The Tandems of NAHBS 2013…

nahbs_2013_final_logo-340x473Ah, the 2013 North American Handmade Bicycle Show… the best thing to happen in American cycling since I don’t know when.  Best of all, next year it will be in Charlotte, North Carolina!  You can bet your boots that we’ll be there since it’s finally in our backyard!!!

Anyway, as a follow-on to my entry from this past weekend where I highlighted Calfee’s stunning Time Trial Dragonfly & 29er off-road custom builds, I thought I share out some other bits of information and photos of tandems on display and that caught my interest based on photographs taken by the folks who attended the show.  There’s some serious eye-candy here, not to mention some pretty nice engineering.

To start off with I’ll cut to the chase since I already let the cat out of the bag in the aforementioned Calfee @ NAHBS entry, Calfee’s custom Dragonfly Time Trial Tandem / Travel Tandem with Di2 & HED wheels walked away with Best Tandem at the show.  But Wait!  It turns out there was some sort of tie, as Black Sheep’s one-off  29″ Jack’s Tandem also garnered recognition as Best Tandem.

craig_tttandem jacks_team

The following is a list of all five builders who entered tandems into the “Best Tandem” category at this year’s NAHBS and while you’ll fin photos of these tandems further down in this entry, there are also links to photos of their tandem entries.
In case you’re interested, here’s a complete list of all the 2013 NAHBS award winners:

Saturday’s Awards

  • Alchemy Bicycle Co. — Best carbon construction
  • No Award given — Best steel construction
  • Bishop Bikes — Best road bike
  • Bilenky Cycles — Best lugged frame
  • No Award given — Best experimental design
  • Steve Potts Cycles — Best TIG frame
  • Kent Eriksen & Black Sheep Fabrication — Best titanium construction
  • Boo Bicycles — Best alternative material
  • Cherubim by Shin-Ichi Konno — Best city bike
  • Retro-Inglis Cycles — Best mountain bike
  • Mosaic Cycles — Best cyclocross bike
  • Black Sheep Fabrication & Calfee Design — Best tandem
  • No Award given — Best utility bicycle
  • Matsuda Cycle Factory — Best track bicycle

Sunday’s Awards

  • Winter Bicycles — Best finish
  • Moots — Best Theme Bike and People’s Choice
  • Avery County Cycles — Best new builder
  • Level — President’s Choice
  • English Cycles — Best of Show

Now, to the bikes.  Again, the first up is Calfee, so this is something of a double-dip for our friends from Santa Cruz.  Under the heading of full disclosure, perhaps there’s some subtle bias here since we happen to ride a Calfee tandem.


Here are photos of the two tandems that garnered the most attention at Calfee’s NAHBS display. For complete details, just jump back to my blog entry from this past weekend. Very cool machines, to be sure!


2013 NAHBS Best Tandem: Calfee custom Dragonfly Time Trial / Travel Tandem with Shimano Di2 group & HED performance wheelset.


Custom Calfee Dragonfly 29er for “Team Westcott” with Lefty XLR Composite Fork.

Black Sheep Bikes

I’ve admired the Black Sheep bikes since seeing my first one a few years back. Just amazing designs and flawless execution; they always knock it out of the park.


Custom one-off Black Sheep rigid titanium 29er for Jack C. and his wife. large volume tires and titanium provide all the shock absorbing needed for fire trails & gravel grinding. The owner, Jack, also has a Black Sheep Luna Vista which is visually similar to the tandem, right down to the red-spoked wheelset!


I had to look hard for a good photo of a Bilenky tandem at the 2013 show. There appeared to be only one and it was tucked away on a three bike stand next to their eye-popping “Wonder Woman” single.  I’d gotten spoiled by their run of lugged, custom & retro tandems over the past few years.  So, this was the best show photo I could find of what appeared to be the tandem that Stephen built as a wedding gift for his daughter Bina Bilenky Trahan. We captured Bina’s thoughts on becoming a stoker in a recent blog entry that you can find HERE, which basically takes you to her blog entry HERE.


Here’s a better photo of the tandem in all of it’s hand-crafted glory taken back in Philly:



Co-Motion featured the limited edition Macchiato tandem with its special paint scheme that purportedly pays homage a Vought F4U Corsair in celebration of Co-Motion Cycles’ 25th anniversary.


