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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.”