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Just drifting around the NAHBShow, you can’t help but be amazed at the variety of bicycles on show, but nothing suggests togetherness more than a tandem. And this show has some beautiful examples of togetherness, even a tandem which will fit into two – admittedly largish – suitcases. Anyway, find images here.
As you might expect, handmade bicycles incorporate design details and craftsman signatures which delight and amaze. I’ve put together some examples which I just picked out of thin air as I make a hasty circuit of the show. Every single bike should be in this section … every single one. Find images here.
Having returned from a trip to Japan a few weeks ago, my outlook on everything has been a bit “Japan-centric.” Going through the exhibit hall at NABHS has been no exception. I was immediately drawn to the CCP booth, but certainly, I was not the only one. Their unique line of clothing is practical, stylish, fun, and attracting a lot of attention from the crowd.
I spoke to Aaron Terruli, the company’s translator and sales rep. (He is originally from New York, but has lived in Japan for the past 14 years). CCP (Cycling Clothing Products) is located in Toyko. I met two of their designers – Masayoshi Sato, and Tsutomu Kijima.
Mr. Kijima has been making clothes for 35 years. His goal is to make everyday clothing for riders that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. One of the main observations I made about cyclists while in Japan is that they are very practical. I saw business women riding to work in their dresses and high heels; grandmothers riding through the city holding an umbrella with two grandchildren on the bike.
CCP’s line of clothes is a refreshing break from the spandex culture I am used to in New Jersey. I bought my self a nice micro-fleece winter shirt with a hood and collar that can cover your mouth and nose. (The guys are referring to it as a ninja suit; I think of it more as a riding burkha). All of CCPs clothes are made in limited editions of 200 per style. They constantly refine their designs. They do most of their sales on line and everything sells out fast.
CCP’s booth also has a few bicycles on display that are made by Hioki Kitajima, of Punch Cycles, a friend and associate of CCP. He made the bikes on spec for CCP for NAHBS. The goal was to come up with a mixed retro/modern look to reflect the lifestyles of the riders in the Company. A really cool accessory hung over one of the bikes was the handmade messenger bag made out of flattened tubulars. Everyone was gawking at that, but unfortunately it is not for sale.
One of the sales reps that I talked to, Junichi Chiba, is a former Keirin racer. I was in awe when I went to watch the races in Kyoto last month. He no longer does Keirin because it is a difficult lifestyle, but now does 50k road races which are gaining in popularity. They are called “mix-up.” These races involve individual riders, no teams, and have anywhere from 100 to 150 people participating.
The Japanese influence at NAHBS seems to be growing each year. It’s a welcome addition.
A personal view by Rita Romeu
A crowd just over 3,000 filled the show halls on day two, as cyclists from all over the USA turned out in droves to the world’s finest exhibition of handmade bicycles.
Customers of the framebuilders at this year’s NAHBS will be interested to know that these artisans are customers, too. Just as builders work one on one with individuals to create made to measure bicycles, the companies who supply them with their most basic raw material, the tubes, work closely with individual framebuilders to meet the precise demands of the craft.
Fabrizio Aghito, VP of Gruppo, the parent company of Columbus is at his 5th NAHBS. Makers of Spirit, Life, Zona and XCR, the first seemless stainless tubeset, he emphasized Columbus’ ongoing research in materials and tooling as being vital to their flexibility in customer relations. Distributed in the US by Nova Cycle Supply, they also sell direct.
Among Columbus’ most satisfied customers is Richard Sachs, who along with Dario Pegoretti, commissioned a tubeset they call PegoRichie. Made to meet the high standards of these two master craftsmen, Sachs said he and Dario worked for 16 months with Columbus to bring the tubeset to production. Available in three different versions, Sachs uses PegoRichie exclusively.
Another builder with a close relationship with a tube maker is David Kirk of Kirk Frameworks.
He works with Reynolds on custom alloys and tube shapes. His JK Special models use a different Reynolds or True Temper product for each tube area, matching the properties of the tube to the function and effect he wants to achieve for a particular customer. Kirk appreciates these supplier’s responsiveness to his (and therefore, his customer’s) needs, as well as his ability to order in smaller quantities, such as the fifty pairs of chainstays he orders from Reynolds each year.
Just as the customer of an NAHBS framebuilder demands the highest quality materials and craftsmanship, along with individual attention, so these builders demand the same from their tube suppliers.
When Florida veterinarian and triathlete Rachel Gross contacted the custom bike builder to create for her a new road bike, she decided to take the opportunity to pay tribute to her mother, an artist suffering from Alzheimer’s. When it came time to paint the bike, Gross asked the company to recreate one of her mother’s abstract paintings.
Building the custom carbon-fiber frame took KirkLee co-owner Brad Cason about 60 hours, but painting it was an even more time consuming. To mimic the look of the inspiration artwork, a canvas texture was painted onto the joints, followed by several layers inspired by the original art. All of the paint was applied by hand with a brush.
“When you spray paint on, you can’t get the same texture as you would a painting,” Cason said. “We wanted the texture, chunkiness of the painting to translate to the bike. We used a softer brush to create the brushstrokes, then knocked the top edges off and finished it off with a clear coat.”
In all, it took 200 hours to recreate the inspirational artwork, compared to the typical 8-10 hours.
Cason admitted he was a bit jealous when the paint job began stealing some of the thunder from the bike, but said both he and his client are thrilled with the way the bike turned out.
When it was time to deliver the bike, I told her, “The good news is your bike came out beautiful. The bad news is you’re going to want to keep your old bike,” Cason said.
Cason was reluctant to say how much Gross paid for the bike, but estimated a similar bike would cost a new client in excess of $10,000.