Builders, crowds impress at handmade bicycle show

Crowds were thick all day.
View slideshow below
(Photos © Jonathan Maus)

I still can’t decide what was more impressive at yesterday’s Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show; the crowds or the builders.

One of the event organizers, Austin Ramsland, says that over 1,800 people attended the show. They were treated to an unprecedented display of building prowess from well over 20 Oregon-based builders. It was a show of talent and enthusiasm for bikes that many of us knew existed, but to see and feel it all in one room was simply breathtaking.

Much like our state is known for spawning the craft beer industry — which is now headlined by several major, nationally known brewers and has a major impact on Oregon’s economy — the art, craft, and industry of bike building looks to be following a similar trajectory.

The latest from Sweetpea.

From veterans like Andy Newlands and Jeff Lyon to fresh faces like Portland’s Jordan Hufnagel and Ira Ryan, the diverse displays had something for everyone. There were even two exhibitors that you wouldn’t see at any other bike show on earth: the Zoobombers and the Dropouts.

Yesterday’s show solidified what many have felt for a while now; Oregon’s bike building industry is on the verge of something big.

Here’s a closer look at what a few of the builders were showing off (view all my images in the slideshow below)…

Jordan Hufnagel / Hufnagel Cycles / Portland, OR

Jordan Hufnagel

Likely Portland’s newest builder, Jordan Hufnagel seized this show as a golden opportunity to introduce himself to the world. The 26 year-old from Indianapolis has only been in Portland three years and I hadn’t heard much about him before we met at a coffee shop a few weeks ago.

Jordan builds fillet brazed and lugged steel bikes from a small shop in inner southeast Portland. Judging from the look of his bikes (and his snazzy new website) I have feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more from him in the future.

At the show, Jordan displayed a few track bikes and a silver and black, lugged touring rig.

Fred Cuthbert / Wolfhound Cycles / Talent, OR
The first thing I noticed in Fred’s booth were diamond-encrusted headset spacers. Turns out they’re cubic zirconia, but the effect is the same. Fred also displayed a very distinctive, burnt orange metallic painted mountain bike with tubes curved in ways I’d never seen before.

Dropout Bike Club / Portland, OR

Chops, Deadbunny, Skidmark, and Melissa

The Dropouts added a freak-bike flavor to the show. Their swing-bike, lowrider, and various tall-bikes formed a welcome juxtaposition to the more traditional bikes.

Ira Ryan / Ira Ryan Cycles / Portland, OR

Ira Ryan

Just two years into his full-time framebuilding career, Ira Ryan has found his place. Drawing from his personal passion for long-distance rides, he’s winning fans for his well thought-out and classy randonneuring bikes.

His bikes mix modern and retro components and stylistic touches into a complete package that makes you want to hit the open road for an all-day ride.

The centerpiece of his booth was a lugged randonneuring bike with two oversized, stainless-steel canteens, dimpled Honjo fenders, and old-school Campy track pedals (with straps of course) on a set of new Dura-Ace cranks.

Oh, and Ira was also serving up fresh-baked and iced sugar cookies in the shape of his flying swallow logo.

(See more of Ira’s booth in the slideshow below.)

Jeff Jones / Jones Bikes / Medford, OR

Jeff Jones

There are few people in the bike industry that have been as stubbornly innovative as Jeff Jones. Jones has built his reputation, and a very successful business, by smashing conventional logic and doing things his way.

Case in point: Jeff displayed his first-ever road bike; but of course it’s not your usual road bike.

Jeff told me he doesn’t really enjoy riding conventional road bikes: “I like a little fatter tire, I like the geometry of my mountain bike, but I don’t want to change my bike, I want to ride the same thing…just go a little faster.”

The result is a 12-speed road bike based on the exact frame/fork as his mountain bikes. He’s just added a dishless rear-wheel that has a “super strong” single-speed hub and a 6-speed XTR cassette. Jones says it’s, “just a simple road bike that goes fast, rides well, and I can throw some knobbies on it when I want to go on the dirt.”

Zoobomb / Portland, OR

The Zoobomb display

The Zoobombers displayed at the entrance to the show. Much more than mini-bikes, the Zoobomb booth was more like a museum of one of Portland’s most well-known cultural institutions.

Along with a re-creation of their famous Zoobomb Pyle (complete with an offical, blue PDOT staple rack), they displayed media clippings and zines from years past; including a very rare copy of the 2004 “Girls of Zoobomb” calendar. Wow.

Gabe Amadeus showed off his neon-and-white “Track Tall” and there was even a tall-bike with a dented up door from a Portland police car attached to it’s frame.

In talking with Zoobomber Chuck, I heard the latest craze are gravity bikes. Chuck, and a few other regular ‘bombers have taken to the sport with gusto. They compete in places like the legendary Maryhill Loops and they’ve got a fleet of “g-bikes” at their disposal.

Jonathon Sieber / Cascadia Cycles / Portland, OR

Jonathon Sieber

Jonathon Sieber wants to go a different route with his fledgling Cascadia Cycles business.

Drawing on his experience as a welder and his work with large-scale production bike makers like Sapa and Kinesis, Sieber wants to make a more afforable, yet still 100% Portland-made frame.

Just started last summer, the plan is to make bikes (meaning standard sizing, not fully custom) in batches of 25-30 at a time. This will allow him to to keep prices down, while still building the bike by hand in Portland.

At the show, he had a prototype of a 700c, disc-brake commuter bike that he hopes can be built up for under $2,000. Watch for his bikes at your local shop soon…

For all my photos from the show, including Tony Pereira’s gorgeous mixte and more builder portraits, check out the full gallery or watch the slideshow below:

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Switch to Desktop View with Comments