NAHBS 14, Part VI

NAHBS 14, Part VI

My fallibility index runs high. Case in point, the bike that won for Best New Builder. I returned home to find that I’d shot exactly one detail of the bike while I was at the show. Knowing what I do of how I can screw things up, I suspect that I got to talking to Harvey, became distracted and because the hall’s management started turning off the lights to usher us toward the doors at the end of the day, I didn’t shoot any further and forgot that I’d taken exactly one photo when I returned the next morning. Yeah, I’m like that.

So I had to ask for photos of this bike so I could write about it.

This gravel bike from Kevin Harvey of Harvey Cycle Works won with almost no discussion. As I mentioned in a previous post, Nick Legan wanted to recuse himself from voting on the award because he likes Harvey’s work so much he rides one. In a way, there’s no better vote, no greater testament to someone’s work than when a builder gets an order from someone as knowledgeable as Legan.

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Harvey works in motorsports, for Andretti Autosports, as their lead machinist, no less. To say he already had a working knowledge of metal and fabrication might be a bit of an understatement

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The stainless serial number is a pretty trick touch, but child’s play when considered against the some of his other work on the frame and fork.

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Harvey machined the braze-ons for the fork-mount bottle bosses because he didn’t want to drill into the fork and remove metal at a high-stress area. The braze-ons were small and silver-brazed to leave as much of the heat treating of the tubing intact.

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More impressive was the mount he machined for the lights. He created all the hardware from scratch, including rounded washers so he could aim the lights both up and down and side to side—and independent of each other. The lights run off a Schmidt dynamo hub—for which he machined his own dropouts—and his routing of the wire was beyond clean; it’s so out of the way that it’s unlikely it could ever catch on debris or during a flat repair. And yes, Virginia, those Baja-style grills for the lights are yet another Harvey creation.

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Did I mention the fillet brazing? Or the fact that he is enough of a stickler for detail that he does his own paint? In talking with the other judges I compared Harvey’s skill to the pro mountain biker who shows up for the Cat. 4 road race. Used to happen a bunch here in SoCal. Tinker Juarez, me, my teammates, 100 other guys who think they know fast. Must have been what it felt like to line up against Merckx. Where were we? Oh yeah, the builder who brought the bazooka to the knife fight.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Don Walker has a rule against anyone out of the new builders’ group being considered for Best of Show. Don’t care. Jeff, Nick and I couldn’t help but bring this bike into the discussion. The work is so exquisite, the skill level so high that it rivaled the other bikes when we narrowed the field to finalists. The bike was inventive, expertly made, intelligently spec’d and attractive. The only strike we could put against him in the final analysis was the fact that because he has a day job, he’s a nights and weekends builder. That’s the worst we could say about him. On the plus side, he’s single and his kids support his pursuit. Not a bad combination. I can’t wait to see what he brings next year when he graduates to a full booth.

 

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4 comments

  1. Pingback: Chainlinks: Best of the Bike Web, March 26, 2014 - Trail & Tarmac

  2. Dustin

    Padraig – Question about the new builders, what are the requirements to be a “new builder” at the show? Some of the builders there seem to only have a handful of frames under their belt, whereas others (such as HCW) seem to have been at it for a while. HCW was even at NAHBS in ’13. Is there a maximum number of frames built and be considered a new builder, or is it based on time, or….?

    This bike was one of the standouts of the show IMO. It’s one I’d happily take home and ride the wheels off of, it would be PERFECT for some mixed surface adventure rides, it’ll go anywhere. The lighting system was super trick and well done.

  3. Devin

    Patrick, your dismissive comments towards the other new builders colors your praise towards Harvey in a disappointing fashion. His bike was well done, but not so much better done than all the others that they should have been such a cast of ugly ducklings (a few obvious exceptions aside.) I know judging is thankless, but “bazooka to a knife fight” is needless hyperbole that will inevitably make those not able to see all the other offerings think there was so much dross surrounding this shining diamond.

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