The San Diego Custom Bicycle Show

This mid-’90s Bohemian may be the first example of brazed-on metalwork taking the place of a decal.

The San Diego Custom Bicycle Show took place this past weekend, still in San Diego (might explain the name) but in a new location, historic Golden Hall, which has been played by the likes of The Who, The Rolling Stones and even The Clash. Nearly 40 different builders attended, joined by another 26 industry exhibitors. With the new location the extra space created an impression that the show was a bit smaller than years past, even though the overall number of exhibitors was up.

I attended Friday and Saturday and while I expected overall attendance to be thin on Friday, I was shocked that foot traffic didn’t increase a lot on Saturday. I like this show a lot. It has a loose, relaxed feel to it, compared to the frenetic pace of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, which is really just due to the increased number of exhibitors and attendees—nothing wrong with that. The thing about the San Diego show is that it’s possible to have a half-hour conversation with a personal frame building hero. Of course, if more people attended, those conversation would be shorter, but if that’s what’s necessary to keep the thing going, I’m okay with that.

Greg Townsend of Townsend Cycles is a Los Angeles-based builder who is doing some terrific work. I loved these half lugs on this track bike. He’s got a great sense of the history and tradition of frame building.

NAHBS is expensive enough now that some builders told me they flat-out can’t afford to attend, which is a shame. The upshot is that there were builders, many very fine ones, in fact, who exhibited at SDCBS who didn’t go to NAHBS, which took care of the one criticism I heard from friends who had decided not to go—they were afraid they’d see stuff they had already seen in Austin. The overlap in bikes was tiny.

The SDCBS gave me an opportunity to spend some quality time talking with builders not only about building, but family, where cycling fits in their world and what they do when they aren’t either building or riding bikes.

Jeff Tiedeken of Monkey Likes Shiny was the most original thinker present and knows how to start a party. Jeff doesn’t work with bikes too often; most of his work is for outfits like NASA, that like to keep him quiet about his contributions.

The Roundtail from Tortola fascinated me. The claim is it offers real-world rear suspension. I can’t verify the claim yet, but it’s interesting work. I want to ride one.

Eric Estlund of Winter Bicycles is fond of bi-laminate work. This head-tube cutout was gorgeous. The bi-laminate approach gives him the opportunity to show off his fillet brazing as well as his ability to cut lugs.

Brent Steelman is probably best known for his welding, but his lug work is outstanding, as seen in these arrow point lugs. The windows he cut in each of the lugs reflected the shapes of the points.

Mo Rebolledo showed this gorgeous randonneur bike; it looked like he’d been doing this work for decades.

This bottom bracket shell on one of Mark Nobilette’s frames was one of the most intricate at the show. Nobilette made each lug, including the BB shell, by hand.


Last year Bruce Gordon showed off a carbon bike with ti lugs he built with Mike Lopez. This is #2 of 2. I dare anyone to try to find prettier work that has been performed in titanium. The tapered point kills me.


Mark Dinucci designed the lugs used on this frame close to 20 years ago. You’ve seen them countless times … on the steel Specialized Allez. I love the way he thinned the points here.

I shot hundreds of images. I’ll add a photo gallery soon.


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Darwin

    I live in Phoenix and was planning to attend as well as ride the Gran Fondo. I had unexpected knee surgery which prevented me from going. Bummer. Next year I guess. Looking forward to more photos.

  2. Pingback: San Diego Custom Bike Show Coverage… « The TandemGeek's Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *