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New ideas with old materials

The North American Handmade Bicycle Show is at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver this weekend.  Two of Criterium’s buyers–Kay and Michael–attended the industry day on Friday.  The show’s move from Portland to Denver changed the mix of exhibitors substantially, with many more mountain bike makers in 2013, led by Colorado framebuilders Moots, Erickson, and Ground-Up.    The show features seminars on various aspects of frame-building, product liability insurance, and other concerns for aspiring framebuilders.

Several exhibitors featured bike frames made from laminated, steam-bent wood, and combinations of bamboo and carbon fiber.  Bonding and laminating epoxies have made natural materials like wood and bamboo more durable for use in frames and forks.  In some ways, wood and bamboo are just another carboniferous fiber, minus the aerospace connection that has moved carbon fiber into mainsteam bicycle design.

Many framemakers set up their frames with belt-driven drive trains, adjustable drop-outs, and a variety of innovative handlebar shapes.  There were numerous ’snow bikes’ in a season with record low snowfall, and a smattering of mountain bikes with 650b wheels.   According to our friend Chris Brown from Brown Cycles in Grand Junction, the current market for both snow bikes and 650b is at the rental/demo stage, and mainline suppliers are still waiting to move in these directions.

The show was notable for good graphics in both marketing and bicycle design, which harks back to the glory days of cycling in the 1890’s.    I would have liked even more elegance, and a great deal more attention to women riders.  Maybe even a sociable tandem, or some very practical skirt guards in a space age material… Oh, well, maybe next year.

-Kay