NAHBS: Day one - Vanilla, Parlee, Della Santa

Feast your eyes on this

The 2009 North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) opened its doors February 27 to roughly 1,700 attendees hailing from as far as Hawaii, Japan and beyond. 

Though tighter restrictions (two years in business or fifty frames built plus requisite liability insurance) perhaps culled some fresher framebuilding talent, nearly all of the major players were on hand for what looks to be the busiest NAHBS to date.

Vanilla Bicycles unveils round three of Speedvagen program

Not surprisingly, Sacha White’s Vanilla Bicycles booth was among the most heavily traveled on day one with his usual array of eye candy that included a beautiful bare stainless steel and baby blue townie and several other showstoppers from past NAHBS editions. Those wanting a Vanilla of their own hopefully already have an order in place though as White is still not accepting new orders. Even after having spent the last year working through the backlog, some existing orders are still four years out.

In the meantime, White showed off a third member of his racer-specific Speedvagen line: an all-steel TIG-welded track bike. As with the ‘cross and road versions, the track bike features a number of clever White innovations such as ultra-beefy dropouts that are a whopping 15mm thick but still reasonably light courtesy of hollow construction.  

Dropouts on the show bike were fully machined – the driveside one then had plates brazed on to either side to box it in but the non-driveside one was left open to show the interior. White says that production versions will ultimately be cast and he also plans on using a similar design for new Speedvagen ‘cross frames.

Up front, the Speedvagen track bike also features a custom-butted top tube with additional reinforcement where the bars would contact in the event of a crash, a ‘Speedvagen’ logo cut right into the head tube and backed by a carbon fiber insert, and a new full-carbon track fork from Edge Composites with a stiff lay-up and tight clearances.

Availability of Speedvagen track frames in 2009 will be limited solely to a local Portland track team for testing but White is already taking orders for delivery in 2010. He plans to offer just 15 of them that year though, with production to increase to 30 in 2011. Time to line up!

Parlee

Long-time NAHBS exhibitor Parlee showed off a custom Z1 road flagship complete with newly added integrated seatmast and BB30 bottom bracket shell options. According to Parlee’s Tom Rodi, there had been enough requests from customers to justify adding it in and the weight savings, extra drivetrain stiffness and roomier heel clearance just lent more substance to the idea.

Rather than use a bonded-in aluminum or titanium bottom bracket insert though Parlee’s BB30 shell is bare carbon. Rodi says that the lay-up was reconfigured specifically to deal with the added load of pressed-in bearings and the direct fit offers better alignment as well.  Claimed weight for the display frame is just 940g.  

Also on hand were a track variant of the Z1 and a ‘cross frame based on the Z2/Z3 – both now in full production and finally available to customers – as well as a belt-driven single-speed ‘cross bike using a Carbon Drive Systems drivetrain.

Just in case your current winter beater just isn’t doing the trick (and you’ve got a lot of money burning a big hole in your pocket), yes, Parlee can also do fender and rack mounts – in carbon fiber, of course.

Della Santa

Legendary framebuilder Roland Della Santa’s long history includes such notable clients as Greg LeMond and now celebrates four decades of framebuilding with a limited run of special-edition frames – all of which will feature his remaining stock of Nervex Pro lugs.

Della Santa will build the frames as 1970s period pieces, right down to the Campagnolo brake housing loops, dropouts, fork tips, and bottom bracket cable guides – brazed on top of the shell. Gorgeous Masi seat stay ‘spoons’ are brazed up top and three slots are hand-filed into the bottom bracket shell.

A single set of water bottle braze-ons grace the down tube and all of the frames will be finished in pearl white with red panels and accents. Customers will have the option of 120, 126, or 130mm rear axle spacing and 47 or 52mm brake drops.

Della Santa says he will only be able to offer twenty anniversary framesets – limited by his stock of the long-defunct lugs – and three have already been pre-sold.

Stay tuned for more eye candy from NAHBS. To follow BikeRadar's Twitter postings, click here.

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