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Bespoked 2023: Paradise for handmade bikes

Bike fairs are cool. If they are about handmade bikes, even cooler. And if they take place in an attractive location like the Dresden airport, the superlative form of the adjective is required. Bespoked 2023 was held last weekend and we were delighted by the recent developments in the industry, which turn these bikes into not only a design masterpiece but a functional tool for any riding circumstance.

Whoever is passionate about handmade bikes will travel far for the sole reason of checking bespoked builds first-hand, but this year the organizers made it easy for residents of Central Europe by organizing the event for the first time outside the UK, with the German city being the host instead. That translated into a massive public turnout and a diverse portfolio of exhibitors.

From convenient urban bikes to high-end, lightweight builds, Bespoked pleased every single one of the visitors who passed by the airport in Dresden on October 13th – 15th. These bikes are built from components that stand out on their own, so there was also a big share of booths about saddles with Posedla being a great example, bags with Tailfin at the forefront, chainrings and more.

Same as last year, SRAM has been quite present by granting inclusivity scholarships to framebuilders facing certain social or economic barriers. With the funding, they were able to cover their travel and accommodation and complement their frames with components from the American brand. The 2023 beneficiaries were Atelier Pariah, Boucif Custom Bikes, CMG Bicycles, and Star Fish Bicycles.

Quirk Cycles leaves no stone unturned when it comes to awards at bike fairs, and the Durmitor ULTRA road model, with 3D printed stainless steel head tube, dropouts and cluster, was crowned as the best road bike. The frame has been coated in layers of translucent candy terrazzo islands which shimmer and shift in the light, reflecting the brushed stainless underneath.

The runner-up in that category was the Jaegher FL.X Ascender 1912.  The Belgian brand also finished 3rd in the best finish competition and the People’s Choice award. However, the owner of one of their bikes on display, Tom Boonen, was more used to finishing at the top spot of the podium.

During Among the Giants, Tom from Sturdy Cycles told us that attending Bespoke was not on his plans, but nonetheless there was a model of the British brand on display, as Peter Georgallour, organizer of the fair, is the proud owner of a Sturdy Cilla. Those 3D printed titanium levers still leave us speechless.

Dresden is very close to the border with the Czech Republic so the two most renowned local bike brands, Festka and Repete, didn’t want to miss the occasion. They approach the concept of handmade bikes from different perspectives but with similar success: while Festka focuses on luxury custom carbon bikes, Repete pioneers high-quality steel frames. Festka’s Spectre Bodies limited edition was unveiled during the event, and Repete’s innovative R3: Reason surely caught the attention of the lucky ones present at Bespoked. We took a more focused look at the latter one in this article.

Whether the next edition takes place in the UK, Germany or any other country, Bespoked will continue being the best showcase to display the job done by these entrepreneurs that challenge mass production brands and keep pressuring the rest of the industry to bring frame building to the next level.

Photos: A. Fedorov