12 March, 2007

Handbuilt Bike Show Photos and Impressions

I just got back from the hand built bike show and a short vacation. Here's a link to many of the photos I took at the show. These are still unedited and uncaptioned.

This struck me as the year of the randonneur bike. Honjo fenders were evident in more than a few booths. There was also a plethora of front racks. While most of the racks were very well made, some did not strike me as particularly good designs. It really brings home the point that good designs are most often based on those that came before. In this case the racks that were based on or copies of old French designs really seemed best.

While there were plenty of fixies, I get the feeling that they are not as popular as a few years ago. It was neat to see more with racks and fenders though.

Overall this was a great show and a really fun event. I got to meet and speak with a lot of talented builders and a few who are truly legendary. Anyone who has even a passing interest in bikes should go at least once.

Over the next few days I'll post about some of the special bikes at the show.


Joel said...

From the photos I have seen to date, I was most impressed with AntBikeMike and the brown city bike with basket by Perriera.

AntBike does some very nice racks - unfortunately he does not make them for any bikes other than his own. He also uses internal gears a lot. I think internal gears make sense in urban, especially nothern urban settings. His modern variation of the old Schwinn cargo bikes was especially intriguing.

The Perreira city bike had fun lines and appears quite practical. The single speed gearing may not be all that good in a hilly city like Pittsburgh or San Francisco. In Chicago, LA, NYC or even its hometown Philly it should do well.

I thought some of the track bike color schemes were interesting. The idiom is fairly limited, in my opinion however. Seems to me the builders have done about all they can with it.

Michael S said...

Did you see that Perreira rando bike with the box lining and the retro front derailleur? Pretty sweet. The blue ANT cargo bike? A dream city bike.


Joel said...

Sorry for the error above. The brown city bike from Philly is by Bilenky. Perreira is the guy who walked away with all sorts of prizes.

As it happens, Ahearne won best city bike over the Bilenky. But if you read around, you will find there is a romantic tale wrapped around Ahearne's bike that I think gave it an unfair advantage. Of course all is fair in love as they say.

Chuck Schmidt said...

Nice to meet and talk to you at the show Chris. I don't know about the rest of the country but the track bike/fixie thing hasn't peaked here in the L.A. area at all. A couple of my local shops even stock and display a complete range of NJS keirin parts!

Joel said...


Only seen pictures of ANT, but I really like what he is doing.

I find myself dreaming of owning a garage just so I could buy this one:


joel said...


Many are building and buying fixies here in Chicago as well.

I think they are interesting bikes. I am just not sure what else the builders can do with them that has not already been done.

I just finished building a single speed with a some NSJ components, but also a good mix of city practical (VO well represented among the parts, I might add). It is nice and well suited to Chicago. Not a show bike though.

Chuck Schmidt said...


Yes I agree, not much left to do that hasn't been done before, but that's almost true of any bike. One of my favorites at the show was Greg Townsend's recreation of an English 1950s grass track racer, but of course none of those bikes look as refined as Greg's interpretation. (In Chris's photos it's the bike with the champagne cork hanging from the swallow saddle, wood rims, tape around the tires and '30s BSA motorcycle paint scheme.)

I ordered a Rolland Della Santa track bike with fork drilled fork from the show and am going to outfit it with mid 1970s Campagnolo pista. Modern nostalgia... déjà vue all over again.

david_nj said...

Funny, I don't care for most of those bikes. They look so affected and pimped-out. Bike porn. The Herse or Toei bikes are the consummate understatement: with their monochrome paint jobs aren't crying out for attention. One could walk right by them and only if he was in the know would he "get it".

I don't mean to be an Eeyore. That's just how I see it. ;-)

Chuck Schmidt said...

Bike porn and affected and pimped-out... yeah I guess. Grant Pedersen of Rivendell characterized the NAHBS show as a "Doily Show" and didn't attend so maybe there is something to that. I ride some extremely flashy bikes and extremely plain bikes and it all works for me.

joel said...

Part of what is going on has to be many builders, especially the younger ones without a backload of orders, feel the need to tart out their designs.

There is a lot of competition out there. Builders feel pressured to stand out.

With the exception of the earlier linked cargo bike - which he made for a Vintage Bike Quarterly project, ANT opted to bring bikes sold to West Coast customers. The result was a number of nice, but understated bikes which probably better reflect what most builders actually wind up making for customers.

And to be completely fair, look at the Ira Ryan selection. Yes, the pink frame and white handlebars shout look at me. But on close inspection, his lines are clean, concise, and proportionate. I would be very interested in seeing one of his bikes in more sedate colors.

dbrk said...

The craft we saw at the show was matchless, I mean the effort and execution in handmade bicycles has likely never been better than it is now. But, honestly, I found too many bikes too precious by half: things were done to make statements or in ways that were, to my eye, excessive or unnecessary. I love elegant style as much as the next bike geek but I also cringe at over-the-top-ness. Sure, this is a show but what commends the purchase or the notion of _riding_ a bike that goes aesthetically or practically too far? One man's too far is another's just fine. And I'm good with that too.


Anonymous said...

I haven't been to the show, but will go soon. . . I agree that the bikes appear to be awfully tarted up, but hey, it's a show after all. I am glad that some builders like Ira Ryan, who appears to me to have a great sensibility, have a chance to be seen and get a leg up. The zeitgeist is interesting . . . the bird's eye view of the direction of the trade, which is channelled differently with these gifted builders. Personally, I insist on some abuse for each of my bikes. If I wouldn't be comfortable locking it in the rain, I wouldn't buy it. I think people who want to buy ridable art ought to consider buying regular ol' art. A painting will outperform a bike anyday in its ability to hang on a wall.

michael white