The 2009 North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) opened its doors to roughly 1,700 attendees hailing from as far as Hawaii, Japan and beyond.
Nearly all of the major players were on hand for what looks to be the busiest NAHBS to date. Here's our round-up of showstoppers from the show.
New carbon goodies and a fresh look from Serotta
Serotta’s new MeiVici AE complements the current MeiVici’s traditional tube-and-lug aesthetic with a curvaceous new form that should appeal to those seeking a more modern look.
While the new AE is still a carbon tube-and-lug frame, the lugs are now flush-fitting for more of a monocoque appearance and the tubing is aero-profiled throughout. The seat tube, capped with a semi-integrated no-cut seatmast, also sports a rear wheel cutout and the hourglass-shaped head tube envelops a brand-new Serotta F4 all-carbon fork with a tapered 1 1/8”-to-1 1/2” steerer. Up top, the flat and wide top tube flow smoothly into the familiarly curved seat stays.
As with the standard MeiVici, the new AE was developed in-house at Serotta’s composites facility in Poway, California and is available with custom geometry and fibre lay-up schedules for a personalised fit and ride quality. Seat tubes angles from 73-78° can accommodate both road and time trial/triathlon applications.
In spite of the expansive tubing, Serotta’s Paraic McGlynn says the new AE is actually the company’s most comfortable frame and offers a drivetrain stiffness range comparable to the standard MeiVici. The extra material adds a few grams on top of the regular MeiVici’s 1400g, though, and pricing is also a tad higher at a whopping US$8,495 for the frame, fork and seatpost.
Serotta is also experimenting with a new ‘cross bike that essentially pairs a MeiVici carbon front end for light weight and rigidity plus titanium stays for a softer ride. Carbon lugs are used at the head tube and top of the seat tube while the titanium sleeves are used at the bottom bracket.
McGlynn said the ‘cross bike is still in the prototype phase and offered no estimated weight or cost.
Naked to make it two in a row?
Canadian builder Sam Whittingham stole the show last year with an incredibly creative urban machine – subsequently purchased by none other than Lance Armstrong – and has outdone himself in 2009 with an over-the-top full-suspension single-speed mountain bike.
Naked builder Sam Whittingham took 'Best in Show' honours last year and may just do it again with this incredible full-suspension mountain bike.
The polished-and-metallic red steel frame bore an unusual suspension design – a URT with concentric dropout pivots and a linkage-activated shock – but the construction is what really drew in onlookers. Nickel plating is used liberally throughout, including all of the lugs, suspension pivot and rear shock mounts, the entire rear triangle and even the shock linkage itself.
Modified FSA headsets are used for the main upper and lower suspension pivots and a new Chris King InSet headset is used up front, all of which are finished with wood-inlay caps. The rear brake line is internally routed and pierces the seat stay for additional effect, integrated eccentric rear axle mounts tension the chain, and the grips and pedals are both completely handmade from wood, leather and aluminum.
Wood is also used for the rims – sourced from Wheel Fanatyk – and the one-off seatpost topped with a stainless head. Even the Manitou Swinger rear shock has been customised with a Naked logo veneer and an old Campagnolo quick-release for a lockout lever.
Whittingham says the bike took six weeks to build and estimates the cost at approximately US$18,000.
Even so, he has every intention of riding it on trails, having already tested it before painting. Fortunately for him, this one’s too small for Lance.
Steel artistry from Waterford
Waterford continues the trend of themed bikes with its latest steel masterpiece dubbed the ‘Empire Builder’. Custom-made art deco-style stainless steel lugs join Reynolds 953 stainless steel tubing and nearly all of it is polished to a gleaming luster. What remains is coated in a metallic burnt orange hue and the head tube is even finished in a rarity for Waterford: a proper badge, naturally made from polished stainless as well.
Waterford built this custom machine as a gift for employee Dave Hellekson who recently recented from a tour of duty in Saudi Arabia.
Waterford also celebrated the return of employee Dave Hellekson, who recently completed a six-month tour of duty in Saudi Arabia with the United States Air Force. His ‘welcome home’ present? A custom steel road frame road frame with True Temper S3 air-hardened main tubes, Reynolds 953 stainless steel chain stays and a fantastic metallic blue paint job replete with fluffy white clouds, streaking jets and a stainless steel winged appliqué. Welcome back!
Curvy titanium from Black Sheep
Colorado-based builder James Bleakley of Black Sheep brought his usual array of curvy titanium wonders to this year’s NAHBS including a 29” hardtail with intricately arcing seat stays and a matching truss-style rigid fork, a cruiser-style road bike with sandblasted faux lugs throughout, and his show-stopping 36”-wheeled ZAMer hardtail.
How many separate pieces of titanium can you see here?
The most eye-popping rig on site, though, was a trick utility bike with meters of titanium tubing and time-consuming welds. Extended chainstays provide the foundation for a massive heavy-duty rack, both front and rear wheels are shielded with laminated wooden fenders, and a front hub dynamo powers LED lights at either end.
Up front is a truss-style titanium rigid fork and Bleakly naturally also added a custom titanium handlebar.
Estimated cost? Don’t even ask.