After Rocky Mountain’s simple bikes.com, Naked Bikes has perhaps the second best URL in the industry: timetogetnaked.com. Even better than that are the bikes builder Sam Whittingham has brought to the show over the past few years, winning oohs, aaahs and the coveted People’s Choice award in ’08, ’09 and ’11.
This year, we hear his show bikes might be a bit more subdued and, uh, practical, as Sam will be riding one of them from their home base in BC, Canada, all the way down to Sacramento for the show. He’s chronicling the journey on their blog, and here’s what he’s been up to ’til now…
BIKERUMOR: What have you been working in since NAHBS last year?
SAM: Our main focus since last year has been streamlining our offerings and coming up with styles of bikes that reflect how we like to build for our customers. This means offering designs geared towards the type of experience the customer wants to have rather than simply a generic type of bike. At the extreme ends of the style spectrum we obviously offer Road and Mountain bikes but most of our customers fall somewhere in the middle of this and for them we have developed a broad line of “Adventure” bikes. These include road adventure, light adventure, daily adventure, cross adventure, city adventure and grand adventure. We have been moving more and more towards the “naked’ Materials. Quite a bit of Titanium and really enjoying working with the new MS2 stainless steel tubing from KVA. It is still early in the game but this may be my favorite material of the bunch.
BIKERUMOR: Any killer custom bike builds?
SAM: We have had quite a few great builds this winter. In the quest for perfection, the last one is always my favorite. This baby is full of modern classic features. This is a full KVA “Daily adventure” bike with custom naked boomerang dropouts, King hubs, BB and headset of course. The combo of Schwalbe Durano 28mm tires and the new Velocity Blunt SL rims gives an unbelievable road feel. Fast, comfortable and light! What more could you want. This bike also featuere a nice classic Paul thumby setup mated to an Ultegra drivetrain. Brooks saddle and grips, Eriksen ti post and binder. The FSA Metropolis bars are a really elegant bar that combines classic and modern beautifully.
BIKERUMOR: Did you see anything last year that’s inspired you?
SAM: Always! My big regret is that I don’t get around more to really see what the builders have spent a lot of sweat and tears bringing to completion. I find the “game” of all the builders has really risen in the last few years. I am most impressed by those builders that manage to push the art of handmade bikes forward without losing site of the good things that came before. There are lots of examples of this at the show but the builders I always gravitate towards are Calfee, Blacksheep and Bilenky. I love watching the fun that Geekhouse has with their stuff. I mostly admire those that manage to do very serious work without taking themselves to seriously, where the art goes into the bicycle itself and not just into their own image. I have always really liked the simplicity of the IF bikes and am really watching what the off-shoot builders are doing with Firefly.
BIKERUMOR: Can you give us a teaser of what you’re bringing to NAHBS 2012?
SAM: I can give more than a teaser! We are quite excited to announce that we are riding our show bikes to NAHBS this year. We will be showing that our bikes look even better with a lot of hard won miles on them. We want NAHBS to be bigger than just the three days of the show. We have a blog showing the whole process of design, build, ride and finally display. There are lots of beautiful bikes at NAHBS we want to show that they are meant to be ridden as well as displayed. We are working with a lot of our favorite companies to showcase how hard they work for the handbuilt community as well.
BIKERUMOR: If you had to race all the other builders, who would you want to inch out for the win right at the line?
SAM: Definitely Richard Sachs! Mostly because it would mean being in a very cool ‘cross race in the middle of winter followed by a lot of good tales and good ales. I would want it to be a photo finish. As I crossed the line I would turn to Richard and say: “Why Mr. Sachs, I believe I have this one atmo…”