Steamboat Springs Kent Eriksen never makes a specific bike for a show.
So as the 2011 North American Handmade Bicycle Show drew closer and Eriksen needed a bike to show, he turned to something unique, and most important, functional.
Eriksen Cycles won for Best Tandem Frame at the Austin, Texas, show last week, marking the third year in a row the Steamboat Springs company has come home with an award. In 2009 and 2010, Eriksen Cycles won for Best Titanium Frame.
The Eriksen bike that won took more than 75 hours to build, features 29-inch wheels and brakes used on mopeds in Europe, costs about $12,000 and was used to win last summer’s Laramie Enduro bike race.
“It did quite a few different events,” Eriksen said. “It was even kind of dirty. We didn’t clean it for the show.”
The North American Handmade Bicycle Show began in 2005 as a way to bring together some of North America’s finest handmade-frame builders. The show has grown from a small national collection of builders to include some of the world’s best bike builders.
Eriksen said his company doesn’t build many tandem bikes, maybe 1 percent of the 150 or 160 custom bikes it does per year.
There are certainly challenges in building a tandem bike. Eriksen said the toughest part was centering it during the welding process and taking two concept drawings and making them into one.
He had no expectations of winning and said he was pleasantly surprised.
“We go there and try to sell bikes that are rideable and durable,” he said. “It’s a good value for people that are really into riding bikes.”
The show usually features bike builders who build 50 to 150 bikes a year, but several bigger bike companies, such as Steamboat-based Moots Cycles, also attend.
“Under that one roof is the gathering of the best in the business,” said Moots’ marketing manager Jon Cariveau, noting that Moots displayed bikes from its road and mountain collection.
“There is not any bad-quality stuff made or shown. We all get to ogle at each other’s bikes,” he said.
The 2012 show is slated for Sacramento, Calif. Despite winning an award three years running, Eriksen sounded more pleased with the Texas weather Thursday than worried about next year’s show.
“We haven’t thought about it for next year,” he said. “Again, we last-minute pick the bikes. We never make a bike for a show. We usually just use the best ones we have lying around.”
— To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@SteamboatToday.com