very beautiful road bike oh, and a jaw dropping commuter machine that'll crop up in another gallery.
Crisp trained as an architect and started building bikes back in the late Nineties. Originally working in steel, he's been building full time in Titanium since 2004 and his emphasis is on giving each customer exactly the right bike for their needs. The road bike on show here is an elegant and understated race machine beautifully welded with really neat dropouts and short curved chainstays for rapid power transfer. A bike to be ridden hard. www.crisptitanium.com
Legend HT 9.5
More hand made Italian loveliness, this time in carbon. There were a lot of very lovely machines on the Legend stand but the most eye-catching of the lot was this matt red HT 9.5 - which gets my vote for the sexiest bike at the show, although maybe that's just because of the colour. Either way, even I could go faster riding one of these - sadly though the review sample is in Mat's size. Legend build in titanium and carbon and again it's a fully custom process - involving a bike fitting and measurement and even a visit to the factory to see your bike being made if you want.
The HT9.5 is made from a T800 carbon tubing which means the tubes can be cut to fit your particular measurements. The tubes are joined without lugs - usually this is done with gluing and a carbon wrap with the whole thing then effectively baked in an autoclave at pressure and we're assuming that's the same process is used here - particularly given that Marco Bertoletti, the man behind Legend, also built the Viner Maxima RS superbike that Mat tested last year. We're guessing the pricing will be similarly exclusive too. www.legendfactory.eu
Feather Cycles - Martin's XCR Di2 road bike
It wasn't all fancy frames in exotic materials from far off foreign lands. The vast majority of the road bikes on display were made of steel, but that doesn't mean they were all exercises in retro-styling; you probably guessed that from the Waterfords though. There were beautiful modern race machines on display from the likes of Enigma - in both steel and Titanium - and Brian Rourke (covered in an upcoming story). Ricky Feather not only won the best road bike award for his Rapha Continental collaboration, he also had some more lush looking road bikes on his stand.
The one that most caught the eye (apart from the pale blue one) was the Shimano Ultegra Di2 equipped road bike finished in grey with a polished rear triangle. According to his blog this was Ricky's first fillet brazed stainless steel frame - it's made from oversized XCR tubing and features internal cable routing and neat touches like the battery placed low on the down tube so it's not visible from the drive side (by number 3 we reckon he'll have got it inside there somewhere - no pressure Ricky) it's the epitome of classic with a modern twist. www.feathercycles.com/
We've got plenty more bikes to show you from Bespoked over the coming days, next up it's some steel loveliness from Brian Rourke, Tom Donhou and more…
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.