Barbican Shop announces On Bike Building – celebrating the craft of designing and building custom bikes

Image of Andrew Denham of The Bicycle Academy making a bike

1 Apr – 27 May 2018

Barbican Shop announces On Bike Building – a series of talks, demos and displays celebrating the craft of designing and building custom bikes. The series will run from 1 April to 27 May, and forms part of Make!  – A season of contemporary craft in the Barbican Shop, which allows visitors to explore traditional crafts with a contemporary twist.

With the revival of craft and the growth in the popularity of cycling there has been a renewed interest in the production of bespoke bikes, with a new generation of frame-builders emerging to meet this demand.

On Bike Building will showcase these builders, including displays by Hartley Cycles, Isen Workshop and Saffron Frameworks; a live frame-building demonstration in the Barbican Shop by The Bicycle Academy; and a special panel discussion on 3 May featuring all of the frame builders involved in the series.

The series is part of Make! – the Barbican Shop’s first ever season of events. Curated by the Barbican’s retail team in partnership with Crafts magazine, the season seeks to challenge people’s perceptions of craft by showcasing contemporary makers who are helping to redefine its meaning today. The season will also continue the work of the Barbican Shop in supporting independent talent, offering makers a platform to reveal the inspirations and techniques behind their work.  

The Barbican is a leading international arts and learning centre, and the demonstrations and displays for On Bike Building will take place in the recently expanded Barbican Shop. Designed by RIBA Stirling Prize-winning practice Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, the 330 square metre shop is spread over two floors, providing room for events and programing that see the shop become an extension of the Barbican’s foyer spaces and a destination in its own right.

Programme information:

The programme for On Bike Building is as follows, with tickets and further information available via

Bike Building demonstration with The Bicycle Academy
Sun 1 Apr 2018, 12–5pm
, Barbican Shop
Andrew Denham
from The Bicycle Academy will provide a series of demonstrations throughout the day on how to build a bicycle frame. The Bicycle Academy specialises in teaching frame-building and providing courses for novices, enthusiasts and professionals. The Bicycle Academy also design and produce a range of frame-building tools.

On Bike Building: A panel discussion
Thu 3 May 2018, 7–9pm, Frobisher Auditorium 1, Barbican Centre

A panel discussion hosted by Andrew Denham of The Bicycle Academy and featuring five of London’s best known bespoke bike frame builders ­– Adeline O'Moreau from Mecredi Bikes, Caren Hartley from Hartley Cycles, Matthew McDonough from Talbot Frameworks, Matthew Sowter from Saffron Frameworks, and Tom Donhou from Donhou Bikes. The panellists will talk about how the business and craft of bike building has changed in recent years, including the fresh appreciation for handmade, personalised frames following the revival of craft and increasing popularity of cycling. The discussion will also look at how the panellists own unique skills and backgrounds have shaped their bike designs, and will conclude with a post-talk Q&A session.

Hartley Cycles and Isen Workshop displays
Thu 3–Tue 8 May 2018, Mon–Sat: 10am–9pm, Sun: 12–8pm,
Barbican Shop

Show bikes by Caren Hartley of Hartley Cycles and Isen Workshop will be displayed in the Barbican Shop following the On Bike Building: A panel discussion event on 3 May. From a small workshop in south London, award-winning frame-builder Caren Hartley creates bespoke bicycles uniquely tailored to each client, with signature silver embellishments hinting at her fine art/jewellery/metalwork background, and will be displaying her Copper Leaf Light Tourer bike. And Isen Workshop (a newly launched collaboration between Caren Hartley and Matt McDonough of Talbot Frameworks) will be displaying their Isen All Season Road bicycle, designed in line with their ethos of creating beautiful, handmade bikes that incorporate new technologies into traditional frame building.

Saffron Frameworks display
Mon 21–Sun 27 May 2018, Mon–Sat: 10am–9pm, Sun: 12–8pm
, Barbican Shop
Saffron Frameworks
is a south-east London based frame builder with a passion for designing and creating beautiful but functional bicycles, and will be displaying a show bike in the Barbican Shop from 21 to 27 May.


A selection of products from makers involved in the Make!  season are available to buy from the Barbican Shop, including a book by Matthew Sowter from the On Bike Building series:

Made in England: The Artisans Behind the Handbuilt Bicycle by Matthew Sowter and Ricky Feather
Published by Push Projects
222 pages, hardback book
ISBN: 978-0957366800
Made in England is a book by frame-builders, about frame-builders. It takes a unique look at the world of bespoke frame-building by showcasing the artisans in England who craft these bicycle frames. The authors Matthew Sowter and Ricky Feather travelled around the country along with talented photographer Kayti Peschke to interview the people who are leading this industry. Each artisan shares their methods, passions, skills and quirks, and through these intimate conversations express what makes them unique in this international art. The book showcases exquisite photography of the frame builders and their working environment, contrasting the raw, rough workshops with sleek images of the beautifully finished final products.


Notes to Editors

Barbican Shop
Level G & M, Barbican Centre
Opening hours: Mon–Sat: 10am–9pm, Sun: 12–8pm
Prices are correct at time of going to press
0207 638 8274