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NAHBS 2011 Website

NAHBS 2010 Website

2012 Exhibitor List
2012 Media Partners
2012 News:
Paul Skilbeck:
2012 NAHBS Awards Winners:

BY CATEGORY (scroll down for list by builder name below)

BEST CARBON FIBER FRAME Alchemy Bicycle Company
BEST CITY BIKE Ira Ryan Cycles
BEST CITY BIKE Shamrock Cycles
BEST FINISH Vendetta Cycles
BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE Retrotec-Inglis Cycles
BEST ROAD BIKE Demon Frameworks
BEST STEEL FRAME Ellis Cycles Inc.
BEST TANDEM BIKE Kent Eriksen Cycles
BEST TITANIUM FRAME Steve Potts Bicycles
BEST TRACK BIKE Rebolledo Cycles
PEOPLES’ CHOICE University of the Fraser Valley
PRESIDENT’S CHOICE Cherubim by Shin-Ichi Konno
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR Stinner Frameworks
BEST OF SHOW Cherubim by Shin-Ichi Konno


BEST CARBON FRAME Alchemy Bicycle Company
BEST OF SHOW Cherubim by Shin-Ichi Konno
PRESIDENT’S CHOICE Cherubim by Shin-Ichi Konno
BEST ROAD BIKE Demon Frameworks
BEST STEEL FRAME Ellis Cycles Inc.
BEST CITY BIKE Ira Ryan Cycles
BEST TANDEM BIKE Kent Eriksen Cycles
BEST TRACK BIKE Rebolledo Cycles
BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE Retrotec-Inglis Cycles
BEST CITY BIKE Shamrock Cycles
BEST TITANIUM FRAME Steve Potts Bicycles
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR Stinner Frameworks
PEOPLES’ CHOICE University of the Fraser Valley – Paul Brodie
BEST FINISH Vendetta Cycles


Matt Butterman:
2012 NAHBS Award Winners – Steve Potts:

Best Titanium Frame – Steve Potts Cycles

Steve Potts is a legendary Bay Area builder, having founded Wilderness Trail Bikes, and has been building for 32 years. His NAHBS Award-winning bike was a 29er:

It’s a smaller frame size, which made designing it a bit more challenging. Complete Ti construction, with custom bars and stem, also crafted from Ti.  The Type II Fork is a steel fork I have been making for about 30 years. It is a Charlie Cunningham design, also one of my close friends and my original partner in WTB.  Charlie and I have been working on great bike ideas for about 32 years and still having fun! 

This year’s NAHBS was by far the best and biggest. I’d been to Portland and San Jose in the past, but what was gratifying was to see the balance that the show retains between an informal gathering of like-minded friends and a way to increase a builder’s image and sales.

I think NAHBS still has it right: it’s a fun way to get to know your potential customers and talk with them without pressure or expectation. Certainly after the show our website counter goes through the roof! But it’s not too corporate, and I hope it won’t ever go down that road.

Doug Hack:
From the NAHBS Award Winners, Part 2:

Black Sheep Bikes’ Todd Heath –  Best TIG Welded and Best Experimental Bike

This is the first year that a Titanium frame has won the Best Tig Welded award. Titanium is a little bit more challenging to weld than steel or aluminum.

Our innovative bike is based on 36 inch diameter wheels with rims and tires from unicycles. The rims are made by Nimbus and are 787 by 42mm. The Tires are by Coker. It is a single speed cruiser and with the large diameter tires rolls over everything really smooth.

There has ben a really good turnout for this show. There is lots of potential for follow up sales for us.


Paketa Magnesium Bikes ‘JP Burow –  Best Alternative Material

The bike wearing the ribbon was a TIG welded magnesium tandem weighing only 23 pounds. Burow asked all visitors to“Please pick it up.” Everyone who did said “Wow!” as it came off the floor much faster than they expected.

The frame is extremely stiff, but with exceptional vibration dampening for excellent ride quality. Magnesium has the best strength- to-weight ratio of any metal. This bike uses Shimano Ultegra DI2 electronic shifting internally wired. It also has same side gearing which allows use of standard cranksets on a tandem.

I can’t remember when I’ve had this much fun and still been sober. This is our first NAHBS show. The response has been great.


Photo: Doug Hack

Demon Frameworks’ Tom Warmerdam –  Best Road Bike

Tom came all the way from Southhampton, United Kingdom for the show.

I got to the point where I didn’t want to use off the peg lugs. I want my bikes recognizable without a badge. I want to move lug design to the 21st century. To do that I want to design stainless steel lugs that are clearly modern, but with classic influence. The lugs on this bike are my “Manhattan” lug, based off the Chrysler Building. This is a blend of Art Deco and architectural brutalism. My other lug design is the “Hermes” lug. 

This show is the Mecca for frame builders. Part of the reason I’m here is to be measured alongside the best. What gives me the biggest buzz is when the people I look up to, come up and appreciate my work.


Photo: Matt Weil

Muse Cycles’ Lyle Harlow –  Best City Bike

One of the judges came by and told me what made my bike the ribbon winner. The key factor was the very functional city design with fenders, chainguard, matching custom front and rear racks, hub powered lights, internal hub and carbon drive. This is all low-maintenance, easy to ride and enjoy. It also has a good paint job. The design aesthetically flows together well with the curved tubes of the frame and the racks. There are also nice details on the lugs and the head badge.

This is my first NAHBS. I’m getting lots of interest and going through a lot of business cards. This is outstanding! I’ve been to three other bike shows. People here are really interested. Usually at other shows, by Sunday afternoon we’re ready for someone to come shoot us as there is nobody there. The media coverage here is great.


Photo: Doug Hack

Alchemy Bicycles –  Best Carbon Construction
Interview with Dave Ryther, National Sales Manager

Our forms and shapes are unique. We made an extra effort to aesthetically integrate the frame design with the components selection. Other builders tend to use off the shelf tubes. We have ENVE produce our tubes from our proprietary molds.

This year the show has been fantastic. Northern California has a population of cyclists who know what they are talking about. It’s great to be appreciated by knowledgable people.

The order numbers aren’t in yet byt we have a lot of interest and our Sausalito dealer has sent a number of potential customers to the show to check out our bikes.


Moots’ Jon Carveau –  Best Cyclocross Bike

The reason we received the ribbon is the overall build quality of the frame, tube shapes, weld quality and overall finish of the titanium. It is a straight-forward design without complicating things. We focus on working solely in titanium. This frame also has a 44mm headtube and press fit 33mm press fit bottom bracket techonology.

The beauty of the hand built show is that it’s moving every year to different audiences. The audience is really well educated – real riders.


Photo: Troy McLaughlin

Eriksen Cycles’ Kent Eriksen – Best Tandem and Best Titanium Construction

Our titanium single speed is one made for and ridden by a pro gal racer in Colorado. It is nicknamed the Pumpkin because it has orange accents. We call it a 27 and a halfer because it has 650B wheels. The custom head badge is a characature of the owner, Karen Tremaine with her pigtail braids. I had to make special roller adapters to make the smoothly curved titanium top tube she wanted for the vintage look. It is a real simple looking bike.

We get a lot of press over the year that pops up as a result of being at the show. It seems to get us a lot of sales, particularly when we get awards. We usually just bring bikes we’ve made for customers rather than special show bikes. We did make the tandem for the show, but I wanted a road tandem and this is my personal bike, finished just before the show. We will ride it for the first real ride in Santa Cruz after the show. It uses electronic shift DI2 and has dual control front and back so my stoker with RAAM experience can shift and brake also.


Cielo Cycles’ Nick Sande –  Best Mountain Bike

Cielo frames are made by Chris King using the manufacturing capabilities built up with the component business. We have made a lot of our own frame jigs and tooling to ensure perfect alignment before, during and after brazing. We have also invested in our own paint facility to get the quality of finish we feel the frames deserve. We use water based paint for environmental concerns.

Our name is similar to a Swiss manufacturer, Cilo, but we are not associated with them.


Bishop Bikes – Best Steel Construction

Bishop was displaying a very clean, classic track bike.

This is my 1970s California framebuilder’s style with fillet brazing on the lugs and and lots of handfiling to taper the classic Prugnat lugs. The stem is a Nitto but it looks like a classic Cinelli 1A. With the vintage Shimano Dura-Ace track crank and high flange hubs, the look is all vintage Japanese components. This was inspired by builders like Peter Johnson and Albert Eisentraut. It looks like classic frame tubes but if you look closely it has custom Reynolds tapered main tubes to stiffen the bottom bracket. Bruce Gordon came by and said,”It’s a very pretty bike.”

People come from around the World with an interest in buying custom made bikes. It generates sales. I might get only one or two sales at the show, then the blogs and print media follow ups help. People can look around and see the bikes and decide what builders they want to work with.

Doug Hack:
From the NAHBS Award Winners – Part 1:

Photo: Matt Weil

Tim O’Donnell of  Shamrock Cycles – Best City Bike

It’s been a great show and the crowds and the volunteers have been great also.

I was pretty excited to get the news. I didn’t expect the ribbon.

I think it was the rack and fender combination that made the difference. I first built an integrated combo for a cyclcross racer who wanted only one bike, but to be able to mount fenders and racks quickly. I have some different ideas on this. There is a nice combination of form and function – and in this room you need both. I also wanted to build a belt drive bike and this show was the opportunity.


David Ellis Wages of  Ellis Cycles – Best Steel Construction

I would hope the award is for the attention to detail and their recognition of the amount of thought and planning involved in a design like this. The rear dropouts are my own design. This is unique as a breakdown bike as it uses internal cable routing with Shimano DI2 cable connections so it is ready to go when you bolt the derailleurs on. It is really simple to unplug and unbolt – reverse the process and you’re ready to go.

Based on the way it rides you’re never going to know this bike has couplers in it. This fits in a standard size case with no airline overage charge.

It is definitely a good show. I’ve done it the past four years and it has always been a positive for me.


Garret Clark and Connor Buesher of Vendetta Cycles – Best Finish

It went for best finish. It has excellent pinstriping and our painter custom mixed the color so it is unique and it is really well executed. The track bike is very clean and simple and it is an integrated visual piece that works together. All of the tubes are ovalized to provide stiffness in the direction of the most stress.

Q: How are you liking the show?

A: It’s been great. The people have been really friendly. The crowds have been large. As frame builders we spend a lot of time alone in the shop so we can’t have a bad time at a show where people come and smile at you and say nice things.


Photo: Troy McLaughlin

Rebolledo Cycles – Maurico Rebolledo – Best Track bike

Q: What made this bike the best track bike here?

A: It’s more the idea of the bike. I’m inspired by european bikes from the 30’s to the 60’s for their aesthetics, style and ride. I combine modern materials and components with the tradition of the past. I worry more about geometry and fit than a specific tube set.

Q: How do you like the show?  

A: I’ve been positively overwhelmed by all the people coming through and how into it and excited they are. We talked until we were exhausted. It is also nice to see what everyone else is doing. I’ve been very happy with the show.

Photo: Matt Weil

Steve Rex Rex Cycles  - Best Road Bike

Q: Why did your bike win the best road bike award?  

