Custom Bikes

Life Cycles

- written by Jazmin Henkel

I love bikes. I love biking. I love everything about it. I love it so much that while walking or hiking, I do enjoy it (in theory); but to be totally honest - I’d rather be biking (insert obvious bumper sticker here).

So, when we caught wind that my husband’s favorite cycling event was being held in New England - just as we arrived back in town, tickets were purchased. The North American Handmade Bicycle Show (better known as NAHBS) is the holy land for all things custom bikes. Anything you can think of was there: beautiful bikes, shoes, bags, wheels and parts, tools, and of course some of the more famous biking industry movers and shakers - like The Radavist’s John Watson; a super bikey blog for those who eat, breathe, sweat and bleed all things bikes.

While my husband drooled over the smallest of customizations - a curve here, an embellishment there; I was more aware of the general style of the bikes, the people, and the overall energy of the event. I have rarely seen such a range of style. From the incredibly fashionable to the super-grungy, but totally pulling it off. The people watching was never ending.

Then there were the bikes….some of which were so beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, even a non-bikey person would be stopped in their tracks like Ascari Bicycles

One of my favorite booths was Briesemeister Cycles from Brooklyn, NY. The colors, sleekness and simplicity of these particular bikes really caught my eye. We chatted with the wife of the designer and as we talked, the conversation turned to family – kids – and lifestyle changes due to having kids; including making HUGE and seemingly crazy moves across the country to create a better kid-friendly lifestyle. Having just moved our 6-month old son, Zavier, half-way across the country 6 days prior, we totally got it. On that note, she pointed out the best custom touch of the day. A sticker bedazzle bead that their daughter had placed on the bike that her father spent a multitude of hours on and is most likely incredibly expensive. Instead of being upset, he brought the bike to the show because he loved this personal touch and the story it told about their lives now.

And that became the theme of the day for us. Maybe it was because we had a cute, attention-drawing baby strapped to our bodies?Maybe it is just what we talk about now. Whatever the reason, it became very evident that as a biker, sometimes there is a sacrifice of certain behaviors or riding styles once a baby comes into the picture.

One guy we spoke to said it best. “There is a difference between being risky and being reckless”. He said it used to be him that would get frisky on a bike, but now he gets to see his kids (especially his daughter), stretching their limits and gaining confidence on bikes. A feeling of pride beamed from him as he seemed to almost be watching her ride – knowing it was him that instilled this hobby in her life; something she can enjoy forever.

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Another guy said that while he loves custom bikes, and has worked in that specific niche of the industry for years (and raced professionally), he was dying to get back home to his 7-month old daughter and take her biking in her hook-on trailer via his oldest and rustiest ride. I swear I saw tears building up in his eyes as he talked about this new little love of his life.

At Boyd Cycling, this husband/wife team went from professional bike racers to family biking as well. Their knowledge of wheel geometry and ride is unparalleled, but these days (while they still focus on helping others achieve their fastest & smoothest rides) we experienced that same beaming about trailers being towed and kids finding their personalities through riding.

On a personal note, when our little guy reached for a Zavier-sized custom balance bike we both rationalized quitting eating in exchange for this purchase. (Don’t worry, we didn’t do it ☺).

I could pontificate all day about all the cool booths, bikes, and people; but for us, the day really comes down to this…..sharing a passion for biking with those you love might just be a great way to really connect. Connect with your kids, your spouse, your friends & family and your community.  Let’s ride.