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NAHBS 2009 set for Indianapolis

Posted by on February 10th, 2008 at 4:44 pm

Don Walker looks to Indianapolis
for NAHBS ’09.
(Photo © Jonathan Maus)

NAHBS founder Don Walker will take the fifth addition of his show to Indianapolis, Indiana next year.

He made the announcement at the end of today’s show saying, “I’m sure many of you are already aware of Indiana’s very rich cycling culture.”

Walker cited the classic bike movie, Breaking Away as proof of Indiana’s two-wheeled heritage.

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    Chip February 10, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    I say we have our own. Portland is king. Period.

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    drew February 10, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Great stuff! I went to IU, rode in Little 5 and still have family there…2010 back to PDX!

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    tim February 10, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    The 2008 OBCA show should be great, esp if they find a larger venue than 2007

    Who knows, maybe a show in Indy will inspire a lot of people in the midwest to start building their own.

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    Road Rage February 10, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    I don\’t think that NAHMBS can argue with how great of a host city Portland has been. Due to that fact, I believe that we\’ll be a host city again.

    However, it is Don\’s vision for this to be more of a travelling show which doesn\’t stay anywhere for long. A static location is not as accessable to the masses as one that changes. Besides, the show camped out on the west coast for three years. We were fortunate.

    Finally…I appreciate all of Don\’s hard work and dedication. Our industry is indebted to him for creating such an awesome showcase of craftsmanship. But, I would have expected a little more charisma from a man in a kilt… somebody get that man some coffee or a beer or something!

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    linwood February 10, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    Geez, If y\’all just knew how much it costs to fly to Portland from the East Coast. You can\’t get there from here- you have to go somewhereelse to start out. So, I couldn\’t go – but know that I really missed it – and many others. I wish next year would have been East.

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    joel February 11, 2008 at 6:54 am

    talking to a lot of builders around the show sunday, pretty much everyone seemed to see this one coming – but after the announcement, builders that were anything more than nonplussed were hard to find – some were even outright disappointed, and i heard a lot of people voicing the opinion that they werent likely to make it. portland will be a hard show to live up to – everyone i talked to wouldve loved to come back here for another year.

    i think the show next year will have a substantially different batch of smaller framebuilders, though the bigger custom shops will still be there.

    i can understand why don chose to go to indy – its his hometown, and he could likely use a break from the travel, especially on the 5th anniversary show. as for citing breaking away as proof of cycling culture… um, don, its a *movie*…

    on the other hand, there is potential merit in taking bike culture to somewhere most perceive it to be absent, and i do think that this played a part in dons decision as well – heres to hoping hes right!

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    David Feldman February 11, 2008 at 7:51 am

    I like Don\’s idea of moving the show around the country. Indy does have at least a few long-time cycling connections–home town of Shimano USA\’s former CEO Wayne Stetina (and member of a racing family from that city) the obvious Little 500 connection. He can\’t get out of that city without a showing of \”Breaking Away,\” of course.

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    Jon Kendziera February 11, 2008 at 7:55 am

    ># Chip
    >I say we have our own. Portland is king. >Period.

    Portland has their own, or at least they did recently and I assume it will happen again?

    >Who knows, maybe a show in Indy will >inspire a lot of people in the midwest >to start building their own.

    There are already quite a few builders in the Midwest, many of them did not make it to the Handmade show in Portland, or when it was in San Jose.

    Curt Goodrich, Bob Brown, Capricorn Cycles, Clockwork, Vincent Dominguez, Curt Goodrich, Chris Kvale, Peacock Groove, ZR Cycles, Banjo Cycles, Ellis Cycles, Kamenicci, Don Walker, Courtney
    Courtney Custom Cycles, Waterford, Cherry Bicycles, Doug Fattic, Anderson Custom Bicycles, me (Jonny Cycles), and a few others I\’m sure I\’ve missed. All withing driving distance of Indianapolis.

    I made it the the past shows in San Jose, but as much as I wanted to, Portland just wasn\’t possible this year. I agree its a great place for a show, and Indianapolis will likely have less attendees. But its good to move the show around and spread the cycling culture around the country.

    Framebuilding is for the most part not a locally based business and most builders sell the majority of their frames around the country (and world for that matter). Other than travel considerations geographical locaton of the show shouldn\’t be that important. Whereever it is it will still be well attended and get plenty of media attention.

    …although if it was in Portland again I would certainly go.

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    dano February 11, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    It\’s hard to imagine the Indy show as having the attendance we had here, but alas I was just window shopping, so other than Don getting my $18 I\’m not sure how useful I was to the builders I talked to. Hopefully they laughed at my stupid jokes at least.

    It\’s not hard to imagine that from the point of view of builders, shelling out the entrance and traveling all the way to pdx, they must have enjoyed all the people, but what they need are customers. For that they need to keep moving it around.

