Bespoked The InterviewCorrespondence Friends Events Bicycles Art & Design Monthly highlights
With Bespoked returning to its spiritual home in Bristol this weekend, we took the opportunity to ask founder Phil a few questions about what inspired the event, and the changes he has seen in handmade bicycles over the last few years.
What gave you the idea for bespoked? Did you have a background in events before?The idea for Bespoked came about as all good ideas, while riding my bike. I was working as a teacher in Brighton and used to commute 15 miles each way along the coast and sometimes up and across the South Downs. I had a road bike and a mountain bike but wanted something that was still able to be fast on the road but also be able to cope with off road hills and paths while carrying a load. Cyclo-cross bikes were closest but too race specific at the time, I wanted what is now called a ‘gravel racer’ ‘all road’ bike, which wasn’t really around 6 years ago. So I decided to learn how to make one. I’d always had an interest in handmade bikes and when I was at school the talk was all of owning a bike made just for you. I learnt to weld at evening class and while researching different framebuilders noticed that there wasn’t a show in the UK to promote the industry like NAHBS was doing in the States. My wife Tessa, a couple of friends and myself had set up Brighton Art Fair, a show where the artists would display and show their own work as opposed to galleries, which gave me the experience needed to organise events. Tessa and I then set up Bespoked, and after a couple of false starts had the first show at the Paint Works, Bristol which was a great success.
Do you have a favourite builder or bike from the show?I can’t answer that as I need to remain impartial, there all my favourites! Were you building frames yourself when the show started, or did that come later? The two went hand in hand, I had just started when the 1st show took off, but the time constraints of organising the show caused a pause for a couple of months. As the show went on I visited many other framebuilders in making our Meet the Maker films which helped me develop, just asking the odd question hear and there as different areas of framebuilding came into focus. It also helped me to see how others worked and define my own style. How many frames do you build a year? How big is your workspace? What are the essential tools? I build around 12 frames a year, one a month. I’ve just moved into a new space, which is also where the Bespoked office is. It’s great combining the 2. During the build up to this show I gave myself an hour a day in the workshop to build a bike for my daughter, it’s amazing how focused you can be if you know you have a limited time. It also gives me a break from the computer. The essential tools, are first and foremost, surface plate, so that you know what comes in and what goes out are straight. Next is my tig welder then, milling machine as this gives me the option to make the rest of the tools I need. I’ve turned my old workshop into my paint booth which is great to finish my bike in a way that I want and can have complete control over.
Bespoked - The UK Handmade Bicycle Show 2015 takes place 17th - 19th April at Brunel's Old Station & Arnolfini in Bristol.
Find out more about Bespoked 2015 here