The handmade bike industry is undergoing a Renaissance in the United States thanks to the popularity of cycling as both a sustainable and healthful form of transportation and also as a lifestyle. Bikes, in a word, have never been more fashionable. Witness the North American Handmade Bike Show, which just wrapped up in Austin. The annual show is a gathering of custom bike builders from across North America and the world, a place where artisans and welders show off their fashionable–and functional–beauties. NAHBS is where trends are born and prodigies identified.
One trend from the 2011 show is the growing number of belt-drive bikes. At least 20 bikes with Carbon Drive were exhibited, a big jump from previous years, and two belt-drive models won top honors. Black Sheep Bikes, based in Fort Collins, won for best off-road bike. This summer, Gates rider Jake Kirkpatrick plans to race the Tour of the Divide on this bike, carrying his gear, which is why it has integrated racks.
Rosene, based in Tuscon, won rookie of the year honors for a gorgeous stainless steel mountain bike with creme-colored highlights built for the founder’s brother. Please don’t scratch that bike out on the trail, Justin!
Other builders showing lovely Carbon Drive bikes include: Violet Crown Cycles, Krencker and Cyfac (both from France), Minneapolis-based SpeedHound (featuring a clever belt-compatible dropout system), Mosaic and Dean (both from Boulder), Six Eleven, Caletti in Santa Cruz, Ti Cycles in Portland, Vertigo (Portland), tandem experts Calfee and Co-Motion, Alchemy, Sotherland in Wisconsin, Boo (the bamboo bike experts). Cycle Monkey bike shop in the Bay Area also had two bikes in its booth: a belt drive touring rig with Carbon Drive and an Eriksen 29er. Independent Fabrications showed a speedy belt-drive cross bike.