Re: [CR]Fwd: NAHBS

Example: History:Norris Lockley

Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2008 12:25:45 -0800
From: Morgan Fletcher <>
To: Classic Rendezvous <>
Subject: Re: [CR]Fwd: NAHBS
References: <>
In-Reply-To: <>

Tom Dalton wrote:
> Sorry, but those pics just drove home for me that steel is nearly dead as a material for serious bicycles.

I disagree. For the mass market, yes, steel is dead. But for hand-built bikes I think steel is very much alive. A new generation has picked up torches and the NAHBS seems to be a big show-off, sort of like metal shop class getting taken over by the art kids. But if you look close you'll see some beautiful work being done with steel, and the reality is that the real orders aren't for the show-off stuff, they're for bikes that get ridden. It is really encouraging to see _young_ people very excited about hand-built bikes.

My wife and I purchased three custom frames from Paul Sadoff at Rock Lobster last year. Two were scandium and one was steel. My wife won a custom Sycip frame at this year's big local cyclocross series, and it will probably be steel. I have an order in with Curtis Inglis of Retrotec, and the frame will be steel. These are all local frame builders (to us) building custom frames with steel (and other materials) and whose livelihood is completely within my own economy. (Just to hit on a point not yet raised.)

Did you notice Ed Litton's from-the-lugs-up hand-built cambio corsa frame? The beautiful Vanilla road, cross and track frames? JP Weigle's jaw dropping randonneur bikes? Pereira's camping bike? Bilenky's bikes? I could go on. They're all steel, purpose-built.

Showing off has its place, it gets attention. That's what this show is about. These builders are NOT out to win the marketplace, as was possible during the pre-1983 era for builders of handmade steel bikes. The marketplace is won, by Taiwan, Trek and Shimano. What's left is for the niche builders, and the advertising and marketing for their niche is very different.

And just to bring this full-circle; drillium was showing off, yet it has the glow of reverence here. Resurrecting Rene Herse is pandering to nostalgia. Heck, collecting old bikes and not riding them is silly too. There's a place for silliness in bike worship.

A little surprised by the NAHBS gripes,

Morgan Fletcher
Oakland, CA