Monday, March 05, 2012

NAHBS: So, What Did You Think?

All City fat tire roadie: A result of NAHBS?
NAHBS, or the "North American Handmade Bicycle Show" just concluded yesterday in Sacramento, California. It's a "big deal" for cycling nerds in the same way that SXSW is for music, film, and interactive nerds, so if you haven't heard of it, don't feel bad. It's only a thin slice of humanity that even gives a rip about this stuff. But for those who pay attention, it is like the Detroit Auto Show for cycling, but without all the cash, and show girls, and hutzpah. Anyway...

On Frostbike weekend, I went to The Cutters Ball III which was held in the building where Eric Noren of Peacock Groove does his frame building. He had his NAHBS show bike frames all displayed in his office. We got there early enough that Eric was able to spend some "quality time" with us. This opportunity was highlighted by about a half an hour discourse by Eric while we all stood slack-jawed in awe.

Let's just say Eric has a "certain way with words" and a presence that fills a room, not unlike a talented actor might have. He is a very charismatic person, no doubt. Well,anyway, he got on with a bit about NAHBS and how the "Industry" sends their minions to the show with cameras in hand to basically "rip off" ideas from the hand made bicycle builders which then appear on new bicycles the following year. Eric was pointing out how "fat road" was one of these ideas, (but certainly not the only one). Okay, while you can say what you will about Mr. Noren, I believe he has a point worth considering.

Surprisingly, (or maybe not), there weren't too many of these at NAHBS
Look at this years show. I'm willing to bet that if you wade through the mainstream media photo galleries you will note the term "fat tired road bike", or "fat road" used a lot.  If what Eric says is true, you will be seeing more of that in the future at bike shops.

The other thing, which was maybe obvious to predict, was the multitude of ways that builders were integrating Di2 into their designs. I suspect some tricks used at NAHBS will be showing up on mainstream bikes soon that reflect this.

My take on the show, (other than the fact that it is over the top), was that besides the fat road bikes, I saw touring, adventure, and off road bikes make a big impact this year. It wasn't the urban/fixie heavy show that it has been in the past, but those bikes were certainly well represented. That may be a trend, or it may be just a reflection of the locales of the attending builders, due to the far west location of the event this year. I can not say, but I do not recall so many 29"ers, as a for instance, being shown in quite a few years. Add to this the off road adventure bikes like the Hunter single speed drop bar bike, and the Ahearn fat bike and you can see a different flavor to the event than it had at Austin last year.

I liked the detail of Ira Ryan's city bike/trailer combination. The more I looked at the photos of it, the more impressed I was by it, (although the ax insignia on the top tube plate was a bit baffling for me), and this bike deservedly won an award at the show this year. I also liked the Gallus classic inspired 650B full rigid mountain bike. It was just really cool.

Rick Hunter of Hunter Cycles definitely was one of my favorites this year with his "Dirt Tour" bike and a killer orange 29"er. Great looking and practical bicycles. I also liked the Cielo Mountain Bike, which was a grey and black 29"er. very classy! Components were highlighted and Paul Components really opened up my eyes with a new 170OLD hub for fat bikes featuring Industry 9 guts. They also showed some trick looking "Mini-Moto" linear pull brakes to work with "fat road" bikes.

Okay, that's what I saw that was of interest. What did you like, or not?


Head Honcho said...

I'd be a liar if I told you I didn't love Mr. Pink. That conversation with Eric was an eye opener, and not the first like that I've had with him. One will notice that in perusing the shots from the show a couple bike with key part obscured by inner tubes wrapped around the parts to keep them hidden. It certainly seems to me that others out there are as concerned as Eric[and legitimately so I think]. The last couple of years has seen a rise in the fat road segment, and I only see it maturing from here. We saw that with the interest from tire manufacturers in getting larger sizes out there. I've got my fingers crossed.

RD said...

I would agree whatever indy guys do for di 2 you will see with big guys cx di integration will be interesting for next 2 years

Repack Rider said...

Best bike show I have ever attended. I went with Chris Chance, and I saw just about everyone I cared about in the bike biz for the last 30 years.

Only one I missed was Gary Fisher, who left just as I arrived. I was looking froward to a photo of Tom, Gary and myself, but missed my window.

Repack Rider said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jeff said...

NAHBS inventing fat tire road? Anyone recall how long the Pacer has been available?

Guitar Ted said...

@Jeff: And the Pacer is based on "old school" road bikes from the 70's and early 80's. Back when the geometry and frame clearances were much more generous and fitting fat road tires was not an issue.

Take my '72 Lejeune as an example. When I get it back to running shape, I will easily be able to run 32's on it.

Fat road new? Indeed!

I see now the terminology is in flux and "Adventure Road" or "all-road" is being used. Whatever...