Geoff Waugh highlights some of the most beautiful builds from Bespoked handmade bike show. If you like craftsmanship and creativity, you'll find it here!


After shifting from its traditional home in Bristol to Harrogate last year, Bespoked, the handmade bike show, upped sticks once again in 2022, and pitched up centre track at London’s famous Lee Valley Velopark. The art and enthusiasm of the builders remained with the added bonus of hot track laps and the constant whirr of rollers in the background.

ActoFive Cycles P-Train 165.

Designed and developed in Dresden, Germany by Simon Metzner, the Actofive P-Train 165 that graced the company’s stand cried out for closer inspection – particularly, and er obviously, in its purple anodised livery. The main frame is CNC machined from two solid blocks of 7075-T6 aluminium which is then anodised and the two pieces bonded together. The result is an undiscernible seam and a finish that defies you not to stroke it. Any fat on the similarly made swingarm has been reduced until the stays look sculpted like bones; shoulder blades perhaps.

Metzner designed the high pivot P-Train 165 as a long travel enduro and bike park machine. Whilst 165mm is the nominal travel, it is a modular platform with different shock and link combinations, that can increase that figure up to 175mm (230×65 shock) or reduce to 155mm and 145mm (210×55 shock). Earlier incarnations of the P-Train were 135mm and 145mm of travel. In keeping with Actofive’s AR° (Adjustable Ride) tag, the head angle can also be altered via a flip chip a degree either side of the base number of 64. The bike can be run with a 160-190mm fork.

As with quite a few full sussers in the hall, the P-Train sports a high idler pulley wheel to manage chain growth and pedal kickback on a high pivot layout. The idler can be run in two positions to optimise pedalling (low) or descending (high).

An optional extra on the latest P-Train model is called ‘Brake Torque Support’ or BTS, which is a floating brake arm below the stay developed to counteract suspension stiffening when brakes are applied, a common trait of anti-rise linkage systems.

The bike can be run in 29in or mullet guises, with coil or air shock, and will be available in three sizes S1 to S3 although an S4 is on the cards. Price for frame only is at the upper end at 5000 Euros but the quality of build and attention to detail has to be seen to be believed.

Prova Gearbox Ti Hardtail

Show us a mountain biker that doesn’t like a titanium hardtail and we’d show them this, the super pimp personal hardcore green anodised hardtail belonging to Prova Cycles owner Mark Hester. “This is a bike I made for myself,” he tells MBR, “chiefly to add parts and experiment with their performance and design.”

The Melbourne, Australian-based company – Mark and sister Kelly – has been at the forefront of additive manufacturing for some years so it’s no surprise this bike incorporates some fancy 3D printed bits. Chief amongst them is the bridge housing to hold the 12 speed Pinion gear box. The piece connects the chainstays, downtube and seat tube and internally looks like a honeycomb. Funnels, or tunnels, run through the piece to allow for the cable installation.

“Making the bridge like this allowed me to fit conventional length chainstays which can be quite difficult to achieve,” explained Mark. “I’ve built quite a few gear box bikes now, I feel they are more suited to long travel bikes and to long distance touring bikes. This is more a shuttling bike with its long wheelbase and geometry.”

For the record the wheelbase on Mark’s medium plus size bike is 1270mm and he says at ride height it has a 65 head angle and 76 seat tube angle for his own saddle height.

The bike bears a slight resemblance to Prova’s Ripido Ti Party Hardtail but with a bigger celebration going on downstairs.

Prova’s graceful 3D printed sliding drop outs, which are in the prototype testing phase, and the highly polished inverted Hero suspension fork from German manufacturer Intend would catch any eye across the dancefloor. OK, car park then.

The stem/handlebar combo is another area where Mark used the 3D printer to great effect. The printed stem piece is 25mm, which according to Mark means he can increase the wheelbase of the bike without slackening the head tube angle. It is welded to a 31.8 titanium bar to look most trick indeed.  The twin bolt seat clamp also got the additive treatment.

