road riding in Penang | Malaysia

2006 North American Hand Made Bicycle Show
Part I. 3 - 5 March 2006, San Jose, California. Report and photos by Low Kwan Seng


Greetings from California! We've been blessed with some interesting cycling events here in San Jose lately. Tour of California wrapped up just not long ago and now we've another fine event coming to town. It's the North America Hand Made Bicycle Show (

Most riders would be happy with buying an off-the-shelf production bike. Most of the standard production bikes work great, nothing wrong with that. However, there is a sub-culture that exists in the cycling world: custom frame building. It also called Hand Made Bike, i.e. bike frame that's made to measure to individual rider.

North American Hand Made Bike Show is a collection of most, if not all, of the North America custom frame builders/suppliers all into one place. Showing off their labour of love. This sub-culture has its following with some of the legendary custom frame builders elevated into cult figures.

The show was not too far from my place, held at the San Jose Convention Center. I ended up paying $15 for the entrance fee.

Not too far from the entrance, is the legendary Richard Sachs. Quite naturally, Richard was surrounded by his admirers. I slip in the booth, pretending to be a groupie. And I got to have a extremely short conversation:

"So, Richard, what's your lead time, nowadays?"
RS: "About 4 years lead time!" (It was 1.5 years lead time last I spoke to him maybe 3 years ago).
With shock and disbelief, I replied "OK, I'll be back in 4 years time and buy something from you…"

End of conversation.

Anyway, here are the few shots of Richard Sachs' creations:

Next, to the Columbus booth:

Columbus is a frame tube-set supplier. I try to inquire about the possibility of building a complete carbon fiber frameset in the garage, by an aspiring frame builder. It turns out that the process of rolling your own frameset is relatively straight forward, according to Columbus, anyone can do it, with their carbon tubeset (for about US$1,200). Provided you have some kind of fixture like a frame jig to hold the tubeset together in correct angle and alignment, and you can make a frame jig out of a plywood board (that's a different topic). Looks like an interesting weekend garage project. Hey, you got start somewhere…. All the big guys started small, they didn't get big in one day.

Here are a few shots of the Columbus' carbon tubeset and the finished frame:

Here come now my favorite legendary local carbon frame builder: Calfee.

Craig Calfee has been making custom carbon frameset since 1989. He even supplied a batch for Greg LeMond to land him the '89 Tour victory. Check out his bamboo bike. Yes, it's real bamboo, imported from Japan and the resulting bike is actually rideable and weighs not much more than the carbon one. Pay attention to the lug, it's actually hand wrap with carbon tape which is very labour intensive:

Here's how Calfee fabricated a custom carbon frameset with custom head tube angle, hand wrap the headtube with tape:


Thanks for reading and Part II will be coming soon!

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