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.
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.
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.
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.
Sometimes, the simplest bikes at NAHBS are the ones that grab my attention. It doesn’t have to be shiny or flashy to motivate me to document it. In fact, I often like seeing bikes at NAHBS that don’t look like overly precious, especially when it comes to mountain bikes. This year, Indy Fab brought a handful of completes and various frames, but this hardtail really did it for me. Chris, the painter, had fun applying this fade paint job, a throwback to IF’s first bike ever. These paint jobs lived on for a while, even through the serial numbers in the 200s. For example, this “Test Bike” on the MTBR forums, built with XTR. Now, with this bike and its updated, modern components the legacy that is IF lives on.
Where do I even begin here? DiNucci is a damn living legend in the frame building world and anytime I can get my sweaty palms on one of his bikes, I take extra time documenting it. Case in point: this beautifully-lugged classic road bike with Campagnolo Super Record. I love everything about this build, from the lug work, to the Enduro headset, right down to the bright, sparkly arrow reminding you to keep pushing forward. With a bike like this, however, I doubt the owner will need any motivation. Mark, if you’re reading this, it’s always a pleasure to be in such great company.
The Olivetti namesake comes from an Italian typewriter company. That was Peter’s grandfather and he is carrying on the Olivetti name, but with bicycles. This Thunder Pig rigid mountain bike was an experiment in making a robust, fun and practical frame, with clearances for a 3″ tire and a rigid fork. It was the first time Olivetti had made a segmented fork and I’d say his experiment worked wonderfully, down to the pure silver coin caps. As a side note: every Olivetti customer gets to select a silver coin to be brazed onto their frame if they so choose. These coins were passed down to Peter and it’s nice seeing them live on with his art…
Baltimore’s Chris Bishop of Bishop Bikes hasn’t been to NAHBS since 2013 and this year, he brought what he’s known for and then some. You can always count on Chris for the finest fillet and lug construction, but I was completely surprised to see him soft-launch a production line called Item 4, named after the substrate specification used in gravel roads in the North East. Item 4 is a collaboration with Vicious Cycles, who is tig-welding the front triangle of these frames, with Chris fillet brazing the rear and all the accoutrement needed for a rim brake or disc brake road bike. Chris really wants to expand the Bishop Bikes lineup, to get more people out on bikes that he’s designed and to be honest, I can’t wait to see more of these roll out of his Baltimore workshop…
When a frame builder has access to an in-house graphics department and paint booth, great things happen. Thomas from Horse Cycles‘ partnership with Ben Falcon has really paid off. Ben’s paint mixed with Horse’s frame design and construction delivers show-stopping road bikes like this.
No matter how high tech the road bike gets, nothing beats the lines and elegance of a classic road bike. For this year’s NAHBS, Bryan of Royal H Cycles brought this beautifully-lugged road bike with equal parts practicality to functionality. At first, I didn’t even notice the Di2…
Remember that DeSalvo dream bike NAHBS contest? Well, here’s the winning bike concept. Mike’s offerings each year are usually clean, minimal road bikes but this year, it was a special treat seeing a bike like this in the DeSalvo booth. This dirt drop frame features the Fox AX “gravel” fork, a KS LEV dropper, Sim Works To Smile dirt drops, color-matched PAUL and White Industries. A few builders brought bikes like this to the show and personally, I’m into it.
A few weeks back, around the time of the Giro x Radavist collection drop, Mosaic reached out, saying they had the perfect bike to display the goods with at NAHBS. I was into it, Giro was into it and I think you’ll be into it. This GT-2 build by the Colorado-based builder features a geometry more tuned for long day dirt rides and lightweight bikepacking, custom Spectrum-powdercoated decals with matching OD green King Kages, and a set of custom bikepacking bags from Colorado’s JPaks Bags. The beauty of the JPacks frame bag system is the nesting frame bag that fits under this partial frame bag, allowing you to either run bottle cages, or an additional bag for storage. You can see this bike for yourself at Houston’s Bicycle Speed Shop.
Brookyln’s Weis Manufacturing first made an appearance here on the Radavist not too long ago. With their asymmetrical seat stays and robust dropout design, the look and feel of their framesets felt very unique to me. After seeing their bikes in person, it further solidified this. While their construction is top-notch, I couldn’t help but be drawn into their Splatter Track finish, which was executed perfectly, in my opinion anyway, by the paint shop at Horse Cycles.
The team from Stinner Frameworks brought one of their most outrageous paint jobs to this year’s NAHBS. I always find it ironic that disruptive patterning attracts so much attention, but that’s what happens when you cover a single speed mountain frame entirely with Splittermuster 31-inspired graphics. It was an all-hands-on-deck situation leading up to NAHBS at Stinner, with the paint job alone taking four days to complete. Each layer of patterning took 5 hours to just peel and apply the mask. I’m not usually one for fancy paint jobs on a mountain bike, but this bike is complete insanity. Then, to up the ante, the same pattern was used in the custom Yanco bags.
Let’s not get too caught up on the finish, however. Even though this bike is shown with a rigid fork, it can be converted to a hardtail configuration with the Cane Creek Angleset headset, which adjusts the head tube angle between .5º and 1.5º, enough to allow the use of an appropriate travel fork. For now, however, the Whisky fork and cockpit, Whisky rims, Chris King hubs, along with the Thomson dropper makes this a lightweight and completely capable single track assault vehicle.
NAHBS isn’t always about $3,000 paint jobs, expensive carbon components, and electronic shifting. For Squid Bikes, their paint jobs cost more in time than they do in materials and the sky’s the limit for their designs. This year at NAHBS, the bike that jumped out at me was this tracklocross fixed gear built with Paul Components and White Industries, using their ‘cross bike frameset. There’s even a nifty little stash container built-in to the handlebar end to keep things even sketchier… but still safe. This bike beckons for some #RubberSideUp action.
We’re kicking off NAHBS this year with a unique build by Kentucky’s Stanridge Speed. A client in New York City contacted Adam about building a him a unique track bike, prompting Adam to design and construct an homage to the 3Rensho Broad Axe, a frame from cycling’s heyday of experimental design. For the build, Adam used various tubing specs and construction techniques, a custom-manufactured Phil Wood left hand hub, ENVE hoops, FSA Olympic-spec Vision Metron cranks, FSA Metron 5d bars, and paint by Jordan Low. As far as track bikes here at the show, this one takes the cake…