We’re gearing up for this year’s North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Denver. This year we’re highlighting some of the Colorado builders that will be showing their wares at this year’s show. Be sure to check back on Friday and all weekend for the latest custom creations from the Mile High City.
There are a number of talented frame builders who call Colorado home. Renold Yip, the man behind of YiPsan bicycles, is one of them. Yip grew up in Hong Kong. He emigrated to the US in 2002 after studying engineering in the United Kingdom. After spending time living on both coasts Renold and his wife settled down in Fort Collins, Colorado, where he spends his days artfully designing and building custom bicycles.
A 650b randonneur with internal wiring for hub generator
Yip is a traditional builder. He does all his mitering by hand. And he does all his work in steel. “I still feel steel offers the best balance of price and strength,” said Yip.
His father was a motorcycle enthusiast. So much so that he named his son after a brand of motorcycle chain. "If I follow this custom, I may have to name my child Shimano, SRAM or Wippermann!" he joked. As a child, Reynold and his friends modified their Schwinn Stingray knock-offs to look like café racers. It's a theme he carried over into some of his later creations, such as this racy beast he showed off at last year’s show in Sacramento.
A classic NAHBS creation
While striking, it’s not practical for everyday use. Comfort, utility and enjoyment typify most of Yip’s custom builds.
We caught up with Yip as he was in the process of building up one of his show bikes: a comfort road bike for a repeat customer. It may lack the sex appeal of his curvaceous café racer, but it is likely to see a lot more miles. “I like to build bikes that people are actually going to ride,” he said.
Practicality and simplicity are important to Yip. "Aesthetically, I try to keep it classic and simple. A bike that is pleasing the eye of the rider gets more miles and smiles," Yip said.
One paradox of framebuilding is that creating bicycles that make life easier for the rider often means more work for the builder. This is certainly the case with many of his bikes. His city bikes feature locks, baskets and racks that are integrated into the frame. Sometimes this items can take as long to fabricate as the frame itself.
His road and touring builds often have internal wiring for generators. Yip enjoys the simplicity of downtube shifters and, because many of his customers ask for frames with S&S couplers, Yip is also a proponent of Shimano's Di2 electronic shifting.
Yip believes that one of the themes of this year's show will be gravel road and adventure touring bikes. He has a couple more bikes he'll be showing off at NAHBS, so be sure to check back Friday and this weekend for BikeRadar's NAHBS coverage.
Yip with his personal road bike