Yes, and Portland street culture has little overlap with my interests in bikes. So, seeing that NAHBS is mostly a display of impractical, kitchy, street bikes, I'm left a little disappointed. If I were 25 years old, it still wouldn't but now it's so far removed from what I like about bikes that I'm left a little dazed by what I see (though not speachless, clearly). This sort of thing was alive and well when I lived in Madison in the mid 80s and DC in the early 90's and it just never resonated with me. It just doesn't merit the labor and attention of otherwise possibly talented bike builders, but apparently it is where the handbuilt market lies now. If these are just exceptionally Gucci executions of what the rough and ready men of the streets are riding in the Pacific Northwest, it doesn't mean that the more authentic versions are not still just an indulgence of the young and fortunate. I'm reminded of arguments about how Sport Compact tuning is so authentic, youthful, urban and hip, because it starts with econoboxes (like $35,000 Imprezas) rather than the six-figure Porsches of the wealthy "establishment" and attempts to outperform those cars. To me, we're still looking at suburban upper-middle-class 20-somethings with $35k to blow on an econobox and money left over for mods... they'll be driving Porsches soon enough. I realize that I sound bitter, but that's not the thrust here. The thrust is I get edgey when, in a world full of many who have little, people hold up expensive playthings as the tools of some great cultural movement. It's nonsense.
My guess is that in 5 years NAHBS will be significantly smaller and feature mostly bikes for serious commuters, tourists, CXers, rondenneurs and possibly XC riders... and fewer thinly disguised urban status symbols.
Tom Dalton Bethlehem, PA, USA
Dale Brown <email@example.com> wrote: Man, Tommasini Dalton, you are one grumpy dude! Ha! But I really don't think it all that bad.....
I was finding a few places in your comments that were almost making some sense to me, until I remembered that locked up just outside the Portland Convention Center were 100s of mostly steel bikes that shared some of the fanciful, artistic (yes) aspects of those inside... all being ridden, used and enjoyed by enthusiastic, mostly young and not particular rich folks. The stuff inside at the Show was actually a (highly) elaborated celebration of what is already going on outside on the streets.
'Least that's my 2 cents....
Dale Brown Greensboro, North Carolina USA
-----Original Message----- From: Tom Dalton <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: Ed Braley <email@example.com>; Classic Rendezvous <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sent: Mon, 11 Feb 2008 3:01 pm Subject: Re: [CR]Fwd: NAHBS
So you see bike buliders as artists and I see them as craftsmen.
You see bikes as art and I see them as tools.
You see fashion shows as diplays of the female form, and I see them as displays of couture and prete-a-porte. Buy is to art as date is to woman? You gonna stick with that?
You see utility bikes, onespeeders, and urban fixies as not meant for the average guy, and I see them as just that, and I see that as their biggest detratction. The only thing worse is when you take that average guy bike, and do a stockings-on-a-pig maneuvre and turn it into a $5,000 clunker. If these guys are artists, they're selling out by pandering to the trendy newcomer margins of the cycling public. But, I say they are craftsmen trying to get by, and you can't blame them for that. These "practical bikes" are still made for an average guy, or rider, just one with more than average income. I like bikes for cyslists, and I am openly biased toward bikes for racing cyclists, sport riders, or perhaps cyclotoursists, not fashionistas.
When you write: "It's a chance for the builders to let their imaginations run wild, to be creative and do something they want to do - even if they do pick up on the urban fixed gear or the modern French delivery bike themes. And the couplers and internal hubs are part of that too," do you not see the inconsistency? These folks all let their imaginations run wild and come up with the same set of ideas, differentiated with paint, most of it unattractive, or by which tubes they choose to pointlessly bend. And then you call them artists? It makes no sense to me. Bikes are highly constrained... they are all alike in some basic ways. To me, that's the domain of craftsmen, people who make functional objects that work better than the alternatives, and that in an ideal world will reflect the hand of the creator in a unique way.
When you wrote that, "...the NAHBS bikes aren't out of reach for many of us, and we should appreciate them for what they are: attainable, rideable, works of art," did you really mean it? Sure, many people who really need a super expensive bike to pursue their passion for racing, or touring find a way to get one, but who is buying super expensive utility bikes, and fashion bikes? Rich guys who are running out of stuff to spend money on.
