Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
This is the third and final installment of our coverage of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, that took place March 15, 16 and 17 in California’s capital city, Sacramento. We’re wrapping up with a selection of the beautiful and innovative creations that make this show so unique and wonderful (everyone is welcome to attend).
Please note that much of what appears at NAHBS is custom, one-off or brand new. Which means details such as availability and price can be sketchy. If you want more information on any item you see here, try contacting the company. You’ll find a complete list of exhibitors at this link.
One of the original mountain bike pioneers and a key part of Wilderness Trail Bikes (WTB), Steve Potts may even be better known for hand building some of the most refined and nicest riding titanium bicycles anywhere. A lucky person is probably taking delivery of this beauty after the show. Note the lack of mechanical suspension and elegantly delicate disc caliper mounts.
With so much activity in the handmade space, it helps to have something that makes your brand stand out. For Weis Manufacturing of Brooklyn, New York, it’s their interesting and unique Speed Stay asymmetrical seatstays claimed to increase power transfer. Aboard one, you will be the easiest rider to pick out in the pack. http://www.weismfg.com/bikes/hammer-road
When it came to component groups at NAHBS, SRAM’S Red eTap AXS graced an awful lot of custom road rigs on display. It’s easy to understand why. SRAM’s eTap wireless shifting means there are no shift cables or electronic wires to have to deal with greatly simplifying bike builds and lending an ultra clean look to a bike. And, the new AXS crank and chain are strikingly different – though chains similar looking to the AXS were around in the 1890s, actually.
One of the great bicycle think tanks in the country is the Cal Poly Bike Builders of Cal Poly University in San Louis Obispo, California. Their booth was manned by students eager to show off their creations, like the two shown. They were also getting lots of laughs over their booth floor which was covered with carbon fiber fabric. https://www.calpolybikebuilders.com/
When you have a concours-level bike wagon, like this stunning Mini, you can’t be scratching it up with clamps, straps and hooks. What you need is a rack that hangs on with industrial-strength suction cups. And, Sea Sucker has your back with racks that stick to every vehicle. https://www.seasucker.com/
Taiwan has long been known for bicycle component and accessory manufacturing. So it makes sense that the handmade bike movement would take root there. This bronze beauty handcrafted by Io̍k Lîn (Marc) Tsiu is an example. His company Ioklin Frameworks is in Taipei, Taiwan.
Classic cruisers are so cool looking and so much fun to tool around on that they’ll never got out of style. Retrotec in Napa, California, has been building upgraded cruisers with modern geometry since 1992. While they look a lot like that 50-pound beach cruiser, don’t let the appearance fool you. Whether riding around town or hitting the trails or roads, Retrotecs ride like a dream and always stand out from the crowd. Check out the wild paint on this one and the Paul’s grocery carrier. http://www.ingliscycles.com/retrotec/
Making something old and boring, new and exciting, Oddity Cycles showed one of their special-edition-of-10 chromoly trail bikes – custom old-school coaster-brake cruisers. What jumped out to us was the wildly customized Shimano coaster brake rear hub. Also know as foot brakes because they’re backpedaled to slow and stop the bike, this simplest of stoppers has been around almost as long as the bicycle. So, it was unexpected to see one all gussied up with oversize flanges and cooling fins – excessive heat spelling disaster for these simple devices. http://odditycycles.blogspot.com/
We thought these ready-to-mount uppers by Rocket7 Custom Cycling Shoes were cool-looking. And from the sound of what goes into their design, fit and construction, a pair of these bespoke shoes could provide the most comfort, efficiency and lightness you’ve ever experienced. Small wonder Rocket7s are popular with quite a few pro riders who make a living with their feet. https://www.rocket7.com/
Since we started our NAHBS coverage with a story about Jet Wheels’ Charles Wells and his lacing, truing and tensioning wizardry, it’s only fitting that we close with some eye candy for wheelsmiths. While they wouldn’t give us a clue what it might cost or when/if it will be available, Abbey Bike Tools did let us fondle this gorgeous dishing gauge. You can run it with or without the dial indicator and the auto-set plunger is the slickest-working design we’ve seen. Barely touching the release button lets it float down onto the axle like magic. You’d expect nothing less from Abbey. That’s their renown Decade Chain Tool behind. http://www.abbeybiketools.com/
Ride total: 9,226
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.