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North American Handmade Bicycle Show 2010 - Part six

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Former Serotta builder Kelly Bedford made the trip to NAHBS from upstate New York for a second year.

Former Serotta builder Kelly Bedford made the trip to NAHBS from upstate New York for a second year. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The classic look is completed with the hammered fenders, careful lug work and Mafac Racer-style Paul brakes.

The classic look is completed with the hammered fenders, careful lug work and Mafac Racer-style Paul brakes. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Kelly Bedford displayed this stunning lugged stainless steel road bike.

Kelly Bedford displayed this stunning lugged stainless steel road bike. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Copper accents offset the stark stainless steel on this Kelly Bedford road bike.

Copper accents offset the stark stainless steel on this Kelly Bedford road bike. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Kelly Bedford also brought along this white TIG-welded machine.

Kelly Bedford also brought along this white TIG-welded machine. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Capricorn Bicycles saw fit to use a thru-axle on its rigid steel fork.

Capricorn Bicycles saw fit to use a thru-axle on its rigid steel fork. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Capricorn Bicycles showed off this fetching green singlespeed 29er.

Capricorn Bicycles showed off this fetching green singlespeed 29er. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Nice combination of fillet brazing and lugwork on the front of this Capricorn.

Nice combination of fillet brazing and lugwork on the front of this Capricorn. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Elaborate head tube badges are a virtual requirement at NAHBS.

Elaborate head tube badges are a virtual requirement at NAHBS. (Image credit: James Huang)
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(Image credit: James Huang)
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(Image credit: James Huang)
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(Image credit: James Huang)
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(Image credit: James Huang)
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Coho Bicycles showed off this understated tourer.

Coho Bicycles showed off this understated tourer. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The custom lowrider front rack features an integrated light mount.

The custom lowrider front rack features an integrated light mount. (Image credit: James Huang)
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This Coho classic road bike still had dirt on it from a recent ride.

This Coho classic road bike still had dirt on it from a recent ride. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Check out the head tube paint on this DiNucci road bike.

Check out the head tube paint on this DiNucci road bike. (Image credit: James Huang)
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This is certainly one way to keep people from stealing your bike. Pretty sure DiNucci used a dead grenade here (or so we hope).

This is certainly one way to keep people from stealing your bike. Pretty sure DiNucci used a dead grenade here (or so we hope). (Image credit: James Huang)
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DiNucci also showed off this handy leather widget for keeping essential within easy reach.

DiNucci also showed off this handy leather widget for keeping essential within easy reach. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Vincent Dom

Vincent Dom (Image credit: James Huang)
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Vincent Dom

Vincent Dom (Image credit: James Huang)
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The internally routed rear brake cable on this Dom

The internally routed rear brake cable on this Dom (Image credit: James Huang)
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This orange fixie belongs to NAHBS organizer Don Walker.

This orange fixie belongs to NAHBS organizer Don Walker. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Show organizer Don Walker apparently doesn't feel the need for grips or tape on the bars of his personal fixie.

Show organizer Don Walker apparently doesn't feel the need for grips or tape on the bars of his personal fixie. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Don Walker is hoping to bring the chromed fork look back into style.

Don Walker is hoping to bring the chromed fork look back into style. (Image credit: James Huang)
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NAHBS organizer Don Walker is also an accomplished framebuilder in his own right.

NAHBS organizer Don Walker is also an accomplished framebuilder in his own right. (Image credit: James Huang)
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NAHBS organizer Don Walker built this track bike for his newest employee, former Olympian Erin Hartwell.

NAHBS organizer Don Walker built this track bike for his newest employee, former Olympian Erin Hartwell. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Don Walker does an excellent job of black-and-white on this steel road racer.

Don Walker does an excellent job of black-and-white on this steel road racer. (Image credit: James Huang)
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This Don Walker track bike will be ridden by pro racer David Wiswell this season.

This Don Walker track bike will be ridden by pro racer David Wiswell this season. (Image credit: James Huang)
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This Inglis 'cross bike features classic styling.

This Inglis 'cross bike features classic styling. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Paul's Mafac-style centerpull brakes were very popular at NAHBS.

Paul's Mafac-style centerpull brakes were very popular at NAHBS. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Retrotec has long preferred mounting the disc brake in between the stays.

Retrotec has long preferred mounting the disc brake in between the stays. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Retrotec builder Curtis Inglis brought along this classically-style hardtail.