Sorry, but those pics just drove home for me that steel is nearly dead as a material for serious bicycles.
Tom Dalton Bethlehem, PA USA
Ed Braley <email@example.com> wrote:
I see it quite differently, and positively so: NAHBS is like an art show. Of course many of these bikes aren't standard fare, and perhaps they're not meant for the average guy.
The NAHBS show is artistic. It's a chance for the builders to let their imaginations run wild, to be creative and do something they want to do - even if they do pick up on the urban fixed gear or the modern French delivery bike themes. And the couplers and internal hubs are part of that too.
These bikes are interesting, fascinating, in fact. NAHBS is the American version of the European Super Car exhibits, or the New York Art and Fashion shows. It's the leading edge of the artform. Most of us like to look at Fine Art, Super Cars and Super Model women, too. Of course most of us aren't going to buy that artwork, those cars, or date those women.
But the NAHBS bikes aren't out of reach for many of us, and we should appreciate them for what they are: attainable, rideable, works of art. There are some great ideas on display in extraordinary form. These custom machines may inspire manufacturers to incorporate some of their design elements into future production offerings, just as it's done in the Automotive, Art, and Fashion industries.
I wish that I'd been able to go to NAHBS. I would have found it to be a humbling and yet enlightening experience to see these bikes and meet their creators. These people are the Masters of the Art of the Hand Built Bicycle.
Ed Braley Falmouth, Maine USA
----- Original Message ----- From: "Tom Dalton" To: "Classic Rendezvous" Sent: Monday, February 11, 2008 12:44 PM Subject: [CR]Fwd: NAHBS
> Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2008 09:44:10 -0800 (PST)
> From: Tom Dalton
> Subject: NAHBS
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Mark Stonich wrote:
> At this event you want to be noticed, have everyone posting photos of
> Based on the pics I viewed, I have to agree that there's a whole lotta
"lookit me" going on a NAHBS. The sad result is that everyone is being
different in the same way. The requiremenst of disc brakes notwithstanding,
I think I'll barf if I see one more silly "custom" droput. What is this, OC
Choppers? Dumb question I guess, because that TV show was very popular, and
what would make the attendees of NAHBS any more sophisticated than the folks
at Bike Week? The whole single-speed and internal-geared thing seemed very
tired about 10 minutes into looking through the pics. Ditto the S&S
couplers, and the gratutious retro touches such as wooden rims, shellaced
cloth tape and Brooks saddles (they have their place, but...). Just how big
is the US market for four-figure delivery bikes, utility bikes, kids bikes,
monster tired single speed MTBs etc? It seems that almost every builder was
showing anything but a practical bike for serious riding. Don't get me
> all in favor of more bikes being available to meet the needs of
commuters, and to therby encourge people to use bikes for practical
purposes, but how many people are riding around SF or NYC on a $5000
paperboy bike? If there are many, what should I take away from this? I
guess "bikes is cheap" compared to cars, but I doubt that it's the car-less
dedicated commuter who buys a custom titanium one speed.
> If they are truly representative of what US hand builders are selling,
the offerings at NAHBS, or at least those highlighted in the Wool Jersey
gallery, tell a sad story. That story is that basic high perfomance steel
frames are very nearly extinct. This makes some sense, since CF and AL may
be slightly better for all-out performance, but what is left for the rider
who wants a nice go-fast bike, and perhaps a custom bike, but simply loves
steel. Maybe it's nostalgia, or maybe it's something deeper, but some guys
want go-fast steel bikes, and the high end-market seems targeted squarely at
the wealthy urban hip.
> At about the 80th Wool Jersey pic is saw a beautifully executed standard
road dropiut that really caught my eye with it's elevated points. It
reminded me of a nice Tomassini, though exaggerated.
> Turned out to be Richard Sach's work. There were a few other bike
pictured that looked like functional performance bikes, but very few, and
there seemed to be a few nice touring/brevt bikes, but again, justt a few.
The "track bikes" were mostly street fixies. Just what flame is being kept?
It's kinda sad.
> Tom Dalton
> Bethlehem, PA USA
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