Europe’s leading handmade bicycle show, Bespoked, returns next year at a new venue – the Lee Valley VeloPark at the heart of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
The venue will have only been open to the public for a few weeks when Bespoked arrives on the weekend of April 11 to April 13, 2014.
More than 6,000 visitors crammed into Brunel’s Old Station, Bristol, for this year’s event to view the handmade wares of more than 80 exhibitors, and organisers hope the change of venue will attract even more people to the show.
“It’s got to be one of the most amazing, iconic cycling buildings around,” Bespoked’s Phil Taylor told RCUK.
“The public will get to see the most amazing hand-crafted bikes in one of the most recognisable buildings in the country.”
And while admitting the move was not entirely down to the organisers, he is confident the unique atmosphere of the show will remain unaffected.
“It came about because there are alterations being made to Brunel’s Old Station. Bristol council are making it smaller by selling off large parts of it for office space,” he explained.
“But I think as far as atmosphere goes, it’s organised by the same people and its more or less the same people exhibiting.
“The atmosphere is created by them, the fact that we’ve moved will not change the atmosphere we have built up.
“This just means there will be more space for visitors to come. There will be the same people exhibiting, with the same passion for their product.
“It has moved once before and coped, so I see no reason why that won’t be the same again.”
The show’s popularity reflects a wider trend of consumers moving toward the hand-made market, and Taylor believes the expansion of the industry is improving the designs on show.
“I think it’s people wanting something different,” he said. “With more and more people getting into cycling – it’s really boomed – people are coming into it having had their first bike, perhaps for just riding to work, and now they’re on to their second or third.
“They’re more informed and they’re recognising the need for a perfect-fitting bike that the high street just can’t offer. There’s a quality of workmanship in handmade, and the quality of builders joining the established crafters means there are fresh, quality ideas too.”
Framebuilder Ricky Feather, of Feather Cycles, echoed these thoughts but admitted he is unsure as to whether he will be at Bespoked next year.
“I think hand-made bicycles are becoming so popular because people want something a bit different,” he said.
“They want a bike that fits them absolutely perfect without having to adjust the stem, the seat etc. You do that all straight away when you’re being measured for a custom-fit.
“I probably will be exhibiting. But I’m not that keen on it being in London to be honest.
“For me, the main plus about Bespoked Bristol was that it was something going on in the bike world outside of London.
“The engineering history of Brunel’s Old Station was also a big part of it – the velodrome of course is a very interesting building but I’ve never been a big fan of going to London to be honest!
“Unfortunately I think it’s going to put a few people off going. A day out in London costs a lot of money and it could discourage families – particularly as it’s miles from everything, albeit with good transport links. It could be pretty expensive.”
There are no such worries for Tom Donhou of Donhou Bicycles however, for whom the venue change has worked out in his favour.
“It’s dead handy for me because I’m literally just across the river,” he said. “I think it’s cool. It’s an amazing building.
“Fingers crossed it means there will be a bit more going on – perhaps there could be a chance for riding now?”
He too has witnessed an increase in sales, and believes more-informed customers are leading the way.
“I think people are starting to decide carbon isn’t the best model – I’m getting a lot of phone calls with people saying they ride a carbon bike and think they need a steel one instead,” he explained.
“I also think people want to know where the stuff they are buying comes from now. That goes for everything – I think people are more aware of where their clothes and the things they buy are manufactured.
“If they come to me at Donhou Bicycles, they know we build the bikes one at a time. They see it going on in the workshop. It’s a big draw I think.”
For more information on Bespoked 2014, or to fill out an application form, visit: http://www.bespoked.cc