Rocky Mountain Show: handbuilt beauties on display

Bikes from Black Sheep, Argonaut, Courage and more

The inaugural Rocky Mountain Bicycle Show opened its doors at the weekend on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder.  Despite the stellar late fall weather and coinciding weekend of UCI ‘cross racing, 1,000 people wandered through the doors to check out the creations of nearly 30 exhibitors. 

Black Sheep Cycles – curvy titanium

Fort Collins, Colorado, builder James Bleakley took home the Rocky Mountain Builder of the Year and Rider’s Choice awards for his array of swoopy titanium rigs. A highlight of the collection was the ZAMer with its monstrous 36” wheels, artful truss-style fork (with over 100mm of rake for good handling) and beautiful twin-tube titanium chainguard.

Truss forks also graced a pair of slightly more conventional 29ers, one of which bore clever telescoping chainstays to adjust chain tension. According to Bleakley, the truss design (which we first saw on Jeff Jones’s stunning rigs) is lighter than conventional forks, provides a smoother ride and can be custom-tuned by altering tubing diameters.

Also on hand was a slick ‘scorcher’ fixie with a bowed cruiser-type frame, faux lugs, a custom titanium fork and beautiful three-piece titanium handlebars. 

Steel rigs from Argonaut Cycles

Argonaut Cycles made the trip all the way from Portland, Oregon, but the effort was well justified with both the Builder’s Choice and Best in Show awards.  Capturing the former prize was a beautifully rendered single-speed ‘cross bike with polished stainless steel lugs and signature dropouts with the Argonaut logo cut into the pattern. Flawless blue powdercoating and masking by Spectrum Powder Works completed the package.

Argonaut went stainless-crazy for the Best in Show winner, though: a matte black drop-bar fixed-gear with polished head tube lugs, seat cluster, dropouts, fork crown and top tube protector. The rims were powdercoated to match, and as everyday clear-anodized aluminium just wouldn’t do here, the bars, stem, Thomson seatpost, Phil Wood hubs and White Industries crankset were all polished and/or chrome-plated to a gleaming finish. 

Courage brings all-white and the colors of the Belgian flag

Courage Bicycle Mfg Co also made the long trip from Portland and although they didn’t quite garner the accolades of last year’s North American Handmade Bicycle Show Best New Builder prize, they did earn an Honorable Mention for a stark white single-speed winter training rig aptly dubbed 'Princess'. 

The all-white lugged steel frame bore a matching custom-built and finished steel fork and stem, impeccably cleanly mounted white mudguards and, of course, white bar tape whose use in wintertime climes should be respected if for no other reason than its practical absurdity. As has fast become Courage’s trademark, the horizontal slotted dropouts were finished with brazed-on stainless steel faces laser-etched with the company logo and adjustment markers. 

‘Cross racing is huge in Courage’s base locale so builder (and trained industrial designer) Aaron Hayes naturally also brought a steel CX stunner complete with vertical brazed-face dropouts, slender seatstays and custom-colored FMB tubulars emblazoned with the Belgian national colors. 

Temple Cycles conjures up Het Beest

Temple Cycles’ Het Beest steel cyclo-cross frame was arguably the most eye-catching of the show with its bold white, black and red motif complete with a phalanx of Belgian lions and co-ordinating Deda Newton stem, Thomson seatpost and Alpha Q CX20 carbon ‘cross fork. Oversized, thin-walled steel pipes ensure the beauty isn’t just skin-deep, though we would undoubtedly grimace if we scuffed this finish on a botched barrier.

Temple also builds with titanium and carbon fibre, and included examples of such work in its RMBS booth. While the all-titanium road bike wasn’t ground-breaking in its rather straightforward construction, the decal work still put forth a good demonstration of Temple’s keen aesthetic sense. 

Showcasing that skill was a wood-veneered jaw dropper that combines modern-day construction and materials with classic appearances – even the seatpost was custom-finished with wood veneer and the effect was undeniably impressive.

Moots heads to the grocery store with the Comooter

Steamboat Springs-based Moots Cycles is perhaps best known for its high-performance road, ‘cross and mountain machines but its Comooter showpiece proved it can do utility bikes as well. 

The upright townie-style geometry was fitted with a Rohloff interally-geared rear hub and matching sliding dropouts for the ultimate in all-weather durability.  Up front, a special Moots titanium stem was capped with a custom aluminium faceplate complete with an integrated light mount, all powered (of course) by a Schmidt dynamo front hub. 

Finishing off the decidedly high-end build was a Campagnolo Ultra-Torque carbon crankset and new Wound-Up carbon light touring/commuter fork complete with built-in mudguard mounts.

Other show highlights:

Dean says its new Superlite titanium road frame weighs just 1090g (2.4lb)

This Dean full-suspension bike uses a titanium front triangle mated to a Ventana aluminium rear end

Local builder Chris Kopp built this 'cross bike up for himself with Columbus Altec2 aluminium tubing. The complete weight is just 7.3kg (16.0lb)

Kopp also does prototype work for other companies and this townie is apparently headed for the production line

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