A Link History of NAHBS – While Prepping for Austin

2010 North American Handmade Bicycle Show
2010 North American Handmade Bicycle Show

We’re headed out to Austin for the 2011 North American Handmade Bike Show (NAHBS) on Thursday! We’ve been prepping to bring Commute By Bike coverage.

We will be cruising the show immersing ourselves in custom bikes and attempting to divine wisdom from the builders or perhaps just the general din of bicycle lust filling the hall. Specifically, we’ll be there to extract bike building design and philosophy relevant to bicycle commuting. As things go, we’ll be mixing that up with a quest for beauty, truth, fun and related principles expressed through bicycle craftsmanship.

Doing my homework, I’ve dug through a huge amount of coverage of the previous six shows. After a full day of Internet browsing through the bicycle porn that is the history of NAHBS, my mind has become numb. I’ve schemed to lure you into this blindingly beautiful craftsmanship with a few bits that still shine through my haze.

Richard Sachs 2005 NAHBS
Richard Sachs 2005 NAHBS


Going back to the beginning days, there was very little I could dig up for the 2005 show other than this Flickr stream and this web album. It’s odd that 2005 is historical, but in the age of the Internet, six years ago is a long time.


Moving to San Jose, CA in 2006, it is clear that the show went from beta to live with a show that was four times larger. Yet, alas the fickle and wandering eye of the Internet yielded only a small increase in relevant search results (at least ones that I could find). I did find notes summarizing the show at a site called Cyclofiend. Scroll to the bottom of Cyclofiend’s page to see links to a bunch of other 2006 NAHBS photo archives (though about half of them don’t work). Through this I did came across MTBR.com’s coverage of the 2006 show. This collection of photos from Jodi Hall captures a zoomed in perspective on this show. A pre-show alley cat race from Davis to San Jose was captured in photos and EBykr wrote up a show summary.

Sycip Longtail at 2007 NAHBS | Photo: Clever Cycles
Sycip Longtail at 2007 NAHBS | Photo: Clever Cycles


With the second appearance in San Jose in 2007, it’s clear from my Internet searches that bike bloggers were starting to really get in on the NAHBS action. I found Commute by Bike’s first mention of NAHBS written by Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious along with a nice Flickr set. Bike Portland was there featuring Portland builders. Cyclofiend was there again with a full summary, photo gallery and collection of other photo galleries. CyclingNews.com had a section entitled “Townies in Abudance” and Clever Cycles was there documenting the emergence of custom longtail bikes.

Joseph Ahearne - 2008 Best City Bike | Photo: BikePortland.org
Joseph Ahearne - 2008 Best City Bike | Photo: BikePortland.org


Moving to Portland, OR for 2008, NAHBS hit full stride with what is to date still its largest showing ever. Richard Masoner again covered the show for CbB with a nice writeup. BikePortland.com put the hammer down with over 25 posts. RoadBikeReview.com also had some great coverage with plenty of video interviews, photos and a great summary post. Urban Velo and CyclingNews.com got in on the action as well.


For 2009 NAHBS headed east of the Mississippi for the first time to Indianapolis. Urban Velo offered up some great coverage with Thu p1 & p2, Fri p1 & p2 and Sat p1 & p2. They put together a great quick interview podcast with 14 builders presented back-to-back-to-back.

Bike Snob coined the term “lug-slobberers” in his biting and more-or-less deserved critique of the bike lust that had by now thoroughly settled in at NAHBS. I have a feeling that Bike Snob is a closeted lug- slobberer himself and his apparent bitterness may be due to the fact that he can’t reveal this and go enjoy the show. My theory was further reinforced by his followup post, a repentance in the form of a NAHBS mix tape.

This Flickr group offers up a treasure trove of pictures to slobber over. Cyclelicious put together this nicely laid out post featuring the 2009 show winn
ers. And if I’ve missed anything, Bicycle Design did a thorough 2009 NAHBS link roundup.

