Road To NAHBS 2013: Don Walker Cycles
Don Walker is a perennial fixture at NAHBS, and for good reason: He puts on the show. And, each year his booth’s focus is steel road and cyclocross bikes, but they’re punctuated with one or two “extras” to grab eyeballs. Last year it was a vintage Stayer track bike and a prototype disc brake ‘cross bike. This year, we should have something really new to look at…
Bikerumor: What materials do you build with? Which is your favorite and why?
Don Walker: I work only with steel. I started with steel in 1991. I love everything about it from the road feel to the aesthetics of a bike made with it.
Bikerumor: What have you been working on since NAHBS last year?
Don Walker: I’d been working on riding and losing weight! (lost 40+ pounds) and I grew my Cross team from 6 riders to 16 riders and actually did a couple races myself. Also, it was the first time I had raced since the early 90s. I didn’t have a great result or anything, but I finished the races which was all I set out to do. No real noticeable changes in my production methods other than I made more cross bikes this past year than in all of my career! I’m still a big supporter of track cycling and am currently trying to launch a U23 track squad (for those interested email me….) and I finally started making mountain bikes in 2012! Its been a pretty busy year since NAHBS Sacramento, now that I think about it.
Bikerumor: Any killer custom bike builds?
I have a few bikes in the works at the moment for customers that I will exhibit. I don’t have pics yet, but I do have some of some earlier builds this past year.
Bikerumor: Did you see anything at NAHBS last year that’s inspired you?
Don Walker: Shin-ichi Konno always seems to bring his A game. That track bike was kick ass. I also love the clean simplicity of Roland Della Santa’s work. I really enjoy Erik Noren of Peacock Groove’s concept bikes, as odd as that may sound, he really finds a way to capture your attention and you never forget what he brings. One other thing that inspired me was seeing so many of the “old guard” bike racers from California at the show. I got to hang out quite a bit with George Mount and he was gracious enough to give me a bottle of red wine that he makes himself, and trust me, it was goooood stuff! I guess it’s just inspiring seeing so many folks with smiles on their faces, how can you not draw from that?
Bikerumor: What are you bringing to the show this year that’ll have every other builder standing slack jawed in awe?
Don Walker: The centerpiece of my booth? Ummm, that will be a thinner me! Actually, I’ll have a track bike I think will be a looker. There’s a shock. A track bike in my booth…like that’s never happened before. I think the Stainless Fendered Fast Road Bike might draw a bit of attention as well.
Bikerumor: Scenario – A customer commissions you and one other builder to create the ultimate bicycle using the same parameters, same base material and same budget in an Iron Chef style competition. Who would you want to build against that would push you and elevate your game?
Don Walker: That’s a tough one. I don’t want to go head to head on concepts with Konno or Noren, they think way outside of the box. I’d have to say Tim “Tubby” O’Donnell, because it wouldn’t matter who won, we’d still have a couple of drinks and tons of laughs after its over.