Ground Up Cycles custom hand painted bicycles at NAHBS 2013

Ground Up Designs’ Eric Baar brought his brushes and was pinstriping and decorating his bikes at the show. The sparkly racer above caught our eye for the garage-mechanic World of Outlaws motif, but the details made us stay.

The frame uses a reversed sliding dropout placement and unique turnbuckle bar to adjust tension on the belt drive. Click through for closeups of this and some other eyecatching bikes of his, Metrofiets’ crowd-carrying cargo bike, Paketa’s magnesium tandem (and others) and some beautiful paint from Zullo…

Ground Up Cycles custom hand painted bicycles at NAHBS 2013

The turnbuckle pushes or pulls the entire rear triangle, which pivots at the top of the seatstays and slides on attachments underneath the bottom bracket. Also note the machining on the spider.

Ground Up Cycles custom hand painted bicycles at NAHBS 2013

Ground Up Cycles custom hand painted bicycles at NAHBS 2013

Nice disc brake guard on the rear. The “Hoosier” logo on the tires and all pinstriping was hand painted.

Ground Up Cycles custom hand painted bicycles at NAHBS 2013

His 29er had alternating directional brushing to create a checkerboard sort of pattern.

Ground Up Cycles custom hand painted bicycles at NAHBS 2013

Bass boat sparkle paint abounds.


Metrofiets cargo bicycles at NAHBS 2013

Metrofiets wasn’t showing anything new, really, but we do like their cargo bikes and handmade wood boxes. Apparently others really like them, too – they sold this bike right off the show floor.


Paketa magnesium road mountain and tandem bicycles at NAHBS 2013

Paketa makes their bicycles out of magnesium, which they say is light, stiff and absorbs vibration well, with additional material actually improving damping properties. Material selection aside, they had some interesting features on their bikes.

The tandem had a belt drive timing belt, but it was mounted on the driveside. Normally, the timing belt is on the non-drive side and uses a custom crankset with gears/cogs on both sides. This way, you can use any standard road crank:

Paketa magnesium road mountain and tandem bicycles at NAHBS 2013

They just had to make a bit extra frame clearance to mount the extra cog inside the small ring.

Paketa magnesium road mountain and tandem bicycles at NAHBS 2013

The mountain bike also gets a unique use of belt drive with a dual gear system that lets you swap ratios depending on the terrain.

Got a big climb to get to the fun stuff? No problem, and it’s lighter than an internally geared rear hub. Frames are built to use variable dropouts that are interchangeable to be run geared, SS, internal or whatever. This one’s split to accept the belt and has an EBB.

Paketa magnesium road mountain and tandem bicycles at NAHBS 2013

Their Scud road bike uses heavier duty tubing for heavier riders. Frame runs 2.5 to 3 pounds depending on size and build.


Zullo custom painted bicycles at NAHBS 2013

Zullo’s booth was unstaffed as I passed by, but resembled last year’s layout: Lots of frames showing off lots of custom paint.

Zullo custom painted bicycles at NAHBS 2013

The brand was started by Tiziano Zullo, who’s a little over 60 now but still works on some of the bikes, overseeing the rest of the production. He oversees all graphics and paints some of them himself, too.

Zullo custom painted bicycles at NAHBS 2013

Zullo custom painted bicycles at NAHBS 2013


  1. yea… not to be rude but, Ground Up Bikes should get worst in show for being F’in ugly and poor finish work.

    There is nothing from the show that I have seen that is quite as amateur ! Original design on the chainstay is cool but yea I will pass.

    Paketa on the other hand… Magnesium is sweet!!

  2. @Cobrahawk, I’m guessing you don’t know or have never met Eric…. if you knew all the other work he does, you wouldn’t be saying that. Ground Up is not his only projects.

  3. one of the problems with NAHBS is that some of the spectators often have absolutely no idea what makes a bike a GREAT bike and can’t see major structural problems when they’re looking directly at them.

    Eric at Ground Up is a great fabricator. You may not like his style and that’s fine, but if you want to gripe about finish work, take a close look at the brushed checkerboard ti frames. I’d bet 95% of show goers don’t know enough about finish work (or the lack thereof as is important on those frames) and ti welding to understand how stellar those frames actually are.

    Hey Tyler, this might be good fodder for a blog series that could actually educate people and help them see the differences in a nicely appointed bike with a terribly built frame and a solid build that doesn’t meet the flavor of the month paint style/component selection. Spotting udercut, poorly brazed lugs, over-filing, signs of oxidation, what shore lines can tell you…etc.

  4. @cobrahawk
    Eric at Ground Up is one of the best fabricators and welders in the bike industry. His designs and aesthetics are a little irreverent, but you can’t knock him for his welding and fabrication skill.
    The Ground Up pink polo bike and Hunter’s cargo bike were my favorite 2 bikes at the show.

  5. The WoO Sprint Car theme is beyond awesome. It’s my favorite bike of the show. Finally a bike that speak to me. I would buy that bike in a second.

  6. Duders, I must say:

    I criticized his finish work not his fabrication or welding skills. Case in point; he was still painting the bike at the show!!

    Also, I did nominate him for an award. Perhaps instead of worst of show it be ‘most original.’?

    Still the ugliest bike…

  7. Not sure a magnesium frame is a good idea, that stuff is very prone to corrosion. Anyone remember the craze for magnesium stuff that quickly died when the parts oxidized and broke?

  8. Eric’s designs are great because they are his own. Do I have a huge want or desire for glitter or polo bikes? No. But is his eye for making the bikes his own one of the best out there? Damn straight it is. He stands out and does more than just your typical mtb, road bike, cross bike, fat bike, double diamond in 3 metals. Top it off with some really fantastic fabricating skills….he’s solid.

    Rusty-Remember when ti frames broke and cracked? Then they dialed in the alloy for bikes vs just CP Ti. They also realized they needed to purge with argon. Problem solved.

    Yeah for evolution.

  9. There’s no problem with magnesium. As ever, there is a problem with manufacturers who choose the wrong alloy and/or finish for the job (to save a few buck$ possibly?).

    The mag parts on my bikes just keep doin’ what they’re supposed to do after several years and several thousand miles of 4 season riding.

  10. Thanks to Tyler for posting this. My personal bikes have always been love or hate, and I have learned to embrace this. I really enjoyed freehand pinstriping and lettering live, at the show. I will definitely do more of this at shows in the future. The crowd response was wonderful and it felt really good to be doing live art at an art show. A hand made custom bike is more about the ‘do’ and not the ‘done’.

    Nash -You are right, I probably was drunk with my hand drill when I wallowed out that spider…321 POLO! I will say it again. POLO. That’s not something you will see on a customer bike, and this bike was never intended to be a centerpiece, or even for sale, rather more of a side show bike, kind of like my flamethrower bike from 2010.

What do you think?