NAHBS 2015, Part VII

NAHBS 2015, Part VII

Each year at NAHBS there are a number of bikes displayed that go home empty-handed, bikes of such obvious merit that many attendees question the judgment—if not the sanity—of the judges. In my final post on NAHBS, I want to address a few of these bikes. IMG_9967

The first of the bikes is a frame that Mark DiNucci displayed in his booth. This lugged beauty was built with the tubes and lugs he designed for Specialized for its revisited take on the Allez. You may recall my post on the run of 74 bikes that Specialized announce this past winter. DiNucci designed all new tube profiles, a new lug set, braze-ons and even asked Reynolds to take a fresh run at the heat treating on the fork blades.  IMG_9965

What this frame represents is an achievement that we’ve never seen before and are unlikely to see again in steel frame building. Because DiNucci was able to follow this bike from initial design, right down to doing the CAD work himself, all the way through coping tubes and brazing them into a final frame, I can say I’ve never seen a builder’s fingerprints more deeply embedded in a frame.
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Alas, this is not the frame that he entered for Best Lugged Frame, which he won with a creation no less notable. I considered this for Best in Show; his work here is so deep and so incredible it merits that kind of consideration. The one knock against it was that it was an unpainted frame and when viewed against the Groovy Cycles Surf Bike, the obvious appeal of that complete bikes was what shifted the conversation for me. IMG_9962

There’s an austerity to DiNucci’s work that makes it difficult to appreciate some of his skill because it doesn’t call attention to itself the way a bike from Brian Baylis does. For most builders who hope to produce in the neighborhood of 100 frames per year, it’s difficult to devote more than 20 hours to a frame. This level of work requires far more than 20 hours.IMG_9959

The master, hanging out with his work.IMG_9913

This mountain bike from Funk didn’t win Best Mountain Bike. However, in our final conversation, once we’d narrowed the field, it was a bike we discussed repeatedly. It’s a 100mm-travel 1×11 29er. I didn’t get a weight on it, but it was exceptionally light. IMG_9916

The Funk featured a number of anodized touches, including this head tube badge, which I thought was both a fresh take on a head tube badge, not to mention beautiful.

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The anodized paw print was a great way to use anodizing without covering the whole frame, which might have ended up looking completely overdone, an all-pink Rapha kit.

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Here’s where the Funk became truly superlative. It’s a pivotless design. The plate at the BB replaces one of the pivots. IMG_9914

The seatstays feature a brace between the chain stay and seatstay to prevent the suspension movement from being transmitted to the dropout, which would likely cause a failure at some point. Instead, the seatstays themselves flex at that section of flat plate. That it didn’t win an awards wasn’t because we didn’t dig it. IMG_9907

This multi-surface road bike from Todd Ingermanson of Black Cat wasn’t entered for any awards. And I’m still scratching my head why. In the past, many bikes that took an unadorned approach to their beauty got overlooked. What I appreciated about this bike was the way it was all-biz. IMG_9909

Ingermanson’s fillet work is ultra-consistent and features a very small radius. IMG_9908

One of the more interesting features of bikes from Black Cat is that Ingermanson isn’t content to go with a single set of decals and one brand identity. Every bike I’ve seen from him has, I believe, used a different set of decals. It’s a big violation of Branding 101, but he has really made it work as part of his identity. Neat trick.IMG_9831

This multi-surface road bike, the Aithon, had me revisit their booth three or four times as I considered Best in Show. The bike was incredibly well thought-out, not just from a parts pick, but also in terms of finish.IMG_9830

This root beer finish allowed the carbon work to show through so you could get a reminder of just how skilled these guys are. Paired with the cream white, it was rather like a rolling root beer float. (Yum.)IMG_9832

Of course, the folks at Alchemy weren’t content to stop there. They made bottle cages and fenders (not to mention their own fork) and then gave them a complementary paint scheme to tie the whole bike together. 
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This would have been a contender for best finish, had it been entered.
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The Shamrock Cycles booth was an embarrassment of riches when it came to beautiful bikes. Corby Concepts worked with Kate Oberreich to create this paper airplane finish.
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There are 585 individually hand-painted paper airplanes on this frame.IMG_9902The bike was a wedding present from a Shamrock owner, Josh, to his wife, Sarah. The 585 airplanes represented the number of days that passed from their meeting (at a ‘cross race, no less) to the day they were married.

 

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9 comments

  1. Seth

    That Funk bike is amazing, its almost a titanium version of the Cannondale Scalpel right down to the pivotless rear and lefty front (the Funk is immensely better looking). To be honest I hadn’t heard of them before this post, but looks like the do incredible work.

    The analytical side of me wonders what the flex life would be on the pivotless design and how well this would handle torsional loads.

    I LOVE that torx were used instead of phillips or other cheap looking fasteners for the head tube badge.

  2. jorgensen

    This DiNucci looks pretty nice for the few images shown.
    Interesting chain stay termination on the inside of the drive side dropout.
    Curious as to why this one was not submitted.
    I don’t expect this one to be cheap.

  3. Hautacam

    The original, historical red Allez will always be one of my favorite production road bikes. I like that DiNucci and the S crowd are tapping into that heritage. Truly awe-inspiring lug work on that frame. They look paper-thin. The craftsmanship is remarkable.

    From an industrial design perspective, the Funk is spectacular — the lines are so clean and understated. It could be in a design museum parked next to some Bauhaus furniture. But like another commenter said, I would be really nervous about fatiguing those thin plates over a long lifespan and a bunch of hard riding.

    The airplane paint job, however, is a thing of beauty, full stop. Love it!


  4. Author
    Padraig

    Thanks for your comments everyone. This is the post that has the potential to cause me the most grief because it’s the one where I admit that I second-guess myself.

    Jorgenson: Mark simply chose to enter the other bike in best lugged. Either bike would have won, I’m reasonably certain. With the other bike in best lugged, there wasn’t anything left to enter this. That said, the D-shaped chainstays on the bike above are pretty neat. Those who worked with him on the project for Specialized thought they were truly exceptional. They’re right.

  5. Pingback: Funk at NAHBS 2015 | Funk Cycles

  6. James Jordan

    To those who worry about the flex plate on the Funk La Ruta,… worry no more. The frame(s) come with a lifetime warranty! If it breaks, send it back and get it fixed. The bike is a most excellent ride and a XC dream. It was worth the time and effort I put into ordering one. The guys at Funk, especially Dave, are top-notch and just plain all around nice people too.

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