NAHBS 2016, Pretty Pictures, part 2

More bikes and builders. More goodness. So much goodness.

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Sean Walling – Soulcraft

“Merchandises like he worked at the Gap” award

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Walling has been part of the NorCal framebuilding scene for a long freaking time. Not Bruce Gordon-long, but still. Walling did learn the craft from Gordon, and Ross Shafer at Salsa (long before Salsa moved to Minneapolis). Soulcraft was an early proponent of the drop-bar dirt bike, probably due to the fact that the original 700×43 Rock and Road tire was so easily accessible. First with the Groundskeeper (which became a more racy cyclocross bike) and now with the Dirtbomb (yes, the band inspired the name), you can get your monstercross on here. That custom painted Pass and Stow rack is aces. More info: Soulcraft

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 Erik Noren – Peacock Groove

“You can buy this domain for 12 monthly payments of $158” award

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eric Noren has been that guy at NAHBS for year. He builds bikes that attract attention. Lots of it. But this isn’t a put-on by Noren, in my experience, it is just who he is. This cargo trike is the latest in a line of flashy bikes, but this one is eminently functional as well. A 500 watt motor provides some serious extra go-juice, and the oversize batteries also power turn signals and 4-way flashers. An eight-speed Alfine hub acts as a jackshaft, sending power to a rear differential from a go-kart. The shift lever on the downtube is the parking brake lever. While this thing was very well finished, and very flashy, it was also very simply executed. More info: Peacock Groove

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Todd Ingermanson – Black Cat

“Head badges? We don’t need any stinking head badges” award

 

 

 

 

 

Black Cat is probably best known as a mountain bike builder, but drop bar bikes are well within Ingermanson’s wheelhouse. This one is an understated champ of a bike, using Black Cat drop outs, a clean meeting of graphics and logo, and a SRAM 1×11 drivetrain. More info: Black Cat Bikes

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Brad Hodges – W.H. Bradford Custom Bikes

“Droppers for everyone!” award

 

 

 

 

 

Talk to me about bikes for more than half an hour, and I’ll bring up dropper posts and how I want one on all my bikes. The dropper is what pulled me to this bike first, but there are a lot of sweet details that shouldn’t be missed. The fork is a Whisky with custom machined bottle mounts installed by the carbon wizards at Ruckus Composites. The dropper lever is tucked up nicely next to the left brake lever, and  Porcelain Rocket did another primo job on the bags. More info: W.H. Bradford

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Curtis Inglis – Retrotec and Inglis Custom bikes

“Clown car” award

 

 

 

 

I’ll admit it, I lust pretty hard after our former-web-guy Jeff Lockwood’s Inglis-built road bike. This one is similar, although it adds a set of disc brakes, and probably a bit more tire clearance, both good things by my accounting. This is another one of those bikes that seems some flashy at first, but is really very understated when you look closely. More info: Retrotec and Inglis Cycles

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We’ve got a few more odds and ends from the show to talk about, check in again tomorrow.

 

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NAHBS 2016 – Pretty Pictures, part 1

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We’ve got lots of goodness lurking in our memory cards, here is the first taste.

Rick Hunter – Rick Hunter Cycles

“Can he build it? Yes he can” award

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Rick Hunter had perhaps the booth with the biggest variety of bikes at the show. Drop bars, mountian bikes, 26plus swampers, etc.. It was this cargo bike that really got my attention. It is an odd, but functional, marriage of a long john and a long tail. The custom bags are by Randi Jo Fabrications. Everywhere I looked, there was interesting detail, or well-thought-out design. The singlespeed front wheel can be swapped for the rear in case of a cassette body failure, chain tension is provided by an linkage and wingnut under the bottom bracket. The components are an interesting mix of old and new, with Suntour friction shifters and derailleurs , Paul’s Klamper brakes and a Surly crank. The live-edge wood was pretty swank. More info: Hunter Cycles

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Ben Farver – Argonaut

“Laser focus” award
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Argonaut makes road bikes with just a few obvious options. Standard seatpost or seat mast. Rim brakes or disc. That’s about it. Select from those options and Argonaut will take it from there. Utilizing customer’s proportions and power numbers, Ben Farver decides on custom geometry, tubing diameter and carbon lay-up making for one of the most truly custom bikes you can buy. For going fast on the road, there really might be anything else out there quite like this.

