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This year's show, taking place this weekend in Richmond, Virginia, has nearly 100 companies taking part, with an alphabetical list that runs from first-year startup Alliance Bicycles to the high end Italian boutique brand Zullo. That list includes all manner of manufacturers and suppliers, from the folksy customizers at Bilenky Cycle Works to the pedigreed Maine outfit Maietta Handbuilt and the boutique shop of Seven Cycles, favored by high rolling bankers and clean shaving Livestrongers alike.
|A foldable Brompton Bicycle.|
Besides making it seem like Christmas comes twice each winter, one thing the North American Handmade Bicycle Show excels at is developing a comprehensive program. To start from the beginning, there is the idea of the bicycle, without which NAHBS would just be, well, abstract. To take that idea of the bicycle from fantasy and speculation to the asphalt or the trailhead, we thankfully have a rich history of bike builders. But if you want to do your own thing, you're going to need to do some math to figure out your ride. That is where the legwork and advice from the BikeCAD frame design software programmers Bicycle Forest jumps off, giving would-be Sacha Whites a way to "account for paint, components and accessories as well as rider fitting" while laying out the geometry of their bikes. Oh, and by the way, since White's Vanilla Bicycles are always one of the top getters of ooohs and aaaahhs, the Oregonian has setup up a workshop for 2010 that is being promised as "a collaboration between master fabricators; expert bicycle painters; photographers; wood, leather, fabric and metal workers-all working closely to bring the intelligent, edgy, sexiness of Portland to the rest of the world."
But, to rewind a bit, before all of those hand-measured and fillet-brazed bikes end up in our dreams with a beautiful powdercoat finish, they have to start as raw materials, and apprentices and accomplished pros alike will be able to shake hands with at least a few European tubing experts at the show; the Italians from Columbus Tubi and the British from Reynolds Steel will be on hand. Raw tubesets are rather bland of course, which is why you'll want to sit down with the folks from VéloColour, a custom bicycle painting shop in Toronto, to hash out color schemes.
|One of the typically sweet designs from the Watertown, MASS. outfit Seven Cycles.|
After builders select their tubesets and the welds have cooled and taken on their paint, frames still aren't much good without parts though, and that is why the weekend event includes wares from component companies like Chris King and Rolf Prima, not to mention small scale machine fabrications like CED Group's artful custom hubs and the beautiful parts from the revered Paul Component Engineering, who do an arguably good job just by dint of staying sober enough to run the lathes (they're from Chico, California). There will also be hard goods on display from a host of manufacturers, from the Colorado-based Sampson Pedals and suspension wonders from the White Brothers Suspension company.
On or off the bike, if you need to wrap your flesh, the bike porn kingpins from The Fixed Gear Gallery have started up Hell Yes Clothing "to produce classily cool clothing that you can wear riding your bike, or to work, or even on a date to the opera." Ladies and fellas alike will take notice of Sheila Moon's ability to combine "15 years of bike racing experience with a lifetime as a fashion designer to create cycling apparel that is both fashionable and functional." To wrap your bars you'll find the wonders of HandleBra tape and to cover your feet you'll find the exhibition of Italian shoemaker Dromarti. For more detailed pursuits, consult the Canadians at Polka Cycle for "custom and limited edition headbadges, chainguards, and a small selection of bicycle bags."
And of course there will be bikes. Expect to see rides on hand from manufacturers of the famous folding Brompton Bicycle and an assortment of mountain, 29er, BMX and of course road and track frames from the tiny Carolina Brew Racing shop of Steve "Brewdude" Garn. The framebuilders of Moots will be coming all the way from Steamboat Springs, but they'll find no sympathy from the carbon-aluminum-steel and ti-carbon blenders of CYFAC, who are flying in from the Loire Valley of France.
|Composite designers at France's CYFAC labs.|
If you think a ti-carbon blend frame sounds unusual, you haven't seen past the tip of the iceberg. Several years ago Calfee Design stole the show by building the world's first sustainably-harvested bike frame, the aptly named Bamboo Bike. Since then Craig Calfee, the company's owner and mastermind, has been spreading the plant fiber gospel in good ways; he has gone on to teach and organize a group of independent bamboo bike builders from developing countries in Africa and Asia called Bamboosero. The group will be on hand in Richmond with work from Ghana, Zambia, Uganda, The Philippines, and other countries, and are using the event ""to showcase the best of what each builder can produce." Seriously folks, they've got everything from city cruisers to mountain bikes to tandems!
|Craig Calfee with one of his famed bamboo frames.|
If you're a cyclist but think all of this progressive philosophy might be a bit outside the mainstream, think again. This year the global conglomerate components maker Shimano signed on as a title sponsor of the NAHMBS. Other sponsors this year are the chafe-inhibiting chemists at Classic Cycling Essentials, makers of "classic personal care products for the discerning cyclist" (all that time in the saddle takes a toll on the posterior), and the always popular Molson-brewed Belgian-style Blue Moon wheat beer brewing company. And for our money nothing signals an exhibition worth attending more than the combination of bikes and beers. SEE ALSO: www.handmadebicycleshow.com
The LAS Staff
A number of the Lost At Sea staff have worked and continue to work for various publications, both independent and commercial. Often very stifling in their narrow focus, conventional media outlets left our writers hungry for something bigger, more diverse, more communal. More active, because this is the twenty-first century and it makes sense. During it's short life LAS has accomplished many of its goals (but not all) and has in turn set new ones. Everything that we accomplish is through teamwork and cooperation, both with our regular staff writers and with our contributing writers. LAS is nothing short of a collective. Another contrasting point to some of the magazines out there is that we've checked our egos and scene ethics at the door. We welcome anyone and everyone to contribute and cover a wide range of topics. LAS does not follow your guide lines.
See other articles by The LAS Staff.
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