Handemade Steel Mountain Bikes

March 2011

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Over here in Euro-land, the summer hours come a few weeks later.  If there’s any silver lining in that, it’s that we get a few more weeks of winter hours for night rides.  It was the first season to do semi-regular night rides from our Bronto dealer in Benelux, Chaos Bikes.  And while it was always a small group, we ended up doing 10 rides or so and slowly got the word out.  2 fresh new riders showed up out of the blue for the ride, one of them on a single speed of all things!  Single speeds in Belgium…as rare as bar-ends in Oakridge.

So we saddled up with some new blood, fantastic weather, and dry trails.  What could go wrong?  Right?  Well, it had been a bad week for Michael.  His “29er” frame came in with 26″ chain stays.  And the chain on his loaner bike fell off a couple times.  It was just one of those evenings…trails had been bulldozed.

And to top it all off, we got hopelessly lost.  For about 40 minutes.  Like stopping to check smartphone on 3 occasions lost.

Yeah, the winter loop was almost perfect but that last 1/3 always got us riding in circles… But never mind all that, a good time was had by all and for sure the Bronto winter night rides will return next fall  Next up – summer!

The show

Well, it’s finally over and we’ve just about recovered – the North American Handmade Bicycle Show.  Not to mention, Bronto’s first time to display our wares.  And, it was a good one!  Great response, good media exposure, and a little bit of texan sunshine.

The build-up to the show was moderately insane.  Building the frames, painting them, ordering parts, scrambling for parts that did not show, assembling, and then getting everything down there.  Luckily for me Todd did most of this….he also made some pretty bad ass wood-burnt signs with welded metal frames for all the bike models – hot!!  Austin is far for us, and it was a monumental effort to get everything down there on time.  And while we weren’t able to take our own bikes down to ride, we were able to wear short sleeved shirts for a bit.

So, Todd and our racer Douggie T got down there, checked in, and got all the boxes.  Meanwhile, the last minute banner printing and bike stand building was going on in Holland, as well as a coordination of multiple shipments to Eli’s house (thanks Eli!) in Austin.  Hay bales were $9 at Callahan’s general store and fit perfectly into the back of the rental car.  Last minute snafus?  How about the wrong axle end caps for our sexy Cole Massif Enduro wheels on the Paycheck!  But that was fixed with a couple QRs.  Then the bike stands were just a wee bit too wide to hold the bikes upright - doh!  But we fixed that too.

NAHBS is a pretty interesting scene.  We were worried that it would be too urban-ish, and in fact there were a bunch of urban bikes, but it was definitely not a fixie crowd.  And in fact, people seemed interested in the bikes.  Still quite a few mountain bikers out there!!  We saw plenty of cool stuff, our neighbor Jeremy at Gallus Cycles in fort worth had a couple sexy bikes, the Eriksen mtbs are always hot.  Demon was a couple from the UK who loves hay and had a copper-plated dirt jumper.  Felt good to still get excited about sexy bikes.

That and a couple good evenings at the Jackalope bar, complete with bacon-wrapped deep-fried hot dogs and death-metal playing bartender.  All in all an excellent trip and (we think so far) money well spent.