A: I think it was the general quality and the little details. The style of the joint is unique. The lug is a combination of handmade and fillet brazed in ‘bi-laminate’ style. I first saw this on ‘30’s and ‘40’s French constructuer bikes. It is simple and elegant with a spoon underneath and lots of hand filed taper to spread the load.

It’s a great, fantastic show. We’ve been super busy.


Ti Cycles’ Dave Levy –  Best Experimental Bike

For me, the show is about trying to get visibility in the national market and the national press. This is our second year. Last year the show got me in four print magazines and about a dozen blogs. There is not another show that gives the level of visibility that this show does. What this show is doing really well is raising the visibility of the hand built craft.

For consumers it’s a great opportunity to see the bikes and meet the makers. You would have to travel all over the country to see this variety.

My experimental bike was built for the Oregon Manifest design challenge to create the ultimate commuter bike. I wanted to not only include everything the challenge required, but also make a bike someone could truly live with. Most of my innovative decisions were a result of wanting the wheels bolted on, but still maintainable without tools and demounting.


Ira Ryan – Best City Bike

It is stylistically within a vein I’m comfortable with, but has innovations to meet the customer’s needs as a grocery getter for his restaurant, while still being an agile city bike without the trailer. I used large disk brakes ot handle the weight. The color scheme is classic French Bistro red and white.

The show has changed a lot. It has evolved in the five years I’ve attended. Part of me sees it as an opportunity to have face time with potential customers. I leave the show more inspired by the innovation and ingenuity. It is fantastic to be immersed in that for three days.


Naked Bicycles’ Sam Whittingham  (Interviewed Lyle Vallie)

This is the fifth NAHBS show for Naked. We come to see the creativity of the other builders. It gets out name out there. It is well worth the time and expense to come to a show.

Sam and Aran rode the show bikes down from Eureka on an unsupported 450 miles tour with everything for the show that we didn’t buy here. Both the bikes they rode and the ribbon winning mountain bike still have dirt on them.

We want to show that our bikes work in the real world and aren’t just show bikes. The poster size photos in the back of our booth are from the tour and were printed in Sacramento on Thursday.


Pereira Bicycles –  Best Mountain Bike

The story behind our prize winning mountain bicycle is interesting: My good friend Jeff Bates was the first person I built a frame for other than myself. He died from skin cancer last year, but every component on this frame was donated by the industry and the bike was sold as a fundraiser for his family before he died. The industry really came through to support his family.

29’er singlespeeds is what I do best. I’m impressed that the judges chose this bike, as it wasn’t built to be a show bike. It is pretty much the standard way I build mountain bikes for myself and customers. It is fillet brazed and has my pear tree logo on the lugs, but not a bunch of fancy add ons.

I think Sacramento was a great location for the show. It is close to Davis and the Bay Area, so a lot of people can attend. Ever since I did the Portland show I have had a waiting list over a year so I haven’t been doing the show every year.

People usually take a long time to make a decision about buying a hand built bike. So this show gets your bike in front of them, and they have an opportunity to talk to the builder,


Photo: Joe Bunik

Six-Eleven Bicycle Co. –  Aaron and Michelle Dykstra – Best Cyclocross Bike

The frame shows a lot of attention to details, bringing in all together where form actually does meet function. We are most specifically proud of the finish and brass detailing on the chainstay protector and other bits. I put a lot of thought into the overall aesthetic design of the bike. Normally I would use curved seat stays on a cyclocross frame, but these are straight to echo the straight fork.

This is our third year coming to the show and our third award. This show highlights what is becoming the pinnacle of the industry: Handbuilt custom bikes. Everyone is doing stuff at such creative levels that big companies can’t match.

This show is the only public advertising and exhibiting that we do. The first two years sales usually came after the show, but this year we are getting deposits right here at the show.


Retro Tec Bicycles’ Curtis Inglis –  Best Mountain Bike

It is an elegant, pretty looking bike with a curved cruiser look that gives a nice flow to the frame. We used a 44mm headtube and a 142 through axle in the back so it is also strong. It is an honor to be named, Best of, but we don’t want to just chase trends. We want to sort out what works well for our bikes.

Coming to the show is good for business. It is great to meet the buyers face to face.


Matt Butterman:
2012 NAHBS Award Winners – Overall Division:


While the Category award winners were announced on Saturday this year, Sunday afternoon saw the announcement of the Overall Division winners. Here they are:


Overall Division

Best new builder – Stinner Frameworks

Best finish – Vendetta Cycles

People’s choice – University of Fraser Valley

President’s choice – Cherubim by Shin-ichi Konno

Best of show – Cherubim by Shin-ichi Konno

Stay tuned for quotes and short profiles of all the 2012 NAHBS Award winners, and congratulations to all!

Matt Butterman:
Wheel Fanatyk:

Crazy ’bout Wood

The Hjertberg brothers, Ric and Jon, like to roll in many circles.

You may remember them as the men behind Wheelsmith. Ric later worked for FSA, and in 2009 launched Mad Fiber wheels.

Wheel Fanatyk began in 2007 to “celebrate fine wheel building,” as their website claims. It’s a store and a resource for wooden rims, handmade hubs, spoke machines and wheel technology.

With a background using stalwart aluminum rims, and developing cutting-edge carbon fiber wheelsets, why would Hjertberg choose to spend time on something so seemingly anachronistic as wooden rims?

“Wood rims have a timeless quality,” Ric Hjertberg says. “They’re comfortable and durable, and have the same appeal that steel or titanium do for the building of framesets.”

Photo: Matt Weil

Hjertberg actually sees wood rims as part of a new era of wheel technology: “For the first 70 years of bike history, wood rims were used. Then, for approximately the next 70 years, aluminum took over the industry. Now, were seeing a new focus on ride quality, and carbon fiber and wood are leading this new wave.”

Wheel Fanatyk imports Ghisallo Wood Rims from Italy. According to Hjertberg, they’re made by a father/son team using tooling that goes back five generations. He said that while the Italian rims use a type of wood ideally suited to rim construction, and that many types of American wood are unsuitable for rims, the increasing use of bamboo for frame construction may lead to its development as a rim material.

As you might imagine, vintage and art bikes are applications for many of the wood rims that Wheel Fanatyk sells. But recent road tests by the tech editors of Velo and Road Bike Action magazines have opened cyclists’ minds to the many virtues of wheels built up with wood rims, and created demand far beyond just the vintage bike arena.

“Wood rims are stronger than aluminum, and have a shock absorbent feature that’s absent from harsh-riding alumnium rims,” says Hjertberg.

“Most importantly, they’re just fun to ride.”


Sophie Ballo:

Simple and Exclusive

Cykelmageren, Rasmus Gjesing’s Copenhagen-based company, would not only win for Most Complicated Name To Say, but also for Most Consistent Innovation should the two awards exist at NAHBS. As stated in his company’s product catalogue, two words describe his philosophy when looking at bicycles: Simplicity and Exclusivity.

Entering his intense black and wood-themed booth, one is met with a variety of products that back up this description. Everything found in Cykelmageren’s booth, be it sexy minimalist brakes, pivotless bedazzled brake levers, or architecturally inspired pedals, is both sourced and manufactured entirely in-house. This complete control allows for a variety of interchangeable options on several different signature styles.

First and foremost, there is the commuter bike. “In my opinion, this is the bike that everyone should ride,” states Gjesing. “It is comfortable, available in a step-through option, and timeless.”

Photo: Sophie Ballo

And those interchangeable options? Gjsesing’s innovative touches allow for different types of wood grain or alloy handlebar ends, simply by screwing and unscrewing one for the other. The same can be said of his in-house hubs; both front and rear (which can be either a fixed or a flip flop) come in luxurious boxes and can be wood one day and alloy the next.

For those evening rides, holes in both fork crown and the handlebars house simple cylindrical lights, which are both held in place and activated with hidden magnets. Need a rear light? The same thing can be placed in an elegant leather strap, and placed in a variety of positions.

Built-in locks go one step further in Gjesing’s catalogue of accessories: “I was in the shower one day, and looked at the cable that held the showerhead and thought, ‘That is a beautiful design.’ I then placed a Stainless Steel cord through a section of cable, and tied off the ends with my light housing with the lights removed.” The end result? A one-of-a-kind cable lock that pulls double duty as art piece and practical tool.

Speaking of tools, Gjesing also offers in-house constructed wrench sets (both hex and star) held in a leather case for $65.00, and a multi tool for $85.00.

When asked what his goal was at this year’s NAHBS, Gjesing was quick to answer.

“We try to create themes with our booths. This year, it was with our wood and simple black designs.”

The constant crowd around their work speaks to a successful game plan, as they prove that Simplicity and Exclusivity make a winning combination.

Daniel Molloy:
Steve Rex Cycles:

Local Favorite

This year marks the 25th anniversary of local Sacramento builder Steve Rex Cycles.

Steve is a self-taught frame builder, having gained inspiration while studying abroad in Bristol, England. Upon finishing college he took machining and welding courses and began experimenting with frame building. He would fix bicycles for customers by day, and build frames at night. His business has grown steadily over the years, and he is now a highly regarded builder.

Steve custom-builds each bike for every customer, and makes a full range of styles from road and track to touring, mountain and tandem. He also repairs frames and installs frame couplers for easy bicycle transport. Many of Rex Cycles customers are local to the San Francisco Bay Area, but Steve has sold bikes to customers across the country.

For the 2012 NAHBS, Steve is showcasing a couple of very special bikes.

The first is a full stainless steel lugged road bike with polished lugs and logo, and bead-blasted tubes. The headbadge is also stainless and features a 25th anniversary logo.

The second is a randonneuring-style road bike with integrated rack, lighting system and fenders.

Photo: Joe Bunik

Rex Cycles is known for simple and elegant brazed frames that have a quiet, understated quality. They aren’t loud and flashy, but draw the eye to the thoughtful attention to detail in the lug work, dropouts and clean construction.

Sophie Ballo:
Hunter Bicycles:

An Exchange of Cultures

Each builder comes to the show with a certain point of view in mind, and as with many builders at 2012 NAHBS, Hunter Bicycles chose to display bikes that are rideable, functional, and indicative of their base business.

“We wanted to represent our strongest genres, and also included some newer innovations and show touches to separate them from the rest of what people might see here,” explains Rick Hunter, the man behind the company. “We also wanted to build bikes that were already pre-sold for customers, both for time and for practicalit

One such example is a fire engine red Hardtail Race 29er. Though the craftsmanship alone is enough to turn heads, this bike includes Hunter touches that set it apart. An unpainted stem shows his brazing technique while also lending a raw, aggressive feel to the cockpit.

The 29er also features a new yoke style chainstay system, which according to Hunter, “provides increased tire clearance, reduces chain suck, and allows for more flexible tubing choices.”

Also a part of this bike is his new 3 month old disc brake drop out design, which allows for the brake to mount between the seat and chainstay as opposed to on the outside, and will be featured on most of his mountain and cyclocross builds. Hunter proprietary dropouts are also a mainstay of the business, as “it lets me to be more unique.”

