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NAHBS the Hard Way: Bikepacking off the Beaten Path from Santa Rosa to Sacramento

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NAHBS the Hard Way: Bikepacking off the Beaten Path from Santa Rosa to Sacramento

NAHBS the Hard Way: Bikepacking off the Beaten Path from Santa Rosa to Sacramento
Words by Nicholas Haig-Arack and photos by Derek Bolland, Rie Sawada, Brendon Potts, Toyoshige Ikeyama, Adam Sklar, and Nicholas Haig-Arack

I’m sitting here eating a bowl of melting ice cream trying to recollect a few hazy days of sungold and lime-green-tinged moments in the rolling hills and burnt panoramas of remote Northern California, where our international band of amigos took the long and dirty way to the world’s greatest handbuilt bike show.

Let me set the scene with a quick prologue: Three years ago I rode from Santa Rosa to NAHBS in Sacramento by way of scenic Hwy 128. Two years ago I took a meandering MTB road trip to NAHBS in SLC by way of Sedona and Moab, with plenty of memorable stops for singletrack sessions along the way. Last year I skipped the show in Connecticut – too far to ride, too far to road trip – but I was there in spirit since my personal purple haze hardtail was on display in the Sklar booth. After last year’s show was over, when I heard that the Handbuilt Bike Show was making a return to California’s capital in 2019, the wheels were set in motion. I had to plan a route to top them all. More mileage, more dirt, more fun, more friends, more fence-hopping, more roughin’ it.

NAHBS 2019: Boosted Black Cat All Road – Most Practical Innovation Award

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NAHBS 2019: Boosted Black Cat All Road – Most Practical Innovation Award

Big tires, short chainstays, double crankset, pick two. Normally. Then there’s the concept of a boost road bike, in which case, pick all three. I call it a concept because there’s a lot that has to go into making a boost road bike a reality. To go from 142mm rear spacing to 148mm rear you’ve got to move things outboard a bit. I’ve seen a number of cobbled together solutions for this, which usually revolve around adopting a complete MTB drivetrain from the bottom bracket spindle, to the cranks, cassette, and chainline. But what about a road bike? Or a chubby road bike? That’s where it gets interesting.

NAHBS 2019: Porter Cycles Art Deco Townie – Most Comprehensive Artisan Award

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NAHBS 2019: Porter Cycles Art Deco Townie – Most Comprehensive Artisan Award

“As I was posting process photos of this bike on Instagram, people kept saying, oh it’s so Art Deco, and I didn’t know what that even was. I finally opened a book and said, yeah! It totally is. I was so inundated with it being everywhere in New York that I didn’t even know it had influenced my work so much. Art Deco is in the buildings, the subway, the gutters in the street. It’s everywhere.”

I hate to throw quotes around that saying because I’m sure I got some of it wrong but it really resonated with me. Tom Porter is a sculptor in Brooklyn, New York. His brand, Porter Cycles is a side gig for him. As a full-time sculptor and fabricator, he began building bikes in 2010 and this year at NAHBS, he brought this beautiful townie that presents an interesting dichotomy.

No. 22 Launch No. 6 Composites Forks Including a 700x45mm Clearance All Road

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No. 22 Launch No. 6 Composites Forks Including a 700x45mm Clearance All Road

You might have caught this in this weekend’s NAHBS coverage but No. 22 have launched a new composites line dubbed No. 6 and with that launch come three new fork options: an all road fork, a disc road fork, and a rim brake road fork. Each fork has minimal branding and a sleek profile to fit your frame, but their all road fork really caught my eye. With clearance for a 45mm tire, 50mm rake, 382mm axle to crown, fender mounts, and barely there branding, these forks will be a surefire hit with builders. See more at No. 6 Composites.

NAHBS 2019: Mega Gallery Part 03

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NAHBS 2019: Mega Gallery Part 03

After a jam-packed weekend at this year’s NAHBS, we’re rolling out content throughout the week, but not without another Mega Gallery, showcasing sights and scenes at the show, as well as a handful of the beautiful bicycles on display. Later this week, we’ve got some awards from the show, so stay tuned. For now, enjoy this selection of images!

NAHBS 2019: Mega Gallery Part 01

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NAHBS 2019: Mega Gallery Part 01

For the past few years, NAHBS has been covered quite extensively here on the site but going into the show this year, I felt like I needed a change, so leading up to the event I had already mentally planned on covering it a bit differently, I just didn’t know how. When the show opened yesterday, I quickly found that covering it in a different manner wasn’t just an option, it was mandatory. My usual methodology of shooting and documenting bikes was not going to work. The show in Sacramento feels bigger than in years prior, maxing out space, and thus not giving me any options for shooting on the floor, so I had to think quick.

