23 February 2013

Quality in the Details

A day at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show

Quality and Accessibility

There is no doubt that true craftsmanship and excellence is on exhibit at NAHBS this year in Denver. As I walked the hall yesterday, each booth brought new discovery. Quality is found in the details at this show. Don't breeze through the offerings, take the time to savor the craft and look closely.

The North American Bicycle Show has a great feel to the show

Second only to the quality of the products found at the show, is the accessibility of the persons behind the products. You will see the builders in the isles talking with customers, attendees, and media. Their enthusiasm evident by the fact that they are not found in the back of their booths, but out among the admirers and enthusiasts, ready to answer your questions and share their knowledge.

2013 North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Denver, Colorado
Get ready to see and talk bikes!

Just don't go expecting to locate your good friend who is male, about 6 foot tall, thin like a cyclist, age 35-55 and wearing jeans, a plaid shirt and a black jacket - everyone looks like that! No matter, just roam on your own.

I witnessed a visiting media member so thrilled to see a handbuilt wheelmaker she kept explaining "we came from Berlin, from Berlin." I also watched as an American offered a gift of tea to Japanese pedal maker MKS, sharing that it was "an honor to have you in our country." I met local Chris Connor of Connor Cycles who came to bikes after a history of building guitars and furniture but now builds his bikes in wood to "capitalize on the ride and beauty," he explained.

Everyone has a story at this bike show. I had long conversations with builder James Wolf of Boo Bicycles who specializes in bamboo and mixed metal bikes. I talked with founder Steve Bilenky of Bilenky CycleWorks from Philadelphia, PA, who has been creating custom road and tandem bikes for years. Steve Chang of Calfee Design demonstrated again what I learned before in dealings with Calfee - they have great customer service and quality work. Be sure to check out his Douglas Fir bike.

Not to be missed is the Moots booth. Their well designed mountain, road and cross bikes are well-known favorites, but for this show they have a couple fun themed bikes on display that are a hit. Also stop by Festka Bicycle Company, visiting from the Czech Republic, they have a unique style. There are also plenty of saddle, wheel, component, and apparel makers, as well as material salesmen at NAHBS. And the beauty of Paragon Machine Works, or the incredible Cielo Cycles in the Chris King booth.

Ingenuity and hard work are evident in the details

Compared to Interbike the show is smaller in size but much bigger in bang for your buck. Most of what is on show at Interbike can be found in your local bike shops. Nowhere else had I seen such a genuine mix of roadies, mountain bikers, cyclocross racers, townies, commuters, tandem riders, touring cyclists, trackies, leather craftsmen, metal workers, wood carvers, restorers of old bikes, builders of new bikes, and all those who support our bike habits.

This show is truly unique and we are lucky to have it right here in our backyard in Denver, Colorado. It won't be here next year, so see it while you can. [In 2014 the NAHBS will be located in Charlotte, NC]

Photos from Day 1 of 3 at NAHBS click any image to enlarge

Chris King precision components at NAHBS
A bike made of Doulgas Fir and Uganda Fig Tree bark from Calfee Design
Calfee Design Douglas Fir Bike
Another wood and bamboo bike builder is Boo Bicycles out of Fort Collins.
Boo Bicycles booth at NAHBS
James Wolf of Boo Bicycles
The colorful display of Gangl Custom Cycles
A tea offering across a table of MKS pedals
MKS pedal on display
Steve Bilenky of Bilenky CycleWorks
A Bilenky travel bike - ready to go with you anywhere.
A packable bike from Japanese builder Silk Cycles.
A wood carved beauty from Yacht builder Sano Magic
Sanomagic wooden bike
Brooks saddles and bags
Brooks finest from England
Yipsan Bicycles on display at NAHBS
The magnificence of Cielo Cycles
Victoria Cycles classic urban bike
Two of the fun Moots bikes
Moots Trail Maker bike - everything you would need to forge your own trail through the woods!
More to come later today ....

It is time to head back to the show for day 2 of 3. I hope to see you there! Category Awards will be given out at 1pm today on the show floor.

For more detailed reviews on the bikes - please read the excellent reports being generated daily from James Huang and Josh Patterson at the show: BikeRadar.com 2013 NAHBS

Also read: Photos from the Week & Breaking Away By Pedal Dancer