Handmade Bicycles: the new Dutch Bikes?

Legendary builder (and grouch) Bruce Gordon examines a pair of $230 shoes

Today, we celebrated Bike to Work Day here in San Diego, and I was struck by uniformity of equipment used by once-a-year commuters and daily grind folks alike: mountain bikes, race bikes, or hybrids. Clearly, the major manufacturers still shape public taste.

But as may readers know, we are in, to paraphrase Cyclofiend, the “golden age” of bicycling. There sure are a lot of small operations and custom builders popping up around the country. There will always be aficionados who seek them out. But an confluence of style, sustainability, design, and do-gooderism seems to pull more and more people to handmade bicycles.

NPR today has a story on the bespoke bicycle “movement” (their word). This is good, although you’ll notice Bruce Gordon is featured in a photograph, but unnamed and left to examine a leather shoe. There’s also a focus on the controversial NAHBS, which continues to attempt to cling to its claims as *the* handmade show. So, with this kind of incomplete, style-driven coverage, will handmade bicycles become the next fixie Dutch bike?

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7 comments

  1. paleovelo

    Dude–with the number of bespoke bikes you are adding this year, you won’t be biking to work, but working to buy bike! You are your own one-man bespoke movement!

  2. Lovely Bicycle!

    2 years ago in Boston one mostly also saw hybrids, mountain bikes and modern roadbikes on the streets. Now the velo-landscape includes an abundance of vintage 3-speeds, classic lugged roadbikes converted for upright cycling, Dutch bikes, a sea of eccentric and not so eccentric fixed gears, and custom bikes as well. “ANT spotting” is a favourite activity, and I also see occasional Peter Mooney, Circle A, Independent Fabrications, and GeekHouse bikes. The change is good!

    As for this:
    “…controversial NAHBS, which continues to attempt to cling to its claims as *the* handmade show”

    Can you please explain for the uninitiated? I have never heard of any other show, and had no idea that NAHBS was controversial.

    • Esteban

      Well, I don’t want to spread too many specific rumors here on the blog. I’ll just say that some folks have problems with the way NAHBS is run. Its something you could probably ask a framebuilder friend about.

      As for other options, theres our own San Diego Custom Bicycle Show (including new and established builders), the Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show, Oregon Manifest, Le Cirque du Cyclisme in Virgina… etc. etc.

      I agree that this is a good time to order a custom frame. Why not commute with class? If its your daily transportation, a custom, handmade bicycle is a killer deal.

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