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NAHBS's first visit to New England a snowy success, organizers say

Published February 19, 2018
Winner of the Best in Show award: Altruiste
Next show is back to Sacramento.

By Patrick Brady

HARTFORD, Conn. (BRAIN) — Despite a bit of snow on Saturday evening, the North American Handmade Bicycle Show enjoyed one of its most successful weekends in the event’s 14-year history, its first-ever visit to New England.

According to show organizer Don Walker, there were 143 exhibitors at the show, which wrapped up Sunday. While the final count isn’t in yet, roughly 8,200 people made their way to the Connecticut Convention Center. The majority of attendees were New Englanders, but the event drew people from many mid-Atlantic states and from as far away as Washington state and California.

This year’s show was a chance to showcase the work of a number of New York and New England framebuilders who haven’t previously made the trip for the event. Local show favorites included J.P. Weigle, Chapman Cycles and relative newcomer Breismeister Bicycles from Queens, N.Y. Additionally, NAHBS has increased its international reach with a number of exhibitors from overseas. Enigma came from England, FiftyOne from Ireland, Bixxis and T Red from Italy, and Triton all the way from Russia.

Chris Bishop, who won Best in Show in 2013 in Denver was back for the first time following an absence of several years.

“I was really impressed with the turnout, not to mention the quality of the other bikes present,” he said. “The quality is so high, you really have to bring it if you want to have any shot at an award. When I found out Peter Weigle was showing, I thought, ‘Oh man, I thought I might win an award.’ ” Bishop did go on to win Best Fillet-Brazed Frame.

Show attendee and former bike shop manager Mike Stebe was excited to see the show for the first time. “Living on the East Coast, I’ve been limited to experiencing NAHBS online only, until now. Having the show in Hartford and seeing all the product in person was truly amazing. I hope they come back east again very soon.” 

Walker said, “The show in Hartford exceeded my expectations. I was very pleased with attendance and organizationally it was spot-on all weekend. My team continues to improve every year. The turnout in both exhibitors and attendees was very gratifying. I can honestly see us making Hartford a regular stop in our rotation.”

Walker has alluded to the possibility that he may begin a rotation of four cities to help maintain a strong turnout.

 This 36-inch wheel mountain bike from Black Sheep to the Artisan Award, which is given to a bike with an unusual degree of in-house fabrication.

“The idea is to go back to cities we know are good locations,” Walker said. “Sacramento works for us. At some point we will get back to the Bay Area. At some point we will go back to the Southwest, probably Austin. We will return to the Northeast for sure and then there will be a Midwest location, probably Indianapolis or Chicago.”

The show changed how it handled awards this year with the judges naming several finalists and bringing each of them up onto the stage and talking about what made each submission noteworthy before announcing the winner. As a result, the awards ceremony was both faster and better attended. The awards ceremony was also moved to noon on Saturday to give the exhibitors a chance to show off their winning bikes on Sunday. 

For 2019, the show will move back to Sacramento.

2018 NAHBS award winners

  • Best Lugged Frame: J.P. Weigle
  • Best Fillet-Brazed Frame: Chris Bishop
  • Best TIG-Welded Frame: Brad Bingham
  • Best Layup: Nick Crumpton
  • Best Road Bike: J.P. Weigle
  • Best Mountain Bike: Altruiste
  • Best Cyclocross Bike: Triton Bikes
  • Best Gravel Bike: Breismeister Bicycles
  • Best Track Bike: T Red Bikes
  • Best Tandem: Chapman Bicycles
  • Best City/Utility Bike: SaltAir Bikes
  • Best Finish: Enigma Bicycleworks
  • Best Artisanal Bike: Black Sheep Bikes
  • Best New Builder: Eyewater Bicycles
  • President’s Award: Salt Air Bikes
  • Judges’ Discretionary Award: No. 22
  • Best in Show: Altruiste
 Editor's note: Patrick Brady was a judge at this year's NAHBS event.
 
Topics associated with this article: North American Handmade Bicycle Show

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