Another striking feature on his bikes are the handlebars and tape, which he sources exclusively from his good friend Shinya Tanaka (who in turn has a bike shop in Nagaya City, Japan, and distributes many high end frames for the US market). These bars, branded under Sim Works, are built on Nitto foundations with Tanaka’s special touches and details.

Photo: Ryan Miller

Tanaka organized a tour group of Japanese merchants and consumers interested in custom bicycles made in North America to come over to this year’s NAHBS. In an exchange of cultures fostered by the common language of the bicycle, the source of Hunter’s special components is now a destination for the finished product.

In a show filled with standouts, all of the above combines to set Hunter Bicycles at a level few can match.

Sophie Ballo:
Bishop Bikes:

Nice Lugs!

Chris Bishop starts Sunday at NAHBS with three well-deserved award ribbons decorating his booth.

Indeed, his orange randonneur bike, which won Best Lugged Steel Frame, stands out from the sea of steel with its gorgeous craftsmanship and attention to detail. Closer inspection, though, reveals an entirely new level of wow.

The bike was built for a customer who demanded all the bells and whistles of a rando bike such as fenders, hand-soldered racks, and built-in lights, but at a minimal weight toll. This challenge made Bishop source a variety of vintage and new parts alike to find the right mix of light and functional.

TA Cranks (classic in their French design, and also the lightest touring cranks available) are paired with a titanium bottom bracket and a Suntour front derailleur. In back is a Suzue high flange hub chosen for its quality and its gram count, and an 8-speed rear cassette with a silver disk where another cog should fit.

Photo: Sophie Ballo

The answer to this mystery cassette?

“It’s a Porta Catena chain holder system,” Bishop explains. “When you have to change your tire and remove your rear wheel, pushing the right shifter all the way forward drops your chain onto the disk rest, which both protects the stay and keeps your hands clean.”

Retrofitting this piece to be compatible with a modern cassette system also required a Dura Ace rear derailleur with a custom long cage hanger.

All of the above, paired with minute gold accented lugs, handcrafted fenders, and color matched orange shellacked handlebar tape create a package that any customer would crave.

Thanks to Bishop’s dedication to detail and design, this particular customer also gets to go home with a NAHBS award winner.


Sophie Ballo:
Naked Cycles:

2012 Gates Carbon Drive Frame Design Contest Winner

Sam Whittingham of Naked Bicycles is no stranger to success, but yesterday’s Gates Carbon Belt Drive win tastes particularly sweet, as he had it pegged from day one.

“I had already been working on my [turnbuckle chainstay] tensioning system for a few years,” Whittingham says of his innovative design, “so when I heard about the Gates competition, I knew it was the perfect time to take it to NAHBS.”

Innovative or not, the bike never would have arrived were it not for the Gates Belt Drive itself, which “took us 450 miles plus with zero issues. We torture tested it, we tried to break it and failed miserably.”

Though Naked has built four bikes already with a Gates Belt Drive, this is only the second to incorporate his new design, and the first to use Gates’ new center tracking belt.

“It made sense, it keeps the belt straight and is practical. Gates always pushes to improve on what they’ve done before and many of our friends had recommended it, so the timing for us was perfect.”

And the cherry on top? The fact that his design did not arrive in Sacramento as a theoretical show bike, but on a proven loaded touring workhorse, ridden to NAHBS by the Naked team from 500 miles away.

“If it were only on display, it would have no proof behind it. People could come and look, but say, ‘Sure, it looks cool but…’. Having already tested it out on the roads, I knew that it worked; it’s proven. So is the Gates Carbon belt drive.”

“This also aligns completely with our whole philosophy of NAHBS this year, we wanted the story to be about the experience, and proven designs allow riders to concentrate on the experience of riding their bikes.”

Matt Butterman:
Ellis Cycles:

American Constructeur

Dave Wages, owner and founder of Wisconsin-based Ellis Cycles, has a traditional, American backstory to his rise to become a highly-respected custom bicycle builder.

Wages started out working in bike shops before beginning his frame-building apprenticeship and tenure at Serotta Cycles from 1994-2000. From 2000-2008, Wages honed his skills and polished his sterling reputation for craftsmanship at Waterford Bicycles.

In February 2008 – “right in the depths of the economic doldrums,” as Wages puts it – he hung his shingle out as Ellis Cycles.

While it’s probably incorrect to describe any bicycle-builder’s rise to prominence in Horatio Alger, rags-to-riches terms, Ellis Cycles has seen positive, steady growth in business since Wages branched out on his own.

“Every year is a positive step forward,” he says. “NAHBS is huge for us. Half of our website traffic results from leads generated through NAHBS.”

At this year’s show, Wages is displaying a stainless steel randonneur bike that pays homage to the work of the mid-20th century French constructeurs - builders like Rene Herse and Alex Singer – whose output is currently seeing a renaissance in attention and a whole slew of emulators.

Les constructeurs had a holistic approach to bicycle design. They built whole bikes – not just frames- meant for the long haul. Strength, utility and comfort were favored over light weight and fleeting fashion. Each and every component was an apotheosis of singular precision meant to integrate flawlessly into the whole unit.

It might be tempting to label constructeur bikes as precious pieces of nostalgia meant to linger in museums; the work of retro-grouches even in their own time.

Wages corrects this misconception. “The constructeur guys were cutting edge. They were constantly pushing the envelope of technology.”

With this example in mind, the Ellis rando bike is configured for Shimano Di2 electronic shifting, includes S&S couplings, and uses the latest in stainless steel tubing technology.

Photo: Wil DesLauriers

But it’s out on the road that any bike finds its true meaning, and Wages does his part in to be in touch with current cycling event trends. He loves to ride in gravel road epics, and he’s currently training for a 100-mile gravel ride – the Monzo – held in nearby Minnesota later this summer.

He’ll be using an Ellis road bike specifically designed for use on gravel roads, with 35c tire clearance, and even the ability to run studded tires during the long Midwestern winters. It’s a type of bike he’s been making more and more of for his customers.

“The gravel road bike doesn’t limit you to pavement, and it encourages riders to explore varied terrain,” says Wages.

Les Constructeurs would be proud.



Matt Butterman:
NAHBS Award Winners Correction:

No, we didn’t omit or attribute incorrectly any award winners, but we did do a number on Best Ti and Best Tandem double winner Kent Eriksen’s name.

It’s mended now. Sorry about that, Kent. And congratulations!


David Folch:
Black Sheep Fabrication:


How not to qualify the work of Black Sheep as experimental ?

Curvy titanium frames, soft-tails, truss forks, fat bikes, fat-cargo bikes (or should I say fat-long-tail bike?), belt driven lefties, telescopic chain stays for tensioning, custom racks, custom bars, you name it – Black Sheep has made it.

Based in Fort Collins, CO, James Bleakley, owner of Black Sheep, embarked on the recent 36er trend a couple of years ago.

After building the Zamer, and selling a couple of these gigantic-wheeled bikes to regular sized customers (but also to some very tall riders, taller than 6’6″), they are coming back to NAHBS with a refined version.

The wheel size is the same, 36 inches, sourced out from the world of unicyclists. Tires are made by Coker, and are not the best (nor the lightest). But they hope to see a new 36” tire coming to life soon, engineered and financed by a group of aficionados.

Novelty is seen in the new and wider thru-axle hubs, made by Paul with 135mm in the front and 170mm in the back.  A wider hub helps to regain some strength for the tall and heavy rims/tires combo, as does the tapered head tube fitted with a Chris King headset.

The rear triangle features the telescopic chainstays to enable chain/belt tension, but it also separates (near the seat stays) to make this monster easy to shove in a trunk.

Experimental, but ready to ride and bring a lot of fun, that’s what Black Sheep Todd (named after the Black Sheep builder Todd Heath) is all about.

Cass Gilbert:
My “Coolest Bike”:
Rick Hunter High Plains Drifter
As a dirt road tourer myself, this year I lingered most around the High Plains Drifter, despite all the gleaming distractions around me.

Built by Rick Hunter of Santa Cruz, it’s a fully rigid touring frameset with 29er wheels. It’s a combination that handles singletrack, corrugation and rough trails alike, without feeling too lethargic over longer paved stretches.

Details abound. A Ritchey Break-Away-style fitting teamed with a burly S&S coupler on the downtube makes for compact packing. Even the handlebars, 60cm wide in their drops, can be split.

The Hunter-designed swinging dropout offers versatility for gears or internal hub use, while a custom yoke maximises fat tyre clearance and cuts down on chain suck.

Photo: Cass Gilbert

Matching customs racks are lean and minimal. The curved top tube is elegant, also offering a little extra space for the two matching framebags. These are custom made by Oregonian Randi Jo Smith using canvas and sailcloth fabric, and secured in place with eyelets around the frame – perfect for stashing tools, food or gear on an overnight ride.

Tubing and geometry were chosen to keep the High Plains Drifter nimble and fast, yet durable and comfortable enough for the long haul too.

Rick intends to use it to get away from the city, explore the nearby mountains and camp out in the woods. As he says, ‘Bicycles are amazing tools. They transform your mood while delivering you to another place.’

The High Plains Drifter is a definite mood changer.

Cass Gilbert

Sophie Ballo:
Gates Carbon Drive Frame Design Contest Winners:

The results are finally in!

The much anticipated Gates Carbon Drive Frame Design Contest has come to an end, with Naked Cycles, Inglis, and Ti Cycles earning first, second, and third respectively.

It’s not a surprise that Frank Scurlock, Gates’ Global Business Development Manager, is both excited and heartened by the enthusiastic embrace so many builders gave the project.

“We were tremendously pleased with the amount of builders who took the time to make beautiful bikes centered around our belt drive system,” Scurlock explains, “and also loved that all categories of bikes were represented.”

Taking a step back from the judging process, a panel of experts comprised of many industry legends as well as inductees to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame made the final decisions.

“We wanted all of them to win; ultimately, to us choosing winners is a little sad, because they were all beautiful with great integration of our system,” said Scurlock.

As far as the show itself, Scurlock feels a positive effect for everyone involved. “Don (Walker) does a fantastic job of pulling the vibe of the industry together, both for the dealers and the exhibitors. We feel lucky to have developed the relationship with have with NAHBS, because it ultimately lets our company improve our product.”

And where does Gates see the competition heading for 2013?

“Bigger and better! Denver is Gates’ hometown, so it has a personal resonance with us next year,” said Scurlock.

“We can’t wait to see what the builders come up with. We know that just like this year, they will blow everyone away-us included-with their passion and innovative integration of our Carbon Drive system into their designs.”

Matt Butterman:
2012 NAHBS Award Winners:

Shortly after 3 PM Saturday, on the floor of the Sacramento Convention Center, many of the NAHBS Award winners for 2012 were announced.

This year, up to three winners per category were allowed.

On Sunday, the winners of People’s Choice, President’s Choice, and Best New Builder will be announced.

