I wandered down to the Oregon Manifest show last Saturday, but to say that my visit was casual would belie how much I'd looked forward to seeing a bunch of handbuilt Oregon 'Cross bikes in one place. The show didn't disappoint, right down to the presence of Voodoo Donuts, purveyor of the Maple Bacon Cruller, featured on Anthony Bourdain's show No Reservations. Here's a shot of the infamous thing: It's in the middle/right of the photo, and kind of looks like a hot dog. Yes, that's a maple glazed cruller with two strips of bacon pasted to it. As a metaphor for the Manifest Show, the Maple Bacon Cruller isn't far off. There are a lot of wacky ideas bruited about at the manifest show, just as you'd expect from a bunch of 'crossers getting together to drink beer, eat barbecue and tamales, and look at a bunch of beautiful handmade frames. Here are some pictures I snapped of various products. Yup, that's Andy Hampsten's jersey from the '88 Giro D'Italia. I double-taked and then asked Steve Hampsten if the jersey was for real. He assured me it was, and I chatted with him for a few moments about his work, which is lovely and painstaking. So much to see, though, and I strolled off through this Interbike of the Northwest. What was the buzz here? Mostly about renewable products for bikes. Here are two pictures from Renovo, who makes wooden framed fronttriangles and mates them to alloy or carbon rear triangle. The products are beautiful. The bikes are about as impervious to wear and grit as a steel-framed bike, so you have to take care to rinse it and wipe it carefully, but the word out there is that the right quality is stupendous, and the carbon rear triangle gives you real stiffness where you need it.
Here are some wooden wheels from Wheel Fanatyk (cheesy alternate spellings abound in the somewhat overfull wheel supplier market, as wheelbuilders try to brand/differentiate their product). These wheels got a write-up in Bicycling or Velonews or somewhere else (I don't remember and was more interested in just what the reviewer said), and it sounds as if the wheels ride pretty nice. Grit can be tough on 'em, but if you're careful, the ride quality is supposed to be supple and plush. Finally, some local wag was using cork and wood to make bar end plugs:
O.K., onto the steel, aluminum, carbon and titanium. Here's a great way to rout your rear break cable, from Vertigo Bicycles: Internal cable routing on a 'Cross bike! Of course, this makes sense, as it takes away any need to build some kind of cable-stop housing onto the seat-stay. It also looks incredibly clean. I don't think we need to start making 'Cross bikes aero, but when you're hoisting something up onto your shoulder 10-15 times in an hour, it's nice not to have any chance of tangling your hands/fingers in cables. Also from Vertigo are some BURLY dropouts (I think they look more like motorcycle stays and drops): If you look carefully, you can see some mud caked on the opposite side seatstay. This was the builder's bike, and it had clearly been raced recently. That's a good sign, I think. I would think seriously about talking with these guys about a bike, if I were in the handbuilt titanium market. Next up, a beautiful bike from Sweetpea Bicycles:
I talked with Natalie, the owner/builder, and lamented that Sweetpea only makes bikes for women. She let me in on a secret, though, that if you want one bad enough, you can get one. Good to know.
Here's a wild TT bike that is currently the OBRA TT Championship bike: I asked the builder/rider "What is that, like a 30 cm drop" (distance from saddle nose to elbow pads), and he shrugged and said "I don't know, but it works." My kind of rider.
Lastly, since we're looking at innovative bikes, here are two that I just had to ask about: "How's THAT work?" I asked the builder of this design. "Pretty well," she said. "But we still need to ride it down some sets of stairs to make sure it'll hold up."
And then there was this, from Land Shark: This is a track bike, so you don't have to worry about your rear brake pointing in the right direction, but the real rationale here was to add a second triangle to the rear section of the bicycle. There are two triangles in two separate dimensions, supposedly dramatically stiffening the rear end of the bike, something quite important at the velodrome. I made the compulsory joke about being able to turn only right, but the rep assured me it would go both directions. BikeSnobNYC thinks there's nothing uglier than a Land Shark, but this bike was quirky enough that I wouldn't have been ashamed to take around the curves.