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.
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.”