Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Handmade Bike Show - NAHBS 2008

Yeah, Christmas came either early or late. Or something. After a couple of years of thinking "Aw, why doesn't the cool stuff ever come to Portland?" the cool stuff finally did. The North American Handmade Bicycle Show.

Incredible. two days later and I'm actually still buzzing.

It's impossible to try to sum up an event like this-- you either grok it or you don't.

"NAHBS? Yeah. Awesome, dude. Sweet sweet stuff."

"NAH-what? What? bikes?" Ah never mind.

Couple of things:
The guys at RRVelo had a flipping sweet carbon-composite 'cross bike with internally routed cables. My first reaction was : "Nice but these guys must be from somewhere dry." (They are.) But then I thought I'd check the BB shell. Bingo-- slots in the BB shell. Makes sense-- not only to ease routing but also allows drainage. The paintjob was stunning-- transparent candyapple red with opaque metallic in the middle of the tubes (behind the logo decals). It was lit from below and the bike glowed. I swear. I'm a steel person (aluminum is okay, too) but that composite bike almost made me switch my allegiance! 

I spoke with the guys at the Thomson booth-- yeah, the seatpost and stem guys. I asked them to please make more cool stuff so I could buy more. Their response: "Just wait!"

They've got a very nice seatpost collar coming out soon. Typical Thomson awesome. I asked if they could pretty please make an allowance for a rear cable hanger. I wish I could remember his name, but he was an engineer with Thomson and he said that was exactly what he was going to do and that he was using the Surly hanger as a reference. Excellent-- I use one of Charlie Kelly's "Candy Baskets" which is likely what gave Surly the idea. 

It also sounds like they may produce a front cable hanger at some point in the future. Which is nice. The engineer mentioned a problem they had identified with most of the available front hangers in that they're not square to the steerer and once tightened can put uneven pressure on the headset. Yup! I've grumbled and cursed to myself many times in my search for decent seatpost clamps, rear and front cable hangers. I just can't believe that I have to settle for some uneven piece of forged junk to put on my CX bike. I mean, seriously-- I paid too much to sully the bike with cheap-ass garbage from Tektro. But I don't have much choice. I was fortunate to discover the Charlie Kelly hanger (Thanks Cyclepath!) and now Surly has just about everyone else covered with their similar product. Now we just need something for the front. Hopefully Thomson will step up  with a front hanger.

Anyway-- talking with the Thomson guys was a treat. They were so enthusiastic about what they were doing. Awesome. Keep making stuff guys-- I'll keep buying! Oh-- and start checking their site www.lhthomson.com beginning this summer. They'll announce the release of their seatpost clamp there.

Courage Bicycle Mfg. -- a new builder in Portland -- had a sweet 'cross bike to show off with a super-trick "shark-fin" kinda rear brake cable guide. The cable runs through the seat-tube and then over the little fin projection above the seat-stays. Part of the deal is that they slot the seatpost. Super-slick. And the Thomson post is good for it, too. Anyway-- their bikes show lots of nice little touches. Plus they claim to give back 5% of the purchase price back to local advocacy groups like the BTA. Awesome.

Paul's Components left me a bit underwhelmed. I only troubled them with a couple of questions but got bored-sounding, mono-syllabic responses in return. Sure, I suppose that Paul has been around for a long time and seen and done much. But still, pull the stick out, okay? :)

And Dirt Rag opened up my bag and shoveled in a ton of merch just for subscribing (Years later I finally got around to subbing to my favorite bike mag.). Man! Procrastinating never paid off so well!

Unfortunately the NAHBS moves east next year... Indiana? The organizer's home town I believe. Well, good for me. I was suffering serious handmade bike envy.

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