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Thread: Nahbs 2014

  1. #1
    pvd
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    Thanks man! Good write up.

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    Those are really good points. Not sure if you saw bike snob's feelings on the show: Bike Snob NYC: NAHBS: Niches All Have Been Sold but as someone who is thinking if attempting to make bikes for a living some day, NAHBS could potentially be helpful. I've only been once (Denver last year) and it was great, but I did notice a lot of the things you critiqued. I also noticed that paint has a whole flit to do with who was getting noticed.

  4. #4
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    I agree with Pete, with the caveat that most of the builders who go are not really for-profit enterprises (though they may think they are), so heavily populated/rich population locations don't really matter in that the majority of the attendees (both builders and visitors) are just there to geek out, not to transact business.

    Also, his point about nobody caring about geometry is spot on. Geometry and fit are really what you are selling as a custom builder, the fact that it's basically never discussed in the context of the show has always disturbed me.

    -Walt
    Waltworks Custom Bicycles
    Park City, UT USA
    www.waltworks.com
    waltworks.blogspot.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    I agree with Pete, with the caveat that most of the builders who go are not really for-profit enterprises (though they may think they are), so heavily populated/rich population locations don't really matter in that the majority of the attendees (both builders and visitors) are just there to geek out, not to transact business.

    Also, his point about nobody caring about geometry is spot on. Geometry and fit are really what you are selling as a custom builder, the fact that it's basically never discussed in the context of the show has always disturbed me.

    -Walt
    Ya, I went to NAHBS because it was a short drive. It confirmed my fears. Not sure I will go again.

    I think what would be totally awesome would be an event at a mountain bike trail with a campground where builders would set up booths and tons of people would come and ride bikes. Sorta like your basic mountain bike race but oriented more around the hand build aspect of the sport. It would be cool if someone would simply promote it as a chance for builders and riders of bikes that are actually hand made get together to compare builds do some riding and socializing. If there was enough interest I am sure we could just pick a weekend and make it happen (i.e. a low key pro and amature framebuilder get together where people can setup booths and also actually ride bikes). I don't think it even needs to be a media event.

    If there is enough interest I could talk to one of the local parks in Raleigh, NC about doing a weekend.
    Mark Farnsworth, Raleigh, NC
    http://farnsworthbikes.com

  6. #6
    pvd
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    I do love the show. It's always a blast. I'm just sharing some critique so it can improve.

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    Quote Originally Posted by febikes View Post
    I think what would be totally awesome would be an event at a mountain bike trail with a campground where builders would set up booths and tons of people would come and ride bikes. Sorta like your basic mountain bike race but oriented more around the hand build aspect of the sport. It would be cool if someone would simply promote it as a chance for builders and riders of bikes that are actually hand made get together to compare builds do some riding and socializing. If there was enough interest I am sure we could just pick a weekend and make it happen (i.e. a low key pro and amature framebuilder get together where people can setup booths and also actually ride bikes). I don't think it even needs to be a media event.
    I'd offer the host one of those here on the North Shore, motivation for hosting would be to weed out all the lightweight xc whipped single speed bikes and to see builders build some tough modern AM rigs like the Breadwinner Bad Otis. Hopefully there would be some dual squish built.

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    I am not as down on the show as my earlier comment may have implied. I did really enjoy seeing the bikes, tools, and especially meeting people in person. The Bad Otis was great and bold bike. I am mostly a mountain bike guy with a form follows function mindset but the eye candy all around is cool. Some of the eye candy was silly but then again it's all in fun. It seems like a mix of art, fashion, personality, and actual bikes. It's kinda neat that there are so many niches in cycling.
    Mark Farnsworth, Raleigh, NC
    http://farnsworthbikes.com

  9. #9
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    Wow Peter, that's a boatload of photos! Thank you for sharing with the rest of us. I only wish you had included full bike photos to provide context for the details. I suppose I can look at the NAHBS site to connect the dots.

    I went to NAHBS last year since it was in Denver and I live in Golden. I enjoyed it and found it inspiring. It is what it is: a show for show bikes. I love Mark's idea of a more grassroots-oriented gathering. Though I'll admit I'm not willing to travel across the country to do so.

    Personally, I cringed at the inclusion of e-bikes. To me, a bike with a motor is no longer a bike. Build 'em, sell 'em, fine....just don't call it a bike!

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    There are so many inane rules for NAHBS, specially designed to make it hard on the new builders. Thanks to a friend of mine that won Best City Bike his rookie year, new builders are no longer allowed to compete in the general categories. As a new builder you can only show one bike. And you can't sell anything like a t-shirt from your table. My friend ended up winning a Best Gates Bike award in his second year, but he had had enough by then and decided not to return. Of course, there is also a limit to the number of times you can show up as a one-bike, new builder.

    It would be nice if there were more Meet Your Maker rides, to at least talk bike philosophy with a potential custom builder.

    Home Ľ Meet Your Maker

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    To the outsider looking in, custom frame building appears to be a weird industry. There are many examples of people who are confident in themselves and their skills who are happy to share their experiences on this forum and elsewhere. Oddly though, there seem to be even more builders who are insecure and afraid of business, competition and life and who want to erect bizarre barriers to entry, foster an isolationist/elitist attitude, and otherwise discourage new builders. It sounds like some of this dysfunction has unfortunately manifested itself at NAHBS with the restrictions on new builders and the questionable judging.

    As a (very) small business owner, PVD's comments generally pointing out that NAHBS needs to focus on what benefit the builders get from the show really rang true. I can imagine the huge burden, both in terms of time and money, that attending the show places on a small or one-man building operation. Holding the show in Portland, Denver or Boston makes sense. Louisville - not so much.

