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Eurobike Portland means no NAHBS

Posted by on October 31st, 2006 at 11:04 am

Framebuilder's party
[Don Walker, the
man behind NAHBS]

The recent announcement that a major bike industry trade show will come to Portland next year has put a wrench in ongoing efforts by the PDC and Commissioner Sam Adams’ office to woo the popular North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) to Stumptown.

Don Walker, the man behind the NAHBS, told me in a phone conversation this morning that he was “heartbroken” when he heard the news.

“It breaks my heart because I saw the potential of Portland hosting the show…right down to the bar where the band would play and the hotel I would stay in.”

Just last week, Walker was in town to scout potential locations and meet with city officials. On Friday he joined a gathering of local bike builders in Southwest Portland hosted by Andy Newlands of Strawberry Bicycles.

In attendance were many local builders along with Maria Thi Mai, senior policy director for Commissioner Adams and Jennifer Nolfi, bicycle industry liaison at the PDC.

[Don Walker at a gathering of local bike builders
in Southwest Portland last Friday (10/27)]
From L to R: Andy Newlands, Natalie Ramsland, Tony Pereira, Joseph Ahearne, Don Walker, Ira Ryan

I spoke with Don at that party and he seemed nearly 100% sure he would bring his show to Portland. He said, “From what I’ve seen today, I could see that NAHBS could be hosted in Portland.”

However, now that’s an impossibility because Walker refuses to play second fiddle to a larger show and he would have to compete for exhibitors.

Walker called me this morning to express his disappointment:

Framebuilders gathering

“This recent announcement by Eurobike has completely ruined any chance of NAHBS coming to the Pacific Northwest.

We are a stand-alone event and I’m not willing to be in a market where there’s already an industry show. We’d be known as ‘that other show’ and I see that a major negative.”

Walker added that many of his potential exhibitors can only afford one show, and he has already confirmed that at least one of his existing exhibitors is being courted by Messe Friedrichshafen (the company behind Eurobike).

Walker will now re-focus his game plan and choose a city on the east coast. His short list includes Allentown and Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, Washington DC, and Baltimore Maryland.

According to Walker, he has already sent an email to his contacts at the PDC and Commissioner Sam’s office but has yet to hear back from either of them.

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Comments
  • mechanic Mark October 31, 2006 at 11:34 am

    That sucks. I’d much rather have the NAHBS than some stupid Eurobike spinoff. How will Eurobike compete with the well-established Interbike that also takes place in September? Sounds like Eurobike (or whatever they’re gonna call the North American version) will be that ‘other’ bike show.

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  • Brad October 31, 2006 at 11:49 am

    Interbike is huge but you also hear a lot of grumbling about it. Most bike people don’t like Las Vegas, the lack of riding opportunities, the pall of cigarette smoke, the overpriced rooms and restaurants, etc. This new show could be a big hit or Interbike will relocate (possibly to Portland). The grumbling about I-Bike has been growing for years.

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  • isaac October 31, 2006 at 12:25 pm

    I’m with mechanic mark.
    The premise of the handbuilt bike show seems totally unique from the other shows. Its too bad Don feels it would be competitive. If exhibitors really can only afford one show, they may choose to attend another show no matter where NAHB is held. How many of the Hand Builders would attend “Eurobike”?

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  • Jonathan Maus October 31, 2006 at 12:29 pm

    I agree. I think Walker should just focus the branding of his show around the small, artisan builders and let Eurobike do their own thing.

    However, I think Walker has a different vision for his show and that he wants it to grow and include other exhibitors.

    Also, if the Eurobike people are smart, they might figure out a cool way to showcase small builders with a special section of the show and discounted fees.

    We’ll see…

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  • Mikee October 31, 2006 at 1:00 pm

    Jeeez, the lamest thing I’ve heard in a while following yesterday hearing the coolest thing I’ve heard in a while. Its apples and oranges! Interbike is a TRADE show! EuroPortlaBike will be a TRADE show! Both mostly catering to the bike industry.

    The Hand Made show is a RETAIL show! Most of its exhibitors sell directly to consumers.

    Sure, there is some cross over, and it would be smart for EuroPortlaBike to have a consumer day, but there is no reason they can’t co-exist. If the Hand Made show doesn’t see Interbike as a threat, why will the new show be one? They aren’t even the same time of year.

