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NAHBS 2011 – Austin Day 3 – Wrapping It Up

by Josh Lipton

Our last day at North American Handmade Bike Show (NAHBS) was half-a-day, and unfortunately we had to get out of Dodge mid-day as Stu and I had other obligations. I had to move on Monday, and Stu had to get back for a week of skiing.

Signal Cycles Booth – Best City Bike Up Front

Instead of being at the show, we were getting all the latest updates from the #NAHBS Twitter hash tag, including the big end-of-show announcements, the 2011 show winners, and news that the 2012 NAHBS will be held in Sacramento.

Bilenky Bicycle Works - Rohloff Hub with Phil Wood Shell

Bilenky Bicycle Works – Rohloff Hub with Phil Wood Shell

For our last day we re-filmed a few video interviews that we’d botched on the technical side on the first take. We rounded out the day with a final sweep of the show and finally catching Stephen Bilenky of Bilenky Cycle Works for our final interview.

Even with a few setbacks we were able to pull together a great set of builder reviews. We will be editing and publishing them over the next few days.

Bilenky Bicycle Works - Chain Guard

Bilenky Bicycle Works – Chain Guard

Up for publication over the next few weeks are our interviews with, Eric Estlund of Winter Bicycles, Sam Whittingham of Naked Bicycles, Jermey Sycip of Scycip Bikes, Wade Beaucamp of Vulture Cycles, Jeremy Shlachter of Gallus Cycles, Stephen Bilenky of Bilenky Cycle Works, and more.

We had a great time talking to this all-star cast of bike builders, focusing on commuter bikes. And in the process, we learned a whole lot about what working with a custom builder offers to the customer.

Arundel Bicycle Accessory Company - Motor Kit Bicycle

Arundel Bicycle Accessory Company – Motor Kit Bicycle

FSA Metropilis Two-Speed Crank

FSA Metropilis Two-Speed Crank

Of all the questions that we asked, the most intriguing replies were to our questions about integrating electric-assist kits into custom-built bicycle designs. With builders only willing to stake their reputations on bike parts and components in which they have great trust, they offer up a great deal of skepticism about the reliability and long-term usability of the current electric systems. Many of them spoke about the finicky nature of the electric-assist systems with which they had spent time.

They also expressed skepticism about the mileage range of the systems currently available–not wanting to set their customers up with a bike that left them with a heavy, dead battery to pedal home on frequent occasion.

Stu Capturing Filler Video of a Retrotec Commuter/Cruiser

Stu Capturing Filler Video of a Retrotec Commuter/Cruiser

Many of the builders did say that they were keeping an eye out on the emergence of better and better electric-assist systems. Many of the builders just haven’t had the opportunity to work with an electric-assist system simply because their customers hadn’t asked, and they hadn’t suggested it to the customer.

Given the level of innovation that this group of bicycle innovators seems to muster every time that they take on a new direction, it is quite suprising that the leaders in the electric-assist market have not reached out to some of these builders to see what they can do.

We we’re excited to speak to some of the builders about the upcoming Oregon Manifest, specifically a portion of this coming year’s show pairing top-design firms with several different Oregon based builders. I wonder if electric systems might be considered in their agenda to “to push the boundaries of what a modern utility bike can be.”
But I digress with my own bike commuting ideas and agendas. This show is really about the craftsmanship and passion for cycling that brings handmade bike builders together with their customers to build truly wonderful bicycle that is sculpted to the specific use and body type of the cyclist.

Thanks for keeping up with our coverage of the 2011 North American Handmade Bike Show in Austin, Texas. Keep an eye out for our additional videos to be posted in the days to come!

Yarn Wrapped Bike

Heading Out of NAHBS – We wrap with a Yarn Wrapped Bike – Best Textile Related Bike

 
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