Road to NAHBS 2016: Josh Poertner of SILCA

Photo by SILCA
Photo by SILCA
Photo by SILCA

When the SILCA SuperPista Ultimate landed on the scene in 2014, it was so beyond anything in its category that it simultaneously inspired outrage and confusion in the consuming public. Why should a pump be so special? Why the heck would anyone buy a $450 floor pump?

But for those familiar with Josh Poertner, the new proprietor of SILCA, it made total sense. Josh had helped to not only establish the carbon wheel category during his time at Zipp, but effectively challenged the upper end of that category throughout his time at the company – the Ultimate pump was just Josh doing what Josh does.

In this phone interview, Josh talks about getting started, his transition from high-performance racing components to the timeless, heirloom-quality tools he now designs and produces to interface with them. (Also, for full disclosure and interview context, I used to kind of work for the guy as an engineer, so there is some of that in the interview too)…

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When the SILCA SuperPista Ultimate landed on the scene in 2014, it was so beyond anything in its category that it simultaneously inspired outrage and confusion in the consuming public. Why should a pump be so special? Why the heck would anyone buy a $450 floor pump? But for those familiar with Josh Poertner, the new […]

Posted in Clothing-Gear-Tools, Feature, Interviews, NAHBS19 Comments

Road to NAHBS 2016: Brad Hodges with W. H. Bradford Custom Bikes

Photo by Brad Hodges
Photo by Brad Hodges
Photo by Brad Hodges

Brad Hodges grew up steeped in early mountain biking culture in the hills around Cupertino, California. After committing himself to a life of building bicycles for a living at an early age, Brad began his career heavily influenced by BMX bikes and still finds himself coming back to trick bikes.

These days, Brad has been flexing a broader repertoire. We can expect to see a full range of road, mountain, cyclocross, and touring machines at this year’s show. While he builds mostly in steel, rumor has it that a certain ‘Tytanium’ bike will ‘steel’ the show in the WH Bradford booth this year at NAHBS…

Continue reading “Road to NAHBS 2016: Brad Hodges with W. H. Bradford Custom Bikes”



Brad Hodges grew up steeped in early mountain biking culture in the hills around Cupertino, California. After committing himself to a life of building bicycles for a living at an early age, Brad began his career heavily influenced by BMX bikes and still finds himself coming back to trick bikes. These days, Brad has been flexing […]

Posted in BMX, Feature, Interviews, Mountain Bike, NAHBS1 Comment

Road to NAHBS 2016: Claudio Bellon of Bellon Handmade Bicycles

Photo by Julia Bellon
Photo by Julia Bellon
Photo by Julia Bellon

Having grown up in Italy, builder Claudio Bellon was surrounded by cycling culture throughout childhood. Though bicycles continued to run as a theme throughout his life, and despite decades of experience as a welder and fabricator, it was only after being prodded by friends that he decided to take to the torch to build them for himself. Self-taught with house-made fixtures and tooling, Claudio focuses on building the classic, lugged frame sets that he would like to see more of in the world…

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Having grown up in Italy, builder Claudio Bellon was surrounded by cycling culture throughout childhood. Though bicycles continued to run as a theme throughout his life, and despite decades of experience as a welder and fabricator, it was only after being prodded by friends that he decided to take to the torch to build them for himself. […]

Posted in Feature, Interviews, NAHBS2 Comments

Road to NAHBS 2016: Chris Connor of Connor Cycles

Photo used with permission of Connor Cycles
Photo by John Johnston Photography
Photo by John Johnston Photography

I sought out Chris Connor for a phone interview in this series primarily because of a bike he did for NAHBS last year, a white ash bike he made in conjunction with Louisville Slugger in honor of the show location. I’ll admit – I hadn’t sought out or worked to understand wood as a modern bicycle frame material until learning about this bike but when presented with the baseball bat analogy for impact resistance, I reconsidered the medium for the application.

Chris is exceptional not just for his choice of material but also for his approach in embracing the performance reinforcements and adhesives that have been developed as a result of the refreshed interest in sustainability and renewable materials. His bikes are highly labor intensive – but Chris believes it is entirely worth it for the unique suppleness and beauty of the final product…

Continue reading “Road to NAHBS 2016: Chris Connor of Connor Cycles”



I sought out Chris Connor for a phone interview in this series primarily because of a bike he did for NAHBS last year, a white ash bike he made in conjunction with Louisville Slugger in honor of the show location. I’ll admit – I hadn’t sought out or worked to understand wood as a modern […]

Posted in Commuter, Cyclocross, Feature, Interviews, Mountain Bike, NAHBS7 Comments

Road to NAHBS 2016: Tim O’Donnell of Shamrock Cycles

NAHBS-2016_Shamrock-Cycles_Tim-ODonnell_02
Photo by Tim O'Donnell
Photo by Tim O’Donnell

Until last year’s NAHBS, I could say with complete certainty that I’d never had a bike move me to tears. That streak ended when I stepped into the Shamrock Cycles booth at the show. My friend Tim handed me a cold beer, walked me over to the Paper Airplane bike and told me its story. The bike, which was designed to be ridden with full fenders, but race-able without, was dripping in all the sweet little details and considerations that you know to look for in a Tim O’Donnell bike. It was purchased by a guy and built for a woman he met at a cyclocross race and was covered in 585 hand-painted paper airplanes, one for each day between their meeting and their wedding. I started weeping right there in the booth, pleading, “Tim, what are you doing to me?!”

