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INTRODUCING 2023’S SRAM INCLUSIVITY SCHOLARS

Since 2019, the flagship SRAM inclusivity scholarship has been running both in the US (with our good friends at the Philly Bike Expo) and our Bespoked iteration in Europe/UK. On a mission to increase diversity and support under-represented people in framebuilding, a total of 16 builders have graduated through the program, with SRAM supporting builders with free components, travel and accommodation to the respective shows. 

Year by year, the pool of applicants continues to grow – a testament to the success of the scholarship ! We are stoked to have once again received so many great applications to the Bespoked SRAM Inclusivity Scholarship – we were only left with the difficult task of choosing just 4 for this year’s program 😣.

The bar was set very high by last year’s scholars, producing two award winning bikes (Sideways – Best Off-Road Bike, and Avalanche – Best Road Bike) and two runner ups (Etoile – Runner Up, Best MTB, and Salitter – Runner Up, Best Paint Job). No doubt this year’s scholars will rise to the challenge ! We can’t wait to see what 🔥 they bring.

So without any further ado, introducing this year’s scholars … 

Atelier Pariah - Swanee Ravonison

Tell us about Atelier Pariah

Having a rather artistic training, I experience patinas on my frames. I am looking for a maximum refinement for a raw aesthetic. A wild creation far from technical innovations.

Why did you apply for the SRAM inclusivity scholarship?

I am a black woman, 49 years old. I practice cycling in all its forms since the age of 6. I have been self-employed for 10 years. I first had a bike shop, and for 5 years I have been making frames. I was entrusted very young to a very modest host family, so I am very far from the world of entrepreneurship or crafts. I studied art that I combined with the velo. To build wishes of my passions which are the mechanique and the creation. On the other hand, I am allergic to innovations, which are too expensive. I therefore seek to propose handmade wishes, accessible to all with a singular aesthetic that summarizes my sensitivities. I like subtlety, raw materials, and simplicity. I am inspired by Wabi Sabi. For me a wish is a companion to which we must take care to ensure sustainability. The passage of time must bear witness to a common history. The velo talks about his cyclist and vice versa. As well as the creeation speaks of its creator. In addition, I think that my career can influence the most modest who hesitate to follow their path. I have evolved over the meetings keeping as an objective never to borrow from banks! And I have, since an unfortunate magazine cover (#32 magazine 200); Want to express myself more on the issue of racism, in general, but also in the world of nature sports! 😉

What are the specific barriers you face with your practice ?

I would like to experience more, but I am still forced to make a certain profit. I also need some tools to save time and money. I would need a bit of tresorry and partnerships in equipment and staggered parts. I would like countries to help more people from minorities in their practice, but also in the same ways related to outdoor activities.

What bike would you make and why?

An All Road, for sports and fun outings! Because the bicycle can be democratized if it is an intuitive, broad and creative activity. A bike that you can use as your pair of shoes to go running. We come home from work, we put on our helmet and we will ride just to decompress from his day. It has to go on the road and on the rolling paths. It will be raw, like a sculpture, simple to maintain, athletic and aggressive.

Driss Boucif - Boucif Custom Bikes

Tell us about Boucif Custom Bikes (BCB)

We build frames from scrap!

Transforming old scrap bikes into fresh, fast and comfortable bikes with amazing flex characteristics.

Each build is custom fit to match personality, riding style and budget.

Why did you apply for the SRAM inclusivity scholarship?

After exhibiting at the Bespoked show last year, we noticed that there were verry few people like us (people of colour) and also the work we brought (an affordable complete custom bike under £1000) was not represented at all)

We would love to show that framebuilding actually can be quite accessible and everybody can get involved in it.

Above that we also felt eligible for the SRAM inclusivity scholarship because we were used on the photo right next to the “”apply here”” button on the Bespoked website ;p

What are the specific barriers you face with your practice ?

Due to a lack of financial resources, it’s hard to work in the conventional way most framebuilders build their bikes.The jigs and other more expensive tools are difficult to finance, especially when you try to make your bikes affordable for a wide range of people.

We want to be able to bring custom build bikes to the Takeaway riders, Deliveroo riders, bike messengers and all other bike fanatics who don’t have big paycheques coming in each month … [The scholarship is] a great opportunity to show that the bicycle building industry can be inclusive for those who don’t have big budgets, and show that everybody can get in to bike building/framebuilding themselves no matter which ethnic or financial background they have.

