Highlights from NAHBS 2012 Sacramento

By Karen Brooks

This post covers two days of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show at once, not because there wasn’t that much to see – quite the contrary. It’s because with record-breaking attendance, most of what I saw on Saturday was the inside of our booth. Which was fine; it’s always nice to talk to fans of our magazines from all over.

These posts are but a small taste of our coverage to come. This year, we’re taking advantage of all the space on the World Wide Web to post lots of studio photos and full interviews with builders. We’ll be rolling those out soon, so keep your eyes peeled.

Sycip

Jeremy Sycip always has something interesting going on. Here he shows off a sunny blue cargo trike that his kids were having fun riding around in when it wasn’t displaying T-shirts. Besides its overall practicality, a couple details made it really stand out: The front end has an integrated U-lock, so that you can simply ride the bike right up to a pole and lock it and the dual front hydraulic brakes use a wonderfully simple cable splitter welded right onto the frame. Jeremy says he had to use levers with a big reservoir, and that it was a pain to bleed the system, but it’s still worth it. (We’ll have more on Sycip later.)

English Cycles

This bike, aptly named “Project Righty,” from English was one of the more zany contraptions, but it does look rideable. Note the wheels entirely on the left side of the frame, and the drivetrain entirely on the right – no need for a splitter for this belt drive. It sports a custom English rear hub with a Phil Wood carrier and an eccentric bottom bracket to make it possible.

Dean

Dean displayed a full line of bikes, including a Trans-Alp adventure touring model and a randonneur.

Juding process

We got a backstage view of the judging process, of which our boss Maurice was a part. It was pretty intense at times, as the judges huddled and a nervous flock of framebuilders hovered nearby.

Outspoken Cyclist

I got to meet Diane Lees, host of the excellent Outspoken Cyclist radio show and podcast. Diane, here with her companion Brian, was excited about the latest episode, featuring Graeme Obree, the Flying Scotsman.

Bruce Gordon

I hung out at Bruce Gordon’s booth for a while, partly to ogle beautiful frames of course, but also to have some interesting (and often hilarious) conversation. We’ll have a bunch more with Bruce later, but for now, one cool thing he let me in on was that he’s going to again be producing his original Rock n’ Road knobby 700c (or 29er) tires, a tire that helped further both the 29er and adventure touring concepts. Of course it will be offered in classy skinwall. Here is the original technical drawing for the tire design from back in the day.

Peacock Groove

Eric Noren of Peacock Groove had one of the wildest finishes of any bike at the show – a blood-drenched horror movie theme. He even went so far as to chop up the badge on the down tube.

Independent Fabrication

One of the prettiest paint jobs I saw was on this mountain bike from Independent Fabrication.

Yipsan

Renold Yip of Yipsan Bicycles showed off an updated version of his winning city bike from 2010, with gorgeous racks and the same sunny yellow paint job. Note the shifter front derailleur on the seat tube – the location makes it easier to separate the frame with the S&S couplers.

Richard Sachs

We joked that there should be an award for the “Best Richard Sachs.”

Gallus Cycles

It was especially cool to meet and talk to Jeremy Schlachter of Gallus Cycles. Issue #16 will feature a dual account of the granddaddy of all randonneuring events – Paris-Brest-Paris – by Jeremy and another contributor, Paul Rozelle. Above is the bike Jeremy rode and below is his number plate and finisher’s medal:

Shimano

I got a sneak peek of something that Shimano has been brewing: a Di2 electronic version of their Alfine internally geared hub. It’s built on the newer E2 version of the electronics, so it will have only two cables (instead of the first-gen’s four), with waterproof connectors. The final version will have the battery hidden in the seatpost.

Already this presents an easier rear wheel removal process, but it also promises significantly improved battery life over the external gear versions, since most of the power for those is spent in moving the front derailleur. Another cool twist is that a drop-bar lever version will be available.

UBI

The United Bicycle Institute had a booth, naturally, since many alums were represented at other booths. I chatted with Bob about the possibility of one of us lucky staffers getting to go out and take a framebuilding course with them.

TwoFish

Some booth shenanigans involving rubber band shooting happened, courtesy of our longtime friend Robert Studdiford (center) of TwoFish and his two sons, Adrian and Liam. They always come out to West Coast events to liven up the booth. Liam even advertised for us by stickering up his Mohawk.

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