    Having said that, I wonder if as many people would get on a plane to attend the show (as audience) in Indianapolis, as opposed to Portland. I guess we\’ll see.

    In the meantime, Andy Newlands willing, we\’ll have our own.

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    Don Walker February 12, 2008 at 12:31 am

    Howdy Folks,

    Its late and I have slept little in the past 6 weeks, so thats nothing new.

    I want to comment on some of the points brought up above and add that I have read thru many of the comments on the other pages and it disturbs me that everyone is so quick to jump to criticise my decision. So, its not in Portland next year…its not the end of the world.

    I did not choose Indy because I live there. In fact, it was already a city that was under consideration before I relocated there. Within a 3 hour drive, there is Chicago, Columbus, Dayton, Cincinatti, Louisville, and several other midwest cities with good a cycling base.

    For the record, most all trade/consumer shows are being planned 2 years in advance now. Finding a suitable hall that is available for our dates, with easy access by air, and hotels with reasonable rates is difficult, at best. Remember, this is a framebuilders show, we dont have a large corporate budget. As a framebuilder, if I cannot afford to be there, then neither can any of my peers. Thats the guidelines that help me with my decision. Period.

    NYC, Boston and Philly are great cycling cities, but are too pricey with hotels, expo hall and union labor. How many of us could afford $199 a night for 4 or 5 nights? Honestly, ask yourself that. Thats what we\’re up against in the major cities.
    I have been researching availability on the east coast for over 6 months….there is NOTHING available and if it is available, its not affordable.

    As far as not staying in Portland another year, we were lucky to have pulled off one year here with the plans to head back east after last year. I want to add that I am happy the show was here, but please understand, we are trying to make the show accessible for our exhibitors.

    Also, the exhibitors shouldnt worry about how many come through the door. NAHBS is not successful based solely on attendance. Let me worry about getting people through the doors. I am delivering everything (and then some) with all the press the exhibitors are receiving.

    Thanks again Portland for a great weekend.


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    Steve February 12, 2008 at 6:22 am

    Wow Don, really, taking a shot at Union labor as a reason to avoid certain cities? As a proud union member I will ceratinly have to rethink my attendance at further shows although it sounds like attendance isn\’t really your concern.

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    Nelson Muntz February 12, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Let it go, Steve. I don\’t think Don is anti-union but he is trying to watch the bottom line for exhibitors and attendees. The industry that I work in does tradeshows in Las Vegas (a union town) and it is reconsidering the venue due to the same cost issues.

    Unions are a good thing in most circumstances but I do bristle at some of their tactics. In Vegas, try carrying a computer printer or similar sized box by hand to your booth and some 300 pound shaved headed thug blocks your entry and demands that you turn around or hire a union member to carry it. Nice! Glad to see the mob is protecting America\’s working man.

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    e-RICHIE February 12, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    i\’m home less than a day and already there are folks
    posting all about nahbs five point oh. what i read between
    the lines is less about the move to indy and more about
    the move away from portland. i live in a small village that
    is what i often call chester-centric, so i understand the
    love that the folks in oregon have for their city. but atmo
    the nahbs show casts a wider net than any single location
    or venue, and moving on is what it\’s all about. i saw a post
    online that really got under my skin, and here is my reply:

    i sincerely hope that all portland builders, as well as anyone who
    may ever have sold a frame or three as a result of past nahbs, thinks
    seriously of continuing to support don walker and nahbs. many folks
    owe or will owe their framebuilding careers to him atmo.

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    David Feldman February 12, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Brainstorm–he should find a component mfg. to co-sponsor a contest for the best \”Little 500 Legal\” bike.

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    Donna February 12, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Like many other folks, I\’m torn about the Union labor issue. As for how it specifically applies in this situation, read the article in the 2008 NAHBS guidebook that begins on page 14. It\’s not easy to make a living building bikes, and flying cross country to a show with all the associated costs has got to cost some of the littlest shops dearly.

    Indy\’s central location in the Midwest will allow many folks to drive and save themselves money. As for Portland, I can tell you that it\’s incredibly expensive to fly here from just about anywhere east of the Rockies. That\’s why I rarely visit my relatives in Detroit anymore.

    I\’ll be sad not to be able to attend NAHBS next year, but I know lots of people who are excited that they will finally get to go. I\’m happy for them.

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    Dabby February 12, 2008 at 5:07 pm


    I spent about a year and a half as the only bike messenger in Indianapolis, after replacing four who were fired (for pirating nextels). Two winters, and a couple of weeks into the first, I quit looking outside before riding into town, knowing the weather sucked.

    While the pay was great, and I love the town, (I lived in Broadripple, a great part of town) there could not have been less of a cycling community there. (in comaprison Casper, Wyoming had more of a cycling community)

    In fact riding on a bike, in the street, appeared to be frowned upon more than imaginable.

    I did do the Bloomington rides, the big majors, and a couple of smaller ones. Yet Indianapolis is far from Bloomington, and a different mindset altogether.

