Bristol is home to many things. Cycle paths carved into the paving stones of the streets, ice cream vans that are made by Mercedes, signs thanking you for not using your car (should you have one), pretty colourful houses in rows, intriguing street names & the first section of the National Cycle Network. This weekend however it was home to another delight; The UK Handmade Bicycle Show 2013. I did wonder whether this event was aimed at cyclists such as my good self who are more than happy to buy a mass production bike such as a Ridgeback Panorama off the shelf. My dear Reggie may be one of Britain’s most famous two-wheeled friends but at the end of the day he is just a plain old Ridgeback Panorama… Or is he? As I chatted with various builders of handmade bikes today I gradually began to realise the extent to which even Reggie is more bespoke than not. Shortly after I bought him back in 2010 I replaced the handlebars (and all the gear & brake levers). Upon our return to the UK after our Eurovélo 5 escapade his wheels were replaced with hand-built ones. His tyres, cogs, pedals, cables, pads, inner tubes have all been changed at least once. More recently his saddle was upgraded to a Brooks and I have plans to change his front hub to a dynamo one before we set off for Greece at the end of June. Indeed it would be much easier to list the three bits of Reggie that are original; his frame, the pannier racks & the brake mechanisms. That’s it. Everything else has changed so if bespoke bicycles need credentials then Reggie Ridgeback certainly has them. How much have I spent on the original bike plus modifications? £2,000? Yes, but probably £2,500, perhaps even more… So would it be obscene to consider at some point in the future buying a completely bespoke handmade bicycle like the tourer shown here which has been made for a cyclist called Will by Ryan McCaig of Oak Cycles in London? The price is around £3,500 so I think not. It would require a few more copies of ‘Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie’ (and its follow-up book about this summer’s cycle) to be sold but perhaps for cycle number three in 2015? If you haven’t read the ‘wonderful, witty… inspirational’ book, now might be a good time to do just that.
Bristol & The Handmade Bicycle Show