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North American Hand Made Bicycle Show -

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, February 27 - March 1, 2009

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Part 3 - March 2: And the winners are…

By James Huang in Indianapolis, Indiana

Every attendee at this year's NAHBS surely has a favorite bike in mind amongst the hordes of masterpieces but in the end, only one can be chosen for each of the designated categories.

Here are the winners from this year's show. Stay tuned for additional post-show coverage over the next few days as there's still plenty more to see!

Best road bike

Roland Della Santa takes 'best road frame' honors
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Legendary builder Roland Della Santa took the prize for best road bike with his limited-edition 40th anniversary frame using his last remaining stock of Nervex Professional lugs. We already provided you with the details on this frameset yesterday but it seems the NAHBS panel of judges also found it well worthy of recognition.

Best off-road bike

'Off-road' apparently also includes 'cross in the eyes of the judging panel as this year's trophy goes to Curt Goodrich's old school-meets-new mud machine, used on the Minneapolis race circuit by sixe sponsored riders. Dedacciai and Columbus steel tubes are brazed to elegant lugs and the classic look is topped off with a stainless steel seatpost - made with a painted-to-match cast head from Drew Guldalian of Engin Cycles - and a purposeful blue-and-white finish.

Goodrich's 'cross racer still manages to be competitive weight-wise thanks to its thoroughly modern build though, which includes a smattering of carbon bits from Edge Composites, HED, and Campagnolo. Total weight is around 7.7kg (17.0lb).

Best track bike

Japanese builder Cherubim
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This year's NAHBS included a healthy contingent from the Asian handmade hotbed of Japan with Cherubim taking the top spot for 'best track bike'. Chief builder Shin-ichi Konno is actually one of three famous framebuilding brothers - whose brands include 3Rensho and Miyuki - and this year's winner was a traditional-looking steel construct with chromed lugs, a uniquely webbed one-piece bar/stem combination and a trick fork crown.

Cherubim's time trial bike was even more of an attention getter what with its radically low-slung frame - requiring a gargantuan oversized carbon seatpost - and a fantastically well-integrated aero bar and stem. Though it doesn't look to be particularly functional, the concept is interesting and several design elements are actually in use by several modern frame manufacturers.

Best tandem

Stephen Bilenky's red-and-cream tandem garnered top honors for its elegant look and exceptional attention to detail. Beautiful custom lugs are used at every joint and the head tube in particular uses a novel lug-within-a-lug construction with highlighting color-contrast paint.

Matching fenders are fitted to both ends, a small front rack provides a bit of storage, and S&S couplings allow the entire thing to fit in a surprisingly small travel case.

Also featured in the Bilenky booth was a pair of heavy-duty utility bikes: one with an extended rear end, built-in rack and ultra-stable kickstand and another boasting the opposite configuration. The stretched front center provided the home for a monstrous Ortlieb pack and a downsized front wheel linked to the steerer tube with a linkage rod. Errands, anyone?

Best titanium bike

Kent Eriksen won the 'best titanium bike' category with his tandem
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This prize went to Kent Eriksen though the judges had no easy time picking exactly which Eriksen bike was most deserving. Simply put, all of the bikes on display were utterly perfect with flawless finish work and perhaps the best welds in the business. Ultimately the NAHBS trophy went to a superbly built tandem if only for the sheer difficulty involved in building such a beast.

Unfortunately, this customer-owned loaner was retrieved from the booth before we could photograph it but the expansive booth was otherwise filled with nearly every genre of bicycle imaginable, including straight- and curved- tube road bikes, hardtail and full-suspension mountain bikes, tourers, and yes, even a unicycle.

Also on hand was an ever-increasing line of smaller bits such as seatposts, titanium spacers and seat collars. Eriksen will also soon offer additional seatpost head components to fit non-round saddle rails.

Best carbon bike

Best carbon bike' honors went to Independent Fabrications
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Independent Fabrications made the jump this year to full carbon construction with a prototype road frame using carbon lugs developed in conjunction with Edge Composites. Edge's proprietary bladder molding technique allows for adjustable lug angles as on the current XS flagship plus tunable tube diameters and wall thicknesses to achieve the desired ride characteristic.