Finding a small alcove just outside of an exit, in a less than ideal location, I was able to document some bikes but found myself enjoying walking the venue talking to builders and attendees, something I rarely had time for in years prior. This allowed me to really enjoy the show and mix the coverage up a bit, providing a more well-rounded viewing experience. I’ll be presenting the show in a series of galleries this year, with most information in the gallery captions and complete bikes broken down below, so enjoy!

NAHBS 2019: Santa Cruz 650b and 700c Reserve Wheels for All Road Bikes

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NAHBS 2019: Santa Cruz 650b and 700c Reserve Wheels for All Road Bikes

When it comes to carbon MTB wheels, Santa Cruz’s Reserve line is quite the deal. With modern rim profiles, minimal branding, and a lifetime warranty, they’re hard to pass up. All they needed to do was offer their rims in dropbar, or all-road friendly shapes. At NAHBS 2019 they did just that, now offering 700c and 650b Reserve Rims, with the same warranty as their MTB rims, all for a retail of $599 a hoop. See more features below.

Mosaic Cycles Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary at the 2019 NAHBS

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Mosaic Cycles Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary at the 2019 NAHBS

10 years in any industry is reason to celebrate and this year, Mosaic Cycles is doing just that. Choosing NAHBS to showcase unique bikes that epitomize their craft and creativity, we thought we’d share some of the unique builds they’re bringing to the tradeshow this weekend in a NAHBS sneak peek. We’ll keep this entry simple, so check out four of their eight bikes that will be on showcase at NAHBS this year below!

Doing Our 2019 NAHBS Coverage Differently?

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Doing Our 2019 NAHBS Coverage Differently?

NAHBS is coming this weekend and with it quickly approaching, I cannot deny the anxiety that comes with it. For me, it’s an insane amount of work and stress. In recent years, I leave the tradeshow feeling underwhelmed in terms of the benefits for hosting such an in-depth look at the framebuilder showcase. I truly believe we provide the best NAHBS coverage. Period. If we do one thing right on the site, it’s covering NAHBS. That said, with so many media venues covering the show now, with Instagram, and our good friend Brad shooting studio photos of the bikes, free to other outlets to use (many of which aren’t even in attendance), we have lost a huge chunk of the “market share” in terms of traffic from the showcase. Previously, it was worth it, but after last year’s effect on my body, I can’t help but question if it’s worth it. Plus, I’m never free to enjoy the company of friends and to meet new people…

Not wanting to disappoint the readers, or the builders for that matter, I wanted to ping the audience and see how you felt about NAHBS coverage. I’m proposing something a bit different. A bit less overwhelming in terms of the content produced and the physical exertion required. A lot of what goes into the selection of bikes comes from my own personal taste, or what I would think the readers would respond to. NAHBS is a showcase of very expensive bikes and that in its own can be very alienating, so while I do focus on some of the more balleur endeavors, I always have my eyes peeled for more practical, less financially polarizing builds. Still, at the end of the coverage, the website is overrun with high-end bikes. With the infinite scroll format, it’s very inundating and personally, depicts cycling as a rich man’s sport.

What I’m wondering is would one massive gallery featuring a drive side shot and a few details do the trick? Or a series of small gallery groupings – i.e. best mountain bikes, favorite drop bar builds, kookiest creations, etc – satisfy the coverage for this readership? Or should I just bite the bullet and keep doing it the same way? Please either comment below or vote using a simple HTML embed below. Thank you!

2018 NAHBS Drive Side Gallery and the First Ever Radavist Awards

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2018 NAHBS Drive Side Gallery and the First Ever Radavist Awards

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.

2018 NAHBS: Panasonic Randonneur with Shimano Ultegra

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2018 NAHBS: Panasonic Randonneur with Shimano Ultegra

In 1971, Panasonic Bicycles first began exporting bicycles to the USA and while their bikes in Japan are mostly consumer-level mamachari and other commuter cycles, this year at NAHBS, their hand-made division brought this beautiful randonneur with Shimano Ultegra, various Nitto products, and one of the wildest finishes I saw at the show.

2018 NAHBS: Red Enigma Extensor Road with Candy-Coated Campagnolo Record

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2018 NAHBS: Red Enigma Extensor Road with Candy-Coated Campagnolo Record

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.

2018 NAHBS: Moots Dirt Drop Soft Tail Prototype

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2018 NAHBS: Moots Dirt Drop Soft Tail Prototype

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.

2018 NAHBS: Care Bear Camo Cherubim Road

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2018 NAHBS: Care Bear Camo Cherubim Road

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.