    To be honest, I think they could have a synergistic affect by both continuing to add to Portland’s bike cred.

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  • Dabby October 31, 2006 at 1:14 pm

    Euro Bike show would just cost mucho dollaro’s for the citizen to go to , only for part of a day probably anyway.
    Let ‘em stay in Europe.

    I remember going to the bike shows in Portland, I think in the early 90′s or so. They were pretty big, pretty bright, and all in all, pretty boring.
    I am down with smaller, more directional shows, that all can attend, not just vendors or reps…

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  • SKiDmark October 31, 2006 at 1:15 pm

    I could care less what the mass-production “industry” has to offer. It is easy enough to find out anyways , all you have to do is pick up a bicycle magazine. The North American Handmade Bicycle Show is a completely different animal. It showcases the dying art of INDIVIDUAL craftsmanship. Also there is not a single builder involved in that show the doesn’t have a singlespeed, fixed, and/or track offering.

    And to Don Walker : if anything, the Eurobike show would be known as “the other show”. NAHBS is MUCH MORE IMPORTANT and interesting than mass-market, mass-production crap could ever be.

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  • [...] The news about this show has also caused Don Walker of the popular North American Handmade Bicycle Show to abruptly shelve his plans to bring that show to Portland. This seems like a big downer for the PDC and Commissioner Sam who were working hard to get that show. So not only did they lose NAHBS, but it seems like they didn’t even know much about the Eurobike plans until yesterday (I think POVA has been the main player thus far). [...]

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  • Cate October 31, 2006 at 1:30 pm

    I agree with Brad. An Interbike alternative has been needed for awhile. My analogy – Eurobike could be a great “AMD” to Interbike’s “Intel”.

    I also hope local bike builders are included in Eurobike somehow – they’d be a great way to represent Portland at our new show.

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  • Jonathan Maus October 31, 2006 at 1:35 pm

    Cate,

    My hunch is that Erich Reiss is more concerned with the big players in the US bike industry than our quaint, local bike builders.

    Remember, this is a business venture owned by a foreign company…it’s far from “our new show.”

    I could be wrong and I hope to hear more from Reiss, but that’s just my hunch.

    And hey, remember what a fun night we had at the Made in Portland Bike Show? I pulled that thing together in just a few weeks with zero budget and a some help from Sam Adams’ office.

    I’d like to work with Reiss’s company to possibly do that event in tandem with Eurobike Portland…

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  • SKiDmark October 31, 2006 at 1:49 pm

    There is nothing “quaint” about our local builders, unless you think that bikes should be made by robots.

    I could be wrong, maybe craftsmanship is dead.

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  • Jonathan Maus October 31, 2006 at 2:09 pm

    SkiDmark,

    Please don’t take my use of the word “quaint” the wrong way.

    Perhaps I chose the wrong word…I was just trying to make a point that Erich Reiss (being a global bike industry insider) might not appreciate small, craftmen bike builders like we do.

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  • Don Walker October 31, 2006 at 2:52 pm

    I wanted to address some of the questions that have been raised on this forum about my decision to “walk away” from Portland as a possible choice of locations for NAHBS.

    As I mentioned above, “EuroPortland” is already courting some of my exhibitors. This becomes a possibility of losing some of our valuable clients. I have to consider that if I lose them, who do I replace them with? Most of them dont have the budget to do more than one show.

    I am trying to grow the NAHBS into the “premier” consumer show on planet earth. No where else can you speak to 60 or more of the worlds best framebuilders while looking at the best handcrafted bikes in the universe. However, we needed to expand beyond “just frames” to become a better rounded show.

    Tubing, lugs, dropouts and such are integral to what we do, which is why they are part of the show. Painters are just as important.

    Why did we continue beyond these points? Because, when you buy a custom or handmade bicycle, you will need to outfit it with a gruppo or pedals and handlebars etc..

    We at NAHBS feel that is a “natural” progression for the show. However, we do NOT want this show to become diluted in such a way that you have to make your way through booths filled with last years model kickstands or closeout shorts and jerseys.

    We work hard at maintaining a level of exhibitor excellence. Not just anyone is allowed to exhibit. We have stringent guidelines that were set to keep the “bar raised”.

