Skip to main content

On show: 2011 North American Handmade Bicycle Show Part 1

Image 1 of 71

Alchemy jumps into the aero scene with new custom-designed and molded tubes that can be configured into a wide range of road and time trial geometries.

Alchemy jumps into the aero scene with new custom-designed and molded tubes that can be configured into a wide range of road and time trial geometries.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 2 of 71

No sense in including a top tube protector on this True Fabrication machine without first adding a bit of extra style.

No sense in including a top tube protector on this True Fabrication machine without first adding a bit of extra style.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 3 of 71

Clean lines and modestly sized tubes are featured on this KirkLee carbon road frame.

Clean lines and modestly sized tubes are featured on this KirkLee carbon road frame.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 4 of 71

The frosted KirkLee logo is apparently invisible when the bike is wet.

The frosted KirkLee logo is apparently invisible when the bike is wet.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 5 of 71

The glossy marbled finish hides the tapered steerer tube inside.

The glossy marbled finish hides the tapered steerer tube inside.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 6 of 71

KirkLee built this bike to be "as black as black" with subtle frosted logos.

KirkLee built this bike to be "as black as black" with subtle frosted logos.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 7 of 71

The tube-to-tube construction on the KirkLee carbon frame results in a very different aesthetic as compared to most monocoque bikes.

The tube-to-tube construction on the KirkLee carbon frame results in a very different aesthetic as compared to most monocoque bikes.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 8 of 71

(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 9 of 71

(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 10 of 71

(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 11 of 71

(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 12 of 71

(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 13 of 71

(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 14 of 71

(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 15 of 71

(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 16 of 71

The new Crumpton SL Road also uses fully separate seat stays based on customer request.

The new Crumpton SL Road also uses fully separate seat stays based on customer request.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 17 of 71

Crumpton is now offering an optional integrated seatmast for its new SL Road model, complete with Ritchey's new carbon fiber head.

Crumpton is now offering an optional integrated seatmast for its new SL Road model, complete with Ritchey's new carbon fiber head.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 18 of 71

KirkLee is fast becoming known for the brilliant paint jobs sourced for its customers.

KirkLee is fast becoming known for the brilliant paint jobs sourced for its customers.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 19 of 71

The tapered head tube of this KirkLee is neatly dressed up with flashy custom paint.

The tapered head tube of this KirkLee is neatly dressed up with flashy custom paint.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 20 of 71

This KirkLee customer apparently asked for a "black and red" bike but still gave the painter free reign. In all fairness, there is some black and red in there...

This KirkLee customer apparently asked for a "black and red" bike but still gave the painter free reign. In all fairness, there is some black and red in there...
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 21 of 71

New for True Fabrication is this elegant script logo.

New for True Fabrication is this elegant script logo.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 22 of 71

True Fabrication will show off this slick track bike at this year's NAHBS.

True Fabrication will show off this slick track bike at this year's NAHBS.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 23 of 71

Simple lines adorn the front end of True Fabrication's track bike.

Simple lines adorn the front end of True Fabrication's track bike.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 24 of 71

A little window in the brazed external sleeve provides another convenient location for a bit of color on this True Fabrication townie.

A little window in the brazed external sleeve provides another convenient location for a bit of color on this True Fabrication townie.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 25 of 71

The curved lines are dressed up in just the right amount of pink.

The curved lines are dressed up in just the right amount of pink.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 26 of 71

NuVinci's new infinitely variable 360 internally geared hub is notably smoother than earlier models.

NuVinci's new infinitely variable 360 internally geared hub is notably smoother than earlier models.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 27 of 71

We caught sight of this classy NuVinci-equipped townie at the True Fabrication workshop in the days leading up to the 2011 NAHBS show.

We caught sight of this classy NuVinci-equipped townie at the True Fabrication workshop in the days leading up to the 2011 NAHBS show.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 28 of 71

Fork tips are brazed in reverse from the norm to prevent the wheel from ejecting during a hard stop.

Fork tips are brazed in reverse from the norm to prevent the wheel from ejecting during a hard stop.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 29 of 71

True Fabrication seems to have a preference for segmented fork crowns.

True Fabrication seems to have a preference for segmented fork crowns.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 30 of 71

Simple slotted dropouts and brake mounts are included in this True Fabrication townie bike.

Simple slotted dropouts and brake mounts are included in this True Fabrication townie bike.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 31 of 71

True Fabrication's head tube badges are cut with a water jet and then bent as needed.

True Fabrication's head tube badges are cut with a water jet and then bent as needed.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 32 of 71

True Fabrication's "monster fixie" was actually inspired by a mis-built fork.

True Fabrication's "monster fixie" was actually inspired by a mis-built fork.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 33 of 71

The segmented crown on this True Fabrication fork is capped with uber-polished Texas quarters.

