For 2022, our post-pandemic comeback show was held in the track center of the Olympic velodrome at London’s lee valley velopark, a venue we’ve not used since 2014. It was incredible to see a standard of work on show that easily topped any previous show, and potentially any bike show ever. There was work of epic quality to see from every imaginable niche, from road bikes to gravel bikes, mountain bikes, tourers, adventure bikes, track bikes BMXs, bags, parts, accessories and paint. Builders working in steel, titanium, carbon fibre, wood, bamboo and more. It was a room filled with masters of their craft, bringing their A-game, but most of all it was amazing to see our community come together and put on one for the best bike shows in the world.
It was a big year for us, with the introduction of our reusable modular staging and lighting, and It was a year of fun collaborations. We worked with Albion, who ran free repairs and modifications on their booth all weekend, on the modular booth branding and a series of very limited edition musettes, which we gave to volunteers to say thank you for their help. We worked with SQ labs on the first ever SQLabs Build off, where exhibitors were invited to use any products for free on their show bikes for the chance to win £1000! We worked with Schwalbe and Howling Hops brewery on brewing “Mullered Mike” in the style of a kolsch from Schwalbe’s native Cologne, as well as putting on an after party for press and exhibitors. We worked with album roasters to roast a Coffee sourced form regions serviced by world bicycle relief to raise money for world bicycle relief. Finally, we worked with SRAM to provide the first ever Bespoked SRAM inclusivity scholarship.
The inclusivity scholarship was our take on the Philly bike expo edition of the SRAM scholarship, as was the inaugural edition of a programme we think is super important going forwards. The goal of the scholarship is to encourage representation and diversity within our community, from which everyone benefits. The wording of the scholarship was designed to be particularly broad “if you don’t see people like you or work like your’s equally represented in the cycling community, you should apply.” We were both delighted and privileged to have several great applicants form a diverse range of backgrounds and were able to award the scholarship to 4 applicants, of which two ended up winning further awards.
Owing in part to the tricky venue, which had essentially no access for anything anywhere, and a labyrinth of locked doors, the set up was especially challenging. Added to the normal set up of the show were the modular exhibition materials which our volunteer run rigging crew managed to assemble in just over a day with generous help from a number of exhibitors. The build, while complex and at times arduous, brought everyone together highlighting the quality of our community. The press opening day saw 75 journalists visiting the show as well as a number of bloggers, vloggers and podcasters. That evening, we held the first Bespoked awards ceremony since 2019, with a crew of judges form the cycling industry and media, chosen in part to represent our commitment to diversity within the show. We replaced the traditional rosettes with functional little trophies, made from custom Dynaplug Megapills on mahogany bases made by retired men at local mental health charity “the man shed”
Best in show was chosen by us, the shows organisers and the volunteers who helped make the show happen, we chose the Sturdy Cycles Eimear time trial bike for its sheer technical prowess, minimal aesthetic and seemingly effortless finishing. An absolute stonker of a bike with almost the whole bike made in house by Tom Sturdy. We were especially impressed with the integration of profiled tubes onto additive manufactured lugs, and the overall classic styling of a performance oriented bike.
The peers choice, voted for by our exhibitors went to Prova
Best Road Bike chosen by Jack Sexty and Richard Peploe from Road.cc was awarded to Avalanche cycles, a Bespoked SRAM scholar and relatively new builder who brought an impressively techicaly increadibly competent and tastefull super light steel road bike, featuring additive manufactured stainless steel lugs and a carbon seat tube.
Best Mountain Bike Judged by Hannah Dobson from Single Track Magazine went to Rå for the Rå 12 – the bike that most got her pulse racing, as a purpose driven all out enduro machine
Best Off-Road Judged by Kathrine Moore of advntr CC and Komoot went for another SRAM scholar, Sideways for their adventure gravel bike built entirely form scrap carbon offcuts from the Yacht building industry
Best Touring Bike judged by Josh Weinberg from the Radavist and 2021 Ultra Distance Scholarship awardee Zara Ballos went to Pi Manson of Clandestine for his tandem tourer
SQ Labs Build off Award chosen by SQLabs also went to Pi! It’s fitting that a tandem should win two awards!