    As you would expect, my decision to withdraw was based purely on the factors of being “on the heels” of a much larger show, regardless of the focus of their show. Also, we were not aware that anyone else had been in negotiations, much less inking a deal, to bring a show to Portland. When I found out this morning, I felt a bit decieved. Had I known ahead of time that I wouldnt have been the only game in town when I was first approached, I wouldnt have come to Portland for a scouting trip in the first place. I am glad I came, because I saw firsthand what a great city Portland is. It made me consider leaving Texas within the first day of being there. Not too many places have that effect on me.

    The fact that the “EuroPortland” show has a much larger financial portfolio means that they absolutely will woo the local framebuilders and other exhibitors. They would be stupid not to. “I know I would” is a key phrase for such an idea if I were in their shoes. My other concern is the industry outside of Portland. How many exhibitors and attendees will we lose because they have to attend “EuroPortland” and cant afford another trip to Portland for NAHBS.

    I hope each of you understand my concerns. I just felt as if I made the proper decision, all things considered, for the time being. Thats not to say if “EuroPortland” left after a few years that we wouldnt come. I would be there in a heartbeat. Hell, if I can convince my wife to move, I might be there sooner!

    Thanks for taking the time to read and see my point, as confused as it may sound.

    Don Walker
    handmadebicycleshow.com

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  • SKiDmark October 31, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    I couldn’t get your email to work on your site, Don , so I guess I’ll put it here:

    Please bring NAHBS to Portland, OR. Craftsmanship is a dying art and it is very appreciated here. When I go for a ride all I see is Independent Fabrications, Vanilla, Land Shark, Ira Ryan, Fat Chance, Circle A, etc. When I go to the Track I see Don Walker more than once. At cyclocross I see lots of On*One’s and the closest thing to mass-production is a Redline or a Surly. The majority are lugged and quite a few are fillet-brazed. Many people I know have hand-built wheels, often with Phil Wood hubs and Velocity Deep-V’s. Even if one can’t afford a handmade frame they will choose a Soma or a Surly before they would consider a mass-market bike like a Bianchi or a Specialized. The majority of people I know who don’t own something nice aspire to it, and would eat Top Ramen for a year to come up with the money to afford a real handmade frame. There is a giant appreciation here for what builders like you are capable of. It is always worth every nickel spent to have a piece of art that is more functional than the mass-market junk the industry tries to sell us. Please reconsider your decision, and I will do my best here to get the city to understand what is REALLY important to Portland

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  • Don Walker October 31, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    SKiDmark,

    Thanks for the words, but I am sticking to my guns on this. If you save up for a frame, you can save up and visit us in San Jose in March of 07 and some point east in 08.
    Again, if you read my above reply, you will notice that I would be competing for exhibitors in that marketplace. Of the current exhibitors I have chatted with today, not one of them opposed my decision to go east under the circumstances.

    Thanks and look forward to meeting you in March!

    DW

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  • Brad October 31, 2006 at 3:50 pm

    Don – I think there is room for your show and Eurobike in PDX as you are both attracting different clienteles.

    Eurobike is going to be more mass market and retailer focused like I-Bike. In fact, the show is set up for retailers to come in, see next year’s offerings, and place futures business for it. It is not a show where the rank-and-file local cyclist cruises the convention hall looking to score cheap closeout gear like a marathon expo. I don’t even feel there should be a public day at a large show. I work in another industry with similar shows and I’ll be frank, I am there to service and get face time with my retailers for line roll outs and business planning. Answering consumer questions about this and that, chatting about esoterica, and realizing all they really want is free swag is a waste of time. Big tradeshows are about BUSINESS.

    On the other hand, I see your show as a great opportunity to put end users and small producers together. The craft bike builder is about customization and a close bond with their consumers. I am not positive that the small craft builder would even get any benefit from a large show since they simply cannot produce the numbers of bikes or components the retailers would demand.

    Please reconsider. Portland is the epicenter of the cycling movement in this country and your show would get much love in this town.

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  • Cate October 31, 2006 at 4:15 pm

    Jonathan said “Remember, this is a business venture owned by a foreign company…it’s far from “our new show.””

    “Our new show” means Portland’s new show – which it is.