The segmented crown on this True Fabrication fork is capped with uber-polished Texas quarters.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 34 of 71

Omitting the chain stay bridge makes for massive amounts of tire clearance.

Omitting the chain stay bridge makes for massive amounts of tire clearance.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 35 of 71

KirkLee is now supplying custom frames for Swiss pro Christian Heule.

KirkLee is now supplying custom frames for Swiss pro Christian Heule.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 36 of 71

Tidy aluminum dropouts are bonded into the rear end of Crumpton's new SL Road carbon frame.

Tidy aluminum dropouts are bonded into the rear end of Crumpton's new SL Road carbon frame.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 37 of 71

Nick Crumpton uses tube-to-tube construction for his frames but you'd hardly guess from the impeccable finish quality.

Nick Crumpton uses tube-to-tube construction for his frames but you'd hardly guess from the impeccable finish quality.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 38 of 71

The seat tube is reinforced for the front derailleur clamp.

The seat tube is reinforced for the front derailleur clamp.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 39 of 71

It's the details that matter - Alchemy could have just used a different seatpost collar but instead opted to add a little extra style to the tube first.

It's the details that matter - Alchemy could have just used a different seatpost collar but instead opted to add a little extra style to the tube first.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 40 of 71

Polished stainless steel reinforcement rings adorn the front end of this Alchemy fixie.

Polished stainless steel reinforcement rings adorn the front end of this Alchemy fixie.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 41 of 71

Like most builders, Alchemy doesn't limit itself to just one genre of bicycle.

Like most builders, Alchemy doesn't limit itself to just one genre of bicycle.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 42 of 71

The rear end of Alchemy's new aero bikes continues on with its existing seat and chain stays.

The rear end of Alchemy's new aero bikes continues on with its existing seat and chain stays.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 43 of 71

Cables are internally routed on Alchemy's new aero frames.

Cables are internally routed on Alchemy's new aero frames.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 44 of 71

Alchemy's full aero treatment includes the seat tube, too.

Alchemy's full aero treatment includes the seat tube, too.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 45 of 71

Alchemy is now offering its own aero down tubes and seat tubes - plus a newly shaped top tube - for customers looking for shave a few seconds. The shapes were designed in-house by Alchemy while the tubes themselves are made by Enve Composites.

Alchemy is now offering its own aero down tubes and seat tubes - plus a newly shaped top tube - for customers looking for shave a few seconds. The shapes were designed in-house by Alchemy while the tubes themselves are made by Enve Composites.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 46 of 71

Alchemy's wrapped carbon joints are compressed, cooked, and hand sanded.

Alchemy's wrapped carbon joints are compressed, cooked, and hand sanded.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 47 of 71

Alchemy fit this 29er titanium hardtail with an ultralight Tune aluminum head.

Alchemy fit this 29er titanium hardtail with an ultralight Tune aluminum head.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 48 of 71

Integrated seat masts are relatively common on carbon fiber bikes but it's still surprising to see one on a titanium frame.

Integrated seat masts are relatively common on carbon fiber bikes but it's still surprising to see one on a titanium frame.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 49 of 71

The masked and blasted logo is a nice touch that won't wear off.

The masked and blasted logo is a nice touch that won't wear off.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 50 of 71

Alchemy built this titanium 29er for a local dealer and as you can see here, it's dressed with heaps of shiny bits.

Alchemy built this titanium 29er for a local dealer and as you can see here, it's dressed with heaps of shiny bits.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 51 of 71

Sliding dropouts on this Alchemy 29er make for fast drivetrain tension and brake adjustments while the split seat stay also allows for a belt drive.

Sliding dropouts on this Alchemy 29er make for fast drivetrain tension and brake adjustments while the split seat stay also allows for a belt drive.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 52 of 71

While most builders typically prefer to space the chain stays as wide on the bottom bracket shell as possible, Alchemy has positioned them surprisingly close together on this titanium 29er hardtail.

While most builders typically prefer to space the chain stays as wide on the bottom bracket shell as possible, Alchemy has positioned them surprisingly close together on this titanium 29er hardtail.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 53 of 71

Crumpton's new 29er uses the increasingly popular PressFit 30 bottom bracket system.

Crumpton's new 29er uses the increasingly popular PressFit 30 bottom bracket system.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 54 of 71

Ashima's new pancake hydraulic disc brake and other boutique components help keep Crumpton's new carbon fiber 29er below 17lb.

Ashima's new pancake hydraulic disc brake and other boutique components help keep Crumpton's new carbon fiber 29er below 17lb.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 55 of 71

Flattened sections on the chain stays of Crumpton's new 29er presumably provide a bit of vertical flex on rough terrain.

Flattened sections on the chain stays of Crumpton's new 29er presumably provide a bit of vertical flex on rough terrain.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 56 of 71

The rear brake housing is fed through the top tube of Crumpton's new SL via a stainless steel tube. Small swatches of otherwise wasted unidirectional carbon fiber is applied to the surface for the unique finish.

