Monday, August 04, 2008

NAHBS newsletter

nahbs logo 2009 show Feb. 27 - Mar. 1 Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis.
Newsletter #1 - 2008-08-04
view online at

NAHBS Website Returns

After a short break that resulted from dozens of viruses mysteriously appearing on the NAHBS web server, the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) relaunched its website for the 2009 show early in July.

The 2009 site serves as an information key for all aspects of the event, from which frame builders are already registered, to a casual list of accommodations for those who plan on attending the show from out of town.

The website, which is maintained by former International Cycling Union web guy, Alan Hill, will be updated regularly with current news about exhibitors, as well as updates about the show.

Please visit the site for more information:

NAHBS 'Fivers' Postcard Series Announced

A collectible set of five postcards featuring the select group of frame builders that have attended all five editions of the NAHBS is currently in the production process. These hallowed builders are (alphabetically): Calfee, Crumpton, De Salvo, Sachs, Vanilla, and Walker. Studio photography is by Jessica Lifland and Brad Quartuccio. Boxed copies of this limited run set of cycling memorabilia will be available through the NAHBS online store. Further announcements will be through the NAHBS Newsletter.
NAHBS Website to Feature New Handmade Directory

A new industry directory, The Handmade Directory, that is designed to be a simple, quick reference to who does what, how, where, when, for whom and why, is now being assembled and will be accessible via the NAHBS website. It is not limited to NAHBS exhibitors, although it will identify those that have shown there, as well as what years they exhibited. A joint venture between NAHBS and O2 Sports Marketing, the directory is a subscription service paid for by the builders/suppliers. The creator of the idea, Paul Skilbeck, says "Three years ago, when I began researching the handmade industry, I found lists of weblinks, but the sites were layed out differently and contained different content. It was very slow going. This directory opens up information very quickly, so readers can very quickly identify a builder by state, material, whether building under their own name or for somebody ! else, then there's a link to the builder's site so once you've found the kind of builders you're looking for you can quickly learn more about them. I would expect it to be read by consumers, journalists, industry insiders, everybody really, as it's hosted on one of the most visited sites in the handmade industry." for more information, email Paul Skilbeck

Survey Sees Market Share Increase

An article published in the July 1 edition of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN) suggests that handmade builders are steadily pulling back market share from top names among mass manufacturers in the the specialty segment of the bicycle market.

U.S. Bicycle Market Overview (BMO) is a study that is compiled each year. It shows that the top brands have slipped from 75% of the specialty market share down to 73.7% in the past 12 months. Until 2001 the norm was an 80/20 split, but then specialty retailers began focusing on niches like custom and smaller high end brands, according to Jay Townley, of the Gluskin Townley Group, compiler of the report for the National Bicycle Dealers Association.

The BMO includes sales figures from 116 handmade builders, a little under half the number thought to be active in the USA today.

"At the Gluskin Townley Group we are very excited about growth in the handmade sector," said Mr. Townley. "The bigger guys are beginning to realize there might be a bifurcation at the retail level. High end stores are moving toward a studio environment," added Mr. Townley, who also observed that new dealers are looking for uncontested market space.

The NAHBS has made it feasible for the Gluskin Townley Group to start keeping closer tabs on the handmade industry. "We've attended the show for the past two years now, and we visit every booth," he said.

NAHBS Frame builder's Forum to Open Soon

The NAHBS Blog is already in place, a now work is in progress setting up the new NAHBS forum. The new forum started as a decision to replace the Green Room that was briefly a part of "In the end, we just decided it made more sense to host the forum on our own website," said Don Walker. As the project gathered momentum, it started to make sense to invite discussion on a wider range of subjects in the handmade bicyles world. Walker added: "If people felt like it, I'd be very pleased for them to create new lists on other subjects too, so if there are any budding moderators out there, I'd like to hear from them."

Industry Veterans and Knowledgable Locals Back Indy NAHBS

Midwesterners are pleased to see a significant industry show return to their part of the country, and they predict the Indy show will be a big success. Cycling pundit Jay Townley, of Gluskin Townley Associates in Lyndon Station, Wisconsin, is one who sees the sense of using this venue for NAHBS 2009. "There are a lot of dealers and large companies in the east coast and midwest that wouldn't have gone to Portland who will show up in Indy. Remember, the people who work in these companies are all enthusiasts, and they're connected to groups of friends who are enthusiasts. And I think you will see a significant increase of dealers driving in, too." Townley was clear that the regional weather can be inclement, although he noted that for midwesterners this is not a significant issue. "I've done wintertime shows in Columbus and Cincinnati; we were just used to the fact that we may get caught in a blizzard," he said. Townley did not see that the weather would put anybody off, apart from possibly some on the west coast who are not familiar with the midwest winter.