I’m guessing there isn’t much overlap between the average Bicycle Times reader and the average Argonaut customer, but talking to Ben made me want to ride one. More info: Argonaut Cycles

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Danielle Schön – SCHÖN STUDIO

“MMMM, Dönuts” award

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Danielle Schön and Schön Studio make more than bikes, in fact are a full service fab shop in Toronto, Canada. Schön has a table in the new builders isle, and this bike was hard to miss. Handcut lugs, stainless tubing and an inset head badge were obviously made with love. The top-cap revealed the bike’s donut theme. The 1.5″ tapered steerer tube is not a thing in cast fork crowns, so Schön made one. Not an easy task. More info: Schön Studio

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Bruce Gordon and Paul Sadoff – Schnozola

“Aren’t these guys busy enough” award

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Gordon and Sadoff have been building bike for years. Like a Jewish, bike-building Voltron, they recently joined forces to create Schnozola. All Schnozolas will share two things in common: all will be painted red, and all will be built around Gordon’s Rock and Road tires (700c or 650b). There will be a few different models to choose from, including this “Grinduro steel racer”, which is set up for bikepacking in these pictures. More info: Bruce Gordon Cycles or Rock Lobster Cycles

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Aaron Barcheck – Mosaic Bespoke Bicycles

“A flask and two small bottles of Bulleit won’t buy you an award” award

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Unlike most custom bike builders, Mosaic works with about 30 dealers in the U.S. and abroad to provide hands-on fit service and a local contact for service. Building in both steel and titanium, Mosaic offers a 6-week turn around, something that is exceedingly rare in the custom bike world. The Ti road bike I shot was a showcase of modern standards (T47 bb, flat mount disc brakes) and classy finish. I’m glad I took this one outside, the bead-blasted logos are somehow both sharp and soft at the same time in the daylight. More info: Mosaic Cycles

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More to bikes and bike stuff and bike people to come. Stay tuned for part 2.

 

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The best and worst of NAHBS in photos

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Being around the industry as long as I have I know a lot of people, many of whom congregate once a year in a different location to look at the fashionshow we call The North American Handmade Bicycle Show. Where artisan framebuilders show off their latest and greatest creations, which are judged and given giant plastic bowling trophies. Fun fun fun with my favorite people. While totally distracted the whole time, talking to old friends and new,I did manage to get a few random shots off which I will now share with you.

See what I mean? First guy I run into walking in the door is this guy. Ted Wojcik, who I have not seen in maybe 20 years. He’s been makin bikes closer to 30. Might have been the first custom builder to work with Dirt Rag. Now he’s working with Fiefield to bring out some E-bikes.

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This happens a lot. Makes it hard to look at bikes sometimes, but thankfully I like people better than bikes. Geoffrey Halaburt is everywhere, we shake hands quite often. He’s here representing maybe the nicest guy in the world, Steve Potts, who I did not get a photo of because we were busy talking about life and family.

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Then there’s this guy. Contrary to popular belief, and the sentiment of this photo, I do have a lot of respect for Zap despite him having bigger holes in his ears than I do. As you can see, the feeling is mutual.

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OK, Bikes. Black Sheep brought some amazing creations as usual, and while awesome, I couldn’t help but just zoom in on this rad head badge by Jen Green.

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Another cool Titanium purveyor is Moonmen. I was fortunate enough to ride with these guys and try these bars, they fell right into my hands and I want to get a hold of a pair for myself.

