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Handmade Enthusiasts Flock to San Diego

Published April 10, 2011

SAN DIEGO, CA (BRAIN)—The San Diego Custom Bicycle Show wrapped up its third year over the weekend in the heart of the city at the famous Golden Hall where the likes of The Doors and The Who have played.

But for this three days it was a feast for the eyes—not the ears—as legendary framebuilders such as Brian Baylis and Bruce Gordon showed off their handmade creations. Baylis is the show’s organizer as well.

“I expect to preserve the tradition I started two years ago,” Baylis said of this year’s show. “We want to continue to progress for as many years into the future as we can. We want to make it as close to the original concept as possible—a custom framebuilder’s show. We want to keep the ratio of framebuilders to non-framebuilders as high as we can, so next year we’ll work even harder at that—three framebuilders to every non-frame builder.

Even though final attendance numbers haven’t been tallied yet, Baylis expected to see double to triple the amount of people from last year.

“The flavor of San Diego is here, not out there in Mission Valley,” Baylis said of where the show was last year. “I hope the people appreciate and benefit from that.” The show featured 65 exhibitors this year, which is how many they had last year.

Soulcraft was back for the second year in a row. Owner Sean Walling (pictured) actually did something at last year’s show he had never done at any handmade show ever before—sell a bike.

“This area down here in Southern California is a huge population, and if I can just get a tiny little spec of that I’ll keep plenty busy,” Walling said of his Northern California company. “Part of the reason I come down here is that I get to ride on the way. We rode San Luis Obispo and Ojai, and both were awesome.”

Like so many Walling, too, is riding the crest of the 29er movement. He said 90 percent of his sales are 29ers. And he’s seeing a trend beginning to emerge.

“The first wave was single speed 29ers,” Walling said. “I think guys riding single speeds were open to new, weird stuff. Now the second wave, they’re reading about it, seeing it on the trail; now they’re feeling more comfortable because it’s established. They’re not single speeders, but they’re going to go out and get a 29er.

“So now I have repeat customers who have a single speed who are now getting a geared version, and new customers who are getting a geared one,” he added.

This show wasn’t just for builders. Retailer Velo Cult had a booth to celebrate the handmade builders’ material of choice.

“I specialize in steel, so the more San Diegans learn to respect steel hopefully the better my business does,” said owner Sky Boyer.

—Jason Norman

Topics associated with this article: Events

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