Here’s the list of the winners announced today:


Materials Division

Best steel construction – Bishop Bikes, Ellis Cycles

Best titanium construction – Eriksen Cycles, Potts

Best carbon construction – Alchemy Bicycle Company

Best alternative material (bamboo, aluminum, wood,) – Paketa Cycles


Riding Discipline Division

Best city bike – Muse Cycles, Ira Ryan Cycles, Shamrock Cycles

Best road bike – Demon Frameworks, Rex Cycles

Best mountain bike – Retrotec-Inglis Cycles, Pereira Cycles, Naked Cycles

Best cyclocross bike – Six Eleven Bicycle Co., Moots

Best track bike – Rebolledo Cycles

Best tandem bike – Eriksen Cycles

Best experimental bike – Black Sheep Fabrications, Ti Cycles


Construction Division

Best lugged frame – Bishop Bikes

Best fillet frame – Bishop Bikes

Best TIG frame – Black Sheep Fabrications


Overall Division

Best finish – Vendetta Cycles

Sophie Ballo:
Crumpton Cycles:

Showing What They Sell

This year at NAHBS, an increasing number of builders decided to return to their roots – be it a philosophy, a business model, an aesthetic, or a combination of all.

Nick Crumpton’s team is no exception. Last year, they displayed a prototype 29er mountain bike that caused buzz on the floor; however, when choosing what to feature in 2012, they decided to place the emphasis on the core of their product line: road bikes.

“Showbikes and prototypes are fun,” explains Kevin Bice, marketing and web guru for Crumpton, “but you should really show people what you sell.”

Crumpton’s road bikes are popular for good reason. After starting out building with steel, Crumpton decided that carbon fiber had untapped potential as a frame material, and made the switch.

Photo: Melody Stone (

His technique centers around building a carbon bike in the same way one would build a steel bike. Each tube is hand selected (and carbon fiber allows for even more customization depending on the layup of each section of tubing), precision mitered, and jigged before sending it off for final production.

At first, finding a source of carbon tubing with consistent quality was a challenge. In recent years, Crumpton has found a solid partnership with ENVE composites, who go so far as to offer proprietary layups for some of his bikes.

According to Bice, “ENVE is consistent, takes feedback, and strives to improve their product, making them a perfect fit for Nick.”

So what models can one expect to see at the Crumpton booth?

“We have two main custom models, our SL, which is the original flagship bike made for all-purpose riding, and the Corsa M, our race specific bike designed around Dedacciai’s striking rear stay design,” says Bice.

The two bikes above start at $5300, with the average price centering around $6000, usually due to the internal Di2 wiring requested by many of Crumpton’s customers.

Bice says, “For those who can’t wait four months for a custom frame, or for those on a more limited budget, we also offer the Corsa Team, which is a bike designed by Nick with seven sizing options, and manufactured according to Nick’s specs by Sarto in Italy.” A Corsa Team sets the buyer back $3900, and includes frame/fork, headset, and bottom bracket bearings.

Also new this year are colors: red and blue in understated matte finishes, in addition to their signature raw carbon or carbon weave finish. These two new options, paired with their other striking models, gives one a singular impression when walking by Crumpton’s booth:

This builder knows what he builds, knows who he builds them for, and does so with impeccable craftsmanship.


John Mathias:
Paketa Magnesium Bikes:
Dave Walker and Fritz Tomaselo were at the Paketa Magnesium Bikes booth.  Paketa, based in Boulder, CO, has a couple of tandems and a mountain bike on display.  Dave has been involved with Paketa since 2004 and Fritz races Paketa tandems.Paketa is unique in that its frames are made of magnesium, a material with many advantages over other frame materials.

Paketa means “rocket” in Russian, and the original Paketa frames were built in Russia by former rocket engineers. The magnesium frames are currently built in Colorado.

Magnesium is the lightest structural metal currently available, and also has the highest known damping capacity of any structural metal. Paketa is the only company in the US that makes magnesium frames. Paketa’s tandems are as light as any tandem available, weighing about 23 pounds on average.

The Paketa mountain bike on display weighs 21 pounds, and features a Gates belt drive with what Walker calls a “dingle” speed, which is a double single speed.  The belt can be manually switched from a higher gear for flat riding to a lower gear by removing the rear wheel and moving the belt.

Photo: Troy McLaughlin

The inspiration for the “dingle-speed” came from Walker’s preference to ride to the trails from his home. He uses the higher gear on the road to the trailhead and then switches to the lower gear once on the trail. Walker demonstrated switching the belt between gears, which took him less than a minute to accomplish.

Anyone interested in learning more about Paketa’s magnesium frames would be well-served by stopping by the Paketa booth.

Jean Francois Brodeur:
Chris King Precision Components and Cielo Cycles:

Like Family

Walking through the exhibits at the 2012 NAHBS you can easily notice one thing, given that you pay attention to small details.

A lot of builders go to one company when it’s time to choose a headset: Chris King. It is a great pride for the manufacturer to see their product on so many bikes.

Who hasn’t heard of Chris King Precision Components before ? Traditionally seen as a high end upgrade to custom bikes, they have expanded their line of products in recent years. They have adapted to the market and are more and more seen as an aftermarket upgrade for any and all production bikes.

As if this wasn’t enough you’ll be happy to know that they are making bicycles too. In fact they have been for quite a long time.

Originally started in 1978, Cielo Cycles was resurrected in 2008 some time after Chris King moved its operation to Portland Oregon. Just as with their components, everything is done in-house to reach a high level of precision and repeatability while also keeping the costs and lead time low.

Playing it safe so the exceptional quality isn’t compromised, Cielo has an incremental growth strategy. Production is almost doubling each year and should reach 500 units in 2012. Cielo bikes are distributed all over the world using Chris King’s already established market and relations. To date the response has been great.

Photo: Ryan Miller

For a Chris King employee, getting up in the morning is easy. You’re with a family of over 100 like-minded people, doing something meaningful that you take great pride in.

There is no doubt about the influence of Portland’s biking community. The relationship is fostered through many cycling events.

“We support them, we ride with them and we’re friends with them,” says King.

Go to to look at the range of bikes offered to you.

Sophie Ballo:
Bruce Gordon Cycles:

Revealing the Thought Process

Every builders’ point of view is evident when viewing their displays; however, the thought process that goes into that point of view might be harder to detect.

When seeing the bikes at Bruce Gordon’s booth, one can clearly see the classic designs and aesthetic associated with their name. An interview with Brandon West, though, revealed the thought process:

“We had two main goals this year,” explains West. “First, we wanted to show classic assembly techniques, such as lugs, fillet brazing, and a combo of the two. Second, we wanted our bikes to be accessible; we wanted to place function first.”

Staying with this line of thinking, all bicycles save one (the carbon, titanium lugged, blinged collaboration with Mike Lopez) are models that most people can both ride, and more importantly, afford.

Photo: Melody Stone (

Upon closer inspection, one can also see the details that make each bike clearly a Bruce Gordon. Vintage 1960s Cinelli lugs are hand tooled into more intricate designs, and tasteful accent colors adorn the frames. Innovation is also part of the Bruce Gordon package. On an otherwise classic city bike, one finds newly designed and striking carbon bars, giving the trademark blend of old and new.

In addition to the frames themselves, components also play a large part of Gordon’s business, as the company knows that without the right parts, a frame’s true nature can’t shine through. West helps each customer select the right wheels, group, bars, etc, so that they perfectly compliment the frame and the rider’s needs/style.

And after considering their goals and the turnout, what does West think of this year’s show?

“It’s fun! We’re all like minded people with common interests, but it’s more than that. We are giving people an opportunity to regain the sense of freedom that we all develop as children, and at NAHBS, we can connect back to that fundamental enjoyment of bikes.”


Sophie Ballo:
Rock Lobster Cycles:

Ridden, Not Displayed

NAHBS is known for builders displaying their flashiest eye candy: Their newest, shiniest examples of their production capability.

Walk by Paul Sadoff’s RockLobster booth, though, and you will see quite the opposite.

Instead of bringing his newest work, he gives viewers an exhibition ranging from his very first bike (a deep candy maroon track bike) to his latest creation (a freestyle BMX fixie), and all of them clearly showing signs of use.

What prompted this unorthodox booth for the 2012 show?

“I was going through my bikes seeing what I had in the shop, trying to prepare for the show,” says Sadoff, “and I realized that I still actually owned the very first bike I made. I kept looking and kept finding, and decided that I had enough to show a collection, a timeline, of my progression as a builder.”

In 1978, working as a mechanic, Sadoff decided two things: One, that he needed a bike that actually fit him (he was riding a too large Colnago at the time that caused unwieldy handling and lower back problems), and two, that he wanted to take the next step in his shop career. Building his own track bike proved the perfect solution, as a tube set only cost $20 as opposed to a $200+ complete frame.

After this first successful attempt, he made a road bike for his sister, and soon after, a taller female rider with a short torso approached him about building her a custom road bike. Three out of his first ten frames were commissioned by other people, with the rest being his personal bikes and research projects.

“I never started with the intention of it being a career, it just happened.”

And his customers are happy that it did.

Photo: Ryan Miller

50-60% of his frames are cyclocross, as is the one bike he decided to enter into competition (“It’s not a pretty bike, it’s a proven bike,” Sadoff says of his mint green mud machine), but also on display is an early example Rock Lobster mountain bike, a road racing rocket, and a long steady randonneur.

And about that newest model, the Freestyle BMX Fixed Gear?

“It’s one of the only examples here at the show, as it’s a very new riding style,” explains Sadoff. “I created it with a local rider, Payton Schwartz, and it’s meant to be ridden like a skateboard. ” In other words, Payton shreds it during a sweet sesh at the skatepark.

As with all of Sadoff’s bikes, it shows signs of wear, tear, and general enjoyment, which ultimately reflects his philosophy as a builder.

“What I am showing are bikes that have been well used and were build for a specific purpose, a riding event – not a bike show; my focus has always been on the rider and the bike as a unit.”


Matt Butterman:
Gates Carbon Drive Frame Design Contest – Part 4:

Teaser Post!

Paul Tolme, PR/Media Director for Gates Carbon Drive, came by the Media Room late Saturday morning and told us that the jury is in, and that the winners of the Gates Carbon Drive frame design contest are known.

To him, and the jury. Not to you, just yet.

There were 19 bikes entered into the contest, across the spectrum of bicycle types and designs. Among the entrants to the contest not mentioned earlier in this series of posts are: Shamrock Cycles, Speedhound, Dean, Naked Cycles, and Co-Motion Cycles.

The award jury – comprised of what Tolme called “a cast of celebrity judges”-  is a who’s who of handmade bicycle cognoscenti: Joe Breeze, Paul Sadoff of Rock Lobster, Ross Shafer, Scot Nicol of Ibis, Joe Murray, Steve Potts, and Joe Graney.

Tolme said that the judges and Gates representatives alike were impressed with the innovative designs that the Gates Carbon Drive contest inspired, but what was equally pleasing – and perhaps somewhat more surprising – was the pure aesthetic that the Carbon Drive inspired in Gates-equipped bicycles at NAHBS.

Photo: Ryan Miller

According to Tolme, the appeal of the aesthetics of belt drives is a two-way street.

“Custom builders appreciate the technical qualities of a belt drive, but they also appreciate the clean aesthetic it creates on their bicycles. Gates has been equally pleased with what we’ve seen from all these great builders here at NAHBS.”

Stay tuned for the announcement of the contest winners!


