The mountain bikes of NAHBS 2014 — Part I

Off-road beauties from Breadwinner, Independent Fabrications and more

Fat bikes and gravel grinders made up a sizable portion of the eye candy at this year’s North American Handmade Bicycle Show, though mountain bikes were a common sight as well.

Mountain bike’s built around 650B (27.5in) wheels made up the lion’s share of the off-road machines. Many builders opted to gravitate away from traditional cross-country geometry and more progressive, trail-oriented builds with slacker geometry designed around longer travel suspension forks; terms such as “trail” and “enduro hardtails” were frequently employed by builders to describe their creations.

Click through the gallery at right for a detailed look some of the mountain bikes from this year’s show.

Breadwinner Cycles

Breadwinner Cycles is a joint project between Portland, Oregon-based builders Ira Ryan and Tony Pereira. The company specializes in semi-custom frames. The company sought to develop a hardtail suited to tackling modern, bermed, flow trails and jump lines. The result is the Bad Otis, an ultra-slack hardtail designed with short chainstays and 650B (27.5in) wheels.

The Bad Otis is designed around a 160mm travel fork. The frame has internal routing for a dropper seatpost and is intended to be built with a 1x drivetrain.

Frame pricing starts at US$1,895.

44 Bikes

“Made to shred” is 44 Bikes' tagline. According to owner/framebuilder Kristofer Henry, the company specializes in “bikes that touch the dirt.”

Kristofer henry of 44 bikes designed this 29er singlespeed for the trail he most frequently rides: kristofer henry of 44 bikes designed this 29er singlespeed for the trail he most frequently rides
Kristofer henry of 44 bikes designed this 29er singlespeed for the trail he most frequently rides: kristofer henry of 44 bikes designed this 29er singlespeed for the trail he most frequently rides

Henry built this 29er singlespeed for himself. “I built this to be a New England trail shredder. It’s got a long front center and short chainstays,” said Henry.

Six-Eleven Bicycle Co. & Hometown Manufacturing

Aaron Dykstra of Six-Eleven Bicycle Co. had two steel 29ers on display at NAHBS: a fillet-brazed bike built under the Six-Eleven name and another TIG-welded frame that bore his new branding of Hometown Manufacturing.

Hometown Manufacturing is Dykstra’s semi-custom program for budget-minded riders who also don’t want to wait as long for a full-custom steed. All Hometown MFG frames will be TIG welded and built from True Temper OX Platinum tubing.

This particular bike is dykstra’s modern intrepratation of the 1996 specialized stumpjumper that he grew up riding: this particular bike is dykstra’s modern intrepratation of the 1996 specialized stumpjumper that he grew up riding
This particular bike is dykstra’s modern intrepratation of the 1996 specialized stumpjumper that he grew up riding: this particular bike is dykstra’s modern intrepratation of the 1996 specialized stumpjumper that he grew up riding

This  bike is Dykstra’s modern interpratation of the 1996 Specialized Stumpjumper he grew up riding.

Appleman Bicycles

Last year, Appleman was showing an ultralight 29+ bike, “the Lumberjack.” For 2014, Matt Appleman had a carbon 29er built for an Australian customer who already owns several Applemans.

This appleman carbon 29er sports enve's new rigid fork and weighs 19lb (8.6kg): this appleman carbon 29er sports enve's new rigid fork and weighs 19lb (8.6kg)
This appleman carbon 29er sports enve's new rigid fork and weighs 19lb (8.6kg): this appleman carbon 29er sports enve's new rigid fork and weighs 19lb (8.6kg)

The complete bike as shown here weighs in at 19lb (8.6kg).

Mounted to the front of this carbon frame was one of ENVE’s new rigid carbon forks. Read more about ENVE’s yet-to-be-released carbon forks here.

Black Sheep Bikes

Black Sheep Bikes is known for its curvaceous titanium creations, though this year company founder James Bleakely chose to bring a 29er hardtail with a much more traditional look to the show.

The Michaud is named after one of the rough and rocky trails in Black Sheep’s hometown of Fort Collins, Colorado.

#:
#:

The 4lb (1.8kg) frame is built to be strong rather than light, and is constructed from oversized titanium tubing. The Michaud features a 69.5-degree head tube angle, a 73-degree seat tube angle and 430mm chainstays with the Paragon rocker dropouts in the forward most position.

Capitol Bicycle Company

Steel, titanium and carbon have come to be the dominant frame materials at NAHBS. Aluminum frames, particularly aluminum 4x/dual slalom frames are a rare sight. 

#:
#:

This 650B (27.5in) aggressive hardtail built by Capitol Bicycle Company is constructed from 7000 series hydroformed aluminum.

Eriksen

Kent Eriksen is no early adopter of 650B wheels. The builder firmly believes in the merits of the wheelsize and has been building 650B frames since Kirk Pacenti brought rims and tires to market.

#:
#:

The full suspension on display has 90mm of rear suspension travel paired with a 120mm suspension fork.

Festka

Festka is a custom frame-building company that hails from the Czech Republic.

#:
#:

The Root is a 650B titanium hardtail. The frame uses minimalist reinforcements around the head tube, proprietary dropouts and unique seat- and chainstays arrangements.

#:
#:

The Pablo is a steel bike with a colorful paint scheme that is carried over to the fork and stem.

Groovy Cycleworks

Rody Walter is the man behind Groovy Cycleworks. His bikes are hard to miss, thanks to eye-catching paint jobs and carefully laid welds.

#:
#:

The day-glow yellow 29+ mountain bike in Groovy’s booth was hard to miss and, according to Walter, that’s exactly the idea. The bike is built for a customer with a degenerative eye condition that will leave him legally blind within a few short years. As such, the customer wanted a bike that was brightly colored and forgiving over rough terrain.

#:
#:

Groovy also had a more subdued Ti 650B hardtail decked out in a matte black ceramic coating originally developed for rifle barrels. “It’s extremely thin and extremely strong,” said Walter.

#:
#:

Groovy also makes LUV Handle handlebars with an integrated stem option in steel and Ti as well as Hot Rot cranksets to accompany his builds.

Engin Cycles

Drew Guldalian of Engin Cycles had a number of beautiful bikes on display. This particular 650B hardtail is constructed from titanium and like 650B on display at Groovy Cycles, it uses a thin but incredibly durable ceramic coating for the logo and green frame highlights.

#:
#:

Independent Fabrications

The standout at Independent Fabrications’ booth was this Ti Deluxe.

#:
#:

The paint hearkens back to the bass boat paint jobs that adorned the Schwinn Homegrown frames of the ’90s, though the bike itself is a thoroughly modern creation. It has a 44mm head tube, Paragon’s modular PolyDrop dropouts and a painted-to-match ENVE carbon fork and front fender that ties the build together. 

Josh has been riding and racing mountain bikes since 1998. Being stubborn, endurance racing was a natural fit. Josh bankrolled his two-wheeled addiction by wrenching at various bike shops across the US for 10 years and even tried his hand at frame building. These days Josh spends most of his time riding the trails around his home in Fort Collins, Colorado.
  • Discipline: Mountain, cyclocross, road
  • Preferred Terrain: Anywhere with rock- and root-infested technical singletrack. He also enjoys unnecessarily long gravel races.
  • Current Bikes: Trek Remedy 29 9.9, Yeti ASRc, Specialized CruX, Spot singlespeed, Trek District 9
  • Dream Bike: Evil The Following, a custom Moots 27.5+ for bikepacking adventures
  • Beer of Choice: PBR
  • Location: Fort Collins, CO, USA

Related Articles

Back to top