Every North American Handmade Bicycle Show is chock-full of incredible bikes from some of the most talented artisan craftsmen in the world. Most are usually commissioned by paying customers and a few are dedicated show bikes meant to show off the builder's capabilities. Even rarer, though, are true jaw-droppers that are so over the top, require so much time, so much effort, and so much money that few dare to build them.
Here are three we saw at this year's event that blew us away. We'll let the images speak mostly for themselves but here's a little more info to satisfy your curiosity.
Moots Vecchio Patata
Peter Chisholm recently retired from Vecchio's Bicicletteria, his small service-based bike shop in Boulder, Colorado that has rightfully earned a worldwide following for its steadfast devotion to handbuilt wheels, artisan-built frames, and everything Campagnolo. Despite the shop's diminutive floor space, Vecchio's is the third-largest Moots dealer in the US and the company wanted to send the grumpy – but lovable – old bear off in proper style.
Moots built Chisholm a 'retro modern' road frame with modern tubing but throwback features such as the polished seat stay caps, polished chain stays, full-length rear brake housing guides, and custom decals with old-school graphics. There's even a depiction of Chisholm's mug on the seat tube.
As tribute to the lifelong Campagnolo devotee (he has the winged logo tattooed on his forearm), the bike also has the script logo machined into the non-driveside seat stay cap and is built with a limited edition 80th-anniversary Super Record EPS group. Finishing touches include new-old-stock Campagnolo Barcelona 92 rims and a titanium Silca frame pump with a Campagnolo head.
Enjoy retirement, Peter. We'd say you've earned it.
Paul Brodie/University of the Fraser Valley 1894 Starley Giraffe replica
Paul Brodie is likely best known for the Canadian mountain bike company that bears his name, and his early work with Rocky Mountain Bicycles. These days, however, Brodie occupies his time teaching a framebuilding class at the University of the Fraser Valley, crafting bespoke vintage motorcycles (engines included), and occasionally recreating historic bicycles from scratch.
This year, Brodie crafted a replica of an 1894 Starley Giraffe, apparently using little more for guidance than a few vintage images and starting with nothing but some reclaimed tubing and blocks of steel and bronze. Nearly everything – including the lugs, tube 'bullets', square-head hardware, seatpost, hubs, cogs, and crank – was machined by Brodie in his machine shop.
It looks like a frightening beast to ride given the ultra-short wheelbase, tricky single front brake, and extremely tall ride height, but it's also a visually stunning one, too.
Sunrise Cycles fixie
Any sane individual would scoff at a US$20,000 price tag for a steel fixie. However, the one built by Japanese builder Sunrise Cycles is no ordinary fixie and took two months to complete from start to finish.
Instead of using only traditional mitered joints and steel tubes, Sunrise mixed in countless pieces of CNC-cut stainless steel plate that were tediously brazed together for more of a hybrid, truss-like framework. Coupled with the intricate hand-applied paintwork, the resulting contrast was visually striking and earned a long, hard gaze. Sunrise applied the same treatment to the integrated front and rear lights, the fender mounts, and the chain guide, too, for what was easily one of the most striking bikes of the show.