A member of the Indy cycling community , Nathan Schickel, was of a similar mind. "Yes, Indy will be a great locatio. There are huge cycling populations in Indy, Chicago, Louisville, Cincinnati, Columbus, all of which are within three hours' drive from here. I think the show will be as big as ever before, if not bigger." Schickel was not too concerned about weather issues. "Weather in Indy is not bad in February/March, although it is highly variable with some days rather like spring and then snow the next day. But Indianapolis deals with weather challenges very well... Hoosiers deal with it well!"

NAHBS Formula Works Well for Parlee

The notion of an exciting consumer/industry bicycle show that moves to a new market location approximately ever year is a good one, according to Parlee Cycles, one of the larger names in the U.S. handmade bicycles market.

Tom Rodi of Parlee explained: "We like the idea of NAHBS being in different markets each year. We have seen great growth in our business in the Bay Area (from the San Jose show) and the pacific northwest (from the Portland show) so we like the moving format for a consumer show to open up whole swaths of the country to bikes that lots of riders have only maybe heard of and have maybe never seen in the flesh. The great thing about NAHBS is that the show is just about the bikes in the purest form versus Interbike which has more of a 'business' vibe to it. The bicycle business is feeling more like the car or computer business with short model years and very fast product cycles and for companies like us who build-to-order, and don't cycle designs (or paint jobs) every 8-12 months there is less need to write a seasons worth of orders in 2 days in Las Vegas."

Of the many spectacular offerings from Parlee, one that will be music to the ears of carbon fiber/lightweight fans is their integrated bearing option for the Zipp VumaQuad crankset, which requires the new 30mm axle. More info...

2009 Show Registration Healthy, Exhibitor Quality Stellar

30% of the NAHBS floorspace at the Indiana Convention Center is sold already, with 51 exhibitors registered as of August 1. With new, stricter controls on the builders being admitted to the show, Don Walker is predicting the greatest concentration of established frame builders in the industry's history. Paul Skilbeck, the marketing communications consultant to NAHBS, explains the reasoning. "There are two main points: first, NAHBS is all about raising the bar, and Don Walker has taken steps this year to ensure that only the cream of the cream display at NAHBS. This is an assurance that he gives to all show visitors, and he has backed it up with a more selective invitation policy. Second, I agree with Don that the idea of smaller regional shows, operating in conjunction with a supreme national/international show, is good for the entire industry. It's good for all of us. By encouraging newer, less experienced, b! uilders to exhibit at the regional shows NAHBS helps to build that structure as well as solidifying itself as a top-drawer show that tours the nation and helps to open up new markets."

Don Walker Opens Speedway Handmade Bicycle Works

The latest Independent Bicycle Dealer in the Midwest is Speedway Handmade Bicycle Works. And guess who the proprietor is? Don Walker. The store/fit studio/mechanics workshop/frame building workshop/office space houses Don's frame building business, the NAHBS office, and a retail storefront.

Located on Main Street, Speedway, just two blocks north of Zipp - a company with which Walker has close ties - Speedway Handmade Bicycle Works will be the closest dealer to the carbon fiber wheels manufacturer.

Apart from selling Don Walker frames in lugged and fillet brazed steel and titanium, Walker's new store will offer frames from Lynskey (titanium and steel), Independent Fabrication (steel or titanium), Roland Della Santa (lugged steel), and still being finalized are arrangements with Crumpton and Parlee (carbon fiber), and Rock Lobster (aluminum).

"I really want to have all the materials bases covered, so to speak. I want to offer the customer a chance to choose for themselves what material they desire, and by having some of the best builders on planet Earth available, in one place. They can feel confident in their choice."

The idea for a retail outlet came to Walker while he was looking for a workshop/office for his own frame building business and the North American Handmade Bicycle Show.

"I visited this space on Main St, between 14th and 15th Streets, and it's just such a great location I decided pretty much there and then that I'd establish a retail outlet," said Walker.