The 10th rendition of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) was held in Charlotte, NC last weekend, and if you live in the Southeast and didn’t go… you seriously missed out. NAHBS brings many of the best frame builders in the country together, and the amount of bike porn and master fabrication skills on display can’t be found anywhere else in the bike industry. Best of all, you can chat with the guys and gals behind the companies. You can meet the man or woman who actually builds the bikes with their own hands–where else can you do that? Next year, NAHBS will be held in Louisville, KY.
This blog post isn’t meant to be a comprehensive coverage of the show. I was only able to spend a day there, and I know I missed a lot, and didn’t have time to talk with nearly as many people as I had hoped. Consider this just a taste of what the hand built bicycle world has to offer. If you want to learn more, stay tuned, as we’ll be starting a monthly builder showcase in the next few weeks which will take an in-depth look at many of the best custom MTB builders around.
Harvey Cycle Works brought this dirt road 650B and took home the award for Best New Builder. It had some trick dynamo powered lighting, with the wiring built into the fork, no exposed wires, no plugs or connectors. The lights are removed in this picture – those three silver circles on the fork crown are where they mount. This bike would be a lot of fun for a mixed surface adventure ride.
This road bike from Sunrise Cycles out of Japan had a unique take on how to build a lug. It wasn’t my style, but I can appreciate the time and effort and it took to fabricate the “lug” – it’s made of lots of smaller individual pieces all brazed together.
44 Bikes had three bikes in their own booth, the SS and dirt road bike pictured here, as well as a killer fat bike. They also had a super nice road bike on display in the Shimano booth. The road bike was commsioned by Shimano to show of their latest electronic shifting and hydraulic disc brake components.
The 44 Bikes fatbike was CLEAN.
Plenty of tire clearance on the 44 Bikes fat bike.
The 44 Bikes Huntsman – a mountain biker’s road bike. A close look at the internal cable routing.
Every 44 gets a custom badge with the owners lucky number.
Kris at 44 Bikes does some cool tubing forming and manipluation. His chainstays start life as straight round tubes, but then get several bends, a few dimples for clearances, and flattened in the middle for extra stiffness.
Check out the piece of stainless tubing used to keep the front brake routing tight and clean.
The HED carbon fatbike rim. If you need to ask the price, you can’t afford them.
This Connor Wood Bicycles may seem like a novelty, but it’s pretty legit – it was ridden in the Leadville Trail 100 and the rider brought home a gold buckle with it. It’s even got wooden rims.
An Ellis fatbike won the award for Best Fillet Brazed Frame. It was crazy nice.
More of the Ellis fatbike.
Seriously, the fillets on this bike were insane.
Xprezo had several very cool MTBs, like this DS trail bike with an aluminum front end and steel rear.
An Xprezo DH sled. This thing was beautiful.
Engin had several beautiful bikes on display, but I manged to not get any good pictures of a complete bike, so you’ll have to head to their website to see more.
This Engine 29+ frame used a Paragon chainstay yolk, which could be found on several bikes throughout the show. It’s an impressive piece of hardware.
Engin had a frame showing several different phase of construction. Like many other titanium builders Drew does multiple weld passes. This is the first pass.
And here it is after the final pass. As a true bike geek, I love seeing stuff like this – without paint you can really see just how skilled many of these builders are.
This titanium Independent Fabrication’s 29er took home the award for Best Finish. It was pretty.
There were several brand new components throughout the show, including this ENVE 29er fork. The dropouts use chips you can flip to change the fork offset to fine tune the handing of your bike. The fender is removeable, which is good in my opinion, I can’t imagine it does any good.
This Independent Fabrications 29er was built out of Reynolds stainless steel tubing.
The dropout on the stainless Independent.
There were fat bikes in nearly every booth, but this one from Independent was one of my favorites because it had a typical XC geometry/riding position. It was the one I most wanted to ride.
Groovy Cycles – at first glance it would be easy to dismiss these as ‘art bikes’ – nothing more than a wild paint jobs. But when you get in close and pay attention, these are actually chock full of inovative design and fabrication – these are honest to God mountain bikes built for riding. They happen to have amazing paint as well.
This flower power 29+ from Groovy might have been my favorite bike at the show. So many cool details. Nearly every tube had some sort of manipulation: multiple bends, forming, etc. This bike is titanium I believe.
Rody at Groovy Cycles makes his own cranks. They’re surprisingly light, and from my experience with similarly constructed BMX cranks – they’re super stiff too. I want a set.
If you were wondering – yes, 29+ tires will fit in a Fox fork. Barely.
This Groovy, like all Groovy’s, has no decals – it’s all paint, baby. That translates, roughly, to “Bangin’ Wagon”.
This bare frame in the Groovy booth really showed off Rody’s fabrication skills. The seat tube is bent to give more tire clearance, and it’s formed as well. It’s ovalized, with the backside flattened. Rody makes the dies and tooling to form the tubes himself – you can’t just buy that stuff.
Shamrock Cycles had several gorgous CX bikes on display.
This Shamrock ‘cross bike was the perfect blend of traditional lines and modern components.
Another beautiful Shamrock ‘cross bike. The subtle curve in the top tube is just right in my eye.
The paint was killer too.
This Festka had Air Force One brakes, the first time I’ve seen them in person. The lever is plastic, and feels like it would break really easily.
The Festka team does a lot of stress analysis while designing their bikes, and it’s lead to some unique features here and there like this aysemtrical chainstay arrangement.
Festka makes their own dropouts.
This Razik road bike features IsoTruss tubing, and they have a MTB in the works using the same tubing. They had a piece of the IsoTruss tubing on hand, and to display how strong it is they laid it flat on the ground and stood on it – it didn’t flex at all. Impressive.
This Alchemy ‘cross bike looked mean. Really mean.
Custom handbuilt carbon is cool, and on this Alchemy you could see many of the indiviual pieces used to build the bike.
Sycip brought a father/son pair of matching bikes. Definitly not your normal kids bike – ENVE carbon componets, XTR drivetrain, etc. It’s nicer than any of my bikes!
Few people have been building bikes longer than Steve Potts, and it shows.
This Eriksen titanium fatbike had a Marzochi fork modified to fit the big tires. Trick!
The award for Best Mountain Bike went to this long travel 650B hardtail from Breadwinner Cycles.
My favorite thing about this monster Moots trail work bike? It had some dirt on it – it’s been used!
Capitol had several really nice ‘aggressive’ MTBs on display, like this pimped out DJ bike.