    “My hunch is that Erich Reiss is more concerned with the big players in the US bike industry than our quaint, local bike builders.” I suspect he’s capable of seeing the value in each.

    It will be great when we have something to go on other than hunches and speculation about Erich Reiss’ intentions for the show.

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  • Don Walker October 31, 2006 at 4:24 pm

    Brad said ” I am not positive that the small craft builder would even get any benefit from a large show since they simply cannot produce the numbers of bikes or components the retailers would demand.”

    True, but with all the media coverage and the www, anything “cool” or “different” will get airtime, especially in that type of show.

    DW

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  • SKiDmark October 31, 2006 at 4:50 pm

    But look what happens when the *Industry* gets ahold of something cool and different. A bike like the Gunnar Street Dog ends up being something lame with cheap components like the Specialized Langster. Really how do you screw up something as simple as a singlespeed or a fixed gear bike? Another great industry fiasco is the comfort bike, with handlebars so high it is impossible to pedal efficiently. The only company that has a successful offering is fairly small : Electra. Now the big industry giants are going after the commuter market, and in the name of simplicity they have chosen the most complicated internal hubs ever devised, which simultaneously drives the price of the bike up and out of the reach of young students and working people, the ones that want and need such a bike.

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  • Jeremy October 31, 2006 at 9:51 pm

    At first blush, my thought was “gee, I didn’t get what I want so I’m going to take my ball and go play somewhere else.” The comments and line of thought reminded me so much of the arguments made by professional sports teams to get taxpayers to foot the bill on new stadiums. Especially the comments about had Mr. Walker known about the other show, he might not have even come to Portland. (That line of thought is sad to me no matter where it comes from , BTW.)

    So I stewed on it a bit and realized it may not be a big loss to the area after all. NAHBS will almost inevitably be a smaller show with a different focus. Not having NAHBS in Portland may end up costing Mr. Walker if local builders determine having the larger number of industry insiders in Portland makes it more worthwhile to attend the new Portland show, or perhaps hold a parallel show since custom builders rely on customer contact where the larger companies and parts vendors would probably rather do a show without the consumer.

    While it is a bit disappointing to see Mr. Walker’s response and I am sorry to hear NAHBS probably won’t be coming to Portland, the show organized by Eurobike may be a better deal. When it comes time for me to actually buy a custom bike (hopefully sooner than later), I will probably go with a local builder anyway so the show won’t be that chance to get such-and-such from somewhere back east for me.

    Anyway, I have to wonder how some of these zany industries like computers can do more than one trade show in the same or nearby locations in the same year. Wacky.

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  • beth October 31, 2006 at 11:57 pm

    I am sorry to hear that the NAHBS won’t be coming to PDX after all. I understand Don’t Walker’s concerns, though I disagree with the premise that the shows would have to “compete” — although several framebuilders are being “courted” for what will be Eurobike Portland, there’s no reason to assume that at least a few of them wouldn’t choose to attend both shows and perhaps skip Interbike.

    What I really miss is the old BikeFest, which began on the Burnside Bridge years ago and was open to the public. Shops, advocacy organizations and others rubbed shoulders while the publc got to see what was happening in BikeVille.

    When the event moved indoors and became more of a trade show but was still open to the public, it was even bigger and better, and drew businesses and organizations from all over the place. (Anyone else remember the CAT booth, with free test-rides of their wacky and inventive bikes and trikes?)

    I would LOVE to see something like that again and I can’t be the only one. Let’s bring back a Portland Bike Show that combines shops, manufacturers, bike tour grops and advocacy groups under one roof (it all fit in the Coliseum before, what about now?).

    Let local framebuilders give demonstrations of just what framebuilding is (my partner and I visit Cannon beach yearly and one of our highlights is watching the glassblower at Icefire — what if framebuilders did the same thing? They’d attract all sorts of inquiries!)

    Let local mechanics offer wheel-building demos and teach free flat-fix clinics, with shops rotating duties every hour. Tour groups can offer video showings of recent trips and give tour-tip lectures.

    Bring in a Swap table that is for genuine private parties wanting to sell a bike or buy a used pannier, and not simply a way for the bigger shops to blow out their New Old Stock.

    Make the admission charge, if there needs to be one, help out bike advocacy, safety and trail-repair efforts. And of course, there HAS to be a Sprockettes show!

