Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
Last week I wrote a little about the North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show (known as NAHBS), which took place in Sacramento, California on March 15, 16 and 17. The focus in that first story was on Jet Bicycle Wheels. Because I learned so much watching Mr. Jet, Charles Wells build a wheel that I wanted to share it, wheels being so important for the ultimate road ride. That story is here if you missed it (lots of tips if you’re into wheel building): Wheel Building with Jet Bicycle Wheels at NAHBS.
This week is intended as a virtual ticket to the show through the lens of my cellphone. I could only be at NAHBS on Friday and it didn’t open until noon. I walked as much of the show as I could and clicked away when things grabbed my eye. I didn’t take notes, but I’ve included captions for the photos with a little commentary and what information I took away.
The exhibitors at this custom bicycle show pull out all the stops to dazzle showgoers with the best they have to offer. Not everything is available for sale or reproducible. You may see some things here that pique interest. If you have questions, please ask in the comments and I’ll try to track down answers and reply to your comment. To find links to most of the makers who had a booth, search the NAHBS exhibitors list. Site takes a while to load.
On with the show…
When I see Steve Rex’s work, I think of the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi, in which Jiro Ono spends his life trying to perfect making a certain type of sushi. Steve must dream of bikes because his craftsmanship is so impeccable it’s hard to believe it was produced by human hands. Notice that the elegant city bike complete with fenders, racks and front bag is also a Rex showing how versatile he is, too.
Park Tool brought their sweet traveling repair shop on a trailer to NAHBS, full of all their latest tools and always ready to help anyone needing tools or repair help (even inside a bike show). I got to meet one of the stars of their YouTube Channel, Truman, who showed me their new and completely built-in-house in Minnesota HBT-1 Hydraulic Barb Tool. With it, hydraulic disc service just got a lot easier because it allows cutting hoses and pressing barbs in accurately, correctly and quickly with this one handy tool.
Truman also demonstrated their new TS-4.2 Professional Truing Stand, which accepts the widest tires yet so that you can work on every bike in the family even if little Lucy is into fat biking. This beefy stand is easier to use with thru axle wheels and has a clever spinner knob on the right to speed wheel installation. It’s also a little easier to dial in the self centering. For more information about all of Park’s new tools for 2019 – and there are a bunch, see this video.
One of the highlights of all NAHBS shows is the creativity displayed by the builders. Like the paint job on this beauty, which looks more like jewels painstakingly applied to the frame one by one.
Speaking of creativity, doesn’t this stool constructed of recycled rims and inner tubes look awesome, and comfortable, too? Seen in the Rivet saddles booth.
Thru axles are now on lots of disc-brake equipped road bikes, so much so, it’s easy to take them for granted. Talking to the Robert Axle Project folks, I learned that there’s a whole lot of variety with thru axles and lots of confusion out there about them, too. So they started their company and created their product line to help. Visit their site at https://robertaxleproject.com/ and you can use their Axle Finder tool and also purchase the correct replacement axle or upgrade.
It looks straight out the 1965 Tour de France, but it turns out that this team vdub is the property of a bike shop in Southern California that get this, actually purchased the rights to use the retro and very classic Mavic logo.
Ordinary riding kits are so boring. Step up your roadie style with an eye-catching and comfortable cycling dress from Biciclista LLC.
While it sports a stunning USA paintjob, this FiftyOne Bikes one-off carbon masterpiece comes from Dublin, Ireland. Don’t miss the matching Silca pump.
Custom racks are a common theme at NAHBS (it takes great skill to design and build them). The massive bottles will come in handy on that around-the-world tour!
We’ve reviewed Boyd Wheels here in RBR and raved about them. What caught my eye at their booth were their tubeless valves with wingnuts. When your hands are frozen they’ll make it possible to get the valve out and they’re much easier to tighten to prevent leaks at the valve. See their latest wheels and other goodies at http://www.boydcycling.com.
This mostly titanium wonder from No22 Bicycle Company won a best-of-show award. What I find amazing are its titanium fenders. Yes, it has a titanium pump, too, but that’s been done before by Bruce Gordon. I’ve never seen ti mudguards before and can’t imagine how they made them. Because when you try to bend or form ti, it wants to spring right back. I suspect they used one-off machines to form the fenders during fabrication. However, I have no idea how they installed them to fit the wheels so nicely, something usually done only by hand by bending the fenders. Best-of-show indeed.
Ride total: 9,219
Though he has been building bikes for 32 years, Rich G ngl has never before publicly displayed his handiwork. He s a reclusive man who likes to focus on creating the finest bikes, and he never saw any point in spending the money on tradeshows given that he s always had plenty of business. But when his customers heard that NAHBS was coming to Denver, G ngl s hometown, they took matters into their own hands, purchasing a booth for him, creating printed materials, and rallying customer bikes to display. If that s not testament to the quality of his bikes, then perhaps G ngl s two-time world champion status is. (He won them both aboard his own creations, naturally.)