[This is the final installment in a series of four interviews with local bike builders who are exhibiting at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show next weekend (March 2-4) in San Jose, California. Read previous interviews with Ira Ryan, Tony Pereira, and Joseph Ahearne.]
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In the last few years, Sacha White, the man behind southeast Portland-based Vanilla Bicycles, has earned a place in the pantheon of the world’s best custom bike builders, past or present.
He has an impeccable eye for design, a passion for high-performance and a deep respect for the craftsman ethic of the great builders before him.
Before he turned his eye to bikes, Sacha applied himself to restoring Vespas; hand-shaping fenders, buffing chrome, and choosing parts and colors that achieved the same magical mix of beauty and function that his bikes are so well known for today.
Sacha has attended the Handmade Bicycle Show each of its last two years. Last year, he wowed the crowds (and the judges) with his “Best in Show” winning tricycle (in photo below), which he built for his daughter Delilah.
the Made in Portland Bike Show
at City Hall, 7/6/06.]
This year, he won’t bring the tricycle…well, not exactly. Read the interview below to find out what I mean…
How/why is the show important to your business?
- “What I enjoyed the most with the first two shows (’05 and ’06) was connecting face to face with a public, who have mostly only seen my work via my website.
My goal this year is to take that connection even further and really try to represent the world where Vanilla is born. Portland. This includes the shop, my home and family, Ben and Scott (my incredible assistants), Stumptown Coffee, muddy cross, car free life etc.
I also love showing real examples of my work to the public and giving them an opportunity to spent some quality time with a Vanilla in the flesh for the first time in their lives.”
What do you think about the Portland presence (4 builders, one exhibitor, one panelist)?
- “I’m excited to spend some good after-hours vacation time with Tony (Pereira), Ira (Ryan), Joseph (Ahearne) and the kids from (Chris) King. I expect everyone from Portland will be putting their best feet forward and our enthusiasm will be infectious.”
Do you think Portland is known as a bike building hotbed?
- “Yes. It is definitely a great place to be building bike frames and an awesome town to raise a family in.. Yo Portland I LOVE YOU!”
Do you have anything special planned for your exhibit?
- “I am excited to debut Speedvagen, our new super light, super bad cross racing machine. Speedvagen will be sold as a limited run of 30 bikes to racers for the up-coming season. This is a new direction for the Vanilla workshop, and puts me primarily in the design seat.
I also just took delivery of the second edition Vanilla Bicycles print (see below), and will be showing this for the first time at the show. Like the first edition, original art was done by Dan Gillsdorf and they were printed by Stumptown Printers. The image is based on my four year old daughter, Delilah, racing the trike that won “best of show” at the ’06 show.
[Here’s a sneak photo of the poster I snapped at Sacha’s shop yesterday (with his permission, of course).]
by Dan Gillsdorf and printed by Stumptown Printers.]
- I am excited to show these projects, as they both represent a depth of design and execution that, for me, really makes life worth living.”
What are you personally looking forward to?
- “Relaxing, talking bikes, connecting with friends and builders from around the world. I also really like road trips, so I am looking forward to the drive :).”
And we’re all looking forward to the continued success of your business. Thanks Sacha!
I’ll have photos of the Speedvagen and much more when I report live from the Handmade Bicycle Show in San Jose this Friday through Sunday.