Retrotec builder Curtis Inglis brought along this classically-style hardtail. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Keller Cycles brought along this freshly painted touring frameset.

Keller Cycles brought along this freshly painted touring frameset. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Boulder, Colorado builder Mosaic brought this neatly brazed road bike with polished lugs, dropouts and seat stays.

Boulder, Colorado builder Mosaic brought this neatly brazed road bike with polished lugs, dropouts and seat stays. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Nice lugwork here by Boulder, Colorado builder Mosaic.

Nice lugwork here by Boulder, Colorado builder Mosaic. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Richard Sachs built this for Rapha's Continental project and is possibly the first and only black Sachs frame you'll ever see.

Richard Sachs built this for Rapha's Continental project and is possibly the first and only black Sachs frame you'll ever see. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Yup, that's a pink 'A' in the Richard Sachs logo.

Yup, that's a pink 'A' in the Richard Sachs logo. (Image credit: James Huang)
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More pink highlights on the Rapha Continental bikes include this Chris King bottom bracket.

More pink highlights on the Rapha Continental bikes include this Chris King bottom bracket. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Signal Cycles also built a bike for the Rapha Continental crew.

Signal Cycles also built a bike for the Rapha Continental crew. (Image credit: James Huang)
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A custom pink-accented fi'zi:k saddle complements the rest of the Signal Cycles Rapha Continental bike.

A custom pink-accented fi'zi:k saddle complements the rest of the Signal Cycles Rapha Continental bike. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Rich Adams displayed this fetching blue-and-white road bike.

Rich Adams displayed this fetching blue-and-white road bike. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Neat fillet brazing plus some detailed braze-on down tube adjusters on the front end of this Rich Adams build.

Neat fillet brazing plus some detailed braze-on down tube adjusters on the front end of this Rich Adams build. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Nice paintwork on this Rich Adams frame.

Nice paintwork on this Rich Adams frame. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Also on display in the Rich Adams booth was this red-and-white lugged road bike.

Also on display in the Rich Adams booth was this red-and-white lugged road bike. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Yessir, that's a 1" steerer hiding inside of there.

Yessir, that's a 1" steerer hiding inside of there. (Image credit: James Huang)
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A classic look on this Rich Adams frame courtesy of the neatly lugged seat cluster and red, white and silver paint.

A classic look on this Rich Adams frame courtesy of the neatly lugged seat cluster and red, white and silver paint. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Richard Sachs wasn't just showing off his frames. He's got a new dog, too.

Richard Sachs wasn't just showing off his frames. He's got a new dog, too. (Image credit: James Huang)
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It seems a shame to have these bikes so dirty but it emphasizes the point that Richard Sachs frame are meant to be ridden.

It seems a shame to have these bikes so dirty but it emphasizes the point that Richard Sachs frame are meant to be ridden. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Richard Sachs doesn't just build frames; he also races the hell out of them. These are his personal 'cross bikes from this past season.

Richard Sachs doesn't just build frames; he also races the hell out of them. These are his personal 'cross bikes from this past season. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Richard Sachs also has his own range of lugs.

Richard Sachs also has his own range of lugs. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Richard Sachs frames may not change much from year to year but then again, there's little reason for them to.

Richard Sachs frames may not change much from year to year but then again, there's little reason for them to. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Signal Cycles built this bike around a 'new old stock' Shimano Deore XT group that a customer had in storage.

Signal Cycles built this bike around a 'new old stock' Shimano Deore XT group that a customer had in storage. (Image credit: James Huang)
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A custom Signal Cycles stem tops a carved headset spacer and a rare, WTB/Chris King headset.

A custom Signal Cycles stem tops a carved headset spacer and a rare, WTB/Chris King headset. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Signal Cycles rig also sported old (but new!) WTB Grease Guard pedals with toe flips.

The Signal Cycles rig also sported old (but new!) WTB Grease Guard pedals with toe flips. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Not only does the rear end of this Signal Cycles frame sport a new old stock Deore XT rear derailleur, it's even a short-cage variant.

Not only does the rear end of this Signal Cycles frame sport a new old stock Deore XT rear derailleur, it's even a short-cage variant. (Image credit: James Huang)
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This Villin road bike quietly shows off the skills of builder Alexis Dold.

This Villin road bike quietly shows off the skills of builder Alexis Dold. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The hammered lugs nicely complement the hammered fenders on this Villin bike.

The hammered lugs nicely complement the hammered fenders on this Villin bike. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Villin builder Alexis Dold is clearly a fan of various metal surface treatments.

