Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on February 26th, 2011 at 3:54 pm
(Photos © J. Maus)
A pleasant surprise here at NAHBS has been all the families in the crowd today: Moms and dads pushing strollers through the packed aisles and little ones running ahead, bounding through the booths. While there’s plenty of eye candy for the little ones, there aren’t actually many bikes built for them — unless they were lucky enough to happen upon the Vanilla Bicycles booth.
Sacha White, not yet 40 years old but still considered one of the fathers of the handmade bike world, is showing one of his kids bikes. He’s made two other kid bikes, both of them for his daughters — Cybelle (11) and Delilah (8). The one on display at NAHBS was made for the Museum of Art and Design in New York City and was one of several handmade bikes that were featured in an exhibit, Bespoke: The Handbuilt Bicycle, that ran from May to August of last year (White co-curated that exhibit).
“I tried to get Delilah’s bike for the museum, but she didn’t want to let it go,” said White. “She kept asking, ‘Dad, when can I get my bike back?'”
White’s kids bike is based on 26-inch wheels and a frame that’s sized for a typical 7 year old. The idea, White says, was to build the bike with parts that were right at the limit of how small they could be relative to the wheel and frame size. That way, the rider could grow with the bike (the bike is made for kids between 7 and 12 years old).
Far from just a one-off show bike made for a museum exhibit, White sees beauty in his kids bike because of its utility and function as something that can be passed down within a family. “It’s a smart design, because it solves a problem… And it rides really well.”
White says his inspiration for the design and the relatively large wheels came from World War II era motorcycles and roadster automobiles. “Many adults have said, ‘I want that bike’, but they wouldn’t get the same, stretched-out, roadstery feel.”
Other nice features of the bike include Gilles Berthoud panniers, disc brakes, and an upright riding position.
White says this bike is currently for sale. He’d also like to build kids bikes in production batches. Stay tuned… If that does happen, I know a lot of parents who will start saving their pennies.