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Checking In at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show!

March 5, 2012

The North American Handmade Bicycle Show. If you were within a 10-mile radius of Austin last year, you likely caught the show and stopped in at our Austin Original party.  What a great time.  We miss it.

In fact, we missed it so much, we sent Robert, our intrepid reporter, to NAHBS 2012 in Sacramento, CA to see what was new with the custom bicycle crowd.  Here’s what he had to say:

Rob, what’s shaking with Co-Motion?  They built an amazing looking bike for Hill and Laura for last year’s show.  What’s new?

RM:  There was a lot of talk about an all-day bike they had built up called the Divide. It came with a Rohloff rear hub with Gates belt drive and dynamo front hub. The dynamo was connected to a dc to ac converter box so you could plug in any electronic device and charge it while you rode. Great for charging your Garmin, iPad, iPhone, and front and rear lights if you’re going to be out in the woods for a week or more.

Also Co-Motion is now building their high-end bikes with replaceable derailleur hangers on both the drive and non-drive sides. So you can switch between geared and single and also easily replace if needed.

Co-Motion showcased extensive use of the Gates carbon belt drive on lots of different bikes, including a fully belted tandem.

Very cool.  And how are our friends at Independent Fabrication

RM:  Those guys brought a battery of bikes that were beautiful, as always. The peach-yellow-green small mountain bike had beautiful paint.  And the dark red townie bike was really pretty. It had wood inlaid into the headset, a beautiful custom rack, and nice King Cage toe cages.  Also, I spotted Enve’s new disc-specific cyclocross fork in the IF booth.

Any other great looking components at the show?

RM:  I’m not sure if this is new, but I’d not seen all of the size variations of Chris King headsets before. It’s pretty amazing. They have 8 different inset headsets.  Some of the builders were using mismatched ones so that they could build a straight-diameter headtube but then put a tapered steerer tube fork in it. The top of the headset was a 1-1/8 inset, but the bottom was a 1-1/2 external.

Form following function. I too had no idea of all the variation.  Very nice. What other gear did you see?

RM: So Brooks has all sorts of beautiful stuff. They are selling $1,000 raincoats now!

They have lots of great colors in bar tape, saddles, mtb grips, and these cool ladies’ purses that are styled to look a bit like a B14 saddle. They’ve also got some new waterproof nylon panniers and a really nice looking black attaché case that also had straps to wear it like a backpack. It was $500.

Last year it seemed like everyone had a powder coated something or other.  What was the ubiquitous “thing” for 2012?

RMEnve Composites.  They were everywhere. From the carbon tubing that a lot of builders were using to the handlebars, stems, seatposts, and wheels. Seems like everyone is going with them these days. Local Austin builder Crumpton in particular had an awesome looking Road SL that was all matte black with Enve everything.

Let’s get down to brass tacks, Rob.  What were your favorites?

RM: I’m going to buy a Retrotec one of these days. I love the beach-cruiser looking twin top tube. I’d get this one in a single speed version with a rigid fork. Maybe with sliding dropouts so I could go geared if I wanted to.

I don’t know what’s up with Cykelmargeren, but they are from Denmark and it seems they make jewelry for your bike. Everything was so minimalist and cool.

Little lights, pumps, hubs with inlaid wood, pedals, custom head badges, brakes. You can buy the stuff on their website. But I don’t have any idea how much 1.800,00 DKK is.

I don’t know either, but it sounds like a lot.  Anything else?

RM: I like lugs and I also like art deco. So I was drawn to the Demon Bikes road bike. Talking to the builder, he said it was “inspired by the Chrysler Building in New York.” Just the icing on the cake to have a story to tell about your lugs!

Thanks, Rob for giving us a taste of NAHBS 2012!

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