For the UK’s frame builders, I reckon it’s fair to say that there’s a natural rhythm to the year, and it’s defined by Bespoked, the UK’s handmade bike show.
I’ve been going for years now, helping out with Boneshaker Magazine, and last year exhibiting my bikes there for the first time. It’s always been pretty awesome. It’s not as massive as some bike shows, it’s not held somewhere soulless like the NEC, and it’s filled with gloriously nerdy bike folk, both visitors and exhibitors, so there’s always someone to chin wag with about bike touring, or tube butting profiles, or coffee or whatever it is that gets you off.
The lead up to Bespoked, no matter how organised I think I am, is always filled with anxiety and stress. So it felt pretty awesome to ride my bikes over to the show, a mere few K from my workshop, and get set up with minimal faff.
Like last year, I built my exhibition stand from scavenged materials. The difference was this year I scored an exceptional skip dive treasure from a wood workshop busy moving to a new bigger space: some huge triangle offcuts of black Richlite. Richlite is a crazy compressed resin/paper architectural material, heavy as hell, tough enough to hit with a mallet to no ill effect and deeply sexy with a coat of oil on. So I made these two plinths, capped my plywood backdrop from last year, laser cut myself some new text and fabricated some bike stands to hold the bikes up.
This kind of self-building approach is important to me. DIY, or do it yourself is, to my mind, a core tenant of punk. Growing up in rural isolation meant that I had to do things for myself. It’s become fundamental to how I see myself now, how I conduct myself. It’s easy to believe that DIY means low quality, that scavenged materials mean rubbish. But it’s just not true. So while my bikes are made from brand new tubing, the highest quality materials, and crafted with time and care, my bikes, my approach, Clandestine, are all DIY.
Bespoked was a big important year for me too, as I was launching my Carrier model. The Carrier is my idea of the bike for most people, most of the time. It’s that bike for the folk who can’t afford or don’t have the space for a half dozen excellent bikes and would rather have just one really good one. It’s a bike for riding in town, on the fire roads of the New Forest, for that midwinter audax where you want comfort and proper lights and mudguards. It’ll hang with the Sunday club run, or cast off on your own into the quiet backroads or byways. I’m immensely proud of the Carrier, and relish riding mine every day.
The reception my bikes received couldn’t have been better, and I was so stoked that each bike came away with an award:
The red upright bar Carrier won the Bikeradar Choice for urban/load carrying bike.
The grey drop bar Carrier won the Grit.cx Choice for off-road drop bar bike.