Helping us with getting to the Bespoked exhibition to bring our story and our bikes could confirm that the bike building scene is accessible, as long you are passionate about it. And show the people who just want to ride a custom build bike that there are actually options for everybody.

What bike would you make and why?

Usually, I like to make very specific bikes to exactly match the clients use and character. But because this bike is not going to be tailored to one specific customer, I would love to make as much of an all-round good for every use kind of bike. One that’s also easy to adjust to different uses by providing big tyre clearance, mudguard mounts, bike pack proof forks… and easy to maintain by the rider to make the bike extra durable.

For the frame I would use our classic twin top tube curved frame because they match comfort and speed with light weight and great flex characteristics for the majority of riders. And they have proven their durability over the past 10 years. Furthermore, it’s a different approach to the classic diamond frames that dominate the market which really makes it stand out as a custom build bike for the one who will be riding it.

CJ McGovern - CMG Bicycles

Tell us about CMG Bicycles

Trans-femme building steel bikes that refuse to fit in neat boxes and aren’t just for hanging on the wall to stare at. Every CMG is designed to fill a unique niche with a priority on maximum fun!

Why did you apply for the scholarship ?

Cycling as a whole is very cis, heterosexual, white and male. As a queer trans-femme I can at least break a few of those stereotypes!

What are the specific barriers you face with your practice ?

Sport in general and especially cycling have been at the forefront of anti-trans campaigning and policy-making over the past year. Visibility is one of the most important tools we have to normalise the existence of trans people in all spaces and debunk the spectres the media, governments, and sporting bodies have been creating.

On a more personal note, I have had to step away from the tools this past year due to the pressures, time, and cost of transition, and Bespoked would be the biggest of motivations to get back behind the torch already!

What bike would you make and why ?

I’m currently thinking that I’d like to build a minivelo, more than likely with a twin-tube-configuration and fat tyres. It would be intended to be a light-duty hauler, able to bring the groceries home on a (possibly in-house, if I have time) rack but also be agile and fun on the daily commute without taking up too much space in the flat … I’m just really feeling the practical angle right now; so I’d love to make something that can be used on the daily commute, not just on the best days out. It’s something I try to do with all my bikes: it’s not “best bike” territory, it’s something you can rag 24/7/365.

Tore Jørgenson - Star Fish Bicycles

Tell us about Star Fish Bicycles

Star Fish Bicycles builds semi stock / semi custom steel bikes. Our three main focusses of the bikes we build are: comfort, utilization and cute colours. Soft bikes for soft people

Why did you apply for the SRAM inclusivity scholarship ?

I’m a non-binary person who’s been working determined for the last three years towards a career as a frame builder. To learn the trade of metal working I spent two years studying and apprenticing at a metal workshop to get a good basic knowledge of the trade.

While studying I slowly built up a workshop and made jigs for frame building from scratch. I’m now three frames into the journey and with the experience from my metal worker education I’m feeling ready to pursue frame building as a professional career.

Looking at framebuilders and the bikes they build I see an overrepresentation of white cis-males and I feel that this segment have a tendency to build bikes that point in the same direction. I’m interested in using my queer background and point of view as a means to build bikes that I do not see, especially in mainstream bicycle culture.

What are the specific barriers you face with your practice ?

The most concrete barrier I’m facing is economy. Economy in terms of buying tubes, getting frames painted and buying parts. But also economy as in time. As a person who’s trying to get the ball rolling in the frame building industry it is very difficult to find the balance of affording and finding time to work on bikes and working another job to pay the rent and put food on the table.

Getting the SRAM scholarship would be a massive help towards breaking down this barrier and freeing up some time. The support would allow me to spend the time needed to make the best possible show bike I’m able to.

What bike would you make and why?

I would build bike that values getting out riding over going far, feeling comfortable over being tough. I would want this bike to be a symbol of the change I hope to see in the bike industry and in the world.

I think that we need more softness in bike culture and in the world in general. The patriarchal structures that dominate the (western) world weights strong- and toughness over emotions and caring for each other.

I would want this project to be a tribute to everyone who feel like they don’t belong in cycling because they’re not tough enough. The bike would draw inspiration from classic randonneur bicycles with modern touches – in both geometry and equipment.

It would feature standard diameter thin-walled tubing and a one-inch fork with a short quill stem. It would all be joined with a mix of unfiled fillet brazing and silver soldered lugs. The paint job would be in bright pastel colours and matching waxed canvas bags for everyday and touring setups. On the more modern part it would be equipped with big tubeless tires, wide flared drop bars and disc brakes.

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