We are lucky to have North American Handmade Bicycle show in Hartford, Connecticut this year. Two hour drive from NYC didn't seem that bad, so I got in the car and headed up there thinking how bad the traffic is going to suck on the way back home. All I can say is that the show was worth it.
Apparently, NAHBS pre-sold more tickets then what they sold the whole show last year and seeing how many people were there on a Friday I can say that it's probably true.
It's an intense experience seeing the best builders that you following online in a single space. You just don't know where to start from. Lucky, as I was walking in I bumped into cyclocross racer from Squid, Anthony Clark, who directed me to their booth.
The Squid team made the trip all the way from Sacramento and inspired everyone with their energy. I love how they encourage others to be creative and take chances.
As always it was great to catch up with Doug Breismeister, a local builder from Queens. His paint schemes definitely brought some vibrant colors to the show.
Stinner had only three bikes at their booth, but they had many other bikes scattered all over the other component manufacturer's booths at the show. I can think of at least three other booths with his bikes. I think the most impressive pieces of his were at Brooks display.
Aaron's personal bike was the cleanest bike I have seen in a long time. The team sanded off all the component logos and matched the color of the components - including the brakes - to the raw titanium frame color. This bike was accompanied by wheel builder Jones's personal commuter as well as another bike with an amazing camo paint job.
This Standridge was shown at the Rapha event this week, so I had seen it on Instagram. I was lucky enough to see this beauty in person.
Newcomers row (is that what it's called?) is always very exciting to see. There are always new ideas presented and the enthusiasm of the builders are intoxicating. I especially enjoyed checking out the bikes from Porter Cycles, Brooklyn and Toivo bikes, South Korea. Juliet bikes from NorCal was showcasing a personal project incorporating layers of wood with carbon fiber on his frames to create shapes that were really unique.
NAHBS is a must-visit show for anyone interested in ordering a custom bike. Even though you can have a feel for what you want from the images you see online and social media, it makes a big difference to see the quality of the products in person and meet the creators behind them. I came home all inspired and unfortunately wanting another custom bike that I really don't need.