Two Portland builders take home top awards from NAHBS – Updated

Nate and Matt at NAHBS Awards

Matt Cardinal and Nate Meschke of Signal Cycles.

Mark DiNucci took home Best of Show.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The 2011 North American Handmade Bicycle Show came to a close in Austin tonight, and the show ended on a high note for Portland builders. The bike building duo of Nathan Meschke and Matt Cardinal of Signal Cycles took home ‘Best City Bike’ honors and veteran builder Mark DiNucci won the coveted ‘Best of Show’ award.

The award couldn’t come at a better time for Signal. Meschke and Cardinal are on the cusp of major changes with their up-and-coming business and they’ll need this exposure to help launch their new production bike venture. Both Meschke and Cardinal have fine art degrees in painting, decades of bike shop experience between them, and they’ve become known among builders for their rare combination of aesthetic sensibility and technical prowess. The bike that won tonight is a classic, single-speed made with lugged steel tubes. Other details include a handmade rear rack, metal fenders painted to match the frame, and a tire lever and wheel wrench integrated into the water bottle mount. See a few more photos below…

Mark DiNucci is a builder’s builder. His work is clean and elegant and his bikes show a masterful attention to detail. Dinucci has been building bikes since the 1970s and came out of retirement for the 2009 Oregon Manifest event. His award-winning bike was an olive green and red, flat-bar, lugged steel city bike with classic touches including a one-inch quill stem, handmade lights, a thumb-shifter, painted metal fenders, and more.

Below are some* of the other builders that took home awards tonight (*the list is incomplete because I left before the ceremony ended):

Best Road Bike — Dave Wages, Ellis Cycles

Dave Wages at NAHBS Awards

Best Track Bike — Aaron Dykstra, Six Eleven Cycles

Aaron Dykstra NAHBS Awards

Best Off Road Bike — Black Sheep Bikes

Black Sheep Bikes NAHBS Awards

Best Tandem — Kent Eriksen

Kent Erikson NAHBS Awards <

Best Carbon Fiber Bike — Carl Strong, Strong Frames

Carl Strong NAHBS Awards

Best Steel Bike — Chris Bishop, Bishop Bikes

Chris Bishop NAHBS Awards

Best Titanium Bike — Jim Kish, Kish Fabrications

Kish at NAHBS Awards

Best Lugged Bike — Bilenky Cycles

Bilenky NAHBS Awards

Best Fillet Brazed Bike — Vincent Dominguez

Vincent Dominguez NAHBS Awards

People’s Choice — Sam Whittingham, Naked Bicycles

This wraps up BikePortland’s live coverage of NAHBS from Austin; but my notebook is still full of notes so you’ll be seeing more handmade bike (and bag!) coverage in the weeks to come. Check out our photo gallery for nearly 400 images from Austin; including city scenes, builder portraits, bike details, and much more. You can also browse all our NAHBS coverage here.

Special thanks goes to United Bicycle Institute for sponsoring our trip and to Bicycle Sport Shop in Austin, for helping me out with a bike rental. Also, if you supported this coverage with a financial contributoin… Thanks! If note, please help BikePortland stay strong by becoming a supporter.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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13 years ago

Bravo to all our local builders! I served a formal apprenticeship and then worked as a tool and die maker for approximately 30 years. It was, and is a craft that exacts pride and attention to detail; those without a high regard for what they build rarely survive the trade. Handmade bikes are of the same family or genre. I’ve witnessed my fair share of jobs sent offshore for no legitimate reasons aside from commuting higher salaries to CEO’s and international investors.

CEO’s and investors love offshore because they may reap the higher returns stemming from environmental rape and low ball wages (sometimes employing children). Sense of pride and craft such as we see with these local bike builders isn’t part of the offshore-outsourcing mentality.

If you manufacture something here, it’s pretty tough to dispose of your manufacturing effluent without rigorous controls. These guys demonstrate a high pride, build exceptional products, and, they do it within the scope of all that big bad environmental regulation while paying somewhat decent wages. So long as I continue to enjoy a decent wage from a decent craft, I’ll select products from folks like them. Too bad most production bikes have all but abandoned making product here in the states.

Matt Cardinal
13 years ago

Thanks for the mention Jonathan. We are really excited about the award, but I have a correction. Ben Leonard makes amazing racks, we have used him to make racks for us in the past, and his work is top notch, but the rack on this bike was made by Signal.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Reply to  Matt Cardinal

Sorry Matt… my mistake. I remember seeing Ben near the bike and, given the history, assumed he made that one too! I’ve fixed the story… Wish I’d spent a bit more time at your booth. Congrats!

Matt Haughey
13 years ago

I’m surprised Naked didn’t win for that crazy hidden axle and stem bike. That was like nothing I’ve ever seen before in terms of crazy one-off innovation.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Reply to  Matt Haughey

It did win.. It got People’s Choice award. I’ll update the post right now.

13 years ago

That Carl Strong bike = HOT!! The rest, meh, I’m not a city bike rider.