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NAHBS 2010
March 3, 2010 9:01 AM   Subscribe

In a world where almost all production bikes are made competently and inexpensively in a handful of factories in China and Taiwan, what place is there for the traditional craftsman? The recently concluded North American Handmade Bicycle Show answers that question, with meticulous lugwork, bikes made of bamboo and wood (or just fake woodgrain), unusual designs, (sometimes both unusual designs and bamboo together) and flat-out whimsy. Even accessories received indulgent attention.
posted by adamrice (32 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, that is some gorgeous craftsmanship. Thanks for posting!
P.S. In a world where all text is head-spoken in my own voice, I totally imagined this FPP being read aloud by Don LaFontaine.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 9:09 AM on March 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Shifter cozies...WTF?!?!
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:09 AM on March 3, 2010


I think this list is missing the most significant innovation from this year: the surface-less saddle. As Bike Snob NYC noted, "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."
posted by chinston at 9:12 AM on March 3, 2010


So sad that I didn't get there. It's not likely to be back on the East Coast for a while. My local builder, Steve Bilenky and crew took best road frame award. Nice post.
posted by fixedgear at 9:12 AM on March 3, 2010


Is this a bike-lawn mower? That's pretty cool (though I think a hand-pushed non-motorized mower would still be more usefull)
posted by ghharr at 9:17 AM on March 3, 2010


The pedal powered lawn mower is quite impressive. I went to the show last year and all the glitz was a bit overpowering, a lot of little companies putting style way above substance. There isn't anything necessarily wrong with that -- the bikes were gorgeous and I'm sure they all ride like a lugged steel frame should ride but in the end for me bikes are about transportation first and beauty second. The genuine innovations (alternative frame materials, geometries, etc) are more interesting then the chrome and hopefully some of them will work their way into mass production.
posted by ChrisHartley at 9:18 AM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


That chainguard ("indulgent") is amazing.

That Yipsan bike that got best urban bike (more shots of it: 1 2)is intriguing. A true mixte frame, one with the double tubes, is an elegant solution to an easy to mount urban bike. It's a shame that they're so hard to find today. I remember them as being much more common as a kid.
posted by bonehead at 9:19 AM on March 3, 2010


Oh god, I love me some bicycle porn.

brb, looking at pictures of custom lugs.
posted by mullingitover at 9:29 AM on March 3, 2010


Bonehead, seems like the mixte's have been replaced in function by the "hybrid" abominations that all the big manufacturers shit out.
posted by ghharr at 9:39 AM on March 3, 2010


bonehead:

Yeah, mixte frames are very practical for every day runaround bikes. Part of their fall in popularity, I think, is that bicycles in the US are still not very commonly regarded as every day runaround vehicles. Americans tend to think of bikes as recreational vehicles where practicality is less of a consideration.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:01 AM on March 3, 2010


Nah, to a 'merricun mixtie = girl's bike.
posted by fixedgear at 10:05 AM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


mixtie = girl's bike

Unfortunately, you're almost certainly right. Still, I dream that Surly will make one one day...
posted by bonehead at 10:07 AM on March 3, 2010


It was indeed a beautiful show. Here are some words and bike porn photos.
posted by john m at 10:12 AM on March 3, 2010


I like the look of that Yipsan, but the way he's got the cables going into an open tube would function like a downspout on a dollhouse if you rode or parked it in the rain, and the tubes would then proceed to rust from the inside out in the course of a few seasons.
posted by jamjam at 10:16 AM on March 3, 2010


Am I allowed to self link to a pic of my carved Enrico Pagani stem, the nicest stem I've ever seen?
posted by nathancaswell at 10:21 AM on March 3, 2010


You are encouraged to do so.
posted by kenko at 10:33 AM on March 3, 2010


God, I'll start a bike company eventually. In the meantime, I'll keep riding my one-off prototype of a Van Dessel and praying that American companies start using internal hubs again.
posted by tmcw at 10:53 AM on March 3, 2010


My company is actually prototyping a mixte production bike as we speak. The hard part is getting the price low enough to make it a practical commuter.
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:32 AM on March 3, 2010


Is it blasphemous that these bicycles inspire my motorcycle obsessed self to want to build a delicate, somewhat fey chopper? (Now, if only my skillset enabled me to do that?)
posted by mollymayhem at 12:09 PM on March 3, 2010


Building a lugged frame would be an excellent excuse to get an oxy-acetylene rig - anyone know good instructionals for building lugged frames? And parts resources? I guess I'm assuming you can buy lugs and stuff like bottom brackets and dropouts ready-to-weld.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:23 PM on March 3, 2010


> Yeah, mixte frames are very practical for every day runaround bikes.

