This month I received an issue of Bicycling “The Buyers Guide 2009” and in big, bold letters the cover reads “Why You Need a New Bike This Year.” The magazine goes on to argue that despite the economy headed south a bicycle is still rated as a “buy.” As they put it, “A bicycle is an investment, and its returns lie far beyond the bounds of money,” referring to the health benefits, life experiences, and social or not-so-social aspects of riding. Then they ease you into pages of bicycle specs and reviews ranging from a Jamis Commuter 1 with a price of $365 (which I think is suggestive of how many days a year you should ride it) to the for-your-eyes-only Fondreist TF1 Anniversary priced at $13,000.
The economy sucks! And as a past small business owner, I know that even the smallest fluctuations in business are felt whether good or bad. Most handmade bicycle builders are small businesses with only a handful of employees and some with only one person taking the orders, building the bikes, and doing the nitty-gritty of business back end. As it turns out, a majority of people in the U.S. are employed by small businesses and I think it benefits our economy greatly to support the small guys.
So this weekend marks the 5th Annual North American Handmade Bicycle Show held in Indianapolis. A few years back, the NAHBS came to San Jose, California. Ever since that day I’ve been obsessed with handmade bicycles. I have two of my own, a touring/cyclocross bicycle and a track bike. And since, I have been visiting some of the builders’ sites and drooling over their latest creations.
I would like to share some of the links that I frequent and hope you’ll find them just as interesting as I do…and perhaps start saving for your dream bike! This is by no means a comprehensive list, so I encourage you to share links.
S.F. Bay Area and Beyond
Innerlight Cycles: The two bicycles I mentioned earlier are Innerlights and they rock! They are built in Davis, CA by Kimo Tanaka.
Sycip: These guys are out of the Santa Rosa area and from what I hear, their bikes are legendary. They offer some really cool two-tone powdercoats.
Calfee Design: I believe Craig Calfee was one of the pioneers of carbon bicycle frames. They also do a beautiful bamboo bicycle.
Ahrens Bicycles: Mike Ahrens is an engineer by profession and makes bicycles on the side. Check out his headset spacer and seatpost clamp bottle openers. Some day I’d like to be like Mike!
Vanilla Bicycles: I saw these bikes for the first time at the NAHBS. They had a tricycle on display with Phil Wood wheels. That says it all!
Keith Anderson Cycles: Keith is actually out of Grants Pass, OR. He does amazing OEM painting for other frame builders and does these wicked looking pursuit track bikes.
Jonny Cycles: These bikes probably left the biggest impression on me at the NAHBS. They are just really cool looking bikes.
Banjo Cycles: These bikes have an elegant classic look and the rustic headbadge is a nice touch. Banjo Cycles shares shop space with Jonny Cycles.
ZR Cycles: Classic lugs and beautiful fillet brazed joints. ZR Cycles also shares shop space with Jonny Cycles.
Somewhere on planet earth
Fast Boy Cycles: These bikes are really cool with their wooden handlebars and custom wood handlebar racks.
BME: Homemade carbon fiber and bamboo bicycles. Are you kidding me? Awesome!
A handful of the builders listed got their start at the United Bicycle Institute. They have an extensive list of links on their site. I would love to take their frame building course someday.
I hope you enjoyed some of these links and I hope it inspired you to go handmade!