2023 Show Review

“Why Dresden?” was one of the most frequently asked questions at last year’s inaugural European edition of Bespoked. Perhaps it was chance? perhaps fate? perhaps the guiding hand of our friend and collaborator, Roman from QVIST or the local community’s warm embrace? One thing that we’re sure of, is that however we arrived there, Dresden was the perfect town in which to host the show. The response was overwhelming, and the quality of work on display was next level. For those of you who missed out, read on as we try to capture the energy and excellent vibes though this factorial rundown of the show.

This year’s venue was Dresden International Airport, a former aeroplane factory tastefully modernised with heaps of natural light, a controlled climate and well-designed acoustic treatment deadening the babble of 7000 people over the course of the weekend to a comfortably audible level. as an international airport it was necessarily open 24hrs and as there were no neighbours, there were no problems with us playing relentless techno so hard that Germany doesn’t export it, from the show Soundsystem, which fuelled a fast and enjoyable show build. The build crew, headed up by award winning builder Bennet Janz, consisted of almost exclusively ripped, good looking and over qualified German ultra-distance athletes, who unbeknown to the organisers, all possessed fork lift truck driving licences. For the most part the show was assembled using our reuseable modular staging by pretty much the best crew ever in just one day before exhibitors arrived for the set-up day.

The Friday morning press and industry pre-view was a great success with an impressive press turnout, much of which can be accredited to our incredible media partners, CRANK communications and Two-tone. The show was a hive of activity with journalists and film crews from over 75 different outlets, including TV channels all working their way around the show and grew even bussier in th e afternoon as the cue of visitors that had assembled outside the show filtered in.  As the sun set over the panoramic views of the airfield, and distant hills bathing the show in golden light, our good friends Schwalbe pulled out a seemingly limitless supply of crates of beer, accompanying a slow trickle of pizzas to during the award ceremony to keep the party going. This year’s Star Wars themed awards were made in collaboration with Dynaplug and Ashley Anodized It, and were presented by the judges, as well as show directors and Gunnar from Fahrstil Magazin

Best in show went to the epic Drust x Pinion “dog carrier” cargo bike, which took pride of place in the centre of the Pinion coffee lounge, SQLab held a build-off award, offering a €1000 cash prize to the winner: Benjamin from SUBA Cycles. On top of SRAM providing the booths, travel, accommodation, and carte blanche on the whole SRAM catalogue for cholars all recipients of the SRAM Inclusivity Scholarship, BCB, Atelier Pariah, CMG Bicycles and Starfish Bicycles, also received a well-deserved award. For the full run-down of the winners and runners up, check out our blog post here.  Special mentions go to the whole team at Sour Bikes (Outstanding Contribution award), Roman from QVIST (Community Builder award), and Bennet from Ballern Cycleworks (Absolute Legend award) who all went above and beyond to help the show happen this year. There was a steep learning curve on the opening night, as we quickly surpassed the capacity of every pizzeria in Dresden Neustadt before early at 11pm to stand a fighting chance of meeting outside the Sour shop the following morning for an early ride.

After kerbside coffee and pastries, and a brisk gravel ride lead by sour, we arrived back at the show, where we were greeted by hoards of people, who we’d initially thought were queuing for baggage check in. As we approached the realised that the crowds were in fact lining the staircases all the way up to the third floor, and were waiting for the show to open! While the middle sections of the third floor remained stable, the narrower walkways and connecting bridge were literally bouncing under the sheer weight of the crowds and the immense turnout. The day’s packed programme of talks and films flew by in a blur. Before we knew it, the show was closed and we were all headed into Neustadt to get to Club Kwang-Lee, where we teamed up with Sour Bikes and Schleudergang to bring a riotous evening of roller-racing and eclectic dance music descending into pummelling techno as a prequel to Donna Summers. The rollers were put away to clear a bigger dancefloor for getting loose in a room lit only by body-shock bike-core fever-dream projections. A consistent feature of the numerous feedback forms we received from the show were that the party finished far too early at 2am, leading to a number of show staff getting lost on their way home, and seeking shelter in a klub until the following afternoon. We take such complaints very seriously and have taken the necessary steps to secure a more suitable after-party venue for this year’s show that does not require a closing time.

Sunday was another busy day, with another full schedule of talks and films and a fatigued bare bones crew, fuelled by dooner and mate somehow still bringing their A game. We were proud to be joined by ex-Diamant and Textima builder Hans Kocliht to present a film we produced in collaboration with The Radavist and Diamant, to tell some the stories about frame building in the   local area during the time of the DDR. The sun set again behind the hills lining the vast horizon, with one last thing to announce: the winners of the Peers’ choice and People’s choice awards, going to Rheintritt Fahrradmanufaktur and Bordure respectively. After that, it was only a couple of hours before the show had been completely flat packed by our crew whose insane stamina and good vibes left us eager to come back for more!

The Dresden show was so fun, even for us as organisers, in a way we haven’t experienced in cycling for such a long time, that we couldn’t resist taking it back to Dresden again for 2024. So if you missed out this year, mark 18th – 20th October 2024 in your calendar now for what will be another epic celebration of handmade bikes and the people who make them!

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