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Back to humans. Here’s the boss of the show, Don Walker. I don’t care what anyone says about Don, I have a metric ass-ton of respect for him and what he’s done for our community. Be thankful.

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Sometimes bike porn comes in the ogling of a bare frame. Here Jeff Archer of MOMBAT checks out the work of DiNucci Cycle’s best lugs winning frame. Perfection!

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Another one of my favorite people, Erik Noren of Peacock Groove. Note that Shimano provided a bunch of their STePS electric drivetrains for builders to have at it. Each found a different way to attach the STePS unit to the frame.

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Here’s another example from Sycip.

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Yes, there were many E-bikes, and many fatbikes. On the other side of the spectrum was this carbon fiber something. The Signorina from Abbott Cycles takes the objectification of women to a new level. Definetly sucks that this is how women are represented here. Especially since this object was one of about 10 women I saw at the whole show.

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Subtle. Which leads me to this human down the aisle. Look! A living! Female! Framebuilder! Yes, they do exist. Her name is Julie Ann Pedalino and she’s from Lenexa, Kansas and she’s just getting started in this building thing and I’d sure like to see a lot more real women at shows like this and less old boy network. Fer sure (Ok there was Cayley Baird at The Rille booth and Karen Brooks journalizing and Anna Schwinn and Kristen Legan but I am not going to run out of fingers any time soon).

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Here’s something from Rody over at Groovy Cycle Works. Another one of his bikes won best of show, but I am all about funk, so take a look at this.

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Ok, so here’s one more gift. For Sarah Prater’s wedding. This Shamrock Cycles cross bike was hand painted by Kate Oberreich with 585 individual paper airplanes representing the 585 days of Sarah and Josh’s courtship. Now if that ain’t love.

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Well that’s all I have for today, hope you got some enjoyment looking here. There’s plenty of bike porn out the on the web, so feel free to look some up. NAHBS was awesome as usual, it really is the best this bike business has, and I’m glad I was there. Next year, Sacramento, CA! Oh wait, I have one more geezer pic….

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What it’s like to be a judge at NAHBS

We were somewhere over Iowa when the bourbon kicked in. Dammit, AAmerican, is Jack Daniels the best you’ve got? Wait, that’s not even bourbon. I’ll assume Louaville has better. But then I started to see the patterns on the ground as the sun set over the vast midwest. Is it just the whiskey or is something else kicking in?

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Loueeeville here I come. Bikes and good Kentucky bourbon. After a good nights rest I managed to negotiate my borrowed Tern folding bike over the frozen, rutted trail to the convention center. It would have flown completely free but my “Silver” status with what used to be my airline had been removed. Still, the Tern flew in the samsonite for a mere $25.

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Wandering in, I found myself drawn magneticly and immediately to the judging area. I had judged before, enjoying the company of people like Patrick Brady, Nick Legan, and Jeff Archer, No one had asked me to judge in advance, this year or any other, but I stopped by to say hi and see what was up. It’s a TRAP!

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“Wanna help with the mountain bike judging?” Patrick says, as he reeeeels in another fish in the name of Maurice J Tierney. Ummm, ahhhh, ok.  Trapped. I had promised myself not to get involved, yet another addiction kicks in and I start going off right away, injecting what I can into the proceedings.

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Thing is, I really like to get into people’s heads sometimes. Only days earlier I had volunteered to review my friend Zo’s photographic portfolio. I got me a four-year degree in fine art photography and if there’s one thing I learned it is how to expose the weakness in a batch of photos and bring out the best of the bunch. This talent is useful for bikes as well.

So How does one judge a bicycle show? I already have enough people mad at me for speaking my mind-truth in public. Maybe it is the bourbon, or maybe I just don’t give a shit. Or maybe it’s just the battle to keep it real.

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So let me share a bit of my personal criteria, which should not to be cornfused with anyone else’s idea of judging, or any actual written rule book. First of all, builders, you’ve got to have your craft down. No mistakes. Perfect construction, paint and build. Then you can pursue the art of the handcrafted bicycle. So unless you’re in a bare-frame category you better bring a complete bike.

