The seventh annual North American Handmade Bicycle Show is set to kick off February 25-27 in Austin, Texas and even though the event is still several weeks out, it's already shaping up to the biggest and grandest iteration to date.
According to show founder and director Don Walker, there are currently 150 exhibitors registered from around the globe including longtime industry icons such as Richard Sachs, Nick Crumpton, Dario Pegoretti, Independent Fabrication, Sycip Designs, and Vanilla Workshop, along with perennial crowd favorites such as Naked Bicycles, Black Sheep Fabrication, Engin Cycles, and DeSalvo Custom Cycles. More exhibitors are expected as the deadline looms and Walker estimates visitor attendance to approach 9,000.
The previous record was set at the Portland, Oregon stop in 2008 with 150 exhibitors and 7,200 attendees. When the show debuted in 2005 there were just 23 exhibitors and only 700 people came through the door.
This year's show will again be bolstered by a full schedule of seminars and workshops throughout the event and there will be a dedicated area for new builders who are just coming into the industry but have yet to prove their mettle on a bigger scale.
Needless to say, Walker – himself an accomplished builder specializing in track frames – is pleased with the growth.
"We had a great show in Richmond last year and that raised more awareness to what NAHBS is all about. If you take that and combine it with a great destination city like Austin, the dedicated cycling scene there and throughout Texas and you have a recipe for a tremendous show," he told us. "I believe the buzz around Austin is only a portion of what folks are thinking throughout the rest of the state. I have heard that there is a buzz in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, so I think that the rest of the state is going to converge on Austin and it will be a wild, bike filled weekend. I believe that the attendance will be close to 8500 or even 9000."
"But at the end of the day, I still just want to make bikes," he continued. "It's a real passion of mine and getting into the show business was more by chance. I feel a ton of pride in the development of the show – it's like watching your child grow and do more amazing things before your very eyes daily."
Additional publicity and aid is coming for NAHBS courtesy of Lance Armstrong's Austin bicycle shop, Mellow Johnny's, who is helping with gathering up volunteers, logistics, and general buzz building. The shop will also sponsor the official NAHBS party on Friday night, February 25, at local live music venue La Zona Rosa.
NAHBS founder and director Don Walker is an accomplished frame builder in his own right, specializing in steel track bikes.
"Putting on the show is obviously a tremendous undertaking for Don and his team, and we wanted to make sure that he knew we were willing to do whatever he needed from us," said Mellow Johnny's media contact Ted Arnold. "Once the announcement was made we moved into the next phases of planning like helping find volunteers, distributing posters in Austin and to other Texas bike shops.
"There was also helping with the events that happen outside of show hours likes rides and parties. Starting last year we also went to work right away with our vendors that will be at the show to see about any collaboration or special projects. Most importantly, the show is a chance for us to show off our city, our shop, and the things that we think are great about bicycles."
For more information, check out the official NAHBS web site.