The North American Handmade Bicycle Show is a gathering place for a subculture of people who painstakingly hand-craft bicycles and items that most cyclists can purchase ready made on Amazon. Measured by Wall Street's scale of corporate indifference, there is no justifiable reason to TIG-weld a steel hardtail in the solitude of a 900 square foot shop crammed with second-hand machinery, and then sell it for what amounts to an average day-job wage. We have largely become consumers, dependent upon pre-made goods and instant satisfaction. We upgrade our phones, lease our cars, and arrange for work to be done. We freak out if packages take more than 24 hours to arrive. Time equals money.
What can't be measured is the sense of empowerment that comes from making things - from doing it ourselves. If you can weld up a bike, you could make a motorcycle without much trouble; if you can lay up a carbon front triangle, it wouldn't be a stretch to mold a prosthetic leg. The self-confidence generated by turning an idea into a physical, useful object with your own hands far exceeds the value of the creation. The North American Handmade Bicycle Show is packed with people who get that. Some of them have been making bicycles for decades, while others are celebrating their first frames, and how awesome it feels to join the club. It's an inspiration.
NAHBS 2018: Welcome to Geekland.
Altruiste's chromoly trail bike is the brand's first offering with rider-forward geometry.
Altruiste Bicycle Company
Altruiste's founder and builder Gabriel Lang Is from New Brunswick, in eastern Canada, where he mainly builds with chromoly, but is experimenting with titanium. The ex-downhiller worked for some prominent Canadian builders as a welder before founding his own brand. He's pretty much a one-man show.
Lang believes that plush suspension is more efficient in the long run, even at the expense of pedal bobbing, which is why both his dirt-jump and trail bike designs use a concentric bottom bracket pivot location for their swingarms. I liked his asymmetric shock and seat tube arrangement. It is a simple solution that should be lighter weight and stronger than the more common work-arounds.
Altruiste's 160mm travel dual-suspension bike has a concentric swingarm pivot.
The as-yet unnamed trail bike uses an offset seat tube and shock to save weight and complexity.
Altruiste Founder and builder Gabriel Lang poses with his chromoly Zyteco dirt jump bike. Weather delays had Lang and many others scrambling to assemble bikes on opening day.
Alruiste Zyteco dirt jump bike detail
Ascari town bike
Ascari custom brake levers with jewels, gold filigree and leather.
Leather and gold plating for the fork. Wood rims.
Brazilian born Helio Ascari's studio is in Brooklyn, New York.
Stem details - more gold.
Aascari gold plated spokes, custom wing nuts, and generator hub.
Merlyn Townley has been building wheels most of his life...
...He says the floating Campagnolo chainring stabilizes the spoke tension and allowed him to make the fat bike wheel perfectly round.
Santana's titanium tandem dissembles for transport, but you'd have to look very closely to discover that.
The flush tube connector is secured with an Allen screw from below.
Santana machines the titanium fittings in-house. They interlock on two planes.
Fat Bike Skis
Fat Bike Ski adapts to any suspension fork and will retail around $800 USD. The ski is custom shaped to initiate corners much like a wheel does.
Two captured elastomers press the front of the ski into the snow when steering into a corner.
Fat Bike Skis' Brooke Scatchard says it took eight years to perfect his ski adapter.
Thomson Bike Products
Thomson extended their titanium handlebar to a full 800mm. The weight is slightly more than an aluminum DH bar (estimated, 350 grams) with greater strength and a good feel.
The titanium bar has a 15mm rise, an 8-degree back-sweep and a 4-degree up-sweep. The clamp is 31.8mm.
I named the carbon bike "Ella" after my wife, Raffaella, who put up with the workshop, including the kitchen, the bathroom and and the dining room of our home.—Ryan Cargo: Builder, Juliet Designs
Juliet Designs's laminated wood and carbon single-speed road frame was his first project.
Ryan Cargo and Juliette Designs hail from San Francisco area. "Ella" is molded carbon fiber and it is the second design from the startup builder.
Judging road bikes: Throughout the show, builders submit their work in a number of categories for judged competitions. Awards are given at a stage presentation on the final day of the NAHBS.
There was a continuous line of riders waiting to crank the Pinion transmission through its gears.
Squid Bikes' frames are made in Sacramento, California. The frames are designed by Squid founder Chris Namba, and constructed from aluminum by Sherwood Gibson at Ventana Mountain Bikes. Finishing, painting and assembly are done at Squid.
Squid Bikes rider Anthony Clark, partner Emily Kachorek, and designer Chris Namba
Squid frames are painted with rattle cans and range from mild to wild.
Want to make your own? Alex Meade is a bike maker and engineer who sells a simple and accurate building fixture for $810 USD. The stations hold the tubes and important bits in alignment. You provide the flat surface and the frame drawings.
One of many beautifully crafted cargo racks a the show.
Tomo Ichikawa, the man who invented the "Clever" chain-breaker tire levers, was showing his new carbon fiber chainrings. They are laid up radially with layers of pre-preg material, and then pressure molded and machined to ensure the teeth are strong and durable.
The tooth profile area is molded with a metallic powder that reportedly makes the sprocket wear longer. Rings fit SRAM, Shimano, and Race Face crank interfaces. Mountain bike chainrings run $130 and road bike sizes are $150 USD.
University of Kansas
Not every bike at the show was a showpiece. This example from the University of Kansas was purposefully low tech. How would you make a bicycle with four hand tools and re-purposed junk in an undeveloped location?
Stainless steel wires clamp bamboo tubes over internal sockets. These are machined plastic, but a rusty piece of 12-gauge steel could suffice.