Kogswell made a run of them in black a few years ago. If you want a decent-quality mixte frame at something less than custom builder's prices, keep an eye out for one; they occasionally hit Ebay or Craigslist. (the prototype (specs on that page do not necessarily reflect production specs) was pretty.)
posted by ardgedee at 12:34 PM on March 3, 2010


Henry James and Pacenti offer lugs (I guess you can buy Richard Sachs Newex, too). They are investment cast in China, FPP not too long ago on that. Tube sets are Columbus, Reynolds, etc for steel, you can Google around. I know United Bicycle Institute used to offer a frame building class where you get to build a frame and take it home.
posted by fixedgear at 12:36 PM on March 3, 2010


Where can I attend a show of handmade bikes with step-through frames, internal hub gearing, chain guards, full fenders, racks, baskets, lights, and the quality to last many winters of city riding? Why is it so damn hard to find bikes that look like this in North America?
posted by parudox at 2:02 PM on March 3, 2010


Gratuitous links to previous (2008-ish?) NAHBS photos of Renovo's handcrafted wooden bikes.
posted by bhance at 2:41 PM on March 3, 2010


Oooh, thanks for the bike porn. That YiPsan would be perfect for me if only it had a chain guard.
posted by Bunglegirl at 3:12 PM on March 3, 2010


Goddamned, I get sick every time I look at that Serotta.

But everything else at that show was damned awesome. I may try to track down Banjo (that builder is in my town) and find out what his rates are for fabing up bike racks.
posted by Severian at 8:44 PM on March 3, 2010


Bonehead, seems like the mixte's have been replaced in function by the "hybrid" abominations that all the big manufacturers shit out.

There appears to be no love for the hybrid these days. But for my 5.5 mile commute, my 80's era hybrid has just refused to die, and I'm forced to admit that the style is quite practical especially for urban riding.

No less than Sheldon Brown has said, "It is unlikely that the diamond frame will ever be surpassed as a way to build a rigid-frame bicycle", and of course the wearing of skirts seems to be less popular than before (at least to my limited view).

Can't say that the mixte's not an attractive style, though.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 7:46 AM on March 4, 2010


praying that American companies start using internal hubs again.

Shimano's coming out with an 11-speed IGH, by the way. It looks nifty, with a gear range reported elsewhere at 409%.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 7:50 AM on March 4, 2010


Building a lugged frame would be an excellent excuse to get an oxy-acetylene rig - anyone know good instructionals for building lugged frames? And parts resources? I guess I'm assuming you can buy lugs and stuff like bottom brackets and dropouts ready-to-weld.

I've been thinking about hacking together a tandem, and accounts seem to differ but you may be able to use MAPP gas for frame brazing. There are some who say it won't work well (or only with silver), and there are others that are happy to show you the frames they've built. So I don't know, but it's a whole lot cheaper that way if it works.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 7:52 AM on March 4, 2010


> I'll keep riding my one-off prototype of a Van Dessel and praying that American companies start using internal hubs again.

I'm not waiting. I got a Sturmey-Archer S3X and a rim, and I'm trying to find enough free time to add the spokes and put it on the bike.

I don't think there's ever been a better time to be involved with bicycles. And I'm old enough to be wheezing about how much better it used to be. The NAHBS, the resurrection of the internal hub industry, an interest in working bicycles that probably hasn't been this intense in a century... man, this is great.
posted by ardgedee at 8:34 AM on March 4, 2010


There appears to be no love for the hybrid these days.

It's aesthetics. Make no mistake, I love diamond frames and have at least three at home right right now, but something about the hybrid never really spoke to me. Road, touring, cross, ATB, even cruiser all good. Hybrids suffer from wanting to be practical while tying to look cool enough to be bought by the average person. They're the mom jeans of the bicycle world.
posted by bonehead at 9:47 AM on March 4, 2010


I don't think there's ever been a better time to be involved with bicycles.

I've never been to a bike show like NAHBS. Back in the day, the bike rags would run pictures from shows like it, and now thanks to the miracle of the Interwebs we can ogle while they happen.

I have no way to back this up, but I get the impression NAHBS has a lot more diversity of bikes than would have been the case say 10 or 20 years ago. I suspect 20 years ago it would have been all road bikes, all the time. 10 years ago, maybe some mountain bikes and track bikes as well.

The pictures from the NAHBS show featured a huge number of commuter bikes, including many that were too precious to knock around town on (then again, it's a show, so the builders are bringing their crown jewels). Snow bikes, cargo bikes, rando bikes, and so on. Apart from the lawnmower, no recumbents that I saw. This is a little surprising (I know that Craig Calfee, who was at NAHBS, builds them), since that seems like a wide-open territory that has not been explored by many artisanal builders. But in general, I find that diversity to be heartening.
posted by adamrice at 10:32 AM on March 4, 2010


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