NA Handbuilt Bike Show

The North American Handbuilt Bike Show is going on now, in Richmond VA. I’ve been following a few blogs that are furiously documenting the show, or in the case of BikeSnobNYC, furiously baiting and mocking the show.

This show is generally what I consider the high-bar for bicycle construction, and started out focusing on small batch, niche market, lugged steel road bikes. Now, some larger manufacturers are in on the game, but its still not as humungous as the Interbike expo.

For example, Independent Fabrications are presenting this full-carbon single speed road bike, with custom carbon lugs:

IndyFab is a relatively large builder, by NAHBS standards. Here’s another of their show bikes, a “winter commuter”:

Its made of titanium, with studded tires, custom racks, internal gearing, and puffy reflective paint. Hell would have to freeze over before anyone would ride that sweet of a bike in a Boston winter; however, that’s not the point. The point seems to be showing innovative and interesting ways of addressing every and any tiny cycling niche, with the flexibility that only handbuilt bikes can offer. Its just that there’s a disconnect between finding and addressing that little niche, and making it cost under $5000/bike.

I have floated ideas for doing one-off products to be pimped out at trade shows, in case we get a glimmer of interest, but those ideas don’t usually go anywhere. The expenses, not to mention logistics in case someone DOES want a suite of custom products, make it not feasible. How do these small builders enjoy any return on investment? Even a larger company like IF is probably going to take a loss on one or more of their blinged-out show bikes. They could sell/give/raffle them to employees, but people in the bike industry typically don’t make a lot of coin.

Designers, especially students, could gain a lot by checking out some of the clever ideas shown at NAHBS. You won’t find the latest “regenerative braking from riding around MIT can be used to power a bus and then you put the bike in a tree to use it as a windfarm” nonsense here either.

It generates a TON of business. I personally know 2 builders who were at NAHBS (Peacock Groove, Capricorn), and they do it because it’s basically their industry’s trade show. True you aren’t making money hand over fist. But several of the bikes they showed were customer’s bikes.

IF is huge, as is MOOTS and Co-Motion. They make a ton of money on everything they do, so they can afford to make these 1-off show bikes. MOOTS makes stock frames, as well as custom, Co-Mo does the same. You’d be surprised at how much you can make once you get good at what you’re doing.

And Bikesnob loves the show.

what bike blogs do you follow. Aside from BSNYC (hysterical)

A “ton” of business, really? I only know a few independent builders, who have showed at NAHBS and the spinoff Manifest show in Portland, and they didn’t instantly get flooded with bike orders. Granted that’s not all of the builders and manufacturers, and companies like IF and Moots are able to do “custom production” style runs. But even the builders would have to admit that the demand for $2000-$5000 FRAMES is somewhat limited. Then again, on the other hand are companies like Vanilla who basically could do no marketing for the next five years and still have their order books full.

BSNYC loves the show because it provides so much good material:

“This is precisely the sort of innovation that makes the NAHBS so great. While the major manufacturers tend to be derivative, custom builders are not afraid to draw inspiration from outside of cycling and to repurpose medical apparatus such as the speculum, as is the case here. Besides the obvious comfort factor, another advantage of this design is that, as the bike sits out in the sun while you enjoy your cappuccino, it absorbs heat. This means you should have a blistering burn on your posterior by the time your ride is over. Forget saddle sores–incurring an actual brand while cycling is the very definition of “epic.” (For the faint of heart, I recommend riding with an oven mitt in your crotch.)”

I saw that Capricorn rack, which works with the Bailey bag that NURB mentioned, nice “collabo”.

Other bike blogs, besides BSNYC which is 90% BS:

Peacock Groove is awesome, the copper bike and Kill Bill bike were sweet. Did you go to bike show at the Ivy Arts building over the summer? Had a lot of his work there, he has studio space in that same building, great stuff.

I mostly follow goof-balls from my neck of the woods that are only really interesting because I know who they are, and the places they talk about. Besides Bikesnob (who even though he is 90% BS, he does own up to being BS which I can respect), I follow:

Up In Alaska:
Fat Cyclist:
Surly Blog: Blog | Surly Bikes
Salsa Blog: Salsa Cycles | Adventure by Bike

and other various Twitter folk.

I was at the Ivy show this past summer. Lots of other cool local builders. There’s a ton of other builders in town, and I hope they get more next year.

That Up In Alaska blog is bad-bad-bad ass. She could perhaps use that Moots winter bike, the one with cooking fuel in the fork tubes! Now there’s a niche turned practical, for which thousands of $ could be rationally spent.

