Report on the 2010 San Diego Custom Bicycle Show

This story was originally posted on vélo-flâneur by Esteban who lives, works and rides in San Diego.


This last weekend, bicycle culture descended on bicycle-friendly San Diego for the second annual San Diego Custom Bicycle Show in Mission Valley. There were new exhibitors, plenty of community rides that sprouted up around the show, and a bounty of epic burritos available around town.

One of the best things about these kind of shows is that you can shop for a custom builder and order a hand-crafted bike. Yes, the bikes cost more than those at chain stores. Yes, customs are worth every penny, and hopefully some builders got some orders from this show! Considering how many road racers spend thousands every other year on mass-manufactured racing bikes, this is not a far-fetched idea. The exhibitors demonstrate the value of craft that can be a part of all kinds of cycling.But even for those stretching to make rent every month, the show can provide great inspiration for how to modify that old lugged road bike that serves as transportation.

Last year I took photos from nearly every exhibitor. This year, I was more selective, having only a couple of hours on Sunday to enjoy the bicycles and talk with builders. So, here are some select photos from my camera, along with any tidbits of information I gleaned from conversations with the players. The full photoset can be found here, and documentation of our Southern California Rivendell Appreciation Society ride on Sunday morning can be seen here (two XO-2s on the ride, plenty of other nice bikes and good people).

A Brian Baylis creation. Photo by Esteban del Rio.

I spoke with Brian Baylis for a bit. He is one of the organizers from the show, and had some of his stunning frames and restorations in the booth. This Rene Herse track bike was serious eye candy. Bryan had the paint specially matched to the original, which had some serious patina before restoration:

A Rene Herse track bike. Photo by Esteban del Rio.

I asked Brian about next year. He reported that the show organizers are considering featuring cyclocross bicycles, history, and perhaps an event. I also asked about his openness to including technical trials, as Jan Heine wrote about in the Winter 2010 edition of Bicycle Quarterly. He said they are open to the idea, suggestions, and help. So if anyone wants to help make this happen, let me know. At the large Velo Cult booth, Sky and Co. had a range of vintage bicycles on display, and something interesting.

The demountable Nobilette randonneuse. Photo by Esteban del Rio.

Anthony’s Rene Herse. Photo by Esteban del Rio.

One of the more interesting bikes at the Velo Cult booth was a new project they’ve been working on for a long time. More on this later. Just a last-minute rattlecan paint job for the show — look out for something special to come out of this project down the line. But here is the prototype:

A custom randonneuse, with clearance for 42mm Hetres, 60mm Honjos, and made by a master craftsperson. Photo by Esteban del Rio.

Check out the Velo Cult Blog for serious photos of every show bike. Electra had its Ticino line, which appropriates many elements from the hand-built scene. In a stroke of mainline marketing, they set their Ticino’s up outside on the bike valet rack, connoting the message that “You Could have Ridden a Ticino to the Show!™”

Electra's Ticinos. Photo by Esteban del Rio.

Petaluma-based Soulcraft had some darn-fun looking mountain bikes on display, including this 650B model:

Soulcraft's mountain bike. Photo by Esteban del Rio.

Yipsan had a couple of nice 650B bicycles at the show.

A Yipsan bike. Photo by Esteban del Rio.

He clearly knows what he’s doing, especially considering all the extras on this bike, which caused my friend Aaron to remark, “The everything but the kitchen sink approach: 650B, disk brake, shift lever on the seat tube, S&S couplers, fenders with racing stripes, orange crank arms, two-tone paint job, burnt Sienna front rack, lighting system, and rando bars. Did he forget anything? I like the straight blade fork; looks mean and ready to rumble.”

A Yipsan bike. Photo by Esteban del Rio.

Last year, Gallus drove all the way from Texas for their first show. This year, they flew. They brought this pink porteur:

Gallus' Pink Porteur. Photo by Esteban del Rio.

When I saw this rack, I immediately thought about the mounts on a Kogswell fork. Jeremy said that he’d be very interested in making racks for Kogswells and for the new Longleaf. If you’re interested, give him a buzz.

Gallus' Pink Porteur. Photo by Esteban del Rio.

Over at the Rebolledo booth, I saw something I really liked. Here is an all-rounder with a nice custom rear rack that fits Jack Browns with plenty of room (perhaps for 35s) under the fenders. This bike was perhaps my favorite of the show. I’d love to see something from Mauricio with lower trail and front racks. Just a lovely bicycle:

Rebolledo's all-rounder. Photo by Esteban del Rio.

As one might expect, De Salvo had some fine bicycles in the booth, including this cyclocross:

De Salvo's cyclocross. Photo by Esteban del Rio.

A few builders had bare frames, which really show the handwork that goes into a custom bicycle. This fork crown and head lug is from Greg Townsend:

Photo by Esteban del Rio.

Eric and Winter Bicycles and Mitch from MAP were down from Or-eee-gone with some beautiful machines. The Winter is built as a no-nonesense commuter:

Photo by Esteban del Rio.

From MAP, we saw a great display of the utility and grace of 650B. He had a porteur, flat-bar bike, and lastly, an example of the semi-custom run he did earlier this year. Mitch is going to do the semi-custom run again for sure. For next time, he’s thinking of doing a city bike, and streamlining the process. May be smart to jump in line now if you like his stuff. The first 5 Rando bikes went fast.

Photo by Esteban del Rio.
Photo by Esteban del Rio.
Photo by Esteban del Rio.

Stephen Bilenky was at the center of the show, showing off their exceptional wares and taking orders for S&S retrofits

Photo by Esteban del Rio.

Lastly, the good people at Swrve had their excellent designs for sale. Have I mentioned how much I like Swrve jeans? Made in the USA, like most of the stuff at the show.

Photo by Esteban del Rio.

See you next year!

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