One exception to this description that I found was the group from Shamrock Cycles. I started talking with Scott, and within minutes we were joined by Johnathan, and ultimately by Shamrock Cycles' builder Tim O'Donnell. The difference here was that the guys manning the booth, Scott and Johnathan were there because they were involved in the community of influence surrounding Shamrock Cycles and owner Tim. He's a Financial adviser by trade who came to the frame building biz by way of his wooden furniture crafts, which evolved to include metal components, which evolved into metal furniture with wooden components, which evolved into building frames... because he loved to bike. Now, they form a nuclear group intimately involved with Indiana's forward looking cycling development in Road, Trail, and Mountain biking policies. And, they manage to build some artful bikes, great display furniture all while brewing terrific beer.
In our two days cruising the NAHBS we talked, gawked and generally admired the work of some of the neatest craftsmen in the trade. So then, what is the handmade thing all about? I mean, obviously, some of the bikes here are made simply for the show. But, by and large, most of the bikes that appear here, while meticulously cleaned up for the show, also reveal the signs of significant use. In fact, many of the placards describing the details of the machines displayed, also name the owners of the bicycles and the specific purpose or application specifics considered in the custom build. You see, unlike most bicycle shops and manufacturers, these craftsmen have no "stock". They build up one-offs for customers with specific needs and bam the bike is gone and being ridden. For the show purposes, these bicycles are borrowed back from their owners so that they can be displayed here.
And I ask again, what is this handmade thing all about? Is it the details? Is it the bike with the belt drive instead of a chain? Is it the fleur-des-lis lugs on the beautifully welded or brazed frames? Is it the frame mounted whiskey flask amongst the water bottles in a break down frame tandem by Bilenky, is it the outrageous paint jobs from Peacock Groove, the wooden fenders of Keith Anderson Cycles, or Ahern's rabbit in a cage where the basket belongs? What is it about?
It's about innovative, irreverent, often irrational group of artists, financial advisors, engineers, designers, fashionistas and fabricators who just love bicycles. Love to build them. Love to paint them. Love to look at them, and who absolutely, most of all, love to ride them. Let's face it folks, if you are on a bicycle, generally you are alone, you may be riding in a group, or possibly drafting in a peloton, but it is really just you and the bicycle. Much like the equine set who love their steeds, the bicycle crowd soon learns to love their bicycle. But, they also develop a love for all bicycles. They learn to judge their lines and their nuances, but ultimately they simply learn to love bikes. What better way to enjoy that solitary love relationship than with a festive gathering of about 5,000 people who share that love, called simply NAHBS! Make your plans to attend next year's show today!