World’s coolest custom bikes on show at BikeShed 2018

Bike Shed custom bike show London 
Beautiful bikes in a beautiful venue - with a knowledgeable crowd Credit: Tom Bing

Motorcyclists might have one eye on the British round of the World Superbike series this weekend at Donington Park, although there is another major fixture on the UK calendar – the ninth Bike Shed “gathering” enticing bikers to Tobacco Dock in central London.

Why “gathering”? The Bike Shed is a cocktail of show, exhibition, art gallery, hangout and congregation of like-minded two-wheel riders and admirers. As with any good bar concoction, it aims to taste good and oozes style.

Bike Shed has grown in popularity both inside and outside the motorcycle industry, much in the same way that the Shoreditch-based The Bike Shed Members Club has swelled in profile thanks to the restaurant, vibe, décor, store and atmosphere as much as the rare and sumptuous pieces of tech on display (and usually stationed in the clients’ parking area).

“Bike Shed came about because, as bike owners, we thought most bike shows were s**t,” states 51-year-old Anthony “Dutch” Van Someren, founder and CEO of The Bike Shed. “We were turned off because they were trade fairs, the food was poor, the toilets were stinky and the parking was miles away.

“We had a blog, which had been around for a year and a half, and we had lots of amazing bikes on there. So we had a pub conversation and a bit of a ‘Carlsberg moment’ about what a motorcycle show would look like if we did one as Bike Shed. What we started back then is exactly the same as what it is now… we are just much, much bigger.”

The Bike Shed is a cocktail of show, exhibition, art gallery, hangout and congregation of like-minded two-wheel riders and admirers Credit: Tom Bing

Van Someren, his wife Vikki and their crew began constructing a hub for another type of biker: one that has become more pronounced and visible in the last five years with a slight shift in the motorcycle industry that saw customisation, cool, craft and quality the new marketing and user paradigms. Bike Shed was even able to expand and transplant itself to Paris.

“We wanted to create a communal experience-based event that was about bikes and not just for bikers,” he says. “Bike culture has been around as a ‘thing’ for a long time and people that don't ride them still like them or are curious about them. It is not a geekfest for nerds wondering if the latest model has a better miles-per-gallon.”

“So our priorities came out as: really nice toilets! Really good food, proper coffee, a real bar, the right hospitality, places where you could sit and relax and talk, come and go. We did it backwards: beautiful bikes should be in a beautiful venue.”

BMW 'boxers' old and new Credit: Tom Bing

Aside from the 17 eateries, exhibits, barber, music and even a tattoo parlour the machinery is the heart of Bike Shed. Expect almost 240 rare pieces of equipment and projects from the inventive workshop minds of people such as Roland Sands, Death Machines of London, X-Axis, deBolex, UMC, Auto Fabrica, Down & Out and more. 

Dutch, who formerly worked in media and advertising and who has a knack for a memorable quote (“I like bikes that are one-offs, but they don’t need to be one-offs to be great bikes”), claims the Bike Shed has grown in conjunction with riders returning to a simpler ethos.

It’s not a snobby or exclusive underground scene. In fact it is something more organic and there is a burgeoning audience.

A lovely Triumph-engined café racer at the 2017 Bike Shed in Tobacco Dock Credit: Tom Bing

“It is a really simple phenomenon of being a gap in the market,” he opines. “I think there is a load of people that love riding bikes but don’t define themselves as riders; they are not track day gods, they can’t all wheelie and don't all have spanners and work on their own bikes.

“I think this scene is very inclusive and welcoming. As it’s about design and creativity and not just engineering and performance, and I think it is more accessible. There are a whole bunch of people that do not operate at MotoGP level, never will, don’t want to and don’t need to – and they are not afraid to show off their bike for what it is. This culture accepts that.”

The show features the whole gamut of customisation, from lowriders and choppers to cut-down, race-style machines Credit: Tom Bing

Advance tickets cost £20 and are valid for Saturday and Sunday. The venue opens at 10am and closes at 8pm Saturday and 6pm on Sunday.

Full details at

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