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'
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
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
Best track bike
Japanese builder Cherubim
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.
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
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
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
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
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'
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...
Canada-based Velocolour won 'best paint'
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!
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!
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Curt Goodrich wins 'best off-road bike'
with this team-issue 'cross machine.
Goodrich mixes old and new
with lugged steel construction and a smattering of modern carbon components.
Chris King headsets of various incarnations
were a popular choice of NAHBS.
Finish work is exceptionally clean throughout.
Goodrich neatly integrates the rear brake housing stop
into the seat binder.
A stainless seatpost shaft is topped
with a cast head designed by Drew Guldalian of Engin Cycles.
Goodrich could have coated the frame
with a fancy paint job but preferred to keep the embellishment to a minimum in keeping with this particular bike's racing intentions.
Japanese builder Cherubim
won 'best track bike' honors.
The ornate lugwork is topped with a unique one-off
integrated bar and stem.
The unique fork crown is also chromed.
Cherubim's time trial bike
is radically low-slung.
We're not sure how functional these bars are
but they certainly look cool.
The top tube and single bar extension
form a straight and flowing line.
The frame design necessitates a super-long seatpost.
Cherubim also showed off this road bike
with delicately arcing seat stays.
Bilenky's tandem won the hearts of the judges.
It's easy to see why with this complex lugwork.
S&S couplings make the tandem packable, too.
A small braze-on fitting takes care of the rear brake routing.
Bilenky adds a conveniently located mount
for the rear drum brake controls.
Bilenky's booth also includes several utility bikes.
Check out the adjustable kickstand!
This Bilenky utility bike puts the load out front.
For whatever reason, Bilenky mounted the front brake
on the driveside fork leg.
Kent Eriksen won the 'best titanium bike' category with his tandem
though nearly any bike in his booth would have satisfied the requirements.
This road bike uses a neat dual top tube configuration.
Eriksen also builds full-suspension mountain bikes
using a variety of rear ends such as this one from Yeti.
The pivot, shock and linkage mounts are all Eriksen though.
Eriksen's weld quality is second to none.
Eriksen's perfect welds are complemented here
with the masked and blasted finish.
The tandem was unfortunately retrieved by its owners
before we could photograph it, but how about this unicycle instead?
Eriksen launched his own seatpost design a while back…
…and now adds new hardware for non-round saddle rails
along with seat collars and profiled titanium headset spacers.
Best carbon bike' honors went to Independent Fabrications
for this all-carbon prototype.
IF worked with Edge to develop the new carbon lugs.
The lug points mimic IF's trademark crown
and the derailleur housing stops are molded right in.
This prototype also used Cannondale's BB30 crankset
and bottom bracket standard.
The rear brake housing stop is also integrated
into the upper head tube lug.
Not only are the lug points rounded
but they're also thicker than the rest of the lug!
Like many show bikes at NAHBS,
the IF carbon prototype was fitted with a Chris King InSet.
IF track junkie Tyler Evans brought another showstopper
to celebrate the Year of the Ox in the Chinese lunar calendar.
Stylized oxen decorate the top tube and down tube.
This supposedly says 'Independent Fabrications" in Chinese.
Of course, the saddle is painted to match.
Eriksen seatpost hardware
is fitted to the top of the integrated seat mast and there is no provision for height adjustment.
IF's diverse repertoire still includes titanium hardtails as always.
Like most of the bikes in IF's booth,
this one belongs to an employee.
Ornate etching is featured on the seat tube, down tube, and head tube.
IF built this bike to demonstrate
how the frame's paint scheme could be specifically geared to the build kit.
Orange-anodized Tune bits are complemented
by similarly tinted bands on the frame.
New IF owner Gary Smith rides this bike…
…and his wife and daughter ride these!
The paint jobs and graphics are perfectly matched
on the two bikes.
Even the undersized daughter's bike
gets the full-sized dropout treatment.
This IF townie looks old…
…but includes modern parts such as this Schlumpf two-speed crank.
The front fender strut is neatly curved around the brake caliper.
Former Waterford and Serotta builder Dave Wages
won 'best lugged bike' with this so-called 'modern classic'.
Wages used a novel overlapping two-piece seat stay
configuration on this award winner.
The beautiful contrasting paint
highlights the polished stainless steel lugs.
Elegant teardrops are cut into the rear dropouts.
Red pinstriping accentuates the cutouts
in the bottom bracket shell.
Carl Strong won 'best TIG bike'
with this titanium 'cross bike.
Strong's weld quality is widely renowned among his peers.
