2012 North American Handmade Bicycle Show

A recap of the annual event, courtesy of one our Coalition members, Matt Pierle:

If you weren’t lucky enough to make it to the Sacramento Convention Center on March 2nd-4th for the 2012 North American Handmade Bike Show (NAHBS) you missed an exciting gathering. Well represented were custom frame and bike builders as well as accessory manufacturers from the West Coast to the East, from the U.S. and Canada to Italy, the Czech Republic and Japan. The common thread was an emphasis on quality over quantity, and the attention to detail that comes along with craft design and limited production.

NAHBS showcased just about every style of bike you can imagine but particularly well represented were track and road, touring and townie, cargo, tandem, cross country, utility and commuter bikes. Titanium mingled with steel and carbon shared the stage with more ‘traditional’ bike frame materials including hardwood and bamboo. Some builders toyed with lesser used materials including Magnesium.

Suppliers of steel, aluminum and titanium tubes set up next to makers of bike specific production jigs, tools, lugs, dropouts and ‘extras’ like trailers, bottle cages, jerseys and caps.

Bike publications doled out free copies of their magazines (Momentum, Bicycle Times / Dirt Rag, Mountain Flyer) while makers of metal lugs and dropouts exhibited their products in briefcase like hard cases like so much fine jewelry.

All told, this year’s show featured 158 exhibitors and drew over 12,000 attendees, the biggest crowd in the show’s ten year history. This is the third time the show was hosted here in California (it had  a two year run in San Jose in 2006 and 2007).

Seminars were offered on topics ranging from: Bike Building Business Basics to the History and Future of Handmade Bikes and from Fillet brazing to the “Wooden rim renaissance”.

Santa Cruz’s Craig Calfee presented on the Bamboosero, an appropriate technology development project which is spearheading the training of people in Africa to build tough yet refined bamboo framed bikes designed for domestic transportation and cargo use (load of 450 lbs. plus) and also for income through ecological tourism rentals and export sales.

Sacramento was a great venue for this year NAHBS which just happened to coincide with a Beer festival. The show’s “ARTBIKE!” events included: live music, local grub and brews, bike parades and other delicious bike fun.

By far one of the collect bikes at the show, which picked up an award for Best Experimental Design Bike was the super big wheel (32 inch!) mountain bike displayed by Black Sheep Fabrications.

photo credit:

Rookie Builder of the Year bragging rights went to: Aaron Stinner of Stinner Frameworks in Santa Barbara.

photo credit: cycling news

Best of Show honors went to the über sleek “Cherubim” bike by Shin-Ichi Konno.

photo credit: bicycling magazine

Other award categories included Best of for categories including: Road, Track, Tandem, Cyclocross, City Bike, Mountain, Carbon Fiber construction, Steel construction, Titanium construction, Lugged frame, TIG welded frame, fillet brazed frame as well as Best New Builder, Best Finish, People’s Choice, President’s Choice (the President is none other than Bike Builder and NAHBS Founder Don Walker).

See the complete list of 2012’s “Best Of” Winners.

As with every NAHBS this year’s show was flush with fine finishes, smoothly curving racks, tightly sewn bags, classy cycling wear, and over the course of three days thousands of wide eyed and sometimes drooling Bike fanatics.

In case you’re wondering…next year’s show is on tap for Denver, Colorado. Dates TBD.

All photos by Matt Pierle, unless otherwise noted. Matt Pierle is a cyclist from the Great Lakes region lucky enough to be attending bike related events and cycling around the west coast this winter. He can be reached at or on Skype at the handle: bikelove.

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