Monday, March 5, 2012

Flashblog Heaven... NAHBS 2012!

There comes a time in every bike blogger's life when he must clear the calendar for one stupendous, awesome bike show, and this year it was in Flashblog's backyard, if my backyard extended for 90 miles, and the bike show was the North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show in Sacramento, California.  I can only hope the Afterlife can present such a mouth watering array of fine custom bicycles, if not, then this was heaven on Earth.  There is so much to say about this event, I could probably blog about it for the remainder of the year.  I'm not even sure where to start.  Wait, I think I have a beginning, here it is:

Project Light, from English Cycles
As always, click pics for larger views

Rob English is a custom builder out of Eugene, Oregon.  He and his significant other manned their booth with a few of his bikes on display.  I started talking with her, then transitioned to him.  Rob is, I believe, an Englishman based on his accent, mid-30's, and a bike racer.  I was struck by the intent of this bike.  Note the pencil thin seat stays, the carbon seat post and headtube, the STEEL frame.  The saddle is so high, or the bars so low I could not frame it all in the pic.  Rob said it is his new racing bike, which he is yet to try out, and it weighs in at 10.5 lbs.  Ten and a half pounds.  Do you realize how unbelievably light that is?  And that is ready to race, with pedals and bottle cages.  It features rare EE compound brakes, which are no longer made, but are also the lightest brakes available.  The front chainrings are selected with a left side downtube shifter ala 1990. Love it!   This bike is just gorgeous when seen with eyes, my old camera barely does it justice.  Rob is very personable, friendly, and...I just want him to build a climbing bike for me.  He said he would.  Oh man...

Here's another one of Rob's bikes, "Project Right",  this one is seriously ill.  Check out the right single bladed fork and solo right seat/chainstay and Tune brand hubs with disk brakes.  The left side of the bike is non-existent! Belt drivetrain.  Carbon wheels.  This one blew Flash's mind, its just so...I can not get passed that left side missing....Dude, that is so Out Of The Park!!

Next up is something awesome and mindnumbingly Boss:  Ericksen's Titanium Tandem

This tandem won Best Tandem Award, and believe me, there were many, many to-die-for tandems on display at this show.  I talked at length with the Ericksen rep, and he pointed out some very cool and one very janky (In Flashblog's opinion) feature.  First of all, the titanium work is top notch, the bike breaks apart and folds for travel as well.  Gates belt drive connects Captain to Stoker.  Stoker has access to emergency disk brake in the rear (a good thing)  Stoker also has access to gear selector override (the bad thing---can you imagine husband and wife bickering over which gear to be in and trying to override the other's choice?  NO WAY!!)  "WAY!" says Erickson, it's standard on this bike.

Here's Cyfac's carbon tandem, a thing of beauty, a work of art and engineering,  but rather 2nd tier I guess compared to some of the other outrageous tandem builds out there.  Carbon...meh.   Like this one:

This is Paketa's Magnesium framed Gates driven tandem that won Best Alternate Materials award.  I swear to God Almighty the thing only weighs 20 lbs, I lifted it up.  It features very nicely internally routed cables.  No emergency brake on this baby, the builder's wife, who rides it,  remarked "why slow down at 65mph?" Daaammmnnn!

How's about this retro inspired beauty?  Something to fall in love with from Victoria Cycles.  Check out the flask to keep the Stoker happy.  Steel frame, Brooks leather, rear disk, wheels with many spokes.  Oh my.

Hey, those other tandems too ordinary looking for you?  How about this weirdly organic looking Calfee mountain bike tandem.  The tubes are almost 4" in diameter in some places, and pencil thin in others, it appears like a black tree with vestigial branches.  Is this Darwinism in bike design?    Some bikes are looking downright skeletal, very cool actually.

Here's the "treat your kid like royalty" version of the Calfee tandem.  I mean, just bizarre in many aspects, it kind of looks like a Dr. Seuss cartoon bike, but the least of which is that someone would pay a king's ransom for this state of the art rig rather than hook a tow along on their mountain bike for junior.  I'm just jealous I can't fit on the front and have someone else steer for me.  

How about this bike from Crumpton, which pushes the lightweight bike category to its limits:

Nine point five pounds, ladies and gentlemen, someone slap me because I must be dreaming this.  Paper thin carbon tubes, it features a host of Euro-spec parts ruled unsafe by America's lawyers:  Scapula forks, AX lightness stem, post and bars, Tune hubs, carbon chainwheels, ridiculously drilled out rear derailleur.  This is not the bike you want to be riding at 53mph down Southpark drive.  Super hot and dangerous...I want it now!!!

I'm getting Flashbacks now, not sure what is real and what isn't, so I'm going to end part 1 here.  Much more to come, check in often for many more NAHBS features.

One guy writes Flashblog and the other works for Alameda Bicycle, both are stoned on bikes


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