Tour de Lab September 1st

Dispatch from NAHBS: DeLorean, Bamboosero, Cielo, Renovo, and more

Posted by on March 2nd, 2012 at 6:41 pm

The bikes are worth a closer look.
NAHBS Photo gallery

The 2012 North American Handmade Bicycle Show is well underway here in sunny Sacramento, California. The crowds have been thick all day and the buzz around the convention center is that this is the largest opening day turnout in the show’s history.

And there’s good reason for all the excitement. The American handmade bike renaissance is now several years old and the bikes, the businesses, and the builders have all matured. Below are some brief notes and photos from my walk around the showroom floor this morning.

Renovo Hardwood Bicycles
Portland-based Renovo has evolved quite a bit since Ken Wheeler launched it back in 2008. Now Wheeler spends much of his time at the new retail storefront he has opened in downtown Sausalito, California (just north of the Golden Gate Bridge). The retail store in California keeps Wheeler’s 10 employees back at his factory in Southeast Portland busy sanding, painting, and finishing his gorgeous wooden bicycles. To further help sales, Wheeler now has a dedicated sales rep for Northern California.

In other exciting Renovo news, Wheeler shared with me today that he’s just about to finish a deal with a timber broker in the Appalachian Mountains. The deal would land Wheeler a large quantity of U.S. grown maple, hickory, walnut, and ash. Currently, the vast majority of Wheeler’s material stock is exotic hardwood from tropical locales like Africa and South America. The new U.S. sourcing will not only give Wheeler even more Made in U.S.A. cred, it will help him lower the retail cost of this bikes.

One last bit of Renovo news, Wheeler is showing off his new line of wooden fenders.


Cielo is another Portland-based builder. The brand was started by Chris King (of headset and hub fame) and, buoyed by strong sales in Japan and Europe, they’re really hitting their stride. Cielo’s bread and butter is their Sportif line of road bikes, but it’s their ‘Cross Racer’ that is displayed front and center. Cielo’s Dylan Van Weelden told me that it’s one of only two, UCI approved steel cross bikes in the world (Sachs makes the other one). The aesthetics on this one were inspired by a 1970s-era Porsche 908 open road racecar.

The Cielo 29er mountain bike on display featured a gorgeous white Chris King headset…

After riding one in Cycle Oregon a few years ago, I am still dreaming of owning one of their “Sportif” road bikes…

Bamboosero is a company whose goal is to empower people in Africa to build bikes and build an economy around them. The bike that caught my eye was a bomber cargo machine with fat tires, a huge rear rack, and a NuVinci internal drive-train.

Bamboosero’s Craig Calfee eagerly showed off the bark cloth material he uses to wrap the rear cargo deck and the chain case. The bark is ripped from a tree and the fibers are very strong. Bark cloth, explained Calfee, is “pre-weaving technology” and it’s the same material used by Egyptians to wrap mummies!

DeLorean Bicycles
Remember DeLoreans? Yeah, like the ones in Back to the Future. Well now there’s a DeLorean bike. Marc Moore is a DeLorean enthusiast and owner who also loves bikes. Moore is a rep for Italian bike maker Sarto Cycles and he has combined his two passions into a new company, DeLorean Bicycles. Moore says they offer two bikes — a flat-bar city bike with an internal rear hub and belt drive and a road racing bike — that are both made out of stainless steel (just like the famous DeLoreans).

Here are a few more random shots and notes from opening day at NAHBS:

I loved the viney theme paint on this Indy Fab mountain bike…

More IF goodness…

Before the show opened to the public, and with their booths all set up, builders got a rare chance to walk around and catch up with friends. In the photo below, builders Mike Desalvo (L), Ira Ryan, and Richard Sachs share a laugh…

Portlander Paolo Dabbeni showing off his custom jersey by Italian company Biciclista…

Tom Ritchey is celebrating 40 years of making handmade bikes. He’s got a few vintage steeds on display, including a 1970s mountain bike…

This track bike from Japanese builder Cherubim is stunning…

Another track bike getting a lot of eyeballs is this beauty from Baum Cycles…

In addition to all the bikes, there are also a series of seminars aimed at educating up-and-coming builders on the finer points of the craft. In the photo below, John Slawta (Land Shark Bicycles) shares his wisdom with an appreciate crowd…

And here’s a glance at Sam Whittingham’s (of Naked Bicycles) creation (more on this thing tomorrow)…

Stay tuned for more coverage from NAHBS. I’ll share some info on an interesting new product (a tire pump built into a hub) and a profile on one of the handmade bike world’s more interesting characters — Erik Noren from Peacock Groove.

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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    mh March 2, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    I’m still trying to figure out a way to have a Renovo magically appear at my door, since I’ll never be able to justify buying one. Been looking wistfully at them for years.

    (And Jonathan, I hope you’ve had enough of the star filter effect. Not the best look for the site.)

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    jay March 3, 2012 at 1:10 am

    just finished building my renovo r4, AWESOME ride and by far the best looking bike on the rode.

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    o/o March 3, 2012 at 7:03 am


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    Jrdpdx March 3, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Great pics! Wondering what the Cherubim would look like locked up in front of the B-Side

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    Ian March 3, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Anyone know what the wheels are on the DeLorean road bike?

    So much awesomeness in one place, I wish I could have made it there…

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    007 March 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    I went to Biciclista’s website to check out women’s clothing.
    Unbelievably, they have a link to GIRL right next to the MEN clothing link. I’m Italian American, looks like uomini sessisti haven’t learned anything there.

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      Paolo March 7, 2012 at 3:49 pm

      Ciao Signora Bond,
      Not sure where you looked but on the main page it says WOMEN and I can attest the Biciclista gang is not of that kind.

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        007 March 8, 2012 at 9:47 pm

        That’s because I contacted them and they changed it. True, they were very nice about it.

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        007 March 8, 2012 at 9:54 pm

        Ciao Paul,
        That’s because I contacted them and they changed it. True, they were very nice about it.
        Ragazza Bond

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    Dan Kaufman March 4, 2012 at 9:48 am

    And behind the picture of smiling Ken is our new Renovo video

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