The cherry red paint is punctuated
with expanses of brushed titanium peeking through the clearcoat.
Don't let the brushed appearance fool you;
there's paint on those surfaces so cover up with a clean chain stay guard!
The two-tone finish certainly makes for a distinctive look.
The oversized head tube provides plenty of room
for Strong's head tube badge.
Strong also showed off this titanium 'cross frame
with curved seat stays.
Curved or straight?
The beauty of a custom frame is that it's up to you.
Mark Nobilette built this touring bike
for his most important customer: himself!
Flawless fillet brazing is visible throughout.
The seat stay wishbone includes both a rear fender mount
and a neatly brazed-on rear brake housing stop with an integrated barrel adjuster.
Nobilette's creation also incorporates a modern take
on the wedge-type seatpost binder.
A rear rack…
…and front rack (plus lowriders) offer plenty of hauling capacity.
Relatively new builder Mitchell Pryor of Map Bicycles
won 'best city bike' for this mixte commuter.
The rear end is a delicate blend of straight lines and curves.
Quality construction like this
is a good way to get noticed.
The pink paint on the head tube
is carried through straight to the edges of the lugs.
The front brake mounts are integrated
right into the fork crown.
A Schmidts dynamo powers front and rear LED lights.
The rear brake cable roller struts
are perfectly angled so as not to bend under hard braking.
Not a bad way to make your way to work, eh?
Canada-based Velocolour won 'best paint'
for its work in restoring this 1951 Cinelli.
The restoration faithfully adhered
to the aesthetic of the time period.
This Campagnolo rear derailleur
could almost pass for new.
Back in the day…
Velocolour also had a few more modern pieces
on display in its booth.
Cicli Polito took 'best in show' honors
with this Jack Taylor-replica grass track racer.
Cicli Politi built the bike as a tribute
to the recently passed Norm Taylor.
The curved seat tube mimics Taylor's 'Curved Tube' model.
You're not likely to see a crown like this in the near future.
The seat stays incorporate a tiny bridge.
Boxed pinstriping offers a classic look.
Cicli Polito even secured period-appropriate components
such as this 1"-pitch crank.
Of course, a matching cog is fitted out back.
This stem is looking a bit rough
but then again, it's quite possibly older than you are…
Cicli Polito also found some old wheels
though it had to wrap them in modern tubulars.
These are not easy to find!
Even the leather toe straps
look like they've been around the block a few times.
Naked builder Sam Whittingham takes 'people's choice' honors this year
with this incredible full-suspension mountain bike.
Even the linkage is fully curved, mitered and welded,
then nickel-plated to a brilliant gleam.
Whittingham uses FSA headsets for the main linkage pivot
and main swingarm pivot.
Even the Manitou Swinger shock
is given a personal touch.
The nickel-plated chain stays take a graceful curve
on their way to the dropouts.
The main pivot is widely braced.
Whittingham also makes the wood-inlay pivot caps.
The lower shock mount is neatly integrated into the lug.
A small eccentric allows for tensioning the chain
and concentric axle pivots are also hidden behind them.
The nickel-plated head tube lugs are fitted
with Chris King's new InSet headset format.
The rear brake line is fed through the seat stay
and enters the frame at the chain stay.
The entry point for the rear brake line is underneath the down tube
just aft of the head tube.
Naturally, Whittingham built his own bar, too.
Why use a boring rubber grip
when you've got some wood, leather, and aluminum on hand?
These sizeable pedals bore some awfully sharp spikes.
Wooden rims are sourced from Wheel Fanatyk.
Whittingham crafted a wooden seatpost
for the showpiece, too, though he admits he'll ultimately ride the bike with something else in its place.
The anodized White Brothers fork matches perfectly.
Roland Della Santa takes 'best road frame' honors
with his limited-edition 40th-anniversary model.
Della Santa is limiting production to just twenty framesets
as he's limited by the number of old Nervex Pro lugs he still has on hand.
Della Santa says that just prepping the lugs
takes a day and a half per frame.
The seat cluster includes added-on points
and beautiful Masi scoops atop the seat stays.
In keeping with the intended 70s look,
the cables are run on top of the bottom bracket shell.
Three slots are hand-cut into the bottom bracket shell.
Does your steel frame look this clean even on the inside?
Campagnolo bits are used throughout.
Della Santa prefers horizontal dropouts
even on his most modern frames.
Fork tips and crown are both chromed.
This Della Santa belongs to long-time admirer
(and show organizer) Don Walker.
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