Our launch !
Last weekend we launched Whippet Bicycle! We exhibited it at Bespoked 2017 - the UK's handmade bicycle show, located in Brunel's Old Station and Engine shed in Bristol. Now in it's seventh year, Bespoked has firmly established itself as an exciting alternative cycling event, where people who like their bicycles to be a bit different from the rest, gather each year to see what's new. The show's essence is a passion for all things cycling related and "is a place for the public, industry and press to meet independent makers and designers of everything bicycle." Due to the ever growing popularity of the event, it's run over three busy days, and is attended by thousands of cycling enthusiasts from across the UK, Europe and beyond.
For all the above reasons we always wanted to launch Whippet Bicycle at Bespoked, where fellow cycle enthusiasts of all persuasions would be able to give us valuable and honest feedback about our new design. It's also an incredibly relaxed event with a really friendly vibe, a place where you can get up 'close and personal' with all the bicycles on display and ask any questions you like to the people who actually designed and made them. In essence, at Bespoked you are mixing and talking with those who care passionately about their bicycles and really know their stuff, and of course you can check out the machines too... whether you are considering buying one, or just dreaming!
This being our debut launch, we were exhibiting in the new framebuilders section along with seven other talented frame makers. Between us, there was a great range of classic, individual, innovative and cutting edge bicycle designs to see, with of course much more of the same on offer in the main exhibition hall too. We therefore built our stand to be clean and simple, so visitors could focus on the design of the Whippet Bicycle itself, and see how it all works - both as a bicycle for fine riding and as a new slimline retracting storage solution.
Bespoked gave us a great opportunity to explain the purpose of our new folding bicycle - whilst function and convenience are of course very important, so to is owning and riding a really nice bicycle. We were able to speak to literally hundreds of people about our design, many of them owners of other small wheelers... indeed many people at Bespoked owned a 'few' machines!
Of course everyone was curious to see and hear what our bicycle was all about, why it was different and why being slim when folded might offer an alternative to the more typical fold in half and/or swing around designs. It was also interesting to hear about the visitor's experiences of their own bicycles and what was important to them. Being able to see, touch and feel the Whippet Bicycle on our stand meant it was easy to demonstrate and explain the benefits of our 'controlled flexing' twin tube arrangements to visitors, and for them to appreciate how slim the Whippet Bicycle actually is when it's folded. Pretty much everyone agreed that wheeling a bicycle along is preferable to lifting it too!
So what did we learn? Generally almost everyone who visited our stand seemed to really like the Whippet Bicycle, and they were really receptive and enthusiastic about it. Our fellow framebuilders exhibiting at Bespoked were also full of positivity and admiration for the way we had overcome some of the technical challenges in the design of a new folding bicycle.
However the real surprise was the extremely positive reaction we received from the majority of Brompton and Moulton owners. Quite a few even came back a second time for another look and to show it to their friends. This was something we really didn't expect, as both bicycles quite rightly have very passionate and loyal owners who love their machines a lot! Typical reactions across all three days were... "great looking bike", "looks like a proper bike", "it looks strong and stiff"', "beautiful details"... and "we get it!"
Equally surprising for us, was that we picked up a Bespoked award for 'Technical Excellence'. Judged by Dave Yates and Matthew Sowter, of Saffron Frameworks (both renowned and respected 'lifers' in the British bicycle scene), it was really unexpected and we were very pleased to receive such recognition.
We had a great time and we'd love to go back again next year. A big thank you to Phil, Tessa and the team at Bespoked for having us, and for putting on such a great show. Also thanks must go out to our master brazer Lee Cooper, folding bicycle 'supremo' Mark Sanders, our friends and families, and of course all of you who have supported us with such positive feedback and valuable suggestions. We continue then!