Friedhelm Rosenau:
Don Walker Cycles:

The Man Behind NAHBS

Don Walker began building bicycle frames at the age of 25 in 1991. His first mentor was Al Wanta. Walker comes from a background in track racing, but his build portfolio quickly diversified. He now builds road, track, tandem, and mountain bike frames.

At the turn of the 21st century, the handmade bicycle industry was in danger of becoming obsolete under the assault of  mass-produced bicycles from Asia. Walker saw a need for an exchange of ideas, best practices and a strategy to keep the handmade niche from vanishing.

Photo: Friedhelm Rosenau

The North American Handmade Bicycle Show had its genesis from an online forum of interested people in 2002. This forum for frame builders, called Phred, spawned a first attempt at a show in January,2005 in Houston, Texas. The first show had a shaky start with only 23 exhibitors, but since then NAHBS has grown exponentially and has become relevant to the entire bicycle industry as a whole.

NAHBS, unlike many trade shows, changes its location every year. This way, it stays less like a medieval guild, and becomes more like an open forum that attracts the best and most innovative builders from all over North America.

NAHBS’ mission is Don Walker’s mission: to educate the new generation of cycling enthusiasts to build handmade bicycles that are pragmatic in design and made in an economically viable manner, but with enduring quality.

Michelle Murdock:
Della Santa Cycles: American Classic:


Roland Della Santa has been creating frames longer than any other builder at this year’s NAHBS. Born in Carson City and raised in Reno, he was in on the ground floor as the frame maker—and first sponsor—for Greg LeMond, when LeMond was a junior racer.

“The sponsorship almost bankrupted me, but it paid off,” says Della Santa. The poster image of the young LeMond in a jersey emblazoned with Della Santa’s name still appears in bike shops as far away as Italy.

From a racer to maker

Della Santa had been a racer himself, and had dabbled in frame building starting in 1970—or earlier, if one counts an effort he undertook to build a frame with a friend in shop class. “It took a year; we couldn’t figure out the fork.”

He rode the racing circuit until 1976, after which he decided to retire from racing and make frames full time. He’s been doing it ever since.

“I’ve never gotten a regular paycheck, never had a real job,” he says.

“There was a market for frames,” he says. He made one-offs for road racers. “My bikes were like disposable razors.”

Evolution of a craft

Materials were hard to come by in the early ‘70s, Della Santa says. “There were only a couple importers for frame components—dropouts and tubing. You got what you got when it was available.” As a consequence,  “All my frames were schizophrenic.”

While the parts and materials Della Santa uses have dramatically improved as the industry has evolved, Della Santa sticks to a tried-and-true method of manufacture. He supplies a single frame type, the Corsa Speciale, a classic lugged steel double-diamond, custom sized for the buyer.

“You use certain lugs and fittings and become efficient at making things in a certain way.” The design is classic, and the ride is predictably excellent.

Photo: Sean White

A good steel frame

His frames are still steel racing frames, which of course are not ridden by racers, who have long since moved to carbon fiber. His customers are “people who just want a good steel frame.”

And just as with his racing frames in the 70s, there’s a market for that.

Della Santa comes to NAHBS to show his wares to that market. As far as NAHBS, “Don Walker [the founder of NAHBS] made something out of nothing. The existence of this show has been good for American makers.”


Kris Klima:
DeSalvo Custom Cycles:

Quality Never Ceases

Mike DeSalvo isn’t a newcomer to the scene, but his inspirations and creativity are fresh with every build.

Mike is owner of DeSalvo Custom Cycles from Ashland, Oregon. He has been winning NAHBS awards since 2005, and also in 2006, 2008, and 2010.

When asked about what he wanted to do differently this year than in past years, DeSalvo humbly stated, “to bring a good product”.

Photo: Kris Klima

DeSalvo brought his “good product” in art forms of steel & titanium cyclocross, 29er, road, and dirt road bikes. Among DeSalvo’s inspirations were early 1970s Porsche color swatches as seen on the dirt road bike he brought to this year’s show.

DeSalvo’s love is being in the shop building bikes. Unfortunately, as a small builder/business owner, there’s a lot of time spent away from the hands-on weld.

So he tries hard to swiftly accommodate the paperwork side of the business so he can get back to building his “good products.”

When asked to comment on the future of handmade bicycles, DeSalvo sees blue skies ahead.

“There’s more of an awareness now. Buying a bike used to be going to a bike shop. But now you can buy a bike from someone in this country who will make it for you, with your input. The more people are aware of the custom builders, the better the builders will do.”

Friedhelm Rosenau:
Setting Up the Show:

Exhibitors Descend on Sacramento

When you hear the word handmade, what do you think of?

Quality, right!

The North American Handmade Bicycle Show has descended on the Sacramento Convention Center. This year registration is up 40% from last year. There are 171 exhibitors – a record number – representing 18 countries. These exhibitors also include all the accessories that one needs for bicycling.

But before the eager audience swarmed the halls on Friday, first the exhibitors spent long hours setting up their intricate displays on Thursday- many of them after having driven long hours to reach Sacramento.

Photo by Friedhelm Rosenau/

One of the exhibitors, shown above, is only one of many groups of people that have mastered the art of creating their part of the bicycle building craft.


Sophie Ballo:
Ira Ryan Cycles:

Ira Ryan is known for his gorgeous, understated, classic bicycles. This year at NAHBS, though, he is also turning heads with an unexpected handbuilt object: a trailer.

Born out of a collaboration between himself, Trucker Racks, and local Portland restaurateur Jason French, owner of Ned Ludd Restaurant, the trailer not only fills a practical customer need, but does so in a way that reflects the underlying philosophy of all involved: marrying craftsmanship with quality.

“Jason needed a trailer he could take to the farmer’s market three times a week and load up with enough produce to keep his restaurant going,” says Ryan. Filled with fragile fresh produce, the trailer needed to protect its cargo by giving it as smooth a ride as possible.

To solve this problem, Ryan designed a coupling system built with Chris King headsets that allows the trailer to move both laterally and vertically – each independently of the other, so that hitting a bump or a curve with the bike doesn’t rattle the tomatoes in the back.

Another innovative touch is a rear disc parking brake activated by a downtube lever found on the hitch of the trailer.

“That way, if you have to disconnect the trailer and park it by itself, or if you’re on a hill, you don’t have to worry about everything rolling away,” says Ryan.

The trailer quickly attaches and releases to the rear axle for easy take on/take off, another touch that French needed, as he sometimes has to quickly run out the door to the market for last minute provisions.

Painted a gleaming candy apple red, bedazzled with those anodized Chris King components (and hubs), and crafted with the same attention to detail found in all of Ryan’s bikes, it’s no wonder that people stop to stare for reasons other than novelty: it’s the trailer we all wish we had, even though we’ve never thought about owning a trailer before that moment.

Sophie Ballo:
Naked Cycles:

The Story of the Ride

Sam Whittingham’s Naked Bicycles team has arrived at NAHBS safe and sound from their adventure, with a layer of dirt covering their touring workhorses and a gorgeous gallery of pictures illustrating their travels as promised.

Now that the show has started and the time for reflection begins, Whittingham’s enthusiasm for the project shows even more.

“The whole reason we chose to ride this year over other years was because we knew how amazing the riding is on the coast of Portland and California,” he says grinning, clearly still envisioning the ride in his mind. “When we rode in to Santa Rosa on King Ridge Road to visit Tom Ritchey, that was definitely the highlight of a trip filled with highlights.”

The idea of integrating sexy with practical also paid off. People turn their heads walking by Naked’s booth, taking in the craftsmanship, the understated aesthetics, and the innovative touches always associated with Whittingham’s designs.

Photo: Sophie Ballo

For the loaded touring bike, they experimented with a new type of belt drive tensioning system featuring turnbuckle stays that allow for both minute adjustments and easy system installation. The built in lights for both front and rear are designed for regular flashlights (in the stem) and barend lights (in the rear fenders), both of which can be changed out when the batteries die by simply unscrewing the caps.

Building upon old Naked ideas, the road touring model has an integrated seat mast that is both lighter and more adjustable than that found in his minimalist People’s Choice Award winning design from 2011.

When asked what they would do differently, Whittingham was quick to answer: “Everything.”

That’s not because they feel that anything went wrong, but rather because of Naked’s constant drive to always do something new, looking to what’s next.

“Part of the fun of building show bikes is you get to experiment without pressure. This year our sense of play revolved around proving that I can build something untested and have it work.”

And now that they’re here, what do they think of the outcome of the ride?

“It’s exactly what we were hoping for,” says Whittingham. “We were hoping for the story of the ride to come through more than the story of the bikes, because ultimately, we build more than bikes: we build experiences.”

Michelle Murdock:
Calfee Design and Bamboosero:

A Very Personal Thing

Craig Calfee is world renowned for designing bicycles that helped bring carbon fiber construction into the mainstream and reintroduced bamboo as a frame material.

He’s also one of the NAHBS “Original 6”—those frame builders who gathered in what he calls a “cheesy Houston hotel-conference room” in 2005 to display their wares to a tiny crowd of handmade-bicycle enthusiasts.

Although NAHBS has grown up, the essence of the show remains the same, Calfee says. “It’s a geek fest.”

At that first gathering in Houston, Calfee entered a road bike he had designed to meet his own, personal desires; a bike that he, indeed, would ride. And every year since, NAHBS has been the show where, along with production bikes, he introduces the bicycles he builds for himself.

 An intimate machine, and intimate gathering

“A bicycle is such an intimate thing,” Calfee says. “For heaven’s sake, you put your crotch on it!”

When one rides a bike, says Calfee, there exists an intimacy between builder and user—a relationship comparable only to that between musician and instrument maker. (Indeed, Calfee himself designed instruments for a year after leaving art school.)

Today’s NAHBS—although large in scale, with 174 vendors, and 7,000 expected attendees this year—remains an intimate gathering.

It is here, Calfee says, that buyers can “see, touch, and feel” these very personal machines. And they can discuss a bicycle’s construction, as well as its guiding philosophy, directly with the frame-builder who conceived it.

The most soulful show

The first Houston show, though sparse in builders and attendees, drove interest by virtue of its very existence, says Calfee.

It was a “soulful” gathering, he says, and still very much is. Unique among shows, NAHBS is “the great gathering of craftspeople.”

Calfee also says that NAHBS offers more services than any other show. Moreover, it is fun. Unlike other events, “It’s not a business show.”

“I think about these things a lot.”

NAHBS is where Calfee chooses to roll out each year’s new products. This year, among three cycles on display from Bamboosero, and nine from Calfee Design, is an adult/child (“family convertible”) tandem designed with the child’s seat in the captain’s position. The child isn’t steering, but is up front where he or she can see everything.

Photo: Sean White

A “modular bike system,” it features internal DI2 battery, Calfee power-post for external charging, and S&S couplers for converting down to a single, or adding a third. The bike is scalable for functional and cargo uses.

Again, it is a bicycle that he designed for himself.

“As a parent, I think a lot about my son becoming aware of his surroundings when riding a bike in traffic,” Calfee says.

“Just because I learned to become aware of my surroundings in traffic by almost killing myself as a bike messenger in New York City, my kids won’t have to.”

Calfee Design is at Booths 410/412 on the show floor, and Bamboosero is at Booth 312.