This year we ran the first ever Mike Burrows award for innovation, to mark the passing of our good friend and legendary bicycle designer Mike Burrows. The award was judged by Stuart Dennison, a friend of mikes, and owner of one of London’s oldest bike shops, Bikefix. It was awarded to Auckland Cycleworks in part for their innovative suspension design, but mostly for their spirit of “innovation while not giving a fuck what anyone else thinks”
Best Finish is often one of the most controvertial awards, so this year we assembled a crack team of experts: ex painter, Ian Greyharbour, formerly of award winning paint duo Coal coatings, artist and movement director Ted Rodgers and artist James Kapper. The award went to Quirk Cycles kintsugi inspired Suprachub painted by Lucia Alva of Velofique.
Best New Builder, judged by Shaggy John formerly of TBA (who’s seen more than his fair share of new builders over the last decade) went to Huhn Cycles
Best cargo bike Judged by Patrick Fields went to ten:07 for the Unicorn folding cargo bike
Best Track Bike Judged by Jesse from Track Nation went to Cicli Barco for their insane stainless monster of a track bike
Best City / Utility Judged by Dan from Cycling UK went to World Bicycle Relief, for their Buffalo Bike for its hyper-utilitarian design and lifechanging qualities
Our two new discretionary awards for people who helped make the show what is was were awarded as following:
Outstanding Contribution – Mark Phillips from DCode Ltd.
Absolute Legend – Tom Nowell from Runlight Ltd.
It all felt like a blur, culminating in the Schwalbe afterparty at howling hops brewery and tank bar, where Schwalbe put on food and beers for press and exhibitors. As responsible adults for the weekend, we’re half afraid to believe the stories of after-after parties we heard the next morning. If stories are to be believed safe to say that “mullered mike” and Schwalbe’s afterparty bar tab were well received.
With the exhibition going on in the track centre, it would have been absurd not to use the track its self, so the Saturday morning kicked off track nation’s two day series of races, called by vintage bike related comedy genius: Josh from Bicicle d’epoca. We also ran a race for exhibitors, who were invited to race on their own bikes or one of the velodrome’s rental Condors. It was a rare opportunity to see former Olympic athletes race around a velodrome in jeans against award winning frame builders. Saturday also kicked off our series of talks , featuring Sturdy, Prova, Desmoto racing, the Ultra Distance Scholarship, and friends of Mike Burrows, filling the slot that mike had allocated for himself a year earlier.
Mike Burrows was remembered with a post humous stand, featuring a range of his work and various artefacts from his workshop curated by Bespoked. Bepoked also sponsored the Ultra Distance Scholarship for the first time, with a booth which they used to raffle three unique Stayer OMGs each built as a unique dream build to raise money for the 2023 edition of the scholarship. We also supported two small Ukrainian manufacturers, Lazarus and 7R bike bags with a booth, in collaboration with Artem from Stridesland chainrings who brought a number of bags to sell at the show to help support the small Ukranian manufacturers during this period of war in Ukraine.
We managed to make an awful lot happen in a very short space of time, in our first year of running the show, it was a lot of hard work throughout the year, but we feel like it paid off in building a great show and taking steps to better support our community. We thank our tiny team of freelancers for the bits they worked on throughout the year, as well as all the amazing volunteers who went above and beyond to help pull things together on the day. We’d also like to express our gratitude to SRAM, Schwalbe, Brooks, Bikefinder, Albion, Dynaplug all of whom supported the show and helped, make parts of the show happen which couldn’t have happened otherwise, building a better show and enriching our community. Finally, we’d like to thank all the makers and manufacturers who attended for bringing some of the best and most unique bikes we’ve ever seen (which coming from a couple of middle aged bike dorks who’ve seen a lot means a lot!) and helping build one of the best bike shows in the world.