Here is a little video for you. This is Matt Cardinal of Signal Cycles showing me the Chris King headset on one of their most recent creations to feature at the NAHBS. The first moment that I was taking a look at their booth Matt called this to my attention. Pretty great way to go about things for a few reasons. One of those is because I like interesting things and a great way for me to hang around your booth is for you to point them out to me. (Dave Kirk's wife did the same thing by telling me that the new font they are using is something called Crime Scene -so maybe that says I am easy to please?)
Pretty cool concept for a greasing a headset. Especially when Matt said that Chris King himself stopped by the booth and gave him the full lowdown on the headset. This bike was a creation for Nate Woodman (above to the left of his bicycle) the proprietor of Monkeywrench Cycles in Lincoln, Nebraska - where Nate Meshke - the second half of Signal used to live. I have officially made Monkeywrench go straight to the top of my list of bike shops that I need to see (others include Above Category and Crono Metro). If only for the fact that Nate claims to have not one, but...er...more than one of these amazing headsets. Apparently there was also a pedal and hubset that went with it. The Hubs are actually on the bike.
Both Matt claimed that this was a pretty ideal build for them as Nate (W) basically gave them the headset and asked them to build a bike around it. Silly? Maybe, but you might also be surprised at just how often this sort of thing happens. Stop by at Harris Cyclery and I am quite sure that they could give you more than a few stories along these lines (think Sturmey Archer.) The ease also has something to do with the customer putting trust into what these guys are bringing to the table in terms of their taste. And with a glance around their booth it is easy to see why customers would leave the whole taste debate up to them.
The second bike that I was excited to see in their booth was one that they built for my favorite local bookstore/awesomeshop Ampersand Vintage. The blue bike bares the signature ampersand on the downtube and more than a few shiny bits to spice up the frame. I do not know if this would technically be called a rain bike, light touring, or maybe even the West Hills name that has been kicking around recently, but whatever you choose to call this style also add "Sick" to the front, effectively making it the Sick Light Touring, or the Sick Rain Bike, or even the SICK West Hills Bike...
Days before the show Matt and Nate went in to Ampersand to pick out a few extra little pieces for the bike and came away with this antiquated map of Portland to give it that extra touch. And when it is nestled all nice and snug under the viewing port of the leather accented bag it makes me want to do some light touring. Some leisurely parading, or even, if you must a romp through the forrested hills of Southern Oregon. I am not joking.
Myles has mentioned a few times the trip that he took a few years ago out of Portland and down through California on his previous touring bike. Nothing like a new bike to get you motivated to do some riding. I kept thinking about just this thought as I madly roamed the isles of the NAHBS "What is going to be my new bike? I want a new bike." Careful or I will get all Veruca Salt on your ass. Not the band.
The thing that I came back to while I was looking through the photos from the Signal booth, and it did not really hit me until I looked at them for the third time today was Signal's use of Portland throughout their booth. Take a look back through the photos and see what I mean. The Handlebar on the Orange one? Vertigo Cycles. The Hubs and Headsets on all of them except the orange one? Chris King. The Ampersand bicycle being a representation of the store and even the red 29er had "Portland, OR" emblazoned on the top tube. Hell even the handmade Carbon Wheels on Carey's Team Cross bike had one of the new incarnations to the club — Corsa Concepts.
So, I will leave you with that, and that is a good one, especially because it is well known that I am just a little bit obsessed with Carbon Clinchers these days, so I will look forward to hearing how these fare...
We are still waiting to hear a couple things about the Embro Awards. I will let you know the winners just as soon as I got the total tally and we check with the Supreme Court to see if that pesky First Amendment thing went through. Could be quite a bother if it does not because then all my reportage will be for naught. The people need answers.