Chris Ewers:
Anvil Bikeworks:

Don Ferris started Anvil Bikeworks as a home-based business. Now Anvil is the largest producer of frame-building tooling in the United States. And it still operates from Ferris’ home.

Ferris used to build custom bicycle frames, but when he brought his frames to shows with the frame jigs in the background, “my frames might as well have been made of Plexiglas.”

People asked about the frame jigs, and orders started to come. In 2004, he showed his frames and tooling at Interbike, and that year, the tooling took over his business.

Photo: Sean White

He and his four workers now serve frame builders across the spectrum, building prototype frame jigs for Specialized, Giant, and a number of other big producers. They ship their products around the world.

Ferris attributes Anvil’s success to constant, hard work. He started the business on $10,000 in seed money, and unlike many businesses, “I had to make money in the first year.”

That year is well past, and he sees the seeds of success in the frame builders he serves. The critical factors, he says, are knowing how to run a business and boundless enthusiasm.

“You’ve got to have a passion for the building,” Ferris says.

That passion will generate genuine craftsmanship, Ferris says, and in his experience, Anvil has grown on an increased appreciation of craftsmanship, particularly in the United States.

And as the business has grown Anvil has grown into new challenges. The learning curve recently has included a big software purchase, reprogramming and CNC machines with every new part, and document control to ensure current versions are manufactured.

It’s been four years since Anvil was a one-man frame fixtures shop, and Ferris doesn’t miss having to do everything. A bookkeeper comes in now, and Ferris stays focused on design and proofing the jigs and tooling before it leaves the shop for its trip to somewhere else in the world.

Sophie Ballo:
Richard Sachs:

Bicycles are Tools, Not Ornaments

When Richard Sachs, who has been deeply involved in the handmade framebuilding industry since the tender age of 19, came to the first NAHBS show in Houston, he was heartened by what he saw.

There was an innocence and a heart to the show, a facilitation of true face-to-face connections between builders and riders alike. To this day, interaction and sharing continues to be his favorite part of NAHBS.

“I love meeting people with whom I’ve only had internet exchanges in the past; it alters the dynamic of all former and future communications. I also love talking to people who have only read my internet writings, so they in turn can get that changed dynamic from me.”

With everything he loves about NAHBS, though, Sachs feels that there have been some changes that may endanger the lifelong health of the show, and of the frame building community itself.

“Now, some builders make flashy frames just for the show, which are impractical for real riding,” says Sachs. “Bicycles are not art projects, they are tools, and to survive, I think there needs to be a paradigm shift in the industry back to this fundamental point of view.”

Photo: Sean White

Sachs may be thought of as a naysayer to some, but his perspective comes from already witnessing one reinvention of the industry. Back in the 1970s and 80s, before large manufacturers made world-class bicycles, everyone turned to the handmade builders for their machines.

“Now, you would never see someone win the Tour de France on a handmade frame. We went from being the main source to being on the sidelines.”

Based on that history, Sachs worries that if some builders continue down their current road, a similar type of reappropriation may occur: “If we’re not careful, Trek or Giant will see the interest in fancy, over the top city bikes, and mass produce the designs themselves.”

Instead of trending towards flash, he would rather see builders take back some of what was once theirs by emphasizing technology, design, and rational material choices.

That being said, he nevertheless feels that his presence at NAHBS is important; the show is relevant, and so being a part of it is to remain relevant.

“NAHBS represents a reflection of the community,” Sachs says, “which I am still very much a part of. Everyday I go to my workbench. I still love to build bikes.”

Chris Ewers:
Shamrock Cycles:

Making a Statement With Steel

One of the three bikes Tim O’Donnell of Shamrock Cycles brought to NAHBS is a city bike.

It’s obviously a carrier of goods, with a basket and rack, and the light-green paint job makes it stand out even more between the  jet-black, lugged road bike and the shiny blue, fillet-brazed cross bike. And it makes O’Donnell, the one man behind the one-man shop that is Shamrock Cycles, nervous.

Photo: Peter Saucerman/

The city bike is O”Donnell’s entry into the Gates Carbon Drive Frame Design competition. It’s the first bike he’s ever built on spec – it has no owner, as he puts it – “and it really makes me nervous,” he laughs.

After all, a typical bike takes O’Donnell about a day and a half to build, and given the combination of trial-and-error necessary to put a novel frame type together, and the complexity of building a frame for a belt drive, it represents about two weeks of work.

His attention to detail is evident, and people attending the show trace their fingers on the frame, guessing at the internal cable routing, some realizing the bike is also threaded with internal wiring for the lights.

“Everything’s internal,” O’Donnell groans. Even the rear hub is an 11-speed Alfine that Tim expects to show up on mountain bikes.

O’Donnell’s business is steel frames and forks, and he makes a statement about what steel can do when he builds. The road bike he brought is a lugged-frame bike that weighs 16 pounds with pedals, and it can convert people to believers in steel.

Shamrock Cycles produces 20-28 frames per year, and set up shop in 2003. O’Donnell’s career began with a penchant for wood and metal building when he was a teenager that developed into rebuilding British motorcycles.

Responding to an urge to build a bicycle frame, O’Donnell ordered a lugged frame from Nova (also at the NAHBS show), and produced a frame “crooked as polio,” as he puts it. So he took it back apart and put it back together. And he did the same for some friends. “Basically, a hobby became a business when I wasn’t paying attention.”

Shamrock Cycles builds bikes Tim O’Donnell himself would use, and as a former road racer and current cyclocross and mountain bike competitor, he leaves tandems and flat-bed cargo bikes to people who obsess with them.

“I build bikes I like and which I understand,” he says. His shop in Indianapolis, IN gets help from painter Mike Corby, who is at the show with O”Donnell. The bikes they produce are priced at $1,950 per frame and $350 per fork.

This is the fifth NAHBS show for Shamrock Cycles, and while new orders are good, O’Donnell’s here for the company.

“The biggest benefit to this show – and anybody who tells you different is lying – is the comeraderie,” he says. He likens the show to an 1880s-era fur trappers rendezvous. Most of the builders are small, one- or two-man shops, and when they get out of the shop to socialize, no one talks the same language.

Here at NAHBS, O’Donnell says, “You don’t have to dumb it down.”

Chris Ewers:
Moth Attack Bicycles:

Moth Attack began with a moth infestation in a kitchen in Megan Dean’s downtown Los Angeles apartment.

She had just returned to Los Angeles from the Yamaguchi frame-building course in Rifle, CO, in 2005. With her new-found frame-building competence, Dean was looking for a business name when inspiration – literally- swirled around her. She started storing bike materials around the kitchen and looking for a new home for the bike-building business.

Her one-and-a-half-man operation out of an East Hollywood warehouse has a waiting list now. Dean is the owner and chief bottle-washer and has been watching her waiting list grow for her custom build, all-steel, frame-building business.

Since she started in 2007, Dean now has 25 to 30  track, road, cross, and multi-terrain frames to her credit – with heavy emphasis on track. The builder does her own frame fits and nearly everything else in bicycle building.

Photo:Chris Ewers

“The only thing I outsource is the paint,” Dean says. “I even do my taxes.”

Dean is grateful for the opportunity given by the cycling building business. It marries with her other occupations, doing cycling advocacy half-time for the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition and helping guide the Encino Velodrome as a member of its board of directors. The bicycle-building business works well for her boyfriend, too, a member of the US National Track Team and a USA Cycling Team mechanic. He’s the other half of the one-and-a-half-person shop.

Moth Attack bicycles have a base price of $1,600, and take Megan Dean 2-3 weeks to build.

Chris Ewers:
Groovy Cycleworks:

Ohio Builder Does it All

Rody Walter of Groovy Cycleworks, started building 18 years ago. He comes from a background building fixtures – the parts and pieces of the frame – in the Northeast and that experience taught him how machining and fabrication work.

Walter now builds all the parts he can at Groovy Bicycles: handlebars, seatposts, and custom cranks that work with a polygonal interface to maximize the contact with the crank arm.

Because he learned his craft through an apprenticeship of sorts, Walter now gives back to the community by taking on one young framebuilder a year. “The opportunity to do what I did just isn’t there anymore,” he said, because the market has forced bicycle building operations to become big factories or to reduce to one or two-man shops.

Rody Walter does it all, from paint to custom annealing his cranks, and his annual mentoring sessions teach his students any skills they wish to strengthen and master.

Matt Butterman:
Gates Carbon Drive Frame Design Contest Part 3:

Boo Bicycles Bends the Rules in Pursuit of Perfect Design

Nothing worthwhile comes easily. When you’re designing and building a bicycle made from bamboo, this truism has heightened significance.

“Building a frame, especially one made of bamboo and carbon fiber, around the Gates system is incredibly difficult.  We have built many prototypes in order to perfect our design, and the Gates system necessitates the steam-bending of our bamboo chainstays to fit between the belt ring and tire,” says Nick Frey, owner of Ft. Collins, CO-based Boo Bicycles.

On 29ers and cyclocross Boo frames, this is even more tedious due to wider tires and increased mud clearance.  Boo have designed their own splittable rear drive-side dropouts and make use of an eccentric bottom bracket (inside of a Press Fit 30 BB shell) or a Spot Brand tensioner.

Frey considers the hassle well worth it. “One of our most popular Gates applications is a CenterTrack system on a 29er with a Chris King rear hub.  The advantage of this setup is instant engagement – the belt tension combined with the King RingDrive results in a direct connection between a rider’s foot on the pedal and the bike’s tire on the ground.  When climbing steep, technical terrain, this setup proves invaluable.”

“And it’s absolutely worth it for singlespeed MTB and cyclocross applications where the conditions are extreme and there is a need for instant engagement and precise control,” says Frey.

Boo offers the option to run a Gates system on every single frame they build. “Because each Boo begins with a blank sheet of paper, we are able to integrate all components into a whole that follows a philosophy based on the customer’s planned use of the bike.  We’ve spec’d the Gates system on bikes for road, touring, cyclocross, mountain, fixie, track, and everything in-between,” says Frey.

“Our customers are looking for something unique that also performs flawlessly, and the Gates belt drive fits that description.”

Time to get excited…:

The North American Handmade Bicycle Show has arrived in Sacramento. Exhibitors spent Thursday afternoon setting up for the weekend’s event. The fruits of several months’ labor, creativity and consideration materialized in the N.A.H.B.S show hall. What began the day as a featureless concrete floor space slowly transformed into a dazzling display of the world’s most beautiful bicycle hardware. A stroll among the booths suggests that this year’s crop is of exceptional splendor. We can’t wait to see the finished displays at Friday’s opening.

Paul Skilbeck:
Avoid Amtrak from the Bay Area this weekend!:

We have recently learned that the Amtrak Capital Corridor route between the Bay Area and Sacramento will be subject to repairs this weekend, and there will be a bus transfer between Martinez and Emeryville. Therefore cyclists are advised to avoid taking Amtrak to NAHBS.

Matt Shields:
Richard Sachs, Man of Steel:

Über-Richie Makes it Eight Straight

Renowned frame-builder Richard Sachs is back for his eighth consecutive NAHBS.  A bicycle racer himself, Sachs is a devoted supporter of bicycle racing.  He has sponsored bicycle racing teams for more than 30 years – no other sponsor of bicycle racing can boast of longer or more consistent support for the sport.