Prova likes to do things from scratch. Even the tube sets and shaping are all done in-house. Tubing selection is unique to every customer making it a true tailor-made experience.

Stayer OMG

In a room full of one-off bikes you’d have to go some to stand out – but we reckon this Stayer OMG managed it. Built around a TIG welded Columbus Zona steel rigid frame, the OMG was subjected to copper plating and a patination process that saw it produce a verdigris fade. The upshot is a bike that is copper at the rear end creeping into the familiar green turquoise of verdigris over the front. The headbadge and name are shot blasted out of the verdigris.

This bike actually warrants that oft overused word: stunning.

The man behind the concept is Lewis Toghill of Empress Works who was inspired by nickel-plated BMX bikes and the ever changing finish and weathering of some materials used in modern buildings. Toghill experimented painstakingly for over two months with various chemicals before achieving a patina he was happy with and before even applying it to a frame. According to Lewis it “begins to show some of the multiple material states that the plated finish can exist in.”

A 29in wheeled singlespeeder,  the OMG frame features a custom yoke designed by Hulsroy and machined by Bear Frame Supplies with Paragon Machine Works drop outs. The fork is a Slayer Stiff As. Short reach bullmoose bars, and lightweight Pauls Components brake levers pulling on Yokozuna calipers – yep, rimbrakes- keep the weight down while retaining the essence of the build. Polished Middleburn cranks drive a 1×1 Wolf Tooth sprocket.

An X-Factor dropper post is the one component offering a nod to the bikes potential use. Attention to detail included copper wire retaining the brake cables in their guides, and a peen-hammered stem cap which totally set off the rustic look.

There is no price on this bike because it is not for sale. It was one of three OMG frames east London-based Stayer donated to separate builders to make their dream machine which were then raffled off specifically to help raise funds for the Ultra Distance Scholarship, an initiative to make long distance riding and racing more inclusive and diverse. An amazing prize for one lucky winner.

Auckland Cycleworks Marra

Bespoked is not always about the best dressed in the room; often we want to see the nut and bolts and inner workings of a bike that has yet to come to fruition – and one such machine is the Marra from the mind of Auckland Cycleworks’ Gary Ewing.

The Marra – that’s mate in County Durham speak – came to be after Gary began looking past the modern suspension designs of today and towards systems found on bikes around the so-called golden era of MTB. Systems such as the Unified Rear Triangle for example, which could be found on more than a few brands at the time; Orange, Trek and Schwinn to name just three.

“It was from a conversation I had with the late Mike Hall who told me he had made a bike that was kind of like a rearwards pivot URT. About three years ago, I thought ‘what the hell let’s make that bike’. So I made it and it was awful, but it did have a few characteristics which were surprisingly good and that got me curious,” explains Gary.

“So it was a case of how can I extract the good things, eliminate the ugly things and is there any mileage in it because my ambition has always been to create my own bike brand.”

Gary says he definitely didn’t want to produce another four bar linkage or single pivot bike. “Not disrespect to them but it had to be something unique. I played around with different configurations and landed on one that I believe is similar to only one other manufacturer and that is RAM bikes from Bulgaria, and he only made that bike so he could run it for himself as a singlespeed. It never came to market”

The Marra’s eureka moment came when Gary discovered by putting the idler wheel on the lower linkage, as the axle path goes backwards, the idler moves down which straightens out the chain so “you can get as radical a rear axle path as you like”.

“Because of the position of the virtual pivot if I shorten the swingarm by 10mm I can shorten the travel by about the same amount,” said Gary. “This model is a 165mm bike at the moment.”

The front end of the Marra is a doctored Marin EL Roy which is a progressive geometry steel hardtail and according to Gary, perfect as a starting point for his experiments. His show prototype had a 64 head angle and 519mm reach.

Next to the Marra, Gary had what he says his market ready bikes will look like. The tubes are carbon and bonded into lugs. The bottom bracket bracket is on the lower linkage. In the realms of URT.