Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. We’re so glad you could attend. Come inside! Come inside! Feast your eyes on the North American Handmade Bike Show.
The North American Handmade Bicycle Show… It is equal parts new-age art gallery, high school shop class reunion, bike wizard beard contest, and bike industry think tank session. Once every year this eclectic group of artisans packs up a VW Bus or panel van, and makes the pilgrimage to a pre-determined city with one objective: to blow your mind. You see, these aren’t “major players” in the bike industry—for most of the small brands exhibiting, their 10×10 booth space represents their annual marketing budget. This means there will not be a lot of “normal” bikes in the building… No sir, the game is on… It’s more than a contest for the annual awards; it is a struggle to showcase a brand’s creativity, it is a fight for media coverage, and it is a battle for your love and affection.
The bikes you see pictured here all began with a vision. That vision united with sweat and perseverance, and ultimately became something priceless. Very few lavish “handmade” bikes result in great profits for the builder, but these fancy show ponies would put an accountant in a strait jacket. The multitude of hours spent hand-filing lugs, shaping tubes, sweating the minutia of every brazing, and perfecting the ultimate paint scheme, only make sense to those of us willing to drive seven hours to see them. Get used to drinking 3.2 beer because NAHBS 2017 is coming to Salt Lake City.
Best Finish: Caletti won best finish for this hand-painted masterpiece. It is accompanied by matching helmet, shoes, and sling shot—because, why not?
Best Road: English—I am not saying that Rob English is the most talented bike builder on Earth, but I am not not saying that either. He won for Best Road category, but it might have been his fourth most impressive creation at the show.
Do not adjust your set. Yes, that is a “Righty”—on both ends. Yah, think about it for a moment. Some people just have too much time on their hands…
Integrated rack and fenders, frame designed around internal gearing and belt drive, internal cable and disc hose routing—of course the stem and pump will match the matte pearl blue coat.
This is where Rob English got crazy—this is actually a foldable gravel travel bike! The seat stays detach and allow the chain stays to rotate under the down tube. You can’t make this stuff up.
Best City/Utility: Breadwinner: I was highly impressed with the bike portage solution, but I was a little disappointed when I realized there was no place to stow the matching floor pump.
Nearly every booth was home to at least one 27.5+ bike—Breadwinner was no exception. Brace yourself, another tire standard is upon us…
Best Track: Sarto: Carbon fiber and fake chrome. Peas and carrots.
Gravel road bikes where everywhere, but there were few like this. Sarto was displaying one of the more interesting vertical compliance enhancements I have seen—I am not sure how many miles to expect from this design, but it sure was pretty.
Best Layup: Argonaut: Simple but elegant. Those seat stays look so much sexier without antiquated rim calipers attached to them.
And then there was the 36er category. Yes, this is a thing now. And no, it obviously isn’t for everyone.
And that’s not going to fit either… But if you have a five-year-old shredder at home, the Shredder Prodigy has got you covered.
Early attempts at full suspension, like this cutting-edge 1888 model were thwarted by alternative technologies. What rendered the first double-susser unnecessary? An invention called the pneumatic tire.
Chris King always brings cool “show & tell” for NAHBS. Check out the new 40th Anniversary they launched in Sacramento.
This Black Cat “mid-fat” bike was the recipient of some very intricate hand-painting.
Niche-within-a-niche-of-a-niche Alert! Not to be outdone by 27.5+ mountain bikes, the gravel road genre is bringing you “plus road”. Yep, this is also a “thing”. These 650×47 WTB Horizon tires will be available soon, and promise all day comfort with an outer diameter similar to a 700x30c tire.
Calfee must believe in their bamboo bike technology, because this cargo bike is being trusted with precious cargo! Note the Bionix e-bike motor!
Not exactly a “plain old road bike”—this Moots boasts impeccable welds and a gorgeous livery. Custom Enve decals, because…
Gravel road again—sensing a theme… Since it is a Moots, we’ll let the Ultegra crank slide.
This group claimed to have the first Colnago to come the USA.
One of Greg LeMond’s Team Z bikes hanging out in the Campagnolo booth. Greg was a known early-adopter to new technologies. He had this cutting-edge carbon bike made by Craig Calfee—it was rumored that his bike was as much as five pounds lighter than many of the steel bikes raced at the time.
There is a reason they are called “derailleurs”. Bicycle drivetrains have come a long way since this old Bianchi last saw battle.
This Yeti collection was a nice reminder of their racing roots.
The greatest hits of the 90’s: Yeti A.R.C. frame, Rock Shox Judy DH fork, Hed carbon wheels, Grafton cranks, Ringle annodized stem and seatpost, and a real Selle San Marco Bontrager saddle. So clean, I am not sure this one has ever been ridden.
This matte green Sycip “mid-fat” sports the signature pennies brazed to the seat stays.
Don’t we all want to be adopted by Jay Sycip?
If you have made it this far, you are my kind of two-wheeled connoisseur. Since the North American Handmade Bicycle Show travels to a new region every year, there is a very good chance it will find its way to within a day’s drive of wherever you call home. I highly recommend that you drop off the kids with your parents and call in sick to work, because NAHBS should be a bucket list item.
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Here at Jenson USA we come to work every day to inspire people to ride, experience and explore. Whether you need technical help, have questions about compatibility issues, or are considering building the custom bike of your dreams, our team of Gear Advisors is here to help. Give us a call sometime!