Every year, I find myself staring down the barrel of my telephoto lens in a convention center, documenting some of the year’s finest bikes, yet there is very little time for reflection of these bikes on my end. At some point, I jokingly said “I should do a Radavist Awards for NAHBS this year…” to which whoever was on the receiving end agreed. While I commend the judging panel at NAHBS on their choices, what goes on behind the scenes there might not necessarily reflect this website’s subjective perspective towards bikes. In a lot of ways, the selection of bikes chosen for documentation have already made it through an initial “judging” process. I usually walk into a booth and pick my favorite bike to shoot. Even then, I have no idea what the scope of NAHBS will show me and it isn’t until it’s all said and done where I can finally reflect on what I saw. So, all I ask of you is to flip through this gallery of drive-side bikes before reading any further. (more…)
The man. The myth. The Cheetah. Nelson Vails‘ career at the track is one filled with gold and his post-professional track cycling career is only getting better. With tons of appearances at various events all over the globe, the man is on his A game constantly and consistently. To commemorate his track cycling career, last March, Raleigh announced a collaborative effort between Nelson and Don Walker Cycles on these Raleigh Team Tribute track bikes. Why this bike? Well, during the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Nelson rode a Raleigh track just like this to a silver medal.
Raleigh and Don Walker made two of these models: the Cheetah, a modernized version of Vails’ 1984 race bike, and the Cheetah Race, a lighter, more aggressive and aerodynamic version.
It was great finally seeing this bike in person and once again, I’d like to give Raleigh a high-five for using a US builder on these replica models.
I don’t know what it is about this bike, but throughout the weekend, it just caught my eye every time I walked past the Enigma Cycles booth. Maybe it was the paint – duh – but it well… I mean just look at this thing! It’s got paint-matched Campagnolo Record, down to the hubs and all the polished stainless bits poking out from under that blood-red paint. I can’t help but think this bike is sopping wet with 80’s horror movie prop blood. Mind. Blown.
Whatever Enigma is drinking over there in the UK, I like it.
I love seeing Moots‘ offerings at NAHBS. They’re typically very subdued, void of ostentation and fine-tuned for whatever form of riding. So when I see Moots do something experimental, I’m intrigued. This year, they brought a dirt drop “Soft Tail Prototype” to the show and it gained a lot of attention. My favorite moment was overhearing an older gentleman explaining to a younger child who John Tomac is. Sure, bikes like this live in that magical Tomac era, and many would argue they should stay there, but part of me – the fun part of my brain anyway – really wants to see how a machine like this handles. As for the details, Moots selected the Fox AX fork, a new soft tail design with 15mm of travel in the rear wishbone seat stay and a chunkier tire up front. All it needs is a dropper post, ATMO.
Are you interested in one? Well, this is a prototype, and Moots is still trying to figure out the final detailing. If you want to email Moots, you can do so at their website.
Down on Rando Alley at NAHBS this year, a few booths from the J.P. Weigle randonneur and the Chapman randonneur, was this Johnny Coast. It’d been a while since I’ve seen Johnny, or his work but I began my Saturday morning documenting this bike before the crowds descended upon the show. Everything about this bike was a pleasure to photograph and it’s one of my favorite drive-side shots from the entire weekend.
Admittedly, I was bummed when I didn’t see Japan’s Cherubim‘s name on the list of exhibitors of NAHBS bikes but was thrilled to find one in the Rolf Prima booth. This particular bike is Cherubim’s first ever “all road” bike and was made for Blacksmith Cycles. It features clearances for 38mm tires, fender mounts for matching Honjo fenders, flat mount brakes and custom-selected Kaisei steel tubing.
No22 may be known for their razor-edge precision road and track bikes, but their XC mountain frameset, the Old King, is the one that grabbed my attention in their booth this year at NAHBS. These 29’er XC frames are designed to maneuver and track in tight, technical terrain, as well as offer a smooth ride for full-on, all-day excursions. It was nice to see so many XC-oriented frames this year at the show, especially ones that are this beautifully executed.
You know what I love about this bike? It’s been out there, getting dirty and living it up in the randonneuring trenches. It was built for the Concours de Machines, which you can read all about at Jan Heine’s blog. This competition is used to determine the best lightweight randonneuring bike and adheres to very strict rules. While this feat may sound intimidating, for Peter Weigle, it’s just another day in the shop. You see, Weigle is a master of his craft and it’s the details you can’t see that make his bikes so extraordinary. His construction techniques are second to none and his bikes are meant to get ridden, not to be hung on a wall in someone’s personal bicycle gallery. A Weigle wants to live its life to the fullest and luckily for the owners of his bicycles, the pleasure is shared between the two. To top it off, this bike, as shown here weighs 20lbs (9.1kg) on the nose and can be broken down easily to “Rinko Parts,” or the Japanese method of breaking down bikes for train travel.
Out of all the new-to-me brands at NAHBS, I was most impressed by Dublin, Ireland-based Fifty One and their carbon road bikes. Everything about the brand was dialed, from the paint to the geometries, and the overall stance of the bikes. Take this Fifty One road, coated in a matte peach color, with bold, white branding, it looks almost uncomfortable just sitting still in a convention center. The overall package and presentation distracted me from the frame construction and the unique seat stays, which are made in-house at Fifty One’s facilities.
Whoaaaaaa there, pardna’, you’re rollin’ into 36’er territ’ry. This is NAHBS, the place for over-the-top, artisan, balleur bicycles and no one does it better than Black Sheep Bikes with their Colorado-made swoopy titanium frames. This year, the team brought one of the most extravagant builds I’ve ever seen from their shop, this giant 36’er all-rounder. Just about everything on this bike is handmade, down to the Leh Cycling leatherwork, titanium fenders, and titanium pannier baskets. No detail was spared when it came to the design, construction and the final build. I’m actually at a loss for words, so I’ll let the photos do the talkin’.