As evidence of his love of the sport and his legend as a frame-builder, Sachs has three flawlessly crafted, SRAM Red-equipped Richard Sachs racing bicycles on display in his booth in Sacramento.  But try not to set your hopes too high on ever owning a custom Sachs: His wait list is as long and legendary as his career as a frame-builder.

Richard Sachs is also an unabashed devotee and champion of the steel bicycle.  Years ago, the mass-produced bicycle industry steered violently away from steel as a building material, and, as a result, much of the ferrous frame-building  supply chain went dry.  Rather than bend to industry trends, Sachs became his own source for materials and a supplier for his frame-building peers.

In 2002, he introduced his first set of modern era investment cast  OS (over-sized) parts, the Richie-issimo series of lugs, fork crown, and bottom bracket shell.  Over the next decade, he’d add four more lug styles, including the Sax Max ÜOS (Über-Over-Sized) lugs and bottom bracket shells that he debuted at NAHBS 2011 in Austin.

For NAHBS 2012, Richard Sachs is introducing a new PegoRichie ÜOS tube set and ÜOS fork blades to complement Sax Max lugs.  A tribute to the legendary Columbus Max tubing, ÜOS is an updated, larger-diameter version of the PegoRichie tubing he co-invented with Italian builder Dario Pegoretti back in 2004.

“We set out to create a new set of tubing  specifically for frame-builders who build lugged steel framesets,” says Sachs.

The original PegoRichie is a proven 21st century frame material that is in widespread use among frame-builders worldwide.  And just like its predecessor, says Sachs,“Über-Over-Size PegoRichie is for those who work in the traditional manner to make modern and compromise-free racing bicycles in an era when most other frames come out of a mold and from a far away land.”

Sachs completes the Sax Max series with a new investment cast fork crown.  When paired with the new ÜOS fork blades, according to Sachs, “The new fork parts alone represent what might be the single biggest improvement in materials for our niche in the last two decades.”

And the frame-building supply offerings don’t end there.  Alongside the raw lugs and pipes on display, Sachs is also offering new investment cast dropouts, named Piccoli Gioielli, or “Little Jewels.”

Joining Sachs in his booth this year is photographer/ film-maker Nick Czerula.  Nick spent more than a year documenting Richard as he reinvents the tradition of bicycle building and racing, which resulted in a fantastic book of black & white photographs, RICHARD SACHS – bicycle maker.  Czerula will be on hand all three days of NAHBS to discuss his experiences and sign copies of his book.

NAHBS insider tip:  there’s no wait list for the book.

Matt Butterman:
Ritchey: Four Decades of Handmade Quality:

Bay Area Builder Returns to His Roots for Fortieth Anniversary

Forty years ago, at the tender age of fifteen, Tom Ritchey built his first bicycle frames.

Blessed with an innate skill for steel frame fabrication and the innovative spirit of an industry pioneer, Ritchey’s annual production swelled to 250 frames by his senior year of high school.

By 1980, Ritchey had produced 1,500 handbuilt road frames, and he began to develop a new breed of bicycle meant to tame the steep slopes and trails of California’s coastal range: the mountain bike. The rest, as they say, is history.

After focusing his energy for the past 20 years on building an eponymous global brand that produces components made of steel, aluminum and carbon fiber alike, and whose name has adorned the bicycles and components of the winners of major races on the road and on the trail, Ritchey plans to commemorate his forty years in the industry by returning to his roots.

At this year’s NAHBS, Ritchey will unveil the first of 40 framesets produced to commemorate his 40 years building bicycles.

The first of the forty is a 60cm classic road frame of fillet brazed steel tubing – very much like Ritchey’s first offerings 40 years ago. It will feature the original decal set that Jobst Brandt designed for Ritchey back in 1973.

#1 of the 40

This frame will be auctioned at NAHBS (online via eBay). The starting price is $3500, but if the high bid exceeds $10,000, Ritchey will offer the winner a full custom road or mountain frameset instead. Proceeds from the auction will benefit Team Rwanda.

Three other framesets (exact models TBD, but likely P20 or Everest mountain frames) will be auctioned later in the year, with proceeds benefiting three other charities: the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, Trips for Kids, and the Christmas Bike Program.

Should you miss out on the charity auctions, Ritchey will sell the remaining 36 framesets (a mix of P20s and Everests) to consumers for $3500 each.

It’s not just nostalgia that’s behind Ritchey’s “40 for 40″ promotion, though. With the name recognition of an iconic brand comes intense customer demand.

Ritchey explains: “Over the past 20 years, since I stopped focusing on frame building,  I am often asked by people around the world if I will build any bikes like my original ones. This is a response to the many requests over the years by people who missed the chance to own one when they were available.”

Also on display at NAHBS will be a new, fillet-brazed version of the production Road Logic frameset, and a new tandem version of the popular Breakaway series bicycle, which will disassemble and completely fit into two travel bags.  It will also have a unique geometry and construction that will allow the riders to choose between 700c road wheels or 650b x 2.2 wheels/tires for rougher terrain.

The Breakaway tandem reflects the passion and creativity that Tom Ritchey imparts to his bicycles and components, tempered by his four decades of experience and the wisdom and feedback that only miles spent in the saddle can yield.

“This tandem has been refined over the last four years, through riding two prototypes all over the world with my wife, Martha,” says Ritchey.

“I am very excited to offer it to others, as we have had so many requests when couples see them.  We both have loved every minute riding the tandems.”



KVA Stainless MS2 Tubing Shines at NAHBS:

Alchemy Bicycles.  Ellis Cycles.  Winter Bicycles.  Risse Racing.  Besides being builders of gorgeous handmade bikes, what do they all have in common?  Each will be displaying bikes made of KVA’s MS2 Stainless Steel bicycle tubing at this year’s NAHBS.  A relative newcomer to the scene, KVA has made a big name in the bicycle industry due to their consistency, quality, and value.

When asked to describe what made KVA’s MS2 so different from other SS tubing, KVA’s General Manager Joe McCrink explained that, “KVA’s MS2 is an Air-Hardening stainless steel that has incredibly high strength at 200 ksi, in its delivered condition. These properties give the rider an extremely responsive quality only associated with MS2. We’ve developed patented technology that’s used to very consistently heat treat the material during the manufacturing of the tube as well as the final heat treatment.”

“We’re also able to locally temper different parts of the tubes to increase elongation in the jointing areas of the tubes.  This is different than the currently available SS that are precipitation hardening alloys, where strength comes from more extensive heat treating causing distortion, higher cost, and low heat treatment consistency.”

According to McCrink, KVA Stainless has only recently become interested in the cycling world, after “an exclusive agreement with Ford Motors showed us that the biggest down side to big industry is slow change.  We decided to take control of what we could and made a few display bikes to take to NAHBS and Interbike.  All went well enough for us to continue work, so here were are today.”

Many handmade builders in the industry are extremely happy that they are, especially because KVA has no plans to rest on their laurels.  In the future, McCrink says, KVA will strive for “continued product improvement and variety. We know success will lie in quality and development, so that’s why we don’t want to deviate from the course we’ve put ourselves on.”

So when he looks at all of the beautiful bicycles made from MS2 tubes this year in Sacramento, what makes him most proud?  “The fact that they chose to use our tubing for their show frame says a lot about the MS2 product.  Companies like Cielo by Chris King are pioneering production frames with MS2 and we’re grateful for that.”

”Ultimately though, it’s the effort we put into making the customers happy, both builder and rider.  It’s great to feel like I helped these bikes become one of a kind, and when I see the level of creativity a builder puts into making a frame unique, it makes me know it’s worth the effort.”


Pereira’s Oregon Manifest Bike a Prelude of Things to Come:

Tony Pereira designs bikes that combine ingenuity and practicality, and his second Oregon Manifest Best in Show award speaks to that aesthetic.  It also speaks, however, to his larger approach as a designer.

“I love the history of cycling and framebuilding,” Pereira says, “and a big part of that is the Technical Trials held in France from the 1930s to the 1950s. Many of the innovations we take for granted these days were perfected back then. The Manifest was created in that spirit and I’ve been thrilled to be a part of it.”

The Manifest utility bicycles are built within a very rigid set of rules, and are put through real world tests to determine which builder and/or team creates the most functional and aesthetically appealing design.  Some builders may alter their usual approach for such a competition, but not Pereira.

“I approached the Oregon Manifest Design Challenge the same way I would approach designing a bike for one of my customers: I studied the design parameters and the rules as if they were handed to me by the customer and tried to build the best bike I could.”

Utility bikes may very well be the future of not only cycling, but of transportation itself, and Pereira himself embodies that assertion.

“I believe city bikes are our future, they can be used to replace the 85% of car trips that are less than 5 miles.  I ride my bike every day to get around town, to pick up groceries and to bring my son to day care (in a trailer). ”

So what did he include when he designed the award winning bike of the future?  For one, a locking storage box, which Pereira thinks will become a mainstream feature of city bikes in years to come.

“I can park my bike, stash my helmet, jacket and other items between errands so I don’t have to carry them around. They are out of sight and fairly secure, so I know they will be there when I get back to the bike.”

The main high tech aspect of this bicycle, however, is pedal assist, which allows heavy loads to be pedaled longer distances with less exertion.  “I think [pedal assist systems] have finally reached a viable point in their evolution. They are lighter than ever, have good range, and work seamlessly.”

And what advice does Pereira have to give to those framebuilders who may want to make utility and city bikes the crux of their business?  “Design them well and let them lead the way. Give them a sense of pride to make them easier to ride, and let the rider’s laughter remind us how we used to be.”

Paul Skilbeck:
Sunday Morning Mimosa Ride! 4th March:

Matt Butterman:
Gates Carbon Drive Frame Design Contest Part 2:

Emerging Applications For a Time-Proven Concept

Even if you didn’t ride your single-speed cyclocross or city bike today, you probably used a Gates product to move around.

Gates has a hundred-year history providing mechanical components for a whole host of industrial applications, including things like the timing belt and hoses in your car’s engine.

Bicycle belts first appeared on folding bikes in the 1990s, and the technology quickly found a niche on commuter and transportation bikes. When combined with an internally geared hub, a belt drive creates a low-maintenance, reliable and clean system – all virtues prized by bike commuters.

The Gates Carbon Drive was introduced in 2007 and represents a further refinement of the technology, with its light weight and durability ensured through the use of carbon fiber tensile cords.

“Chains and derailleurs are great technology, but they are two of the more finicky aspects of bicycles,” says Paul Tolme, PR and Media Director for Gates Carbon Drive. “Gates views Carbon Drive as an application that can get more people out of their cars and onto bikes.”

But those same virtues of low maintenance, cleanliness, light weight and durability have garnered favor for the Gates Carbon Drive in the arenas of singlespeed mountain bike and cyclocross  racing. Gates sponsors two singlespeed cyclocross teams: Team Gates Carbon Drive and Portland’s River City Bicycles/Gates Carbon Drive team.