Ok, in addition to being a tandem geek, I’m also something of a military airplane buff.  So, for those who don’t know what a Vought F4U Corsair looks like, below left is a pretty good representation of a U.S. version.  Frankly, I don’t know that our friends at Co-Mo got the blue body quite right for a U.S. version and the yellow fork seems to take its cue from a Royal Navy F4U that is maintained as part of the UK’s Fighter Collection with the Imperial War Museum’s airfield at Duxford, Cambridgeshire with it’s unusual yellow engine cowl (at right).

corsairturning Corsair

They also brought along a special NAHBS edition of a Java touring model that caught my eye.  It’s built around a Rohloff Speedhub 14-speed internally geared hub, dual Co-Motion self-locking eccentrics and Gates CenterTrack timing belt and drive belt with polished stainless steel S&S couplers to compliment the 17-4 stainless Rohloff-specific dropouts. It also has a new Co-Motion 14-speed machined drop-bar shifter, Son Schmidt dynamo front hub, Schmidt Edelux headlight and USB powered stem top-cap. Everything you need for self-contained adventures off the grid.



Note: We’ve updated this entry with corrections provide by Andy White.

Paketa featured a D2r, right side drive tandem that tips the scales at 22.46 lbs.  It it fitted with American Classic Argent rims, SRAM Red with 2×10 gearing, including a proprietary adaptor allowing a 53-34 D2r compact crank 110 BCD adaptor bcd to mate with the 130mm new gates sprocket that shares the right side cranks, and EE brakes. The “deep” compact 34-53 is possible in part because the right side belt inboard of the chain prohibits the chain from falling below the inner chainring. Among the year-over-year innovations, the 2-coupling tandem fits in a single bike case and the ceramic nano finish saves about half a pound and is perfect for a travel tandem given its inherent durability.



Engin’s Drew Guldalian who builds behind a small bike shop in Philly was recently featured along side Bilenky Cycle Works (also out of Philly) in a very nice piece in the Winter 2012 issue of Jan Heine’s Bicycle Quarterly.  Drew brought along this pretty gnarly fat tire tandem that he built for Mark Norstad, owner of Paragon Machine Works.  You can read more about Drew and see additional photos of his bikes, including detailed photos of this amazing tandem HERE. The tandem photos are at the bottom of the article, but well-worth the look.



I don’t know a lot about Andy Peirce, but he sure knew how to get attention at a bike show where it’s hard to stand out from all of the mind-numbing eye candy.  You can find some really nice, detailed photos of this fat tire tandem that he built for his own use at the bottom of this page on’s website.  This 42lb rig can be fitted as shown with the rigid fork, or be fitted with a Maverick DUC32 suspension fork for more aggressive technical riding.  Oh, and lest you think this bike is destined to be a garage queen, Andy & Tammy have already had it out in the mud now that the show is over: More HERE.



Brian Baylis is an icon in the hand-built bicycle business and this insane track tandem is destined to be a collector’s item. Brian will be retiring this year, with his last frame (already spoken for) going out the door in November of this year.


da Vinci Designs

Todd Shusterman & Brian Davis continue to bring a smile to my face with the amazing variety of materials they use and the eye-popping paint schemes they come up with for their unique Independent Coasting System (ICS) tandems.  It’s worth a look to check out their photo gallery and, if you’re really a tandem geek, to keep tied-in with what they’re doing via Facebook page.  Brian seems to do a great job of capturing just about every cool tandem they build in a photo that makes it way onto Facebook.  In fact, Facebook is where I found the really good photos of the 1/2 black and 1/2 white tandem they took to NAHBS which, I was surprised to see, didn’t get entered into the Best Tandem competition.
davinci_black davinci_white


Tom Ritchey once again brought his personal 29er “Double Switchback” BREAK-AWAY travel tandem to NAHBS. We made mention of this cool rig in last year’s update on NAHBS that you can find HERE.  I’m still not sure if this frame has made it to market, but it’s a neat concept.

Ritchey dblswitchback
That’s it for now.  Now, y’all have to be careful as there were two other bike shows that took place at the same time as this year’s NAHBS. One was an unofficial show hosted by Boulder Bikes (dba Rene Herse Bicycles) in Denver during NAHBS at the Mariott.  You can find the flyer HERE.  There was also Frostbike 2013, which is Quality Bicycle Product’s (QPBs) industry-only show held near their home base in Bloomington, MN. More info HERE.  Not sure how these two important shows ended up falling on the same weekends.  So, be careful, as you might see some photos out on the web that were taken at these shows, and not NAHBS.  For example, Salsa took it now 3-year old “in development” 29er tandem prototype to Frostbike. Regular readers may recall that we published an item on the Salsa 29er back in October of 2010. The Boulder Bikes show featured an amazing 1967 Rene Herse tandem.
Salsa-29-tandem-1 herse_boulder

About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
This entry was posted in Events, Industry News, Off-Road Tandems, Pimpin' for our Friends, Tandem Folks, Technology & Equip., Whimsical Or Entertaining. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to The Tandems of NAHBS 2013…

  1. andy white says:

    The featured paketa hhas figured cited incorrectly. It is a D2r, right side drive. It weights 22.46#. With american classic argent tubeless rims but the tubes are in them within the 22.46#. SRAM red wifli, 2×10 gearing including a proprietary adaptor allowing a 53-34D2r compact crank 110adaptor bcd to mate with the 130new gates sproket that shares the right side cranks. Imho, this tandem show by far the greatest engineering advancements

  2. andy white says:

    The paketa specs also used EE brakes.
    amoung the year-over-year innovations the 2right coupling tandem fits in a biknd(sp) single bike case. The “deep” compact 34-53 is possible in part because the right side belt inboard of the chain prohibits the chain from alling below the inner chainring. And the ceramic nano finish saves about half a pound and perfect for a travel tandem to prevent sratches painting.
    There’s more engineering innovation going on, but nahbs seems more about bling than engineering advancement.

  3. andy white says:

    One more note. Nearly all the bikes and tandems were displayed as “art” litterally up on a pedistal or hung out of reach on a wall. I thought it was wonderful that paketa was one of very few to invite attendees to handle and scrutinize the bikes! “Here is way we made this decison…” “this weld right there achives XYZ”. That made the show fun vs just window shopping.

  4. TG says:

    I’ve done my best to incorporate the comments that I could put in context.

    I will not argue function over form for NAHBS awards. Awards are what they are… are reflection of the judges values. Case in point, the Mark Twain award is now meaningless. It hits its high mark with George Carlin & Bill Cosby and has been irrelevant since then.

    I have a great appreciation for what the folks at Paketa are doing… check our previous posts.

  5. Jacqueline Campbell (pedalpink) says:

    Thanks so much for the great tandem coverage for the bikes at NAHBS. Each one of them is a winner in my eyes.

  6. andy white says:

    I have a bunch of tandem pics from the show but i dont know how to send you contributions. If you want them let me know.

  7. andy white says:

    Ericson had a tandem at the show. Same one as 2012 that won a nahbs award. With the stoker in control of front derailure, sprinter buttons sharing control of the rear derailure, and a lever for the disc brake. While the captain has control of two cantilever brakes and shares rear derailure. The capt seat post, stoler stem and stoker bars are one contiguous ti component.

    • TG says:

      Yes, I saw that Kent & Katie Eriksen had their personal tandem back at NAHBS, sporting their 2012 “Best Tandem” ribbon. We did a write up on their tandem as well as our Carl & Missy Gruber’s Paketa that took honors with the Best Alternative Material winner:

      I thought about including it as well as some of the other tandems at the show, but decided to focus on the “new” bikes that the builders seemed most interested in highlighting. Rob English featured a very neat titanium tandem that he built for a couple in New Zealand on his NAHBS page that he couldn’t bring to the show because, well, it’s in New Zealand. It would have been a big draw as well. I’ll probably do a separate blog entry on it.

      Can’t wait until next year when we can actually plan on attending up in Charlotte!

  8. Dave Walker says:

    Terry and I talked to Rob English for a few minutes as he was standing in line to be photographed with his best-of-show bike. Simply put, it’s drop-dead gorgeous. And, it couldn’t have been given to a nicer guy. Maybe if we’re lucky we’ll see his beautiful tandem on the road in New Zealand next time we’re there for a bike tour. Well done, Rob!

  9. Dave Walker says:

    Thanks, Mark, for your comprehensive report. There were even some NAHBS info in there I missed, probably due to being at the Paketa booth most of the time.

    Andy, appreciate your comments/corrections, too. The comment on being able to handle and scrutinize the bikes we displayed is interesting, as I didn’t really make that inference (again, b/c I didn’t get to walk around much). Terry and I joked this morning that our new show slogan should be, “As long as you’re not from the TSA we’re happy to let you fondle our junk.”

  10. It was really great having NAHBS in Denver, no doubt. This awesome event gave Lynn and I the opportunity to spend all 3 days at the show representing Co-Motion and Calfee, meeting new prospective tandem riders and touching base with many of our current customers and friends. As the #1 dealer for both these brands it was really a thrill to have them BOTH win awards at the show!

    What was special for us at NAHBS was the introduction of our new Co-Motion model, the Colorado. A blend of our two most popular tandems, the Supremo and the Speedster, the Colorado was created in response to customer demand and can be found only at Tandem Cycle Works. The Colorado melds the best of BOTH the Supremo and the Speedster, with dual discs, Gates belt, Rolf wheels and carbon fork, and the Supremo “new for 2013” no-lateral tubeset and lighter frame make the Colorado an ideal touring tandem.

    Check out our website or Facebook for more on the show and the new Co-Motion Colorado.

    • TG says:

      Patrick: There’s a new old saying in social media: If there ain’t no picture then it didn’t happen (or you just ain’t that good with photoshop)!

      Just kidding… I found one on your FB page:

      TCW of Colorado's Co-Motion Colorada

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