While the North American Handmade Bicycle Show is primarily a showcase for some of the world's finest bespoke bicycles, it's also about the industry that supports them, from component manufacturers and tubing suppliers to jig makers and lug distributors.
Paul Component Engineering & White Industries
Several companies even owe their very existing to the growing cottage bike business. Once knee-deep in the CNC-machined mountain bike componentry craze of the 1990s, Paul Component Engineering and White Industries have both reinvented themselves to cater to the singlespeed, fixie and handbuilt markets.
Being very small volume outfits, they can not only adapt their range of offerings more quickly than bigger corporations but their primarily CNC-machined manufacturing methods can also be retasked without generating massive retooling costs.
Racer brake from Paul Component
Paul's range of new wares at NAHBS included a bottom bracket-mounted variant of their neat single-ring chain keeper to better suit frames without round seat tubes, a medium-reach version of their retro-inspired Racer centre-pull road brake to allow for bigger tyre sizes, and a nifty do-it-yourself hub kit that easily adjusts for different dropout spacings.
White Industries' new crank system was decidedly more unconventional with keyed stainless steel pedal inserts that quickly and easily insert into a quick-release socket in the proprietary arm. This setup apparently turns any pedal into a quick-release bit that's ideally suited for travel bikes or other applications that require instant pedal removal.
White Industries' novel crankarms feature quick-release pedal inserts
Speaking of pedals, Sampson Sports' new Stratics road pedal was a particularly promising-looking design. Based on Look's popular KeO (and using a compatible cleat), the Stratics look to possibly do one better with their partially recessed and replaceable stainless steel upper plate that fully supports the cleat on its outer edges to eliminate off-axis rocking.
The lightweight Sampson Stratics pedal weighs as little as 99g apiece
Lightweight alloy bodies and optional titanium spindles bring the weight down to just 99g apiece, too, and Sampson haven't even skimped on the axle system with three cartridge bearings per pedal and no bushings whatsoever. Pricing is appealing at US$139 for the steel-axled s5 version and $239 for the titanium s6. We've already begun road testing of these and have been impressed thus far.
The partially recessed top plate lets both edges of the cleat rest firmly on the pedal
Leather specialists Brooks always arrive at NAHBS with a full load of gear and this year's edition was no different. Among the new offerings is the Cornwall handlebar bag and Devon rear pannier, both exquisitely crafted from treated cotton canvas and thick leather. Brooks have also brought back the classic Colt leather saddle shape and are making a return to outerwear with their Oxford roll-up rain cape.
Brooks have brought back their sporty Colt saddle after a long hiatus
US distributors/importers Cantitoe Road were also in attendance with their range of Wippermann chains, Cole wheels and Effetto Mariposa accessories, but what really caught our eye is their upcoming Biofloat seatpost. A tunable elastomer insert isolates the saddle rail clamps from the rest of the head to promote a more natural pedalling action, reduce the occurrence of saddle sores and provide a little more isolation from the road.
Cole brought along their range of carbon and aluminium road and mountain bike wheels
Though not a suspension seatpost in the sense that it doesn't provide any real vertical travel, the Biofloat design still looks to offer real comfort improvements over rough roads or trails. We're keeping our eye on this.
Cantitoe Road showed off the latest version of their novel Biofloat seatpost design
Best of the rest
Other high-end goodies spotted on the NAHBS show floor include Stan's NoTubes' upcoming ZTR Alpha 340 aluminium clincher road rim with a feathery claimed 340g weight and trademark rim cavity shaping for easy tubeless compatibility. Target weight for complete wheelsets is around 1,140g with American Classic hubs and DT Swiss Aerolite spokes, and NoTubes say they're likely to use 2:1 lacing on the rear for more balanced spoke tensions.
Stan's NotTubes' upcoming ZTR Alpha 340 aluminum road rim is said to weigh just 340g
Want more? Industry Nine showed off their redesigned road wheels, which now use conventional straight-pull stainless steel spokes instead of the old alloy ones and HED arrived with a prototype carbon road bar with an appealing-looking semi-anatomic bend.
Industry Nine's revamped wheels use straight-pull bladed stainless steel spokes
The off-road crowd can also look forward to Scrub Components' upcoming metal matrix disc brake rotor with cast magnesium carrier and insane 50g weight (for a 160mm size) while White Brothers showed off its tweaked Rock Solid carbon rigid mountain bike fork with new post mount tabs and increased offset.
Scrub Components showed off this rotor with metal matrix brake track/magnesium carrier
And with that, we wrap up this year's coverage of the Shimano North American Handmade Bicycle Show. Next year's event will be held from 25-27 February and moves to Austin, Texas. With an anticipated collaboration with Lance Armstrong's Mellow Johnny's bike shop and the man himself, we expect the 2011 edition to be simply massive.
White Brothers have revised rake measurements on the Rock Solid for better handling
- Best in show: Ellis Cycles
- Best road frame: Bilenky Cycle Works
- Best track frame: Richard Sachs
- Best carbon fibre: Crumpton Cycles
- Best titanium: Kent Eriksen Cycles
- Best fillet brazing: Kirk Frameworks
- Best city bike: YiPsan Bicycles
- Rookie of the year: Aaron Dykstra, Six-Eleven Bicycle Co.
- Best off-road: Engin Cycles
- Best tandem: Calfee Design
- Best steel frame: Spectrum Cycles
- Best lugged frame: DiNucci Cycles
- Best TIG-welded frame: DeSalvo Custom Cycles
- Best paint: Llewellyn Custom Bicycles
- President's choice: Cherubim
- People's choice: YiPsan Bicycles