Recently, as I was having coffee in a favorite local bike shop, I overheard a mechanic saying, “I’m not going to NAHBS. It’s all just show bikes. There aren’t any ‘real’ bikes.” I rudely inserted myself in their conversation from across the room to disagree, saying that there are quite a few builders that only bring bikes that just happen to be done at the time, he replied, “yeah, well, those aren’t the bikes that show up in, like, VeloNews.”
It saddens me that this perception exists. Firstly because it’s blatantly untrue if for no other reason that Richard Sachs has been covered by VeloNews at least once.
But seriously, there are many builders that bring to NAHBS just what they’ve got coming out of paint. Some go so far as to call back an especially interesting or beautiful bike from the year before. It’s a point of pride for these builders that this is the fantastic functional art they produce every day- that they don’t need to build special bikes just for a show. This is the tradition of their craft.
Sometimes, they might even splurge and build themselves a bike for once because, among small bike builders, the cobbler rarely has new, shiny shoes.