In a previous post, Noah Budnick reported on urban bicycles from the North American Handmade Bike Show, a gathering of nearly two hundred bicycle and accessory fabricators in Sacramento, CA. He follows up with a look at city cycling gear and accessories and some of their passionate makers.
Regardless of whether or not you own a handmade bike, the artistry and quality of small parts, accessories and clothing on display at NAHBS offer inspiration to personalize your ride.
If you’re like me, you’re constantly on the lookout for that “perfect” piece of gear: The object that enhances your experience, is built to last and is well-designed functionally and esthetically. Fortunately, there was no shortage at the show (or rather, unfortunately, for my wallet).
The urban gear that I looked at fell into roughly three categories: things to carry your stuff, like bags (and things to carry those things, like racks and baskets), things to add onto your bike (handlebar grips, bells!), and things to wear. Here are a few of the accoutrements that caught my eye:
Getting around town efficiently requires some carrying capacity. What city-dweller isn’t toting a smartphone, water bottle, laptop, magazine and a few additional items picked up along the way? My life changed when I put down my trusty messenger bag and installed a sturdy rack on my city bike. My neck stopped aching, and I got rid of that sweaty spot in the middle of my back. Nowadays front racks, baskets and panniers (saddlebags) are de rigueur for city cyclers, and the selection is growing, as well, as interest in touring picks up steam.
The East Bay knows all about practicality and keeping it local, so I wasn’t surprised to find this made-in Berkeley x Oakland partnership at NAHBS: Inside Line Equipment’s Porteur Rackbag mounted on top of a Pass and Stow front rack. Inside Line, based in Berkeley, uses weatherproof materials to construct their bags by hand. The standard model has exterior pockets, a detachable shoulder strap and a handy tote strap. Its massive 42-liter capacity is more than enough to carry two six-packs of beer (just for reference).
This is where Pass and Stow comes in. Matt Feeney, a Flushing, Queens native, makes each front rack by hand in Oakland. He has a background in building handmade bikes and carries forward the practice of working with each customer to craft a rack to fit their bike. Constructed of aircraft tubing, these 2-pound racks are tough: They can carry up to 25 pounds, but are tested up to 190. (Matt says you can’t carry more than 25 pounds because of the way it will affect the bicycle’s steering and performance. Basically, your wheels will break before the rack does.)
North St makes all their bags in Portland, OR, sends everyone out the door with a lifetime warranty and, starting at $30, you can customize the colors on any model. The Scout 11 Duffle is a tough little handlebar bag with a Cordura exterior and a waterproof liner. It comes with a shoulder strap and the inside zip pocket has a lanyard for securing your keys. I was attracted to this bag because you could use it on your own bike for practically any kind of riding or you could throw it in the basket of a bike share bike when you opt for public transit.
Make it Yours
Velo Orange…where to begin? The long and the short of it is: If you’re looking for a way to make your bike more practical for everyday transportation or you want to outfit your bike for an adventure, Velo Orange is a great place to start. It’s a depot for everyday riders, commuters and “cyclo-tourists,” as Igor Shteynbuk, their purchasing manager told me.
The Velo Oragne catalogue lists hundreds of items, including tires, fenders, racks, seat bags, seats, water bottle cages, pedals, toe straps, crankset, headset, handlebars, stem, grips, brakes and bungee cords.
With so much going on, I asked Igor what’s new and exciting for 2016. He cited wide and puncture-resistance Fairweather tires, comfortable for city riding; improved weatherproofing on their vegan saddles, so you won’t ruin your seat if you park your bike outside in the rain; and bungee cords to help keep your cargo secure on your ride.
Water? Wine? Why discriminate? Thanks to the creative people at Arundel Bike Company in Fort Worth, TX, the Loony Bin bottle cage can carry a container of just about any size. Sturdy and adjustable, it’s the perfect solution for toting a bottle of wine to a picnic or to a friend’s house for dinner.
If you prefer something a little harder than wine, track down Ron Andrews of Durango, CO, and pick up one of his King Cage Mud Flasks. This stainless steel lifesaver is made in Ron’s garage from all U.S.A.-sourced materials.
Nick and Clint Slone of Spurcycle grew up around their family’s bike shop on Martha’s Vineyard, so when they moved to San Francisco they discovered the glorious coastal riding just across the Golden Gate Bridge. They also got acquainted with the crowds of selfie-stick-wielding tourists meandering along the bridge path and wanted a firm yet polite way to say excuse me. But, put a bell on a racing bike? These trendsetters designed a bell worthy of even the most deluxe handmade bike and perfectly tuned the bell’s ding to boot. Now, Spurcycle bells are as common as Strava among the Bay Area’s spandex set. I watched Nick make one at the show and bought it on the spot.
Wear It Well
While most of the design at NAHBS focused on tailor-made bikes and parts, a few craftspeople were there to outfit riders. I appreciated this a lot because when I’m riding around town, I like to get off my bike and continue with my day without look like I just got off my bike.
As is to be expected in an activity with deep roots in Italy, fashion is inching its way into the recreational side of cycling as well.
The clothing and apparel at NAHBS largely fell into two categories: “streetwear” — i.e. jeans, sweatshirts, ball caps, etc. — and “technical” clothing — shorts and jerseys, cycling shoes and the like. Fun blurring of the lines and great collaborations were in evidence, too.
Dustin Klein and the crew at the Cadence Collection out of L.A. offer essential clothing and creative style no matter what kind of ride you’re planning. Their denim cycling jeans hit all the marks for comfort and durability. And their smart caps and beanies would look good anywhere on a Saturday night out (or Sunday at the beach). Dustin told me that he started the brand when he was a bike messenger and couldn’t find jeans and t-shirts to comfortably ride in. His DIY ethos and love for bikes evolved into a full line of great looking technical and everyday clothing — jerseys, bibs, windbreakers that fold up and fit in your pocket, riding jeans, and more.
On the NAHBS floor, Dustin (above) teamed up with the venerable bike pump maker Silca to create some handmade designs for the occasion. That’s also his design on the canvas behind him, and it was cool to see similar themes across the caps, pumps and canvas.
Pumps by Silca, with its Italian heritage, can be works of art in themselves. The above artist edition Super Pista Ultimate features a Ciavete paint scheme by Dario Pegoretti. Among standard features of Silca pumps (which start at $450) are a base optimized for cycling shoes, a built-in magnet to attach the chuck to the base, a highly-accurate gage and a rosewood handle (the same that’s used on gourmet chef’s knives).
And finally, in a relatively short time — six years — Walz Caps has established itself as one of the preeminent cycling (and running) cap makers in the U.S. Their caps are handmade in the U.S.A. and offer 100 percent satisfaction guaranteed for life. Their booth at NAHBS was overflowing with designs and eager customers looking for the perfect addition to their cycling wardrobe, be it casual or technical. While Walz will work with you to customize the size, fit and design of any cap, these two grabbed my attention.
Since I’ve spent a good amount of time riding both in New York City and the Bay Area, these reflect a classic East Coast-West Coast rivalry!
Noah Budnick is a consultant and expert in helping communities build the physical and social infrastructure to manifest their beliefs (and rides his bike a lot around the Bay Area).
Photos: Noah Budnick. Inside Line and Cadence Collection Jeans, courtesy of manufacturers