The rear brake housing is fed through the top tube of Crumpton's new SL via a stainless steel tube. Small swatches of otherwise wasted unidirectional carbon fiber is applied to the surface for the unique finish.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 57 of 71

PressFit 30 cups and a modified set of Wheels Manufacturing adapters allow the use of Shimano's Dura-Ace cranks.

PressFit 30 cups and a modified set of Wheels Manufacturing adapters allow the use of Shimano's Dura-Ace cranks.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 58 of 71

This Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 battery kit is normally meant to go on the chain stay but Crumpton prefers the tidier form factor and uses it on the underside of the down tube instead.

This Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 battery kit is normally meant to go on the chain stay but Crumpton prefers the tidier form factor and uses it on the underside of the down tube instead.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 59 of 71

As expected, the increased design flexibility of Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 electronic drivetrain has made it very popular amongst smaller builders looking to create cleaner lines.

As expected, the increased design flexibility of Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 electronic drivetrain has made it very popular amongst smaller builders looking to create cleaner lines.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 60 of 71

The Crumpton Corsa-M uses distinctive split seat stays sourced from Dedacciai.

The Crumpton Corsa-M uses distinctive split seat stays sourced from Dedacciai.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 61 of 71

The Corsa-M remains mostly unchanged for this year but the finish been nearly perfected in this latest iteration.

The Corsa-M remains mostly unchanged for this year but the finish been nearly perfected in this latest iteration.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 62 of 71

Crumpton's Corsa-M carries on with subtle tweaks and a more refined finish.

Crumpton's Corsa-M carries on with subtle tweaks and a more refined finish.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 63 of 71

Crumpton's latest Corsa-M is built with carbon fiber dropouts.

Crumpton's latest Corsa-M is built with carbon fiber dropouts.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 64 of 71

Crumpton prefers monobox-style chain stay yokes for their generous surface area, which he says makes for higher-strength joints.

Crumpton prefers monobox-style chain stay yokes for their generous surface area, which he says makes for higher-strength joints.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 65 of 71

Crumpton builds the front triangle in-house with tubing sourced from Enve Composites but at least for now, the stays are sourced from Italy.

Crumpton builds the front triangle in-house with tubing sourced from Enve Composites but at least for now, the stays are sourced from Italy.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 66 of 71

The split seat stay ends are likely a bear to hand-wrap into the front triangle of Crumpton's new 29er hardtail.

The split seat stay ends are likely a bear to hand-wrap into the front triangle of Crumpton's new 29er hardtail.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 67 of 71

Lots of carbon builders can make light custom frames but few can match Crumpton's impeccable finish work.

Lots of carbon builders can make light custom frames but few can match Crumpton's impeccable finish work.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 68 of 71

Crumpton is best known for its custom carbon road bikes but is busting into the off-road scene with this striking 29" hardtail.

Crumpton is best known for its custom carbon road bikes but is busting into the off-road scene with this striking 29" hardtail.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 69 of 71

Crumpton fit its new 29er with a Syncros carbon fork to keep the weight down but the crown-to-axle length is roughly the same as a suspended fork so swapping one in won't adversely affect the handling.

Crumpton fit its new 29er with a Syncros carbon fork to keep the weight down but the crown-to-axle length is roughly the same as a suspended fork so swapping one in won't adversely affect the handling.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 70 of 71

Tidy machined aluminum dropouts directly integrate the IS-style disc tabs.

Tidy machined aluminum dropouts directly integrate the IS-style disc tabs.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 71 of 71

The curved seat tube on this True Fabrication track bike allows for an especially short rear end.

The curved seat tube on this True Fabrication track bike allows for an especially short rear end.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)

The North American Handmade Bicycle Show has always been a showcase for the immense talent and creativity of small artisan builders but this year's show is already feeling notably different in years past.

The general cycling industry now also recognises that these builders are intimately connected with upcoming trends and fashions, too, and based on our last five years of coverage it's a virtual lock that what's cool here will be cool in the mainstream in a year or two.

This year's 'traveling circus' finds itself in the cycling hotbed of Austin, Texas, and not surprisingly, local builders are putting in extra efforts to pay homage to their hometown scene. Here's a preview of what you'll see during our coverage of the next few days.

Crumpton Cycles expands into off-road 29ers

The highlight of long-time carbon builder Nick Crumpton's display is his new hardtail, built using the same impeccably finished tube-to-tube construction and Enve Composites-made main tubes of the rest of his line but with Italian-sourced stays. Interestingly enough, Crumpton skipped the 26" standard altogether and wrapped all of this carbon fibre around the increasingly popular 29" wheel format instead.

