We despatched our pal Cass Gilbert to the North American Hand Built Show to see what goodies he could dig up. Even though the show was a couple of weeks ago, these bikes aren’t going to be dating any time soon…
Looking for a segment of the well heeled ti market was this Dean softail. Belt-driven and Rohloff-hubbed, it comes in at 26lbs. Many of the builders were splitting the chainstays, as you can see here, for future proofing.
Its Fox RP23, along with some squish in the chainstays, promised 1.5in of travel. Finishing kit includes custom ti handlebars and stem.
Kent Eriksen, founder of Moots, tied for Best Titanium construction, with this curvy 650Bhard tail, rounded off with a splash of colour thanks to matching anodised top caps and logos.
Brand new from Coloradan Moots is the Mx Divide, sporting 4in of travel from its single pivot geometry with a carbon fibre link. It’s aimed as both a long distance machine and a cross country race bike, weighing in at a touch under 26lbs.
A Schmidt dynamo hub powered a front light and a Garmin GPS. The unusual Rohloff shifter is made by Frenchman Gilles Bertoud, and comes in three parts, allowing it to be slid around a drop bar.
The theme on the Divide, touring experts Co Motion’s drop barred 29er, was self sufficiency and reliability.
The Rohloff Speedhub is mated to the newer Center Track Carbon Drive Belt, designed to stop the belt from sliding over to one side. Makers Gates claim the belt will outlast a conventional chain twice of three times over, though costs are much higher too.
How much cush do you really need? This ti softtail fat bike was an crowd pleaser. It weighs in at 33 lbs, saving a good deal of heft with its tubeless tyres. Don’t let the lack of snow in Arizona, where Form are based, put you off. Apparently their bikes are being bought by those exploring the dry riverbed trails of the Sonoran Desert, out on the Mexican border.
It featured a custom clamp for a new ‘old stock’ Lefty fork, to allow enough offset.
For when 3.8in tyres just isn’t enough…
Also out to catch the eye was this poker game-themed, Reynolds 853 fillet brazed De Kerf, complete with one-piece handlebar. The pierced joint is classc De Kerf.
The integrated seat mast is adjustable by 20mm, using a butchered Thomson seat post to create an internal wedge.
Brit-born Rob English was showing this belt-drive single speed 29er, weighing in at a feathery 18lbs, thanks in part to runner-bean seat stays. It also included a fully internal hydraulic hose routing, with an upside down headset – a la Pace F100 – for uninterrupted, super clean lines and easier internal cabling.
Long time Titanium master Steve Potts picked up the Best Titanium Construction award. Simple, understated and beautifully executed, this compact 29er included custom ti stem and bars. The steel fork is rigid-specific, updated from a Charlie Cunningham, straight-bladed, crowned design first unleashed some 30 years back.
Tony Pereira, one of the hive of framebuilders representing Portland, Oregon, picked up Best Mountain Bike.
His Jeff Bates Racer is the latest evolution of a well-honed singlespeeds. Noteworthy touches include curvy S stays and cable routing that’s both rub-free and internal in places for that silent ride. The extended split seat post is a nice touch too.
Amongst the most interesting of the Fat Bikes on show was this Bamboosero cargo bike. An offshoot from Calfee, Bamboosero is an ambitious project aiming to provide affordable, locally built omniterras for the African market – the frames on show were made by framebuilders in Ghana from local bamboo. Craig Calfee hopes to offer them both as low cost, reliable rental bikes for harvesting times, and to be rented out to tourists on bike trips promoting tourism in the area. The Nuvinci hub claims five years of maintenance-free service, while the fat tyres were chosen to protect rims over difficult terrain. Bamboo spokes can also be used to bolster strength. As many materials and components as possible will be sourced from the region. For example, the platform and chain guard are made from a local tree bark, once exported up the Nile to the Egyptians to embalm mummies…
Talking about fancy finishes – Independent Fabrications went all out on this ti big wheeler.
There were plenty of Cyclocross machines on show too. This Monster Cross Igleheart – the Trailpoacher – is drawn for 700x45c Panaracers, and came set up with hydraulic brakes.
His signature segmented fork was stiletto thin and included a dropout that acts as the connector for a Schmidt dynamo hub, complete with internal cable routing.
A button on a customised Chris King headset turns the light on and off, while the guts of the electronics are hidden in the steerer tube.
Ti and stainless steel goodness from King Cage.
Fancy finishes are the name of the game at the show, as on this Groovy Cycles 29er. The story goes it’s a fortieth birthday present for a lucky father. The deal? His daughter got to choose the finish…
This 29er hardtail from Retrotec sported a cruiser-esque twin top tube design. There are variations on a theme to choose from, with triples and ‘classic cruiser’ possible too.
Echoing the Ritcheys and Bridgestones of yesteryear, this filet crazed Gallus 650B had a timeless feel to it. A blast from the past, it was finished with ‘new old stock’, including Sugino cranks, Suntour thumbies and finned cantilever brakes.
A rack mount on a Pacenti double crown fork for randonneur-style supports.
The real McCoy was at the show too. The moustachioed man himself,Tom Ritchey, is building a limited run of 40 frames to celebrate 40 years of building frames, each fillet brazed and finished with nostalgia graphics.
Rick’s Hunter High Plains Drifter was built for camping trips into the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains. It sports a Ritchey Break-Away style sleeve and an S&S for overseas travel. Even the drop bars, 60cm at their widest, can be split.
A custom yoke reduces chain suck and maximises tyre clearance, while bottle mounts offer extra H20.
The Framebag was nicely integrated too, held in place with eyelets around the frame. The mix of canvas and lightweight sailcloth fabric is different from other bike packing setups too.
Swing dropouts seemed popular this year, such as this Hunter designed version for single speed and derailleur compatibility.
Another Black Cat offering – powder coated, then wet painted and lacquered for an oh-so-shiny yet hardwearing finish.
Also geared for overnighters was this Black Cat. Its finely crafted, suspension compatible front rack harks back to the platform designs of old randonneurs bikes.
The matching rear rack, elegantly shaped to follow both the arc of the tyre and the chainstays.
The aptly named Alcohauler, seen here in the workshop in which it was made, was inspired but the barge-like Dutch cargo bikes. Built by car-free living Josh Boisclar to haul 3 kegs of beer, it was ridden a hundred miles to the show.
And lastly… Also from the realms of the bizarre was this 36er Brobdingnagian single speed, seen here with 6ft 4in Black Sheep employee Tod Heath for a sense of scale. The whole ti rig weighs in at 33 lbs. 20lbs of that are in the wheels. 10lbs of which are in the tyres alone… Weight penalties and tyre availability aside, Black Sheep say it will ride up stairs and descend down trails like a demon. Aptly, it won the Best Experimental award.