NAHBS 2011 Nate and I were really excited to go to NAHBS this year. This is the 4th time Signal has shown at NAHBS and it's our birthday. We launched the bike co. at NAHBS in Portland in 2008, so one more year is under our belt.
This year I tried to get around and look at everything, but the show was pretty big. I did manage to see quite a bit though so let me list some of the best of NAHBS 2011:
Beer of the show: Lone Star. It wasn't as bad as everyone said. I thought it was a drinkable light beer about a step above PBR. I know that isn't saying much, but there you have it.
A highpoint for me: Talking to Zapata Espinoza in our booth for a few minutes was pretty cool. I don't follow magazines that much any more, but he was one of those guys that I thought would be fun to go for a mountain bike ride with. I felt a little star struck.
Some bikes that stood out:
Dinuicci's green bike that won best in show. That thing was beautiful and not in a flashy polished stainless steel way. I'm glad that it caught the eye of the judges.
Vertigo's CX bike. Belt drive, singlespeed, tapered headtube, attention to detail, but a willingness to try different approaches. Sean is the most exciting builder of ti bikes out there. I'm not just saying that because I'm biased.
Chris Bishop's bikes. All of them were incredible, really. This guy makes bikes like they were built by robots, robots that love thinning lugs and have an eye for meticulous shore lines. That track bike… wow. It was nice to shake his hand and say hi.
The Bilenky Mixtie was an exercise in pushing the definition of handmade show bike. Rholoff and Schmidt hubs are pretty neat, but why not wrap them up in custom Phil Wood shells? Those lugs are over the top, everything about that bike is over the top. It was fun getting up close and personal with it. The attachment of the rear bag is pure genius. Bob over there has been fun to get to know over the last four shows. He checks in with us every year. Makes me want to buy a Bikenky.
Chris King built a bike for his marketing main man Chris Distefano out of stainless steel with some amazing details. Of course they made all of the lugs and frame fittings and the whole thing is heat treated. The best part is that when he presented it, CD had no idea what was going on, they poured it on until tears were flowing. Sounds like a very deserved gift.
Dave Kirk's crate was really something. The thing split in two and he had a backdrop and display with lights and shelves. It was really nicely put together.
I got a great offer from Drew of Engin bikes to come out for a weekend and build a bike in his shop. His shop is completely full of tools. I'd really like to make it happen, but am having a hard time figuring out when I can do it.
Got to hang out with Curtis and Mitzi a bit. I think we need to make sure our booths are closer together next time. And Curtis had the best t-shirt I saw this year with the "don't mess with Retrotec" model. I did have a beer with Anthony Maietta. His bike with the shell inlay had some of the nicest TIG beads i've seen under paint. They were amazingly smooth and looked more like small fillets. Nice.
Where not to stay in Austin unless you are 18 and like to party: 6th street lofts. Booming music till 2am followed by shouting and fighting out on the sidewalk till 3, followed by boat loads of bottles being thrown into a big steel dumpster at 3, followed by garbage trucks unloading those dumpsters at about 4. And there were a lot on our block, you could hear them coming for a while until they were right under our window. Luckily we got to share the experience with the Vanilla crew, Ira Ryan, Tony Pereira, Sean from Vertigo, Ben of Trucker racks, and Brian Vernor. I think there were some other morons who stayed too, but I'm not sure who they were.
It's good to be home, but I miss walking around in a t-shirt.