Connecticut Convention Center: home of the 2018 NAHBS.
Die hard fans of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show said that this was the best one yet and it must have been. The builders were pinned with curious visitors, many of whom braved a late-season snow storm to catch the action on the last day of the expo. The Hartford, Connecticut venue pulled in a number of exhibitors from Europe and Asia, as well as a fresh slice of bike makers from the Northeast. For me, the most promising aspect of the show was all the new faces. The next generation of builders and customers were well represented in the hall, which indicates that the craft is thriving. Join me for one more stroll through the aisles of the NAHBS - you're gonna like it. - RC
Benedict Wheeler's "Ultraromance" adventure bicycles and accessories are a step beyond convention. The wheels are original 650B with flotation tires developed in Holland for sandy beaches. Highlights are cable brakes, his girder flex fork, and brass water bottles. - NAHBS image
Old-school water bottles.
Before mountain bikers knew about 650B...
Black Sheep Bikes
James Bleakley founded Black Sheep Bikes in Colorado after working with a number of upper-crust bike makers. His specialty is titanium, and his metalworking skills are impressive. This is one of his 36-inch-wheel adventure bikes. Bleakley customizes them for each customer and makes almost every part you see.
Titanium bars are 36 inches wide with braces that double as bag and cargo lash-points.
Titanium fenders, a generator hub and a shock reducing girder fork.
My Favorite Bike at NAHBS
Black Sheep's "Roots" range are chromoly hardtails which are offered in four sizes with fixed geometry. The frame is shaped to look retro, but designed with modern features. They'll build it for all popular wheel sizes, but the go-to diameter is 29-inch. Convertible rear dropouts and Boost spacing accept single-speed or one-by transmissions. Its titanium Odd Sheep handlebar is 34" wide.
The rigid fork is suspension-corrected for travel in the range of 100 to 125mm.
The finish is done with various gun bluing treatments and topped with a matte clear coat. Bleakley TIG welds the frames with stainless steel, which highlights the joints, because the alloy resists the bluing.
The cast head badge is a sheep in wolf's clothing. Bleakley says the handling is aggressive enough to rip the downs, with enough efficiency in the bank to handle Colorado's extended climbs.
Moots Farwell is built for 27.5 plus or 29-inch wheels and designed for 120mm forks. Five sizes (small through X-large) and a lifetime warranty make this titanium trail bike a long-term investment.
Moots has invested in a number of anodized colors and surface treatments. The effect is subtle and compliments the look of brushed titanium.
Forget to recharge it again? Sinewave's Beacon light is designed to operate with front-hub generators. An internal rectifier also converts AC current to DC, and its USB port is designed to power and charge GPS units and smart phones.
Sinewave Reactor stem caps convert AC to DC current to power onboard phones and computers.
Dynamo hubs like this one, are available to fit all popular axles.
Olivetti Bicycle Company's 29er single-speed.
Here's how the Altruiste Zyteco dirt jump bike looks when fully assembled. Twenty-six inch wheels, BTW.
Mosaic Titanium strider bike.
Bamboo Articulation's wooden strider reconfigures into a pedal bike and grows with the child.
The University of Iowa displayed the handiwork of the engineering and art students who were lucky enough to slot into their frame-building program (4 units).
The University of Iowa has a for-credit bicycle building class that is available for either art or engineering students. The one-semester program teaches everything a student might need to complete a frame: welding, machining, and design skills. Students pay a small fee for in-class materials and must cover the expense of the tubing and metal they need for the frame. The classroom has 14 frame fixtures, so each student has an assigned work space and can progress from paper through final product without interruption. By the end of the semester, students get four units, a hands-on learning experience, and a one-of-a-kind frame.
Connor Spading poses with the chromoly hardtail he built. Spading is a senior in Mechanical Engineering.
I had previous TIG-welding experience, but you don't need it. In the first part of the class, as you are designing your frame, you are also learning how to weld and miter, so you are able to make a good joint before before you start cutting your tubes.—Connor Spading: Engineering Major
Lauren Hillman, a Bio-Medical engineering student at the University of Iowa had little metal-working experience before building her bike.
I kind of modeled mine after Surley's Karate Monkey. I drew it up in CAD and printed it out life-size, so I could see where all of my things should be. The takeaway? Learning to weld was really big. Learning to live with your mistakes and moving on from it, and patience, lots of patience. Measure twice and cut once - make sure you know what you're doing before you're doing it...—Lauren Hillman: Bio-Medical Engineering major
Porter Cycles track racing frame.
The chrome-plated stem is also luged and fillet brazed
Detail of the transition from round to rectangular. The rear tire traces the arched tube.
Head Badge and Art Deco lug styling.
Vlad Cycles "Impaler"
Chris Chance is back - with a modest range of Fat Chance bicycles.
Abbey Tools will build this X wrench with four bits of your choice. They are permanently inserted, so you won't fumble and lose one in the heat of battle.
Art and Expression
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo's Bicycle Builders Club was on hand to compete in the judged competition with a carbon road bike.
The frame components are molded separately and joined in a second operation.
Students CNC-machined molds for the head tube, bottom bracket and seat tube junctions.
One of the hardtails that was built by a member...
...Was signed by the club to rally the troops at the NAHBS.
Aaaaaand the ever-popular Pabst Blue Ribbon racing machine.
Carrer Wooden Frames
Carrer's Valgrande frame is laminated from two kinds of wood
Dropouts are CNC-machined aluminum.
The seatstay junction looks like fine furniture.
Appleman's carbon hardtail can be disassembled for transportation and if you are creative, you can pack it small enough to duck the stiff charges that some airlines levy for bicycles, - NAHBS photo