Yipsan Bikes - Best City Bike 2010
Yipsan Bikes - Best City Bike 2010


Last year (2010), NAHBS landed on the East Coast for the first time in Richmond, VA. Close to her home-base, Arleigh Jenkins, aka Bike Shop Girl, did a great job of representing Commute by Bike, as is evidenced by her front page billing on the 2010 NAHBS site homepage. Her 15 posts on the show included recaps, photo dumps and a series of builder interviews, highlighted by this interview with Sacha White of Vanilla Workshop and this short film of Mike Flanigan of Ant Bikes.

Bike Snob was back at it, getting unintentionally mixed up in a parody tweet scandal involving a stolen “clown.” ANT Bike now referred to as “ANTgate”. The Flickr pool was once again well stocked and Urban Velo, Cyclelicious and Bicycle Design provided more great coverage to name a few.

For a more personal overview of NAHBS have a listen to this excellent interview by Diane Lees of the Outspoken Cyclist with NAHBS ringleader Don Walker.

And for those of you who prefer to get straight to the facts and avoid the whirlwind of the Internet, here is my Readers Digest Condensed Book version of the History of NAHBS from their website:

The first NAHBS was held January 15th 2005 in Houston with 23 exhibitors and 700 attendees. Established names such as Richard Sachs, Darren Crisp, Craig Calfee, Don Ferris of Anvil Bicycles exhibited, as did rising stars such as Sacha White of Vanilla, Nick Crumpton and Mike DeSalvo. The mission was simple: Showcase the talents and share ideas among the best builders of handmade bicycle frames in the world.

The event was a forum for builders to meet and share ideas, and to showcase their work to potential customers. Several builders gave seminars about their methods and experiences in crafting a bicycle from scratch so amateur and young professional bicycle frame builders could learn more about the craft.

  • January 15, 2005 – Houston,TX
    23 exhibitors and 700 attendees
    Best of Show: Vanilla
  • March 3-5, 2006
    San Jose, CA – 71 exhibitors and 3,000 attendees
    Best of Show: Vanilla
  • March 2-4, 2007 – San Jose, CA
    99 exhibitors and 3000 attendees
    Best of Show: Bruce Gordon, Best City Bike: James Ahearne
  • February 8-10, 2008
    Portland, OR – 150 exhibitors and 7,200 attendee
    Best of Show: Naked, Best City Bike: James Ahearne
  • February 27-March 1, 2009
    Indianapolis, IN – 111 exhibitors and 6,200 attendees
    Best of Show: Cicli Polito, Best City Bike: MAP
  • February 26-28, 2010
    Richmond, Virginia – 126 exhibitors and 6,000 attendees
    Best of Show: Ellis Cycles, Best City Bike: YIPsan

After six successful years, it appears The North American Handmade Bicycle Show has become established as the worlds number one handmade bicycles show. In addition to many US frame builders, exhibitors from Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands and other countries have helped the show become what it is.

2010 NAHBS | Photo: Dave LaMay
2010 NAHBS | Photo: Dave LaMay

So with a little bit of NAHBS history under our belt, we’re set to head to Texas and bring home the bike commuting bacon. Our plans include, photo posts, video interviews and show analysis. In our interviews, I hope to get builders to answer some pointed questions about the relationship between custom bicycle building and commuter bike design. I’m also interested in finding out how the builders interact with the bicycle advocacy movement.

Let me know if there is anything specifically you’d like us to photograph or comment on. Which builders are you most interested in hearing an interview with?

Finally, If you are going to be at the show, we’re handing out ten of our newly designed Commute by Bike t-shirts. Post the tweet:

@Commute_by_Bike I’m at #NAHBS and I want to wear a CommutebyBike.com t-shirt!

We’ll tweet you back and figure out where you are.

For those of you not at the show, we’ve got ten more shirts on hold for spotting our t-shirt in NAHBS photos in our blogs or other cycling blogs (not Facebook, though we’ll be posting lots of stuff from NAHBS there too). Post the tweet:

@Commute_by_Bike I spotted your t-shirt at #NAHBS at [URL of website page].

We’re only giving away one t-shirt per spotting, so keep your eyes peeled. And to play, be sure to follow us on Twitter so we can direct message you and get the t-shirt on the way.

Yipsan Bikes - 2011 NAHBS
Yipsan Bikes - 2011 NAHBS
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