    The obvious solution here is to just throw the handmade bike show in Bloomington itself, where there are many reasonable places to stay, and a University with a rich cycling past, that may just (change that to definitely) have a nice hall to throw the show in.

    My two cents.

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    joel February 12, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    don –

    to be honest, i think the naysaying or unexcited reactions are more a symptom of people just being so stoked out on the portland show this year than anything else – theyll pass, quicker than we expect, and people will realize (as have i, after some initial \”indianapolis? dont they have a car race there?\”-type reactions 🙂 ) that theres a hell of a lot of good reasons to hold it there – just as there are a hell of a lot of good reasons to hold it *anywhere* in the country it can viably be held.

    putting it on in a city like portland is almost preaching to the choir, shooting fish in a barrel… and theres no better time to share with the center of the country the cycling culture we coastal types may (inaccurately) perceive it as lacking. itll give a perhaps neglected area a chance to shine, and a chance to see what it may have been missing.

    kudos on a great job, and heres looking forward to a successful 5th! we loved having you, and wed love to have you back, but we cant cant keep the good stuff all to ourselves, eh?

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    unotache February 12, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    atmo, I worked a vendor booth the entire weekend, I talked to 100\’s of people, asked each one of them where they were from, if I didn\’t already know. I\’d estimate well over 50% were not from the PNW. I can honestly say each and every one of them (attendees and vendors) were stoked on visiting Portland. That\’s a far cry from the other industry trade shows I\’ve attended over the past 15+ years…

    While I share DW\’s vision of NAHBS being a traveling roadshow, I\’m sad to see it leave the town I call home, and I shure hope those \”three micro-breweries [that] are situated within two blocks of the expo hall\” aren\’t the only thing Indy has to offer…

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    e-RICHIE February 13, 2008 at 8:16 am

    unotache –
    i\’ve been to four nahbs and each host city was fine and passed my smell test atmo. portland is a nice place and i got to know it well at two successive \’cross natz several years ago. i\’m a glass half full kind of guy, so i look forward to indianapolis and enjoying my nahbs experience for a fifth time atmo.

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    unotache February 13, 2008 at 10:25 am


    respect. I admire your support for the building community that is NAHBS. I hope the public and media will follow your lead.

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    e-RICHIE February 13, 2008 at 10:43 am


    thanks atmo. so far we are batting 1000. and there is also talk among the builders that locale is secondary to the effectiveness of the show. all with whom i have spoken have been able to separate the experience and profits from the dude factor of each venue. local bike culture doesn\’t always translate into success because having the body count spiked from the locals is no guaranty of anything. the party line is that folks who make up our demographic travel to the site and make a weekend of it. these are the educated consumers and zealots who follow our niche. these are the folks that make the event a success atmo. and, oddly, it has been that way going all the way back to nahbs 1.0 in houston. it\’s all about the folks that come to nahbs, rather than the host city\’s bike culture.

    thanks for reading.

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    Skillzy February 13, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    I think NAHBS was very fortunate to have the opportunity to be in Portland…. and Portland was very fortunate to have the opportunity to host NAHBS. It\’s always positive for an event to go to a place that genuinely welcomes it.

    The exhibitors are what makes the show great. They will only keep attending the show as long as it makes sense from the business perspective: this being jointly getting good exposure and taking new orders. The exposure part of it has to lead to trickle-down orders, i.e. orders inspired in some way by the show but not made at the show.

    Yet any one region has a maximum capacity for consumption, and any audience soon tires of the same theme when it\’s repeated. Thus a national consumer show (as opposed to a regional consumer show), a little like a roaming shark, must keep moving around so it can continue finding new audiences and business opportunities.

    It makes no sense at this stage to write off Indianapolis as a venue, since the known data (as opposed to mere supposition) don\’t support such a conclusion. What we do know is that a lot of people travel from out of town to the show, that these people make a lot of the orders, and that Indy is within a day\’s drive of a huge population. Let\’s wait until after the 2009 show before we draw conclusions about its success.

    I think a regional bike show for Portland makes great sense, since there are so many cyclists like me who live there (I don\’t). But I suspect that after three or four years such a show would have to start reinventing significant parts of itself to keep the audience entertained. This is doable, and would it would still be a great show. But it would not be the NAHBS.

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    "Thursday" (jon norstog) February 16, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Hey guys,

    It was great to have the show in Portland, a city I know and love and have many friends. I\’ve been to three handmade shows and all threee of them i had to drive through blizzards and/or rainstorms. First year, Donner Pass heavy snow had to buy chains. Drove all night, had to buy chains at Reno. Second year, blizzards and 20 mph driving on I-86, had to drive all night. This year the same but the blizzard lasted all night and only cleared up when I got to Pendleton.

    So next year, february? Drive across the high plains and the upper midwest? Hmmm.

    I\’d like to see the Portland show continue, but maybe include NW and west coast builders. And some other month than February.



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