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By Matt Pacocha
A half hour before the doors opened for day two of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Portland, the crowds piled into the Oregon Convention Center’s lobby to wait. Each had paid $18 for a day’s worth of access to more than 150 of North America’s finest small- and medium-sized frame builders, as well as a few big-time component manufacturers.
By mid-day the convention center’s security staff was monitoring the show’s doorway. Attendees had filled the hall to capacity and the doormen were operating with a one-in, one-out policy, per the fire marshal’s orders. The Richard Sachs film screening at 11:30 a.m. filled and people were turned away; separate seminars on fitting and ’cross geometry also were well attended. The show officially lasted until 6:30 in the evening, but even then exhibitors and attendees remained. And the party continued into the night, with the newly relocated Rapha apparel company hosting indoor roller races off site.
On the show floor, metal was the frame material shown by most exhibitors, though some presented carbon and even more exotic materials, including bamboo and wood.
After walking the halls it’s easy to conclude that everyone at this show can, to some extent, be considered a craftsman. These people take pride in building frames and components in small shops by themselves or with only a few partners. Some have been building for longer than I’ve been alive; a few have been at it for less than a year.
The feel is much different than the big shows like Interbike or Eurobike. There’s a lot of opportunity for builders to gain credibility within their peer group and connect with the public.
And in Portland, the public is very much into the bicycle. Seeing how the cycling community here has embraced the show and its builders makes me wonder what it would be like to have the big show in a bike-friendly town and open to the public.
Since there’s so much to see, the best way is to take you through a virtual tour via photo gallery.