NAHBS 14, Part VIII

NAHBS 14, Part VIII

Okay, last post on NAHBS, promise. I’ve got too many great images not to share one final, large-scale image dump. I’ll begin with a shot of one of the usual suspects. Left to right: Erksen’s award-winning welder, Brad Bingham, Moots co-founder Butch Boucher, ti builder Jim Kish, carbon master Mike Lopez, paint meister Joe Bell, and veteran builder Bill Holland.

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One of Anvil’s frame jigs—a majority of the of the frames at NAHBS were likely built with one of their jigs. IMG_8185

Paul’s Components has gained a stellar reputation for producing niche components. This duplex brake lever is a great example of why. IMG_8190

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Pella Sportswear is the official licensee for the Cinzano brand in cycling clothing. They are producing what appear to be very high-quality wool jerseys and bib shorts. IMG_8200

Despite all the amazing work at NAHBS, every now and then you see something completely avoidable, something that leaves you scratching your head.

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The coolest balance bike I’ve seen. IMG_8210

There are plenty of whimsical details in the show. You just have to look. IMG_8214

Darts. Flippin’ darts. Amazing darts on a bike with great lines. IMG_8216

Appleman’s carbon work is impressive. Special points for being a one-man operation. The jack-of-all-trades isn’t as common as it once was.IMG_8254

Bill Holland, Carl Strong, Don Ferris and Mike DeSalvo. That’s nearly 100 years of frame building experience and insight right there. IMG_8255

Mountain bike pioneer Steve Potts. IMG_8257

Chris Bishop didn’t show, but that doesn’t mean he arrived at NAHBS empty handed. He had cash enough for an arms purchase, all of which went to purchasing Japanese castings. Dude knows how to horse trade. IMG_8263

This Peacock Groove bike polo bike was one of my favorite bikes at the show. I swear. IMG_8264

The paint scheme was meant to evoke a watermelon. Think about it. Bike polo. Mallet. Watermelon.
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The primer was pink so that pain scratches would reinforce that idea. Best joke at the show. I think the bike should have been named the Gallagher. IMG_8281

In a show full of head tube badges with only small amounts of color (usually inlaid), this white enamel Mosaic was a fresh take.IMG_8326

Engin. I love how the badge evokes a pun on the name—engine. IMG_8283

No one wears Irish pride quite like Shamrock’s Tim O’Donnell. Hardly anyone nails style quite as well, either.
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Internally routed cable guides often become these attention-grabbing details rather than understated ways to make a bike work better. I love that the guides on this Shamrock were no bigger than necessary to get the job done. IMG_8293

This S&S-coupled light touring bike lacked only one detail: a boarding pass for Ireland. IMG_8290

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Argonaut didn’t produce the only killer carbon fiber gravel bike. This ride from Alchemy was most impressive.IMG_8307

Alchemy continues to lead the way in using die-cut pieces of carbon as decorative elements on their frames. IMG_8309

Truly amazing.
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Hollow dropouts improve the feel of the bike’s rear end. IMG_8311

Stylish.IMG_8312

A blue dye was added to a clear coat to achieve this finish. IMG_8322

Nick Crumpton showed a frame straight out of the mold with no finish work other than a tiny bit of sanding.

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His work just gets better and better. It’s a shame this frame wasn’t entered in any awards. IMG_8331

This Kish was yet another great take on a cyclocross bike with range. IMG_8330

But it didn’t take itself too seriously. I’m guessing that Ball jar isn’t meant to carry Skratch Labs. IMG_8334

San Diego veterans Bill Holland and Mike Lopez have teamed up to produce an all-carbon-fiber road bike. It’s a tube and lug design, calling on the expertise of both craftsmen. IMG_8335

The lugs in the bike shown at the show were rapid prototypes, so this bike wasn’t actually rideable, but they shoe the shape and finish quality that the bikes will have.IMG_8336

As is typical of all of Lopez’ and Holland’s work, the dropouts are clean and functional. I like how the port of the Di2 lead points up and leaves plenty of room for installing the wheel. IMG_8337

The flat wishbone seatstay should provide lots of comfort. IMG_8339

The bike should offer plenty of stiffness at the BB.
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Keep your eyes open. You never know what you’ll see. IMG_8350

Nick Crumpton and Carl Strong. IMG_8354

This tandem from Bilenky had more couplers than a spider has legs. It was strongly in the running for best tandem. The work required to bend all these tubes must have someone very busy. IMG_8355

Assembly won’t be quick or easy, but it’ll be a stellar vacation machine.IMG_8356

We met the very spunky Andy and Sandi. They are going to have some serious fun. IMG_8358

Matching father and son mountain bikes from SyCip. IMG_8360

These weren’t easy paint schemes to match over two very differently sized bikes. IMG_8365

Ron Andrews of King Cage showed his amazing titanium bottle cages (I’ve got one that is now 16 years old and looks new) as well as a bracket to mount a cage to a stem and handlebar plugs that convert a bar into …
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a flask with shot glass.

Till next year.

 

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6 comments

  1. John Kopp

    Wow! A lot of incredible bikes there, and the craftsmanship is superb! You showed a number of bikes that didn’t win an award, and just looked incredible to me. Were there any bikes there that would have been as ordinary (bad) as say a Huffy? Even some of the flaws that you pointed out still were on great looking machines. Thanks for showing all that you did.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      John Kopp: There were some bikes made from carbon fiber and other alternative materials that weren’t ready for the big parade, and in a way their presence made the good work shine all the brighter. There was nothing crafted from steel or titanium that would have gotten anything other than admiration on your group rides.

  2. Bart

    Reading these posts from the show always has me thinking about what the economics are like for the people building custom frames. Is this a business to go into for the love of the process and product, but you end up living on ramen and tap water? Or is it like other industries where if you are good at what you do and have a bit of luck on your side you can make a good living?

    Since so much labor goes into each frame/bike I imagine that most business models are not built on scaling as revenue grows. How do these craftspeople manage to make ends meet and stay in the game long enough to develop a following and sustainable business? Is there such a thing as a standard business model for custom frame builders? It seems that much of the business is driven by reputation and word of mouth. How does a new builder get started with the first client or two?

    As I look at these beautiful bikes and the creativity and energy invested in them, these are the questions that come to mind. When it’s time for me to buy my next bike I’d love to work with a custom builder (not sure I’ll ever be able to afford it) but I’m not sure how to distinguish between all of the choices. I don’t have enough discretionary money to experiment. Understanding the economics of this industry might help me figure out how to make choices should the opportunity arise.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Bart: Thanks for the questions. I’ve been contemplating a post along these lines for some time. I’ll get you your answers soon.

  3. andy n sandi

    spunky, we like that! had a great time again, this being our fifth nahbs. our bilenky tandem has 6 s&s couplers, which is what most tandems use, save for the 2 sets of ‘shaved’ paragon breakaways. i think with so much goin on with the tubes, it seems like more. lookin foward to many awsome miles on our Ti ‘freight train’. had a great time meeting and talkin shop with you folks. maybe see ya at the philly show… andy n sandi

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