The display bike is currently the only full-carbon IF in existence and the lugs playfully paid homage to the company's trademark crown logo. IF ultimately hopes to get the full-carbon frame price below that of the XS, which will remain in the lineup. Claimed weight is around 1000g.

Resident IF track junkie Tyler Evans also came to NAHBS with yet another one-off fixed-gear creation, this time with an Asian-inspired red-and-white theme to celebrate the Year of the Ox in the Chinese lunar calendar. The main frame uses shaped tubes uncharacteristic for IF, stylized oxen decorate the top and down tubes, and the kanji on the seat tube is supposedly the translation of 'Independent Fabrication'.

Eriksen seatpost hardware finishes off the top of the integrated seatmast and hopefully Evans measured his saddle height carefully as there is no provision whatsoever for height adjustment.

Best lugged bike

Former Serotta and Waterford builder Dave Wages won the hearts of the judges with a superbly crafted lavender, cream and chrome road frame. Build quality is naturally flawless but it was likely the unique rear end treatment that drew the most compliments.

Polished Reynolds 953 chain stays are brazed to stainless dropouts, which are then joined to polished 953 seat stays. The lower two-thirds of the seat stays are essentially an extended lug sleeve though as they overlap with smaller-diameter sections further up, just above the brake bridge.

The stainless head tube lugs are also polished and hand carved, and the so-called 'modern classic' look is completed by the tight radius bends in the fork blades.

Best TIG-welded bike

Carl Strong won 'best TIG bike'
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Carl Strong's steady hand and surgically precise weld beads won this year's award for his red-and-clear titanium 'cross frame. The brushed titanium was first masked and coated with a cherry red powder coat then the entire frame was given a thorough clearcoat for an even texture throughout.

Up front, an oversized head tube provided the base for Chris King's new InSet hidden-cup headset. Almost seems a shame to get it dirty!

Best fillet-brazed bike

Long-time builder Mark Nobilette earned accolades for a baby-blue tourer he built for a particularly special customer: himself.

The Reynolds 853 air-hardened steel tubes incorporate wishbone-style seat stays and a new take on the classic wedge-type seatpost clamp is neatly integrated just below the top tube. Other details include an elegant brazed rear brake housing stop and reinforcing rings at either end of the head tube plus a full complement of front and rear racks.

Best city bike

This decidedly open-ended category could have been won by any number of entries but went to relatively new builder Mitchell Pryor of Map Bicycles in Portland, Oregon. Pryor's cream-and-pink mixte bike was a beautifully modern take on an old style, updated with contemporary items such as CNC-machined Racer U-brakes from Paul Components and dynamo-powered LED lights front and rear.

Pryor even sourced an old Spécialités TA crankset and the rear brake pulley arms are perfectly angled to prevent bending under load. Details, details...

Best paint

Canada-based Velocolour won 'best paint'
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Fleets of bikes at NAHBS were finished by the skilled hands of paint icons such as Joe Bell, Keith Anderson and Dave Sem but it was Canada-based Velocolour that stunned the judges with its work on a 1951 Cinelli restoration. Velocolour handled the paint and graphic work while Toronto resident Mike Barry, who has owned the bike since buying it from original owner John Geogh in the late 1950s, handled the mechanical side.

Period-appropriate paint and decals are fitted throughout and the chrome work on the lugs, fork and dropout faces is gleamingly flawless. We're guessing Geogh likely won't be using this as a winter beater.

Best of show

Top honors of the 2009 NAHBS show went to Cicli Polito's faithful remake of a 1950s grass track racer. This particular one was built to pay homage to the late Norm Taylor of Jack Taylor Cycles and aside from notable exceptions such as the frame itself and tires, virtually everything else is of the proper vintage, right down to the 1"-pitch drivetrain.

The seat tube takes a dramatic curve around the rear wheel, the fork blades are brazed to a wonderfully unique crown and all of the tubes are finished in a metallic burnt orange finish with nice box pinstriping. Congratulations!

People's choice

This award invariably goes to the most outwardly eye-popping sample on the floor, in this case Sam Whittingham's highly embellished full-suspension mountain bike. We covered this bike as well in great detail in yesterday's coverage so we won't repeat ourselves here but one thing is patently clear: the people have spoken!

Until tomorrow…


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

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