The annual traveling circus known as the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) is the high point of the year for the arcane world of custom-crafted bikes. I connected with the 2013 edition of the show in Denver a few weeks ago, and I was damn lucky to have my bike-geek daughter along as an interpreter.
Along with seeing and photographing some insane bikes, one of my goals was to get a short video of my offspring talking to a frame builder. When the first such conversation took place twenty minutes after we arrived, I was so dumbfounded by the verbal exchange that I forgot I was holding a camera. It sounded a little like I’d stumbled into a street market in Marrakesh. The foreign language of bike-geek-speak was flowing freely from everyone’s lips — except mine.
Well, no matter. We were soon drawn in to nearly an acre of custom bikes of every imaginable variation — and a bunch we hadn’t imagined yet. Bamboo bikes, wooden bikes, unique road racing bikes, cyclocross bikes, and fat bikes (with 4-inch tires, now making their way onto wintry trails and paths everywhere). They all met in Denver, with in-your-face paint jobs and brightly anodized components everywhere we looked.
The NAHBS was a visual feast — so much so that it made this recovering engineer/photographer want to go buy a torch and a frame jig and get to work. Oh, and I’ll need a good bike-geek-speak phrasebook, too.