“There are many instances of belt-driven racers winning races in muddy conditions that clogged chains,” says Tolme.

The strength, reliability and durability of belt-driven systems are also highly valued by bicycle tourists who venture into areas devoid of bike shops and replacement chains. In 2009, James Bowthorpe set a new record for riding around the planet on a Santos bike with a Gates Carbon Drive system and Rohloff hub.

With these growing applications for Carbon Drive technology, more than 150 bike models from over 60 major bicycle brands come equipped with Gates systems, not counting handmade brands.

And it’s in the handmade world that the Gates Carbon Drive finds its most receptive and reflective market. “Custom builders are a wellspring of innovation and inspiration for the entire bike industry. This is why Gates chose to sign a three-year sponsorship agreement with NAHBS, beginning with 2012′s Sacramento show,” says Tolme.

Gates created the Carbon Drive frame design contest as a way to both inspire and reward innovation and hard work from custom builders. It offers $8750 in cash and product prizes.

“Since the Gates Carbon Drive technology made its debut at NAHBS in 2008, this exciting new technology has been creating more and more buzz, and we are delighted to welcome Gates to the NAHBS family with this significant partnership,” says Don Walker, president of NAHBS “Every year we see more and more beautiful belt-drive bikes on the show floor, and builders rave about these transmission systems.”



Sophie Ballo:
Naked Bicycles: Meant to be Ridden:

British Columbia builder bares all in pursuit of form and purpose

Sam Whittingham’s Naked Bicycles never fail to impress, and have a reputation for their daring, innovative designs.

So when the announcement came this year that Whittingham and his crew would not only build workhorse touring show bikes, but also ride these same bikes 500 miles from their home on Quadra Island, BC, Canada to Sacramento, CA, one couldn’t help but wonder what prompted the idea.

Well, according to Whittingham,  “This is actually something that has been brewing for a few years.  The bikes at NAHBS are perfect and beautiful, but in the end, [a bike is] meant to be ridden! We have also gotten a bit of a reputation over the past couple years for our blinged-out show bikes, but this is not what we do 90% of the time. We wanted to make some cool bikes and by riding them to the show, nobody could argue that they were impractical.”

True, nobody will try to argue that touring bikes are anything but practical.  Built for the long haul, they are usually not turning heads; however, Naked hopes to change that perception by marrying “utilitarian” with “sexy”.

“As with my ‘simple’ bike from last year,” says Whittingham, “I am trying to build both bikes with an eye towards removing all that is not completely necessary. Touring bikes often are encumbered with far too much “stuff”. Touring should be about riding and experiencing your surroundings first hand, not hauling crap around.”

Not to neglect innovation, these touring bikes will also be built with KVA Stainless Steel tubing, incorporate an “innovative Gates Belt drive tensioning system” for the longer, loaded design, and have “all racks and fenders work seamlessly with the frame,”  according to Whittingham.

The ride itself will be fully self supported.  When people walk past the Naked booth at NAHBS this year, all Whittingham says they will see is “the bikes we rode there on and a backdrop of photo posters taken during the trip and of the build process.”

And what does Whittingham hope those same people walk away with?

“I really want to share my own belief that a great bike gets better with age and patina. The bicycle is an amazing tool that should be embraced as part of us and not simply an object unto itself. It is only when a bike is ridden that it becomes alive and holds any real value.  We wanted to get back to basics a bit and remember what it is that brings all builders, show attendees and bike media together every year. We all love to ride bikes.”

Paul Skilbeck:

Click here to see all the venues!

Paul Skilbeck:
Show President’s Welcome Note:

A Note From the Show President

With the eighth running of NAHBS, when I look back on the past decade I can only say I am proud to be part of this great event.

It is no secret that the handmade bicycle industry was in trouble around the turn of the century. Established bicycle building workshops in the USA, UK, Italy, France and other nations were disappearing under the tide of cheap carbon fiber frames flooding in from the far east. The profit margins on these frames were substantial, affording mass producers hefty advertising and marketing budgets. How could we little guys get the public’s attention?

Nine years ago a group of frame builders got together and created NAHBS, a convention for the handmade bicycle industry. It would be a celebration of cycling’s cottage businesses. Working together, we believed we could remind cyclists of what they were missing. And guess what? It worked!

Another purpose of NAHBS was the exchange of information between builders and the passing-on of arcane know-how from the masters to the rookies. This tradition continues every year in our seminar series.

And of course the show has always bee a place for us builders to renew old acquaintances and get together as one giant family. I wouldn’t miss our social gatherings for the world!

Speaking of the world, handmade frame builders do not exist in a vacuum. Many purchase parts from the same companies that supply the largest bicycle manufacturers, and of course we welcome these companies too as a means of helping potential consumers decide which parts to include on their dream bicycles, as well as what to wear and how to carry things.

Yet I never imagined the effect of NAHBS would be so far-reaching. And here I take no personal credit. The enthusiasm, and passion, and determination of frame builders around the world shines like a pure, beautiful light.

In the early days of NAHBS there was a wide range of quality in the show hall. Nowadays you see outstanding examples of the craft everywhere you look. Frame builders have learned from one another. They have raised their game, and the bar is still rising.

One foreign journalist commented that many of the finest frames in the world are now made in the USA. Speaking as a frame builder myself, I see some of the finest examples coming from other nations too, but what I can feel here in the USA is the energy of many small businesses that are growing and thriving and competing to be the best, and I have to say this is one heck of an exciting wave to be riding right now.

Please indulge my patriotic spirit here, but it just feels great to be part of a home-grown manufacturing movement that is rapidly expanding, not shrinking, and with rising urban congestion and oil prices the future looks bright for the bicycle. Who wouldn’t want that for their country, or their state, or their city? So when you return home, be sure to give your local frame builder mad props!

Sacramento is my hometown, and since setting off on my travels many years ago I now notice how much the city has grown as an active and siginficant cycling venue. I have always loved pedaling along the leafy green streets and alongside the calm of the American River. It feels so good to be coming back and bringing something with me that people of all walks of life can enjoy.

The maxim of NAHBS is Quality, Inspiration and Craftsmanship. All three are in abundance at NAHBS, and it is my sincere hope that you are inspired and delighted by what you will see. I believe I speak on behalf of all exhibitors in saying it is our humble pleasure and privilege to present to you our finest work.

Don Walker

Paul Skilbeck:
NAHBS AWARDS – Entrants Announced!:

The 2012 NAHBS Awards, with its new format, will feature about 170 bicycles from 65 builders vying for one of the coveted NAHBS Gold Standard certificates.  The entrants list is published and we are working now on adding descriptions of each bike. Full list here. Keep checking back, because we will add descriptions one by one as we process them.

Matt Butterman:
Gates Carbon Drive Frame Design Contest – Part 1:

Contenders Line Up To Take Top Prize

New for the 2012 North American Handmade Bicycle Show is the Gates Carbon Drive Frame Design Contest, which challenges custom builders to design a frameset that incorporates a carbon belt drive system.

The contest, sponsored by Gates, a 2012 NAHBS sponsor, offers a top prize of $2500 cash and ten carbon drives (worth $2500) to the first place winner, ten carbon drives for second place, and five carbon drives for third place.

When you consider that a belt drive cannot be broken and reassembled like a chain can, the primary challenge for the framebuilder is to design a frameset with chain or seat stays that can be disassembled for installation, and for those (rare) occasions when the belt needs to be replaced.

Rob English, of Eugene (OR)-based English Cycles agrees with this assessment. “The unique thing is allowing the rear triangle to split for installing the belt. Otherwise, it’s pretty straightforward apart from paying attention to allowing for a straight belt line,” English says.

John Caletti of Caletti Cycles in Santa Cruz, CA elaborates further about the design challenges: “The chainstay length has to work with the gear ratio used and the cog sizes and belt length needed to get there. Also, the cog up front is large and wide so the chainstays have to be kept out of the way. The newer center track version is narrower and can be placed further out.”

About the frame split challenge, Caletti says: “I like to use the Paragon Slider dropouts with their integrated chain tensioning and wheel location adjustments for easier setup and no wheel slippage.”
Six-Eleven Cycles' belt-driven bike at Austin 2011

Both Caletti and English have designed and built belt-driven bicycles before, and both offer the option on their custom menus.

Although the contest only allows one entry per framebuilder, Rob English plans to keep more than one belt-driven bicycle in his stable at NAHBS.

”Actually three of my bikes at NAHBS will be carbon-driven!” says English.

In Part 2, we’ll look at the design approaches of a few other builders, and explore some of the applications of belt drives (hint: they’re not just for commuting anymore).

Paul Skilbeck:
Download the NAHBS Poster!:

Click here, save to your computer and hit Print or click here for the zip file. It will fit onto 8.5″ x 11″ paper and will look great in your window or on your wall!



Paul Skilbeck:
The return of ArtBike!:

Last held at the Indianapolis show in 2009, this street-art project runs for the month of February in Sacramento and is designed to get the bicycle juices flowing in the community and get the city in the mood for NAHBS.

“It’s great how many talented people and businesses want to get involved with this, it’s going to be a really fun event!” said ArtBike! manager Julia Beckner.

Sponsored by Bicycle Times magazine, the month’s activities involve street art, bike art in galleries and businesses around the Midtown and Downtown, as well as two bike parades with kinetic sculptures, artistic bikes and just regular riders, on February 11th and again on March 3rd.

Festivities reach a peak with a blow-out pre-NAHBS party on Thursday night, March 1st, at Hot Italian, one of Sacramento’s leading pizzerias.

Paul Skilbeck:
Rethink for NAHBS Awards:

Gone is the long Sunday afternoon ceremony, and in comes the opportunity to discover NAHBS Awards winners as of Saturday afternoon.

The build-up to the Awards now starts early February, when builders announce their entries on the NAHBS website.  Judging will take place on Friday night, all in a corralled area.

The awards will be made on Saturday starting at noon. Most awards will not be made on the stage, but winners will be marked by a plaque that appears by the award-winning bike, which will be returned to the booth after judging.

More than one bike can win an award in each of the categories: up to three bikes can receive an award if the judges consider none to be clearly superior.

Best of Show, People’s Choice, President’s Choice and Rookie of the Year will still be awarded on the main stage, Sunday afternoon.

more info…

Paul Skilbeck:
NAHBS poster boy Carl Strong withdraws from show:

NAHBS’s loss is Carl Strong’s gain. Here’s the short version: (full story here) After trying his hand at running a large frame building business in the late ’90s Carl decided he was best suited to the one-man shop model, so gradually he and his wife Loretta rented out their 7,000 foot space and shrank the frame building business.

Their dream became to have a workshop in the garden behind their home. “It would be a place providing us with privacy and simplicity, and it would allow us to build fewer frames so we could ride our bikes and travel more,” said Carl.

Well, a couple of years ago they put the large workshop on the market and very recently it sold, which means they now have to move and have a lot of bikes to build prior to the move. “We just can’t take the two weeks needed to prepare for and attend NAHBS while still meeting our commitments to current customers. We will truly miss the show and seeing all our friends,” said Carl.

NAHBS president, Don Walker, said, “We at NAHBS wish Carl and Loretta well with their move and look forward to having them back at the show in 2013.”