    As a spectator though, I really enjoyed what I got to see at the Denver show. It is worth noting though that as a spectator, venue makes a huge difference. I can easily sell a trip to Denver to look at bikes as a vacation to my wife: Fun bed and breakfast, nationally recognized restaurants, beautiful scenery, etc. Same would be true for San Diego, Portland, Boston, etc. I just can't sell Louisville. If the goal is to increase attendance (and that should be a goal) then some cities are just going to make more sense than others.

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    [QUOTE=Rikebike;11077563]To the outsider looking in, custom frame building appears to be a weird industry. There are many examples of people who are confident in themselves and their skills who are happy to share their experiences on this forum and elsewhere. Oddly though, there seem to be even more builders who are insecure and afraid of business, competition and life and who want to erect bizarre barriers to entry, foster an isolationist/elitist attitude, and otherwise discourage new builders. It sounds like some of this dysfunction has unfortunately manifested itself at NAHBS with the restrictions on new builders and the questionable judging.

    One feature I feel is missing in your perception of pro builders and aspiring new builders is that these people have invested a lot of time and money and even marriages to learn and hone their craft.

    They've paid their dues.

    With this in mind, sharing their wealth of knowledge and desire to excel should not be taken lightly in a world of mass produced widgets coming from lands and people you will never know.

    Celebrate them!

  13. #13
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    Iíve predicted for some time that there will continue to be fewer custom framebuilders and more other kinds of bicycle related industries with deeper pockets showing at NAHBS. For various reasons it can be unfriendly or too expensive for a framebuilder to exhibit. The show is a profit making enterprise for its owner and it should not be a surprise that those interests are often not aligned with the needs of a small builder.

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    I do love the builders and I'm thrilled they share. I know first hand how expensive and time consuming building bikes is - that's why it is important to recognize the financial burdens of the small builders and make it easy (and rewarding) for them to display. I have nothing to base this on, but my expectation is that very few frame builders are independently wealthy people who can afford to build bikes with no thought to how they will sustain the effort year after year. And if NAHBS wants to be profitable year after year, it will have to continue to draw handmade bicycle makers.

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    I went to NAHBS 2013 in Denver with a bunch of bike dork friends who don't build frames. I think they were more interested in the show than me because so much of the emphasis was on the color-coordinated, baller builds as opposed to highlighting the frames.

    There were tons of amazing details, clean finish work, excellent paint, etc. - all the things you would expect of a high-caliber professional frame builder. I got excited about some small details here and there but what I didn't see were a lot of were bikes I would actually want to ride.

    One exception was this:

    Nahbs 2014-sycip.jpg

    I tried to strike up a conversation about it but it went nowhere.

    The funny part of the non-frame building exhibitors was that they were ALL ABOUT making connections. I learned of a local Fort Collins company distributing BioLogic dynamo hubs. I reconnected with them online after the show and when I told them I was going to use the hub to power my lighting system for the CTR they insisted on giving me the hub at cost. The next best conversation I had was with Nova about chainstay and dropout options.

    My interests as a very amateur, garage hack frame builder are geo, fit, and construction techniques. I chatted with some of the new builders including Edoz about construction but the established builders didn't seem to want to talk shop. I might go again the next time it's in Denver but I certainly wouldn't travel to it.

    If you're into the whole lugged/amazing paint/perfect fillet worshiping kind of thing you'll get an equal experience looking at Friday Night Lights over on velocipede (Friday Night Lights).

  16. #16
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    I showed off a frame at one of the new builder tables this year and while I agree with a lot of what you said I have to say it was a blast. Also, PVD while you may have not noticed it some of us on the new builder row DID have a printout with dimms. (though I can't speek for any of the other booths outside of our row as I hardly ever got a chance to get out and walk around).
    My bikes [Fe][C]ycles

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    Pete Thanks for being at the show and taking such great Photos of everything that catches your eye. I for one am at the show to sell bikes or at leased plant the seed of a new bike into potential customers.

  18. #18
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    I didnt attend this years show but did go to Sactown and Denver shows and most of what I saw were rideable one offs that you'd expected from a custom frame maker, my
    Retrotec is no less of a custom then what Curtis and crew bring to the show. Their were some goofy bikes from "bike artists" but even at Interbike there is rows of "what were you thinkin"bikeishly weird stuff.
    PAYASO 36er.....Live the Circus

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    I heard it wasn't that great. I was also disappointed with the lack of media coverage and porno fest post show. Thanks for the pics and write up PVD.

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    I fear I will never build a frame - unless it is carbon... I do not to well with fire... and come to think of it I always get glue all over the place... I will never build a frame.

    But I do love the show. As everything in the world - what is cool for geeks becomes mainstream and the geeks are pushed out.

    Fixed gear riders were cool actually being messengers - hipsters ruined that for everyone.
    Mountain biking was cool and weird - now everybody does it.
    Star Wars was cool - then Disney bought it and they have Jedi Ducks... sigh.

    To make a custom bike - is a thing of art and beauty.

    The show to me is an art show - and if it ever comes to San Diego I will be there.
    My bike is heavier than yours - it does not have Carbon or Titanium parts - I love it!

  21. #21
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    Did I miss one or is every bike at NAHBS required to have a King hs? Thanks for the pics, really great.

    thanks, Brian

  22. #22
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    yes, they actually have a booth set up at the vendor entrance with park headset tools and a guy selling headsets.

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