Villin builder Alexis Dold is clearly a fan of various metal surface treatments. (Image credit: James Huang)
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This Villin mixte frame looks fairly plain until you step a bit closer.

This Villin mixte frame looks fairly plain until you step a bit closer. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Villin builder Alexis Dold uses unique-looking damascus steel on many of his frames.

Villin builder Alexis Dold uses unique-looking damascus steel on many of his frames. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Business card, anyone?

Business card, anyone? (Image credit: James Huang)
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Wyganowski brought this beautiful purple and white road bike to NAHBS.

Wyganowski brought this beautiful purple and white road bike to NAHBS. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The perfectly mitered and brazed joints on this Zanconato frame leave no voids behind.

The perfectly mitered and brazed joints on this Zanconato frame leave no voids behind. (Image credit: James Huang)
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We see cutaways of carbon bikes all the time but Mike Zanconato wants people to see how his steel frames look, too.

We see cutaways of carbon bikes all the time but Mike Zanconato wants people to see how his steel frames look, too. (Image credit: James Huang)
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A brass tube guides the rear brake housing as seen in this Zanconato cutaway.

A brass tube guides the rear brake housing as seen in this Zanconato cutaway. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Running continuous housing from the top tube to the derailleur is becoming increasingly popular on 'cross bikes as a way to keep the shifting running smoothly.

Running continuous housing from the top tube to the derailleur is becoming increasingly popular on 'cross bikes as a way to keep the shifting running smoothly. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Zanconato brought this white 'cross racer to NAHBS.

Zanconato brought this white 'cross racer to NAHBS. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Almost seems a shame to get this muddy.

Almost seems a shame to get this muddy. (Image credit: James Huang)

As ornate as some of the machines displayed at NAHBS were, classic construction methods such as lugged and fillet brazing and traditional steel still ruled the floor.

Simply put, lugged and fillet brazed construction offer a massive amount of creativity in forming the joint that many builders obviously want to exploit. While TIG-welded bikes can be just as artistic, the joint itself often becomes the highlight in a lugged or fillet brazed frame – and not just from a functional perspective. Hours of hand carving can go into a single lug while the pinnacle of a fillet brazed joint seems to be when the joint is altogether seamless and invisible.

The traditional construction methods have also been aided by the advancement of steel metallurgy and it's no accident that representatives from Reynolds, Columbus, Dedacciai, and True Temper were all on-site with the hot trend continuing to be stainless alloys that not only lend themselves to lighter frames than ever but ones that are also much more resistant to corrosion so they can be brushed or polished, too.

"We've actually extended the range of 953 further so we now have the ability to do slightly thicker walls which allow people to do mountain bikes," said Keith Noronha, managing director at Reynolds Technology Ltd. "Although we haven't released them yet, there are also some 953 fork blades around at the show as well."

Reynolds has also developed a newer stainless alloy called 931, which is more akin to 853 in terms of strength but is easier to draw into smaller tubes. Noronha says this will be developed into a range of seat- and chain stays so that builders can construct full-stainless frames. Testing has already shown that it can be readily brazed into lugs and early reports suggest that it can also be welded to 953 tubes, too.

Columbus has recently returned to the stainless scene in recent years with its new XCr tubeset, currently available only in a TIG-specific butting profiles but soon to be offered in a lug-appropriate set. As compared to the company's old Metax tubeset, Mauro Mondonico of Columbus (who also happens to be the son of the famous framebuilder) says XCr is more reliable, too.

In spite of stainless's appealing properties, though, not everyone is convinced stainless is the way to go such as longtime framebuilder Ben Serotta, whose Colorado Concept frames arguably pioneered the age of radically shaped steel tubes.

"Whatever [stainless] alloy you have, it is somewhat more brittle and it's harder to manipulate," he said. "The one advantage that it has is its resistance to corrosion but it's not corrosion-proof. In terms of ride performance, we can deliver a higher performance ride using other steel alloys."

Still, tubing suppliers such as Reynolds emphasize the critical role small custom builders play in the development of new materials. They aren't bound by massive quantities and buy-ins since they operate in such small volume, their skill level is typically much higher than the industry average, and they generally have a better sense of how the industry is trending in terms of customer needs and wants.

"We're first working with the custom builders because they're the important guys in terms of how it works, what it works with and all the rest of it," Noronha said. "We like to talk to the custom builders first because it literally shapes what we're going to offer to our customers moving forward."