Tech features Tech gallery: 2023 Made handmade bicycle show, part one
Handmade bikes make a triumphant return to the North American stage.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have fueled a massive (albeit temporary) boom in the cycling industry, but it wasn’t universally kind to
everyone in the industry. After 14 successive years, the North American Handmade Bicycle Show closed its doors for good, leaving behind a giant wake of uncertainty for a bustling custom industry that still needed a grand showcase for its wares. Filling the void is a new show called Made, and what a show it’s already turning out to be.
Whereas NAHBS was a travelling show that changed venues every year, Made is happy to call Portland, Oregon home, settling into the unique venue of Zidell Yards – a decommissioned open-air industrial complex that was once used to build giant barges. The historical (and rather gritty) setting somehow seemed just right for this gathering of craftspeople, fabricators, and tinkerers, and although there was perhaps some uncertainty as to whether Made would be able to fully fill the shoes NAHBS left behind, there was no question after day one.
For this opening round of coverage, we bring you a stunning retro-tribute by Rob English, a gorgeous anniversary-edition custom carbon fiber machine from legendary builder Bill Holland, swoopy handiwork from Todd Ingermanson of Black Cat Bicycles, and some more beautiful builds from the likes of Chris Chance, Mike DeSalvo, and Tonic Fabrication.
Dave Rome and I are on the ground for nearly the entirety of the four-day show with a whole bunch of extra batteries, so buckle up for a massive pile of custom bike goodness over the next week or so.
Made. Rob English’s tribute to the old Pace RC-100 was truly stunning to see in the flesh. While the original Pace RC-100 was made of machined square-profile aluminum, English managed to source square tubing in his preferred chromoly material. The wall thickness starts out as 1.2 mm, but he milled the sides down to a lighter 0.6 mm. This almost looks like it could be a tribute to Minecraft, not an old Pace mountain bike. English is a big fan of compact rear ends, as evidenced by the small scallop required on the back of the seat tube of this one-off. The bike may be meant to be a throwback in many ways, but that didn’t stop English from fitting it with a thoroughly modern SRAM Universal Derailleur Hanger. English found an original Pace fork crown on eBay, then made custom chromoly legs to fill it. The square-profile chainstays are connected to a wide-format T47 threaded bottom bracket shell. Bits of tubing are used as reinforcements for the chainstays at the bottom bracket shell. English even manages to maintain his trademark spindly seatstay design despite the use of square-profile chromoly tubing. English thought about making a custom square-profile seatpost to match, but it just wouldn’t have clamped well. This 25.4 mm-diameter Enve carbon fiber seatpost happened to fit well enough, though – at least once he made a custom shim for inside the seat tube. The seatpost collar is a one-off, too. English has long used an inverted threadless steerer setup. The steerer and stem extension are welded together as one piece, and bearing preload is set with a bolt that feeds in from the bottom. Old-school tubing profiles, but very modern parts. The icing on the cake is the old-school graphics. So good. Bill Holland is celebrating his 50th year (50 years!) building custom frames this year with a limited-edition version of his carbon fiber road bike. Holland’s custom carbon road bike features lugged construction that allows for bespoke frame geometry. It also yields a gloriously old-yet-new aesthetic. The 50th-anniversary Holland Carbon HC costs a whopping US$20,000, but it at least includes a complete build kit with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 or SRAM Red AXS, Enve or Zipp wheels, an Enve cockpit, and a fully custom paint job by legendary painter Joe Bell. All things considered, it almost seems reasonable for what you’re getting. Holland recently changed the seatstay design to provide a softer ride. Aero? Nope. Integrated seatpost binder? Nope. Does the lack of either of those things bother me here? Nope. Holland uses a monostay-style chainstay assembly on the Carbon HC. The bottom bracket lug uses press-fit cups, but my guess is Holland keeps the tolerances well in check. Does a bike like this need fully hidden cabling? I’d argue no. This bike is 21 of 50, and when they’re gone, they’re gone. This Black Cat fully rigid 29er steel hardtail looks like it’ll be a blast to ride with its giant 29×2.6″ tires front and rear, and relatively compact dimensions. Ultra-swoopy seatstays are a trademark Black Cat design feature. Lovely. The fork isn’t suspension-corrected, providing it with a very tidy crown-to-axle length. Fully external routing isn’t often seen these days, but this is a great example of how to do it well. Very clean, very tidy. I love the mix of joining methods Black Cat uses on its frames. More elegant handiwork can be found at the thru-axle dropouts and the way the ends of the fork blades are finished. If you think even 31.8 mm-diameter handlebars are too stiff, how about 22.2 mm instead? Mike DeSalvo has been in the custom bicycle business for over 20 years, and says business absolutely exploded during the COVID-fueled bike boom. Much of DeSalvo’s business is from repeat customers with older models that have come back for something a little newer – but maybe not too new. DeSalvo says a surprising amount of his business is for rim-brake bikes and complete builds with mechanical drivetrains. This titanium gravel bike sported a neat multi-direction brushed finish. I love how DeSalvo still puts his signature on every frame along with the year it was built. DeSalvo was thankful to have a shorter trip to the inaugural Made show than most. So far, DeSalvo hasn’t bothered to dabble with fully internal cable routing, and apparently none of his customers have requested it, either. But a pump peg, he’ll absolutely do. I can’t tell you how much I lusted after a Fat Chance Ti Yo Eddy back in the day. Chris Chance has brought it back as a hard-hitting 27.5″-wheeled titanium hardtail, and it brings back all the feels for me. Flat-mount brake calipers on a mountain bike? Yep. It’s so, so good to see this head tube logo back in the world. I was quite a fan of this flat-bar singlespeed gravel bike from Tonic. The combination of a plain white finish on the frame with this incredibly intricate paint on the fork totally works for me. Super clean and tidy. What did you think of this story?
😐Meh 😊️Solid 🤩Excellent