Crumpton says the new 29er isn't quite ready for sale yet as he's still finalizing the design. Currently the stays' one-piece aluminum dropouts allow for just a single angle that limits frame geometry options and he's considering designing his own that will allow for much more flexibility. For now, this lone prototype conveniently fits him but he'll bring it to production depending on public feedback.

Crumpton didn't quote a frame weight – in fact, he says he didn't even weigh the frame before building it up for the show – but with the trick parts kit and rigid Syncros carbon fibre fork as pictured here, total weight is said to be under 7.7kg (17.0lb).

Crumpton is also bringing a new SL Road flagship to the show with a true integrated headset, internal rear brake routing, and a novel patchwork finish on the otherwise unidirectional carbon fibre tubes. In contrast to previous Crumpton frames, the SL will also use full-length, straight, twin seat stays instead of the monostay and pseudo-monostay designs of other models.

Available and optional features include a PressFit 30 bottom bracket, internal Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 wiring with a custom slimline battery mount, and in another first for Crumpton, an integrated seatmast complete with Ritchey's new carbon fibre Superlogic head.

Fully optioned the new SL Road will fetch a premium US$6,900 for the frame, fork, headset and seatmast top but 'base' models will cost a somewhat more attainable US$5,300.

The workhorse Corsa-M gets an update as well though it's mostly evolutionary. According to Crumpton, the key improvement is in the more highly refined surface finish to the carefully hand-wrapped joints with virtually no post-molding sanding to disrupt the fibre plies.

Alchemy Bicycle Company introduces aero carbon tubeset

Already well versed in steel, aluminum, and titanium, Alchemy Bicycle Company is delving further into the carbon fibre game this season with a new aero road tubeset and seatpost designed in-house and built by Enve Composites. According to Alchemy's James Flatman, the new tubes can be built into a wide variety of road and time trial configurations thanks to the flexible tube-to-tube construction methods.

For example, a triathlete may want the full aero treatment with the teardrop-shaped down tube and seat tube but a bigger road racer may opt for a stiffer round seat tube instead.

Pricing for Alchemy's full-carbon road or time trial framesets range from US$3,200 to US$4,750 depending on the configuration and quoted lead time is about eight weeks.

KirkLee Bicycles offers its own spin on Texas-bred carbon fibre

Located just a few blocks from Crumpton's shop is KirkLee Bicycles, another Austin builder specializing in custom carbon fibre frames. Among company founder Brad Cason's favorites at this year's NAHBS is his own carbon fibre 26" hardtail, which he raced at last year's Leadville 100.

KirkLee normally does tube-to-tube construction but Cason's hardtail also incorporates some carbon lugwork. Carbon fibre is also used for the top tube cable guides and the bottom bracket again uses the increasingly common PressFit 30 standard, though KirkLee has also used true carbon fibre BB30-compatible shells of its own design. The titanium plate rear dropouts are also an in-house KirkLee design and can be used for either geared or singlespeed drivetrains.

KirkLee's hand-wrapped and sanded joints yields some interesting surface finishes but the company is also fast becoming known for the high-quality paint jobs sourced for its customers.

One road bike we saw was intended to simply be "as black as black" and features subtle frosted logos integrated into the clearcoat for a stealthy look along with a PressFit 30 bottom bracket and tapered head tube. Another, though, was far brighter with a green base fade topped with intricate pinstriping work.

Options are realistically only limited to the customer's budget but more common ones include an integrated seatmast, internal Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 wiring, and extended wrap plies at the joints for additional frame stiffness.

Some of you may also recall seeing an image of a very young rider – as in elementary school – sitting at the start line of a local race on a custom carbon fibre bike with 650c Lightweight wheels, Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 and a time trial helmet.

As it turns out, the father is a Texas local and well-heeled businessman who simply wanted to build the best possible machine for his son at any cost. Carbonsports agreed to re-open the old 650c mould for one last run and KirkLee built the frame. And yes, the boy does have siblings...

True Fabrication steers a bit left-of-centre

One of True Fabrication's highlights for this year's shows was, in fact, born out of a mistake. Instead of brazing the fork tips backwards to prevent wheel ejection due to the planned disc-equipped rigid 29er fork, the tips went in the standard way. So what's a builder to do? True Fabrication instead built a 'Monster Fixie' complete with giant Schwalbe road tyres, a tall bottom bracket, and a single rear disc brake.

True Fabrication will also have a more traditional track bike in its booth at this year's NAHBS though it still features a tidy straight-bladed fork and a curved seat tube that allows for ultra-short chain stays.

True Fabrication is also participating with a few other select builders in NuVinci's design contest, intended to show off the company's new 360 continuously variable internally geared hub. True opted for a step-through urban bike here with a gently curved and dropped top tube, slotted rear dropouts, and a neat segmented crown fork. There's a flat grey paint job in keeping with the urban theme but a few subtle touches of pink nicely set things off.