Monday, February 25, 2013

NAHBS 2013, Day 2. There with the girls.

A bike to suit her sense of style: shimmery, pink and fancy.
On Saturday, the second day of the 2013 North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS), Julie and the girls were along with me. I took a bit different approach on Saturday than I had during the previous day, when I had tried to ensure that I went to every booth and saw every bike. See my NAHBS 2013 Day 1 experience here. Instead, the plan for the day was to have fun, to talk with good people that we already knew or had just met, to make sure the girls had fun, and of course, to look at bikes.

We started off seeing old friends from Laramie, Miguel and Dewey, who we hadn't seen in years. As it turns out, Dewey had recently become the new owner of the Pedal House, a bike shop that's been a central hangout for the Laramie bike community beginning in about 1990, back in my undergraduate salad days. Tracy of I like bikes was along shortly thereafter. I had spent time with her perusing bikes at the show the previous day. She was back for more, and to do a little bling hunting.

Then, the show's attendee with perhaps the wildest arrival itinerary appeared. Gypsy Nicholas had worked the late shift the night before, got up while it was still dark, rode his girlfriend's borrowed bike to the Albuquerque airport, packed the bike in a garbage bag, and soon hopped off the plane in Denver just in time for the show.

Before this installment of NAHBS pics, I'll have to back up a bit, to when we arrived. I couldn't help but check out some of the bikes in the BikeDenver valet parking corral. This brings us to a special edition of Other People's Bikes: What Fellow Bike Nuts Ride to NAHBS.

Where I parked my 1984 Miyata Ridge Runner were several successive vintage mountain bikes, shown in the following photo. The photo is poor and there's a lot going on, so I'll map it out. Next to my Miyata was a mid-'80s Shogun ATB of unknown model with Esge fenders and a Nitto mustache bar. Next was a 1987 Stumpjumper Comp with a new-era Rivendell/Nitto bull moose bar, expertly fitted aluminum fenders, and a large Wald front basket. A Cannondale road bike is next. Then Nick's (Lael's) Cannondale Hooligan, a bike so unusual it almost defies description. Then, capped off at the end is Cass' '84 Stumpjumper Sport. That's quite a run. Amazingly, all the vintage bikes in the photo are around 22 to 23 inches in size, which, in my experience can be challenging to find. Another thing I liked was that all these bikes retained their full range of all-terrain gearing goodness, instead of being chopped down to a nice enough, but more limiting, townie-friendly single speed.

Vintage goodness. My apologies for the lousy photo.  

You'll have to trust me that this is a nice Shogun of undetermined variety. For some reason, my camera decided to hallucinate.

More camera hallucinating with this nicely reappointed '87 Stumpjumper Comp.

Nicholas' Hooligan and Cass' Stumpy.
I probably would have been happy to only look at the parked bikes of attendees. Maybe someone needs to organize a parallel show of what people rode to the show, for those of us with my particular affliction. After indulging my appetite for other people's bikes, on with the NAHBS show.

Nicholas and Scott chatting about Scott's new bag designs.
I have to note here, that for not being a builder of bikes, Scott Felter of Porcelain Rocket sure had a large presence of his handiwork at the show. A good chunk of the bikes shown by a range of manufacturers, that had anything to do with bikepacking or touring, were equipped with custom Porcelain Rocket packs. Scott's bags and packs are indeed works of art comparable to the bikes on which they are installed. It is no coincidence that of the cottage industry companies that didn't have actual bikes in the mix, Porcelain Rocket had among the largest presence. Beyond his impressive skill with fabric and thread, Scott couldn't have been a nicer guy. I look forward to seeing how his Canning Stock Route adventure turns out, beginning sometime around July. 

Nicholas shoots with attention to detail, while on the far side of Scott's Hunter is Gary, who often shows up on Cass' blog. Gary is an interesting character and a modest but sharply skilled bikepacker. 

She and I took some time to more fully investigate the camo painted Hunter that I'd seen the day before. A keen eye will note the super rare NOS parts, including a leather-skinned Avocet touring saddle and a chromo Deore XT seatpost.

This truly is a remarkable bike. It's an exceedingly well conceived 29er adventure tourer. Note the amazing smooth arcs in the rack's stays. That's a custom newfangled 6-speed cluster, imparting a vintage flavor with modern parts.

The design and implementation of the rear rack is superb. 

As is the front rack, and that beauty of a fork.

The Nitto bar features NOS Dura-Ace non-aero brake levers, and NOS Deore XTII top mount thumb shifters on special pod mounts that appeared on late '80s mountain bikes with drop bars. It is no small feat to compile a group of parts that are this rare, this old, and this perfect.
Along with the Moots IMBA bike that I wrote of in my previous post, for me, this Hunter adventure bike is perhaps the next closest bike in the whole show of embodying a compelling concept brought to physical form. The conceptual foundation of this bike is the direct linkage between the original adventuring spirit of the nascent mountain bike movement of the early '80s, to the newly renascent and growing adventure bike movement of the present. If a person were so inclined and equipped with a time machine, the best of the past and the best of the present could be no better assembled than as has been done in this bike.

Only the best and most solidly dependable components at both ends of the time continuum have been sourced for this bike. Likewise, the frame also reflects those same virtues. Its profile echoes that of the original klunkers, the likes of Schwinn Excelsiors and Admirals. The design mixes in other cues, such as a combined hat tip to Tom Ritchey's bi-plane fork and Chris Chance's Yo Eddy fork, Keith Bontrager's / Jeff Lindsay's wishbone seatstay, Charlie Cunningham's and Jacquie Phelan's bar choice, and the camo paint of the Ritchey Commando. The immensity of thought and planning that went into this bike may not be immediately apparent to the casual spectator. As I discovered in talking with Scott Felter, even the paint doesn't just approximate that of the Ritchey Commando; it was applied by the same painter that Ritchey used nearly 30 years ago. Yet, it is a no-compromise modern 29er, with upright angles, good tire clearances, a threadless headset and disc brakes.

