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North American Handmade Bicycle Show - Portland, Oregon
By Staff
Date: 2/12/2008
North American Handmade Bicycle Show - Portland, Oregon

North American Handmade Bicycle Show - Portland, Oregon
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 Bullhorns
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).


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