Chuck’s NAHBS report

Each year in a different city, the North American Hand Built Show (NAHBS) provides a showcase for the smaller builders to show off their most amazing work. Whether it’s amazing craftsmanship, gorgeous paint, wild designs, obsessive recreations, clever accessorizing or over the top doo daddery, you’ll find it at NAHBS. This year it was in Sacramento, a couple hours from my house.

There was a lot of buzz leading up to the show. The NAHBS folk did a good job of hyping it and getting the word out. The website had a lot of nice teasers.

We were able to get an early glimpse of a couple of the bikes becuase two of the bikes that were appearing in Sam Whittingham’s Naked Bicycles booth at the show. They were being ridden from Eureka to Sacramento by Sam and Aran, his assitant, a journey of about 400 miles. When they asked if they could stay at my house one night, I gladly complied. I rode out to meet them in Jenner, a beautiful seaside town in Sonoma County, and proceeded to show them the not-so-traveled path to my house. Here’s Aaron trying to deal with Sonoma County traffic. Notice they’re traveling with their two bass ukelele’s. They were made by a friend of Sam’s from big leaf maple grown on the island they live on in British Columbia, eh.

The February weather was once again brutal in Northern California as you can tell from these shots. That’s the ocean back there.

On the way home, we opted for a delicious detour. Sonoma County residents know about the Wildflour Bakery. It’s an institution. Everything cooked in the wood oven. This pic stolen from Sam:

And their stickybuns are to die for. Here are two hungry cyclists looking forward to some baked goodness. Not gluten free. With figs and ginger. DELICIOUS.

You can read all about Sam and Aran’s trip on their well-documented blog.

We visited the Sycip shop on the way in to town (where we had a Brian Worthy sighting-more about that below), then all got together for dinner, along with Curtis Inglis.

The next day, Sam and Aran got out the door and beat the rain, seeing some more fine Sonoma and Napa County roads on their way to Sacramento.

Gates Carbon Drive systems sponsored a design contest at this year’s NAHBS show and I was invited to be a judge, with a few other old timers, like Joe Breeze, Steve Potts, Ross Shafer and Joe Murray among others.

The competition was Saturday morning, and true to form, the first evidence I saw that there was a nearby bike event happened as we pulled up to the host hotel in Sacramento…there was Brian Worthy. Nobody really knows what Brian Worthy does, but you can guarantee, if there’s an event related to cycling, Brian will be there. I call him “the international man of mystery”. As mentioned, I saw him in front of Sycip a few days earlier but failed to get a picture. That wasn’t going to happen this time.

There’s even a blog devoted to Brian’s whereabouts, called Where in the World is Brian Worthy?.

I’m happy to say that two of my dinner guests at my house got first and second in the Gates Drive Competition. Sam won, and Curtis Inglis got second. Nice work boys.

There are many many websites with great documentation about what was at the show. I took very few pictures, and the only ones were with my phone. As usual, the hardest working man in the bike business is James Huang, and here are part 1 and part 2 of his Bike Radar coverage. Thanks for having the eagle eyes as usual, James, and for editing pictures all night while the rest of us drink beer.

A few of the standouts for me are as follows…

Rick Hunter, the frame builder from Santa Cruz had my favorite mussette in his booth, an old Ibis ‘brobuddy’ mussette we gave out about 15  years ago at the Vegas show. Very classy, Rick!

You won’t see that in James Huang’s coverage!

As usual, Ron Andrews (former Ibis employee) who forever has been making steel and titanium bottle cages, had fun stuff in his King Cage booth. He spent the whole time doing demos of how he makes his bottle cages, starting with a long piece of stainless tubing, and ending up with a bent cage, read for welding. Here’s the pile of cages he’d bent as of Sunday.

Ron also was showing his new half gallon fender/flask.

And the show’s only titanium jump rope, that sparks when you use it.

By far the best thing at Ron’s booth and one of the better things at the show, was the dancing monkey with the cage and bottle:

It reminds me of the new DARPA Cheetah, you can see that here.

The usual lineup of standout craftsmanship was on display, Mark DiNucci blowing everyone’s minds with his perfection once again (not to mention his “Tom Ritcheyesque” mustache), but the standout craftsmanship for me had to be Bishop frames out of Baltimore. Click on the image for a bigger version. Check out the pinstriping.

And look at this very nice naked bike on display. Clean look.

I also liked the new “Aero” cross bike by Cielo…

Not to mention the “Alcohauler” that was ridden from Oakland to the show with two (empty) kegs on board. Read more about that on Bike Rumor.

Clean lines and clever booths were everywhere.

my vote for best in show

A lot of awards are given out at NAHBS. My vote this year goes to Paul Brodie, a Canadian who has been building frames since the 80’s. His show entry was based on a different 80’s, the 1880’s with his amazing Whippet. Paul is something of an obsessive builder of replicas. After he left his framebuilding business he embarked on a career of building replicas of motorcycles from 100 years ago…from scratch, sometimes using only photographs to recreate the bikes. One example is the Excelsior board track racer.

I have to warn you of a potetntial time vortex you’re about to get sucked into, here is the link to Paul’s amazing motorcyle projects:

The deeper you dig into Paul’s stuff the more amazed you’ll be. The video about him first starting the Excelsior is fascinating, and a great intro to the history, and involves the Schwinn family. Which would explain the name Excelsior.

Ah but we digress…

The same obsessive attention was given to his Whippet bicycle project. He started with just a drawing of the bike.


Fast forward many hours of fabrication time and here’s the result (photo by Mike Freda).

There’s a 7 part series about the building of this bike, chronicled on the Cycle Exif Website.

Another couple of Mike Freda’s shots from Cycle Exif:

At the show, Paul pointed out that this was one of very few bikes WITHOUT a Chris King headset at the show (of course Paul made his own).

Anyway, have fun exploring the seven parts of building the Whippet, start here with part 1.

The other best in show

I’m not really sure when Japan became part of North America, but the best in show (North American Hand Built Show) and presidents award winner was the Cherubium bike made by Japanese builder Shin-ichi Konno. It was very different there is no question about that. There are plenty of actually good pictures of the bike in the various show coverages, this picture doesn’t do it justice.

That’s it, looking forward to next year in Denver.