The North American Handmade Bike Show (NAHBS) was in Salt Lake City this past weekend.  I am not going to lie, I have been excited about this show since the location was announced last year.  If you live in or near Hartford Connecticut start getting excited as the show is coming to you in 2018.  The NAHBS is a place where bike manufacturers from all over the world get together to show their favorite builds.  The booths ranged from very simple with one bike on a table, to professional displays decked out with fancy stands and faux wood flooring.  The common denominator was beautiful bikes; there were track bikes, titanium balance bikes for kids, commuters, gravel grinders, road rigs and of course mountain bikes.  

The opportunity to talk to the builders was probably my favorite part of the show.  Talking about why they chose certain materials, the thought behind the geometry, and their component choices was a true bike nerd’s dream.  The one thing that shone through it all was that the individuals I talked to were normal people who love bikes and love to ride bikes.  

The one style of bike I saw more of than I thought I would is what I am calling a monster cross bike, a more capable gravel bike.  These go-anywhere machines seem to be gaining in popularity and many builders talked about the uptick in orders they have been getting. 
Another trend was the SRAM Eagle component kits.  In Donald Trump’s America, everything is gold and everyone will ride the Eagle.  Well, maybe not everyone but most people at NAHBS.

I was so impressed by all the builders at the show, from companies that are well recognized like Moots, to a Utah builder based out of Moab that I had never heard of called Blaze Cycles.  I don’t want to call out every company that had an amazing bike at NAHBS, but I’d like to highlight a few of my personal favorites.  If you are in the market for a new custom bike, you would be happy with any of these companies, but deciding between them won’t be easy.  I know I am actually further from picking a company for a new build than I was when I first walked through that door on Friday.

Alliance Bicycles – I really like the looks of this monster cross bike.  2.35” tires on a Ti frame with a lot of Enve carbon bits.  If I was going on a trip and didn’t know what to bring, I would bring this bike.  It looks like a very capable singletrack machine with drop bars for the long haul.

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Black Sheep Bikes
 – Black Sheep continues to bring drool worthy bikes.  The fatty won the Best Artisan Bike Award this year.  The details are what made this bike so amazing. The front and rear rack were perfect fit and looked fantastic.  Not sure what category their second bike is, whether it was a townie/mountain bike with a mustache or gravel bike, but like all Black Sheep Bikes it was beautiful. Honestly, I had to include it because the fork was so cool.

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Blaze Bicycles
– This bike had, in my opinion, the best paint job at the show. The details in the hand painting were pretty amazing.  It had a custom Rogue Panda frame bag, which sadly wasn’t on when the bike was available for pictures. I actually got to ride this bike around the back of the show for a couple minutes after shooting it.  They make an excellent frame in both steel and carbon.  They are now on my short list of builders who might make my next bike. Rogue Panda did the roll top bag for Blaze Cycles with a vinyl arch on it for the Utah builder.

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Breadwinner Cycles – Simple frames with classic lines and impeccable details. The Jpaks frame bag was internally mounted and looked very smooth.  With SS couplers and an internally routed dropper post that feeds through the couplers which is an engineering feet. 

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Meriwether Cycles – The 2XL compatible frame!  If fatter is better, then this is the fattest.  Decked out in Bedrock Bags. In fact Andrew’s bike, the owner from Bedrock, was also on display along with a custom-painted bike named Merle, to honor Merle Haggard and his guitar. 

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Moots – The oh so coveted Baxter.  No description necessary.

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Oddity Cycles – Shawn and the crew are some of the nicest guys you will ever meet and make a sweet bike.  They were actually delivering a new bike to Paul (of Paul components).  They had bags from both Porcelain Rocket and Andrew The Maker displayed.  These guys are also on my short list of builders for my next bike.

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Proudfoot Cycles– I wish I had more time at the show as I would have liked to spend more time with these guys.  Their frames are clean and elegant.  Rouge Panda made the frame bag with the amazing vinyl work.

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RetroTec – Curtis has been making bikes for a long time, and his style is unmistakable.  The sweeping lines looked excellent.  I love the retro look and the split top tube.  That fork is just sweet.

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Sklar Bikes – The green bike won best mountain bike and it shows.  I fell in love with this bike on Friday and took a bunch of iPhone shots as I was mesmerized.  Adam was a super good guy who I ended up chatting with for a while.  This thing looked like a trail ripping machine.

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Stinner Frameworks – The Stinner monster cross bike was another highlight of the show for me.  27.5×2.25 wheels, dropper post, and a one-bike-quiver design.  I loved this bike.  The second Stinner just had a super cool hand painted frame. 

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