I aspire to be the BSNYC of Core77.
“All You Haters Suck My 'Flot.”


LOL. nice

Don’t know about other exhibitors, but winning an award translates into a lot work. I saw Sam Whittingham last summer at an HPV race and he told me that after winning Best of Show in 2008 and getting his bike auctioned off to Lance, he has been working hard. Garnering People’s Choice in 2009 cemented his reputation and created the current backlog or orders. Afaik, he didn’t even bother coming to the show this year.


I’m sure most of you will think I"m crazy in saying this, but after I sell off Cerevellum, I fully intend on setting my focus on developing a line of bikes that will finally bring a close to the discrepancy between frame-builders and component designers. I think Cannondale started in the right direction by integrating their head-tubes and bottom-bracket assemblies, but I think so much more can be done. I’d like to be the next Alex Pong or Mike Burrows.

In my opinion, a LOT can be done by integrating new electronic-shifting systems in with frames, as was evident in many designs at the show (utilizing Di2.) Now, imagine taking the same thought-process with frames, wheels, components, etc. In my opinion, bikes are currently under the premise that they must fit every imaginable wheel-set combination, component group, saddle, etc. The standards for seatposts, BB’s and handlebars are confusing and limit the possibilities of those components. If designing a bike as a complete entity, the negatives of these components is eliminated.

So, I ask you, what does the perfect road-racing machine look like? Throw away the notion that the frame must accomodate everything from Campagnolo, SRAM and Shimano. Throw away the idea that it must accomodate every imaginable stem and handlebar combination. Throw away the seatpost configuration. What you’re left with is an open-slate.

To make things really complicated, make it UCI legal!!!

INNNNteresting problem. You mean along the lines of the SpeedVagen bikes?

In this photo, central routed brake cable stop passes through seatmast, connected to semi-custom brakes pivoting on inset brake bosses. Quite trick and tres functional.

Oooo… This could be another topic altogether, really. I really like the current setup as it’s very accommodating. The bad part about proprietary parts is that they’re rarely available when you need them the most (i.e. stuck on the road far away from a high end shop…) There are many seatpost diameters because there are many tube dimensions, and likely will be as long as bikes are made with steel, aluminum, and titanium tubing. Integrated seatmasts on carbon frames started it, and the Madone addressed it with a semi-integrated seat post. But, there again in 10 years you might not find a seat post for a 2008 Madone… because they’re different already this year!

Back on topic, here. That SpeedVagen detail is super hot.

All you haters integrate my seatpost.

All you haters integrate my seatpost.


BSNYC Revealed!

Wow! No crabon fibre, hubless wheels, or neon anywhere! And a normal, non-ironic rear rack!

I hope he doesn’t give up his day job.

You’re overlooking so much of what makes the bike industry great. Individuality, customization, liquidity in resale and community.

People love to modify their bikes. If anything, i’d say integration of more components has hurt brands like Cannondale more than it’s helped. People love to colour match, spec match, go italian, go american etc. Oldschool, newschool, weight weenie, handbuilt.

It’s cheaper than modifying a car and will, despite your best efforts, remain component-level based. Within the enthusiast market anyway.

That’s just where I was going to go with that comment. Anyone remember the one piece machined CODA cranks Cannondale made in the late 90s? Yeah, it’s really awesome that you can machine it out, but when you break a tooth on the outer chainring, you’ve got to pony up $350 for a new crankset? Nice. And don’t get me started on Headshok.

As tbaker pointed out, individuality and “customization” are great hallmarks of bicycles.

But 6ix has an excellent point, there is more than enough room in the market for an integrated bike. It could be a great niche product. That is my biggest disappointment with di2, it is a traditional deraileur system with electronics while it could be so much more. Why have the shifters as a part of the brake levers? You could have multiple buttons anywhere on the bars dependent on the rider’s personal riding positions. Why is there a wire? Why can’t servos and batteries go on the inside of the frame? Integrate a powertap and now you can have an automatic transmission based on any parameter you want - power, heart rate, cadence, gradient or what ever in what ever combination you want.

Stay away from the hubless crap and you could have a great time designing a next-gen bike.

And for the record, an integrated headset has been around since at least the 1920s. Nothing new there.

Yeah, I’ve got no beef with integrated headsets (aside from the frame failure standpoint)
This is what I hated…

way OT, but for some reason I always thought he’d (Bikesnob) would have red hair. Maybe I had some kind of association with his hair color and his occasional Orange Julius bike talk. What’s wrong with me?