That's it for our blog coverage of the 2011 NAHBS in Austin. But please continue to visit the NAHBS website for updates on next year's show, the planning for which has already begun.
At this time we'd like to thank all the individuals, corporations and organizations that make this show a huge success every year.
A huge thank you to show director and NAHBS founder Don Walker and his management team, who keep the show simultaneously relevant to the entire cycling industry, and true to its original vision; no mean task.
Many thanks to NAHBS' corporate and media sponsors, without whom the show could not exist: Shimano, New Belgium Brewery, Giordana, DeFeet, Mellow Johnny's and Bicycle Sport Shop, Bicycling Magazine, cyclingnews.com, Momentum Magazine, MountainFlyer Magazine, DirtRag, and Cog Magazine.
A big thank you to our builders and vendors, who continue to innovate, generate new ideas and methods, and create the best bicycle-related products on the planet.
And finally, a Texas-sized thank you to the great city of Austin and its active cycling community, who provided the volunteers and bottomless enthusiasm necessary to produce a great show.
Roanoke, VA native Aaron Dykstra uses an icon of his hometown for his bicycle company's namesake and manufacturing paradigm.
Norfolk and Western Railroad's "J Class " locomotive No. 611 was a sleek and streamlined steam locomotive built in the N&W's Roanoke Shops in May 1950 to haul passenger trains at speed over the Blue Ridge Mountains and onto the flatter terrain of Virginia's Tidewater region.
After the N&W retired its steam locomotives, No.
Joe Parkin is the only U.S. professional cyclist to have ridden World Championships in three different disciplines: road, mountain bike and cyclocross.
If you've read Parkin's chronicle of his time racing the Kermesse circuit on Belgian and Dutch teams during the late 1980s and early 90s- A Dog in a Hat- you know that he's not shy about exposing the sometimes sordid world of pro racing and elevating it with his wit and personal insight.
But when I ask Parkin, a first-time visitor to NAHBS and Editor for both Bike Magazine and Paved, what he thinks is the biggest technical innovation he's seen at the show this year, he uncharacteristically lingers on the question.
"I think it's the way that builders are using both cutting-edge materials and very traditional designs," Parkin answers.
We learn from our mistakes, and that is the basis of Spooky Bikes, which is a reincarnation of an old company by the same name in Western Massachusetts.
In a time when mountain and BMX bikes were king, Spooky Bikes was churning out 500 frames per week. But, one too many mistakes put the company in a hole that they couldn’t climb out of and the brand died.
Seven years later, Spooky Bikes was brought back from the dead by Mickey, who used to race for them, with the help of Billy, who was a young apprentice with the original company.
“We learn from [the old company’s] mistakes every day” says Mickey.
Much of the company product line has stayed the same, such as their XC hardtail model, the Darkside, now being built once again by Frank the Welder - who was the original welder for the company.
But, some things had to change.
It is Tommasini’s first time at NAHBS, but unlike some other first-year attendees, this is already a brand name with a large cachet.
Tom Kreider works for Red Rose Imports, the company that distributes Tommasini frames and bikes in the US.
He wanted to get the Tommasini brand some exposure at a convention other than Interbike, and found the more consumer-based approach of NAHBS to work well.
There were multiple Tommasini bikes and frames on hand, meant to represent a variety of Tommasini offerings.
Frames were made in titanium, a steel/carbon combination, carbon, aluminum, steel and stainless steel.
However, most of Tommasini’s sales in the US are of steel bikes with chrome lugs, as there simply aren’t a lot of Italian manufacturers offering custom bikes of such quality in the US.
And it was the lugged frames that stood out; all the frames were certainly nice, but the lugged steel frames had a timeless quality to them - no doubt helped by the fact that they're made in Italy by a company that has been around since shortly after WWII.
Tommasini is a family owned company, which Kreider had been working with prior to picking up their brand a couple years ago.
Tommasini only makes around 2,500 bikes a year and has a world-wide market, yet plenty of people at this year's NAHBS have been coming up and relating their experiences with Tommasini.
“I am totally amazed at how many people come by and say that they have one or used to have one…there’s some heritage to the brand,” says Kreider.
A 4 year veteran of NAHBS, Aaron Barcheck is no stranger to the show, and the same can be said about his frame building experience.
After seven years as head builder and welder for the well-known Dean Titanium Bicycles and with over 500 frames under his belt, Aaron set out on his own in 2009 to begin crafting Mosaic Bicycles in Boulder, CO.
The bikes themselves are mosaics comprised of endless options and features that come together to form a spectacular final product.
You get the feeling that KVA Stainless is on the move to the top when you sit down and talk with a lot of the builders at the 2011 North American Handmade Bicycle Show.
Andrea Blaseckie of Naked Bicycles and Design says, “The KVA guys are totally open to ideas and suggestions,” and from talking with Joe McCrink, the production manager at KVA, you get the same feeling.
The roots of KVA go back to 1950 when Joe’s grandfather started a heat treating company.
Philadelphia based Bilenky’s Mixte/City Bike/Shelly Horton is a “super-custom” build with every aspect of the frame and components scrutinized and modified to achieve the finished product.
A typical Bilenky bike spends between two and four days in production. This one took over a month.
Bilenky selected Columbus tubing for the frame. The fork, lugs, stem, and fork-crown were all made in-house with fork dropouts supplied by Paragon Machine Works.