But as exceptional as that bike is in terms of craftsmanship and execution, it isn’t exceptional within the context of the work that Tim does. And that’s what I adore about him as a builder and as a person. Tim’s work is obsessive, but never for the sake of being obsessive, it’s always to make himself better for the next thing…

Continue reading “Road to NAHBS 2016: Tim O’Donnell of Shamrock Cycles”



Until last year’s NAHBS, I could say with complete certainty that I’d never had a bike move me to tears. That streak ended when I stepped into the Shamrock Cycles booth at the show. My friend Tim handed me a cold beer, walked me over to the Paper Airplane bike and told me its story. […]

Posted in Feature, Interviews, NAHBS16 Comments

Road to NAHBS 2016: Adam Sklar of Sklar Bikes

Photo by Adam Sklar
Photo by Sam Atkins
Photo by Sam Atkins

Finding himself preoccupied with bikes from working long days as a mountain bike coach, Adam Sklar took the leap, learned how to braze, and built his first bike on a hacked together fixture in his parents’ garage (one that he still rides). Almost five years on, Sklar Bikes has evolved to be a brand that builds bikes designed around “having fun in the woods with your friends,” and Adam has enjoyed upping his game in terms of customer service and the business side of things to create a consumer experience that matches his bikes… Continue reading “Road to NAHBS 2016: Adam Sklar of Sklar Bikes”



Finding himself preoccupied with bikes from working long days as a mountain bike coach, Adam Sklar took the leap, learned how to braze, and built his first bike on a hacked together fixture in his parents’ garage (one that he still rides). Almost five years on, Sklar Bikes has evolved to be a brand that […]

Posted in Fatbike, Feature, Interviews, Mountain Bike, NAHBS6 Comments

Road to NAHBS 2016: Nate Picklo of lov bikes

Photo used with permission of lov bikes
Photo used with permission of lov bikes
Photo by Nate Picklo

When faced with some life-changing news, entrepreneur and lov founder/creative lead/painter Nate Picklo decided that there was no time like the present to chase his dreams in cycling. lov bikes fabricates their custom carbon frames in its facility (or as Nate calls it, their “lov shack”) in Eagle, Colorado, though their clean and curvy carbon frames are put over the top by their in-house paint schemes.

Today, lov bikes is looking forward to beginning Titanium fabrication as well as strengthening the collection of artisans and collaborators that make their bikes the ultra-expressive machines that they are…

Continue reading “Road to NAHBS 2016: Nate Picklo of lov bikes”



When faced with some life-changing news, entrepreneur and lov founder/creative lead/painter Nate Picklo decided that there was no time like the present to chase his dreams in cycling. lov bikes fabricates their custom carbon frames in its facility (or as Nate calls it, their “lov shack”) in Eagle, Colorado, though their clean and curvy carbon frames are put over […]

Posted in Cyclocross, Feature, Interviews, NAHBS, Road Bike7 Comments

Road to NAHBS 2016: Don Ferris of Anvil Bikeworks

Photo by Probably Dead, Used with permission of Don Ferris
Photo by Anvil Bikeworks
Photo by Anvil Bikeworks

Don Ferris is so pervasive within the frame building community that many take for granted that he exists. His company, Anvil Bikeworks, develops and fabricates the fixtures that help build many of the bikes you’ll see at NAHBS this year. At this point, it is unusual to walk into a frame builder’s shop and not see something of his work.

But knowing how much the fans of the community enjoy the cult of personality, it is a crying shame that Don, due to his customer base of frame builders, is relegated to the background. He is one of the more dynamic members of the industry. Few others have gone from the wrong side of the law, to the Antarctic, to UBI, to giving up a successful career as an esteemed frame builder in order to build the tool that the community uses to do their jobs every day.

When editing, I enjoyed the story so much that I left it a little longer than the others because, hey, this is the internet…

Continue reading “Road to NAHBS 2016: Don Ferris of Anvil Bikeworks”



Don Ferris is so pervasive within the frame building community that many take for granted that he exists. His company, Anvil Bikeworks, develops and fabricates the fixtures that help build many of the bikes you’ll see at NAHBS this year. At this point, it is unusual to walk into a frame builder’s shop and not […]

Posted in Clothing-Gear-Tools, Feature, Interviews, NAHBS17 Comments

Road to NAHBS 2016: Carl and Loretta Strong of Strong Frames

Photo by Loretta Strong
Photo by Loretta Strong
Photo used with permission of Carl Strong (jumping)

Strong Frames has gone through several phases in its over 20 year existence. It grew from a one man band in Carl Strong’s grandmother’s garage to a million dollar a year company with twelve employees at its largest. In the past ten years, however, the company has been poetically distilled down to its current, ultra-focused, customer-centric format.

Getting to do this interview was very exciting for me for a couple of reasons. For one, having spent my last few weeks interviewing builders and frame builder community members, Carl Strong’s name has come up quite a few times as someone who deserves accolades within the community for his work in helping new builders to get established and as someone who people have gone to for advice. For another, this interview was an opportunity to talk to the better half of Strong Frames, Loretta Strong, who is a massive reason why the company is the way it is today…

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Strong Frames has gone through several phases in its over 20 year existence. It grew from a one man band in Carl Strong’s grandmother’s garage to a million dollar a year company with twelve employees at its largest. In the past ten years, however, the company has been poetically distilled down to its current, ultra-focused, […]

Posted in Feature, Gravel Bikes, Interviews, NAHBS8 Comments