Engin Cycles builder Drew Guldalian's steel tubes and lugs may be viewed as old-school but some of the features he's now incorporating into his frames are anything but. Quick to adopt the new PressFit 30 bottom bracket standard last year, Guldalian's newest 29" steel hardtail also includes a proper tapered 1 1/8"-to-1 1/2" head tube and even a 142x12mm rear hub complete with a RockShox Maxle.
Guldalian's frame still uses open rear dropouts so it's not a true thru-axle design (though his bike uses a 20mm thru-axle up front) but he still believes the new standard is the wave of the future as it theoretically improves rear wheel strength when hub makers begin to widen the spoke flanges, too.
Even with the modern touches, though, Guldalian's striking hardtail still sports a distinctly classic look including stainless steel reinforcement rings around the head tube ends, his own cast seatpost head, beautiful Paragon Machine Works dropouts and a custom stem capped with a Paragon four-bolt faceplate.
Other Engin creations on display include features such as integrated seatposts, split seat stays for use with Gate Carbon Drive toothed belts, and ultra-modern stainless steel tubesets.
Calfee Adventurer carbon fibre tourer adds front and rear disc brakes
Craig Calfee - as always - brought a number of showstoppers to NAHBS including a wild 'tall bike' built with carbon fibre tubing, hemp-wrapped joints, a custom modified 1 1/8"-to-1 1/4" Niner carbon fork, and even a trick carbon fibre kickstand based on a basic Greenfield model but augmented with a couple of old carbon road forks.
Despite the whimsical basis for the bike, the build kit was still pretty serious with a Rohloff SpeedHub, Campagnolo carbon Ultra-Torque crank, Enve Composites carbon stem and seatpost, and Avid disc brakes.
According to Calfee, the big bike is actually surprisingly easy to ride - but no, we didn't take him up on his offer of a test ride.
Another similarly striking - and similarly big - sample on display was a carbon road tandem, complete with S&S couplers for easier traveling. Calfee built the frame with Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 electronic drivetrain and modified it with his own extra-long wiring harness, quick-connect plugs, and an internal battery setup of his own design housed inside a seatpost. The rear derailleur has also been modified with a longer pulley cage to increase the gear capacity.
Other high-end parts include Lightning two-piece carbon cranks (the design on which Specialized bases its own FACT cranks), a Gates Carbon Drive timing belt, Zipp carbon-aluminum clinchers, and a Enve Composites cockpit components. Claimed weight for the entire build as pictured is just 12.7kg (28lb).
Calfee also offered up his modern take on a classic randonneur bike - only his version is built around a 1,000g (2.2lb) carbon fiber frame with a PressFit 30 bottom bracket and optional disc brakes at both ends.
The rear disc tabs are built right into Calfee's own titanium plate dropouts but the front tabs are added on to an Enve Composites 2.0 carbon fork. Still think disc brakes and road bikes don't mix? Think again - and get used to seeing more of stuff like this.
Independent Fabrications blends classic muscle car personality into carbon fiber and titanium
Independent Fabrications' highlights were road and off-road version of its Titanium Factory Lightweight - ultra-modern machines built of titanium and carbon fibre with integrated seatmasts but whose personalities and liveries were drawn from old American muscle cars of yesteryear.
The seatmast tops on both bikes are of Independent Fabrications' own in-house design and both bikes also feature Chris King's latest InSet headsets and PressFit 30 bottom bracket cups.
Independent Fabrications also showed off one of the worst kept secrets in the 'cross world: a mud version of its Corvid full-carbon frame called the Cross Jester.
Each tube and lug are individually moulded by Enve Composites and a unique series of internal silicone molds allow for slight tweaks in frame geometry. A split driveside dropout also allows for a belt drive if a customer opts to go with horizontal dropouts.
Perhaps the most creative showpiece was the so-called Caffeine Racer, an urban titanium townie built and designed for the Toni Smith - the wife of company owner Gary Smith.
As the name suggests, the Caffeine Racer's mixte step-through frame and handlebars are styled after café racer motorcycles. Phil Wood's eccentric bottom bracket allows for easy chain tension adjustments, the Wound-Up carbon fork includes disc mounts for the single Avid BB7 caliper, and a generator hub powers the LED front light.
And of course, no Caffeine Racer would be complete without a matching stainless steel coffee mug - natch.
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