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If the pedals are missing that is one thing but everything else better be there. And make sure the pedals are all the way screwed in and the headset is not loose or you will see me motioning with a neck-slicing hand across the throat indicating you are out of the running (No you don’t get a pass for bad weather). You’re product better be tight. One really amazing favorite builder lost points for a missing cable. Although the bike’s owner never bothered with it, I felt it needed to be there for show purposes to complete the deal.

After all that weeded out I get to look at the art. What has the builder done to rise above and really create something I’ve never seen before? Some judges are more interested in the bike they’d like to take home and ride. My winner needs to be that and more. There’s where I find my winner.

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Bottom line? One guy in the aisle stated that you can’t judge personal preference. True, it is a beauty contest. But I can assure you of one thing, we judges work real hard to honor the best of the best, and they deserve it.

2015 NAHBS award winners

  • Best TIG-welded frame: Eriksen Cycles (Honorable Mention: Holland Cycles)
  • Best Cyclocross bike: No. 22
  • Best Mountain bike: Retrotec Fat Bike (Honorable Mentions: Mooman and Funk)
  • Best Road bike: Repete
  • Best Tandem: Black Sheep
  • Best City bike: Brodie
  • Best Experimental bike: Sycip
  • Best Finish: Shamrock Cycles (Honorable Mention: Peacock Groove)
  • Best Artisan: Cykelmageren
  • Best Lugs: DiNucci
  • Best Carbon Lay-up: Alchemy
  • Best Campagnolo equipped bike: Sarto
  • People’s Choice: Mars Cycles
  • Best New Builder: Love Baum
  • President’s Choice: Ron Sutphin
  • Best in Show: Groovy Cycleworks
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NAHBS 2014: The times they are a changin’

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By Marie Autrey 

When I stepped through the exhibit hall doorway, I knew the world had changed.

I have a recurring dream in which I’m driving the interstate or walking to the mailbox, when a meteorite rips the sky in half like a broken zipper. I feel the shock wave and watch the smoke rising from the crater where a city used to stand, and say to myself that things won’t ever be the same.

Sometimes it happens in real life. When, after a hard crash, I tried to stand and discovered that one leg didn’t reach the ground. When Mom’s doctor said that he’d done all he could. There’s no blast or ash cloud like the dream, but I know just as certainly that the past has passed and things will be different from now on.

The 2014 show was my fifth North American Handmade Bicycle Show. That’s Indy, Richmond, Austin, Sacramento, and Charlotte. (No Denver; see above, about crashing and legs.) I always get an early start, hitting the show as soon as the doors open, buttonholing the exhibitors while they set up, chatting before potential customers clog the aisles. There’s always a sense of excitement in the air. It’s like at a concert when the band is taking the stage. What’s coming may be pure rock and roll energy, or it might be a mish-mash of muffed lyrics and tangled chords. What fills the air is risk—Wallenda placing his foot onto the high wire.

If you know cycling, you know the story of NAHBS: how track bike specialist Don Walker assembled a couple of dozen of his lug-brazin’ buddies to show off their work in Houston in 2005. Apparently the idea struck a chord with cycling’s psyche, because as it roved from town to town in succeeding years, the exhibitor list doubled and doubled again, and the lines of visitors circled the block.

Well, that’s how it used to be. Attendance peaked in Sacramento in 2012, when a bright sunny weekend in a city two hours from San Francisco swelled the convention center to bursting. The momentum broke the next year in Denver, when a snowstorm sent visitors running for home. Emerging shows in Seattle, Philly, and San Francisco siphoned off exhibitors. This year’s NAHBS felt more like a trade show, with manufacturers and vendors—companies with the budget to buy a double booth and commission frames to show off their gear—outnumbering custom frame shops.

Keep reading and see the bikes.

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