One of the best things about the annual North American Handmade Bicycle Show is the tremendous variety of bikes on display. Traditional roadies always make a strong showing, of course, but the countless gravel, cyclocross, randonneur, and town bikes on display provide visual evidence to the diverse interests of enthusiast cyclists. Variety is the spice of life, after all.
Custom bikes have long been the primary domain of road riders, but the explosion of genres at NAHBS also reflects the expanding interests of enthusiast cyclists. It’d be easy to point the finger at perceived decreases in road safety, but the fact of the matter is that long-time roadies are also discovering in droves that there’s more to riding than asphalt. Venturing off road may be safer, but it’s also heaps of fun.
Not that dirt and gravel are the only alternatives, either. This year’s NAHBS. held in Hartford, Connecticut, dedicated an entire section of the showroom floor to randonneuring — essentially the road riding equivalent to running ultramarathons. There’s growing interest in that genre these days, but builders certainly haven’t forgotten that segment’s traditional roots.
This third edition of our NAHBS coverage features bikes from Boo Bicycles, Breismeister Bicycles, Chapman Cycles, Co-Motion Cycles, FiftyOne Bikes, Horse Brand, Hot Tubes, J.P. Weigle, McGovern Cycles, Moots, Mosaic, No. 22, Olivetti Bicycles, Shamrock Cycles, Sklar Bikes, Stinner Frameworks, and T-Lab Bikes.
FiftyOne Bikes has quickly earned a reputation for crafting some of the best-looking carbon fiber road racers around.
The matching Silca Impero is a nice touch. Full-length frame pumps are suddenly cool again.
This FiftyOne was commissioned by Blacksmith Cycle in Toronto, Canada.
Once you see painted-to-match cockpits, it’s hard to go back to stock.
Stays are molded in-house by FiftyOne.
Boo Bicycles continues to refine its range of bamboo bikes, and this latest crop is certainly its best-looking yet. This one is destined for the father of company founder Nick Frey.
Flat-mount rear dropouts are made of carbon fiber.
The raw finish leaves the wrapping pattern exposed at the bottom bracket.
Boo Bicycles now uses automotive structural foam to help smooth the transitions between small- and large-diameter tubes. The inside of the bamboo tubes are reinforced with “ballistic fiberglass.”
This Chapman Cycles randonneur machine is quite modern from a functional standpoint, but still with a strong vintage look and feel.
The matching lugged steel stem and head tube are gorgeous on this Chapman Cycles randonneur bike. Note how the lines on the colored panels line up perfectly.
Pack light, move fast.
Chapman Cycles was undoubtedly glad to see NAHBS finally make its first trip to the New England area.
Co-Motion’s Klatch gravel bike hails from the American Pacific Northwest.
Note how the painted stem matches the Klatch logo on this Co-Motion. Beautiful.
There wasn’t one single hugely predominant category of bike on hand at this year’s NAHBS, but gravel bikes were certainly in plentiful supply. This one from Breismeister was hard to miss.
The head tube lugs are fillet-brazed to the top tube and down tube, while the head tube is brazed in place in a more conventional fashion.
This Breismeister is set for a long day in the saddle.
Boulder, Colorado, builder Peter Olivetti displayed this gorgeous steel disc road/gravel frameset at NAHBS. Stay tuned for a Bikes of the Bunch from this builder soon.
Peter Olivetti’s grandfather had a habit of tossing extra change into old coffee cans. When he passed away, Olivetti decided to take those coins and incorporate them into his frames.
According to Peter Olivetti, using his grandfather’s old coins like this is not only a way of keeping his memory alive, but it also provides a personal touch to his clients, each of which can dig through the cans and choose which coins they’d like to use on their new frame.
Shamrock Cycles sat out this year’s NAHBS, but still managed to sneak one of its steel ‘cross bikes into the SRAM booth.
A fun play on Shamrock Cycles’ logo at the water bottle bosses.
Tiny Paragon Machine Works flat-mount thru-axle dropouts on this Shamrock Cycles steel ‘cross bike.
Shamrock Cycles is among the many custom builders who have adopted the T47 threaded bottom bracket format.
While the materials and target usages may vary, many Sklar frames have a very identifiable aesthetic.
Canadian builder T-Lab works exclusively in titanium, featuring radically shaped tubing that it says rivals the performance of carbon fiber.
The top tube is dramatically flattened in an effort to boost the lateral rigidity of the front triangle. Does it work? Hard to say without riding it.
The seat tube is especially curvaceous.
How flattened are the tubes on T-Lab’s titanium frames? It’d be hard for them to be any flatter.
T-Lab uses dropouts of its own design, too. Note how the brake mount isn’t connected to either stay at all so as to leave all of the tubes free to flex as intended.
Stinner Frameworks had several bikes scattered about the show floor, including this beautiful baby blue townie. And as a general rule of thumb, painted-to-match fenders always look good.
No. 22 recently launched a stock program, featuring set geometries and build kits. According to the company, this Drifter gravel model is now its most popular.
The color anodized finish is nicely complemented by the painted-to-match fork and stem. And in this case, there’s also an anodized-to-match Silca Impero frame pump with a special titanium body.
No. 22 is one of several small builders who have moved to T47 threaded bottom brackets.
Mosaic Bespoke Bicycles has rocketed to prominence since its humble beginnings in 2009. The company earned its reputation initially by building top-quality frames in titanium and steel, but it really began to gain widespread recognition with its incredible finishes.
The Mosaic gravel bike on its own is eye-catching enough. But then you also notice the two matching Silca pumps.
How did frame pumps become cool again? All it took was for someone to make a really good one again — and it also helped that the design of the Silca Impero lends itself to being custom painted.
Paragon Machine Works doesn’t yet make a direct-mount hanger for Shimano’s compatible road rear derailleurs. But the mountain-bike version is apparently close enough for the folks at Mosaic Bespoke Bicycles.
Mosaic Bespoke Bicycles recently branched out into the townie market with the introduction of its CT-1 model last year.
Moots showed off a prototype gravel bike featuring a special version of its long-standing YBB rear suspension unit. Designed as a go-anywhere-do-anything machine, the design will readily accept either 700x or 650b wheels and tires.
Whereas the standard mountain-bike version of the Moots YBB suspension unit offers 32mm of travel using a combination of a steel coil spring and elastomer, this version offers a more modest amount of movement and makes do with just an elastomer for a lighter-weight setup.
Moots showed off four new anodized finishes for its titanium frames.
Chris McGovern, of McGovern Cycles, once raced professionally for the likes of Jelly Belly, HealthNet, and Sierra Nevada. But these days, he occupies his time crafting custom-made carbon fiber bikes.
The paint on this McGovern gravel bike is almost too nice to ride.
Real metal head tube badges are always nice to see, but this painted one will do, too.
This year’s NAHBS had an entire section dedicated to randonneuring bikes.
One of the best things about titanium bicycle frames is how thoroughly they can be refurbished. This Seven Tsunami SL is over ten years old, but you’d hardly notice by looking at it.
Hot Tubes did an amazing job on the paint on this old Seven Tsunami SL. The fade detail on the edge of the painted section is particularly spectacular.
Horse doesn’t just make bikes; it’s also a design firm dabbling in the outdoor, camping, and surf worlds.