It takes great skill and delicacy to integrate the best of the modern with the best of the past into an exceptional package that is respectful of both, while not becoming mired as either a tribute or replica. This bike is past, present and future simultaneously. It is a rolling history lesson; a two-wheeled timeline of where the off-road adventure lineage has been and where it is going.

Now, back to the show...

Boo won the best bamboo bike award. Colorado proud!

A well conducted road bike with clean lines from Alchemy. 

A sleek combo of contemporary parts and classic lines from Victoria Cycles.

A Rob English bike equipped for bikepacking. I like the cage mounts on both the front and rear of the fork blades.

More detail of the frame packs on the English. 

The shiny latex-like fabric of the dry bag under the handlebar is a little fetish-like. Note the scooped support  bracket under the bag.

I couldn't resist a couple more shots of the Moots IMBA bike.

This photo shows the blade of the shovel a bit better than the photo I took on Friday.

A side shot of the Moots IMBA for reference. This was probably my favorite bike of the show. 

She got her first mini bikepacking bag, the pink handlebar bag on the left. The Bailey Works people couldn't have been more nice. They gave her a well equipped wallet full of crayons and paper, on the right.

Nitto's table of highly polished bike jewelry.

A sleek all-rounder frame from Kohak of Japan equipped with a raft of braze-ons. Apologies for the poor contrast.

Julie tended to gravitate toward the mixtes, but was impressed with this gleaming screamer of a bike.

This Stinner 29er was a high-tech adventure bike, featuring a dynamo front hub and a Rolhoff rear, and driven by a Gates Carbon Drive belt. 

An Eriksen 29er that looks to be set up as a CDT machine. Terrific custom Porcelain Rocket bags adorn the frame. 

A titanium pump track/BMX bike from Black Sheep. I had to take a pic as there were very few similar bikes of similar purpose at the show.

At least two of my girls were big fans of this trio of colorful Independent Fabrications 29ers.

Another shot of the IF triplets. 

One of the bikes that she singled out. Perhaps not coincidentally, one of her good friends is named Owen.

This light green Victoria Cycles frame had a lot of interesting elements. It was a bit tough to get a clean shot, though.

The best product endorsement of any builder at the show.

Nicholas and pal checking out the display of candy-colored Chris King hubs. 

Enjoying spinning the hubs, too.
After a couple of hours, the girls were starting to let us know that the time was up. She had turned into a sticker predator, and amassed quite am impressive haul. We went downstairs a hung out for a while, as Lil Sis had a bottle. I let her have my camera for a bit, and she took a few photos of us as we talked. Not bad for her first time with something bigger than a point and shoot.

Her portrait of Cass.

Nicholas and his great shirt from Pie Town, NM. Gotta get one of those.

Me and my slick Wrangler night-on-the-town cowboy shirt.
After the girls left for home, I stuck around for a ride with Nicholas and Cass. Nicholas had been nearly apoplectic with envy when I got my Ridge Runner, so the least I could do was let him give it a spin. I rode his borrowed Cannondale Hooligan, which is a very cool little bike. If I traveled by plane more frequently than I do now (almost never), I would look into getting one. It's not a folder, but it's the first compact bike that I've ridden that actually seems to fit me, and rides much like a full-sized bike. Cass was on his newly found vintage Stumpjumper. Once again, here's a mini installment of Other People's Bikes: Klunkers Parked Next to Me Edition.
On the way out, I spotted this Schwinn Excelsior outfitted as a klunker with parts from a wide time range.

Modern wheels and tires, but with intact skip-tooth chain drivetrain. The cranks were Cook Brothers-ish tubular steel. 

Cass on the Ridge Runner, Nicholas on the Stumpjumper along a stretch of the Cherry Creek Trail.

Both of these guys are great photographers, and quickly went to work when we encountered a mural for a backdrop.

Ridge Runner in the sun.

This Hooligan is a great little bike, and as thoughtfully decked out by Nicholas with some minimalist bags, is a perfect  tool to drop in on any destination.

After riding around for a cursory tour of downtown Denver, we parted ways. The adventurers went back for more of the show, and I caught a train home. In all, it had been a great show and a fun experience. I'm hopeful that with the snow that followed overnight into Sunday, everyone made it back safely to where they need to be. 

Even with the valet parking inside, full racks and railings abounded all around the Convention Center.

My Ridge Runner on light rail, traveling homeward.


  1. Cool reports, Mine will be almost identical, I may just point people over here and not write mine. I even took pictures of my dughter in front of all the bikes I really liked, I thought that would at least make the posts unique, interesting to bikey people, and interesting to my family. I guess the unique part is gone now...

    Great meeting you, next time we B cycle the heck out of the city...

    1. Everyone has a unique experience at something like this and I look forward to reading about yours. The daughter/bike photos are some of my favorite that I took, and I like seeing others who have done something similar. I claim no patent on uniqueness here. I usually put posts together for my own entertainment, with the trickle of bikey people and family who stop by as a close secondary consideration.

      It was great to meet you as well. There's an informal event called "Tour de B-cycle" that we could do. The idea is to ride a 40-ish pound 3-speed B-cycle to every station in the network. I last did it on a cold day in 2010, with 50 stations in about 6.5 hours. (

      Next year, the system will have 80+ stations, so it will become an endurance event. Plenty of beer and food opportunities along the way, though. You get a free t-shirt, poster and shout out by the B-cycle people if you complete the ride.