North American Handmade Bicycle Show - Portland,
Wishful thinking at the NAHBS... With hundreds of bikes to look at, it’s easy to
lose your head among the sparkling paint jobs and custom carved lugs.
By Stephanie Chase
If this article doesn’t get published it’s probably because I’m locked away
in jail right now, having been caught trying to sneak back into the North
American Handmade Bike show after hours and make off with some of the goods. And
who could blame one for getting a bit delirious and light-headed with all the
temptations from 155 talented and creative exhibitors?
BME's full "Bamboo Composite" bike
Walking among the displays ranging from local Portland workshops to frame
builders from Germany, Italy and Slovakia, my eyes were as wide as a kid in a
candy shop. Bikes made of everything ranging from ubiquitous steel and carbon
(left: Chris King’s Cielo frame) to more exotic bamboo and bullhorns were
accompanied at every angle by fine details across the frame.
It’s strikingly obvious that the handmade bike builders take into account not
only the intricate details of the lugs, drop outs, and other smaller points but
also in the bike as a composite whole. It doesn’t matter if the bikes were
created for functionality or as experiments; all are works of art. And so I
began wistfully scheming for a way to bring some of these creations home with
me. As a moved from booth to booth, I began to compose a short list of items for
the odd distinction of “bikes I wish to get my hands on.”
Sweetpea "Little Black Dress & Calfee's Bamboo and
Two very different bikes immediately impressed me: Sweetpea’s “Little
Black Dress,” and Calfee’s Bamboo and Bullhorns bike. Both bikes spoke to very
opposing aspects of my cycling personality.
Portland builder Natalie Ramsland has created a women’s specific bike that is
artfully feminine without being too girlish (frames come in either light pink or
black), while Calfee’s bronco of a bike would scare the living daylights out of
anyone standing beside one at the start line of a race (should it ever meet UCI
regulations!) One is more traditional; one is a complete renegade, and both
represent the variety and creativity of the show.
But my wishful thinking didn’t stop there. After grabbing those two there
were a couple of other bikes that would’ve not only assisted in my get-away but
would be a joy to have. Being a racer, albeit a slow racer - one of Don Walker’s
tartan track bikes might give me the speed to out sprint the cops on the flats.
Crime scene do not cross - Ring the alarm from Don Walker
But, in case I decided to lose the police in Portland’s epic and winding West
Hills, one Rrvelo’s full carbon bikes would be perfect for climbing the twisty
back roads to throw them off my trail. If I really wanted to disappear I could
also grab one of their cyclo-cross frames to make my way through the infamous
and gelatinous Portland mud.
Get ready for cross from RRVELO - RRVelo’s full carbon
But then I started thinking in a more practical vein. I’d need a way to carry
all these bikes, and Ira Ryan’s cupcake carrier could easily be converted to
transporting my cargo.
Ira Ryan’s cupcake carrier - I’d also make off with his cookies (note to
other builders: offer cookies at your booth!)
Of course, with such a load to carry the bike would have to a workhorse and
having one from Strong Frames (the name says it all) or Proletariat Bicycle
Company would ensure that the bike was up to the challenge. (Picture: Strong
Frames’ banner) When you’re trying to make off with such a large cache you’ve
got to have the equipment to cart away your goods.
The stars of the Proletariat motif live on
Once I managed a clean getaway from the police, I could leave the speedy
bikes behind and resort to “about town bikes” to revel in my loot.
SyCip’s perfect Bar Bike featured large beer taps for shifters; which would
be hard to miss after too many pints of Portland’s infamous beers.
The "Dream Fixie" from Naked, The beauty of being Naked - Naked gets
dressed up with this bike
I might have some competition for Naked’s alluring fixed gear, which a
bystander described as a Portland fixie rider’s “dream bike.” And the bike was a
dream; two clever cut outs in the top tube allowed for a U-lock to fit easily
through while the handlebars were imprinted with four finger prints. .
Naked’s bar cut outs - Fingers here, get's your hands on Naked’s bars.
The beauty of woven wood and carbon fiber is light.
Zullo’s wooden rims
With hundreds of bikes to look at, it’s easy to lose your head among the
sparkling paint jobs and custom carved lugs. But sitting in my 8x10 cell I’ll
have a lot of time to think, scheme and dream of a way to get to Indianapolis
for next year’s show (traveling by bike, of course).