    Above all, it has to be fun, cheap and grass-roots, the way it used to be.

    Is anyone out there game in coming together to create this? Get in touch with me via email, but only if you’re serious.

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  • Don Walker November 1, 2006 at 2:53 am

    Jeremy said “At first blush, my thought was “gee, I didn’t get what I want so I’m going to take my ball and go play somewhere else.” The comments and line of thought reminded me so much of the arguments made by professional sports teams to get taxpayers to foot the bill on new stadiums. Especially the comments about had Mr. Walker known about the other show, he might not have even come to Portland. (That line of thought is sad to me no matter where it comes from , BTW.)”

    Jeremy, Let me say a few things here to let you realize it was not a “i didnt get what I want” situation.
    First, my plans up until a month ago were to take the show back east for a couple years. Portland had never even entered the picture until they met with me at Interbike.
    Secondly, They courted me, while someone inside the city KNEW there was another show possibly coming.
    Thirdly, I dont exhibit in cities with existing shows. Regardless of the “apples and oranges” comparison, the fact we are both edible should be enough for me to pass on Portland out of “professional coutesy”, even though none was given to me about another show coming.
    Finally, this other show has already been in contact with a few companies already on my client list. If I lose the major players such as Shimano and say, Campagnolo because their show budgets dont allow for a third show, who is going to help fill booths?

    Please understand that 2 shows in Portland just isnt a good idea from our standpoint.

    Afterall, can you honestly say to yourself that you wouldnt have done the same thing? If you know what I know about NAHBS and the vision you have for the show, you would see how you would have no choice but to pull out.

    DW

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  • [...] Portland, Oregon was ground zero for the announcement. BikePortland carried the news. The producer of a small, niche-show called The North American Handmade Bicycle Show, decided to pull the plug on his plans to site its show in Portland in 2008, because Eurobike had also named Portland as the home of its initial U.S. show. [...]

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  • john November 1, 2006 at 12:32 pm

    Mmmm. It’s interesting to me that people consider Portland to be such a great cycling place. And for that reason anyone involved with cycling should just embrace Portland. Don’t get me wrong its not bad. Its good for commutting and we do have velodrome and there is a nice cycling culture. But for “cycling” (ie enjoyable quiet rides with your friends on the road, or nice mtb trails), it’s below par. I have actually considered leaving Portland for that reason. I have resided / ridden a lot in a number of places, and IMO, Portland rates about equal if not a not a little worse than Washington DC, Flint Michigan, Jacksonville Fl, Virgina Beach VA. It rates much worse than SW michigan, Stillwater Ok, Wooster Oh, Corvallis OR (ok smaller cities, less traffic). Why do i give Portland such a low rating. CAR TRAFFIC is awful, and typically even all the country roads surrounding portland are full of cars.

    So yes there a lot of other great cycling cities and parts of the country. Just as one example, Chicago area / midwest dwarfs the Pacific NW when it comes to cycling. There are Century rides where 5000 to 10,000 riders are typical and this has been typical for a couple of decades..

    But this shouldn’t be about which city or who is better, cause of course the, more the better. I am just happy Don has a show, and is doing his damndest to keep it top notch.

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  • Paul S November 3, 2006 at 12:42 am

    Hey Beth, I’d like to talk to you about your suggestion. Cannot seem to email you. Will you call me on 415-359-0730?

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  • [...] POVA’s surprise announcement also resulted in event promoter Don Walker bolting from negotiations with the PDC and Commissioner Sam’s office to bring his popular North American Handmade Bicycle Show to Portland. Walker was just about to announce Portland as the location of his show in 2008 when the Eurobike announcement was made. [...]

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  • [...] Smith said POVA didn’t think the Eurobike Portland (not the official name) show would compete with the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS), whose director withdrew plans to hold his show in Portland in 2008 after learning of the announcement. “We’re not bike people here at POVA and we didn’t understand all the implications of the announcement. We have been in contact with Don Walker (director of NAHBS) about his show…we feel it would be a great complement to a larger show. We respect his decision to not come to Portland in 2008, but we’d still like to work with him if possible.” [...]

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  • [...] Hey Don Walker…is it too late to bring your show here? No hard feelings huh? [...]

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