By contributor Parker Feierbach.
The second day of the NAHBS offered up the opportunity to delve deeper into any bike companies that had been missed on the preceding days. It was a Saturday and the floor was packed with all those who wished to spend a weekend ogling the beautiful handiwork of builders the world over. By this point, many of the builders were more accustomed to answering the same questions over and over again, no longer searching for the words to describe their machines. As a result of this, the conversation flowed freely throughout the convention center, even to such a degree that it was an often heard comment that “it sure is loud in here”.
Shamrock Cycles is based out of Indianapolis, Indiana. Having worked in the furniture business out of high school, followed with motorcycle restoration, Tim O’Donnell has a solid eye for what makes something attractive. Simultaneous with these previous careers, he had been racing bicycles, inspiring a first foray into building one. And then another, and another until “all those frame started to stack up”. He began to sell them through his network of racing friends until there was a high enough demand for them that he was soon creating bikes internationally. We actually featured one of his builds, an urban machine that ended up winning best city bike in the 2012 NAHBS, and was the only ‘spec’ bike that Tim had ever built. Interestingly, Tim said that he would never take that big of a risk in building a bike ever again despite his victory.
In keeping with his exceptional standard, Tim brought a poison-apple red and stainless steel ‘cross frame to the show, showing off his attention to detail with both the paintwork and components.
Winter Bicycles out of Springfield, Oregon became somewhat the subject of profound attention with Eric Estlund’s incredibly clean, fillet-brazed bicycles. When asked what he was building the bikes for, he replied that he wanted to build bikes that weren’t just purpose built, but that could stand outside of their designed capabilities just by fortune of their intelligent design. His process leading up to the construction of each frame (each of which are built to request), he makes certain to find out the utility of the frame he is going to build so that it can be take into account. If it is a cyclocross bike that will also be used for commuting, he tries to take this into account. In doing so, he also gives to the buyer more attention to the process that leads to building a bike, meaning that each frame has a little more of the customer in them than your average store-bought bicycle.
He brought a series of beautiful frames, including a blue and white step-through city bike with gold accents that won best finish. With a logo as carefully designed as Eric’s, how couldn’t you pair it with beautiful paint?
Bilenky brought a Wonder-Woman themed frame for the NAHBS, attempting to nab the title for Best Themed Bike. Richard Sachs, the grand legend of American frame building, brought a collection of his bright red frames emblazoned with the RS logo and ATMO insignia. Mosaic’s winning cyclocross frame also attracted the eye with it’s obvious and declared individuality.
Level is a Japanese brand with a longstanding history in the frame building world at the hands of Shiko Matsuda. Coming in with a beautiful white track bike and a carefully assembled, impossibly angled pursuit frame, they left by winning both Best Track Bike and the President’s Choice Award.
Independent Cycles was borne from the dissolution of Fat City Cycles in 1994, with all the builders regrouping in 1995 to continue building custom frames. This long history is apparent in their handiwork, from the carefully tooled dropouts to the gleaming, proud logo of their company.
A builder who deserves special mention for attention to detail would have to be Tiziano Zullo, bike frames built and painted in Verona, Italy. They’re works of art — both of the brush and the torch.
A favorite of mine was, at the end of the day, the Moots work presented right in the middle of the convention center. Something about the utterly clean, completely bare frames really pulled me to their stand. Their theme bike was based around a career, meaning that their victory for Best Theme Bike amounted to much more than just a label, but a recognition for a company producing quality, complete frames built with the intent to prove their flawlessness. Their award winner was built for trail clearing, with a rear cage outfitted with a bastion for a Stihl chainsaw and a bottle cage for extra fuel. The front of the bike sported a hand-hoe that could be assembled and used to clear pesky trees from the trail.
Check back soon for Day Three, the final chapter of our NAHBS reportage.
2013 NAHBS Day 1