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Sure they're bikes, but at Salt Lake show they're also works of art

Published March 11, 2017 8:05 pm

Convention • Handmade Bicycle Show struts out latest designs, parts.
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There are bike frames and rims made of titanium, steel, carbon fiber and even bamboo and wood. And there are pedals and seats and frames and gears and handle bars — plus design software and tools and such.

But put all that together and it's also art, say participants at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show being held in Utah for the first — and perhaps last — time.

The show at the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center attracted more than 180 exhibitors, from parts makers to one-person manufacturers of handmade bicycles, and thousands of visitors were expected to cruise the aisles during its three-day run ending Sunday, said Billy Sinkford, spokesman for the event.



The show switches host cities every year. But, said Don Walker, founder of the 13-year-old event, it will not be back in Salt Lake City in the future.

That's because of the hostility of Utah elected officials to federal management of public lands and their efforts to transfer such lands to states and reverse the recent designation of the Bears Ears National Monument.

The issue blew up last month when the Outdoor Industry Association decided to pull out of Salt Lake City after 20 years of annual shows that brought in about 40,000 visitors and $45 million each year.

And the annual Interbike trade show, currently held in Las Vegas, also will not consider a move to Utah, its producer, Emerald Expositions, said.

Same goes for the handmade bike show, Walker said.

"Regardless of our schedule, we would not chose to bring the show back to Utah unless serious changes are made by government officials," Walker said in a statement.

Still, the show went on this year as planned because of previously signed contracts, hotel bookings and plane ticket purchases.

For Pierre Chastain, owner of Blaze Bicycles and the Bike Fiend shop, the event was a chance to show off the custom frames and bikes he manufactures in Moab.

Chastain said he measures the bodies of his customers. He then designs and builds a bike specifically for them using high-quality materials and parts.

"Our bikes are works of art in the end but it's really focused on the high-performance machine that's underneath there," he said.

Blaze's bikes average about $3,500 apiece and the business targets buyers who go for the higher-priced models that can stretch up to $7,000 and more.

Utah also is home to bike part manufacturers like the ENVE Cycling Group in Ogden, which was showing off its carbon-fiber rims at the show.

Joe Stanish, vice president of global operations, said his company employs about 180 people and has a 73,000-square-foot manufacturing facility that turns out more than 50,000 rims a year.

Another Utah company, Reynolds Cycling of Sandy, also showed off its carbon-fiber wheels.

Jon Reece, director of marketing, said carbon fibers make for extremely strong and lightweight wheels.

"They're unbelievably light," he said.

Reece compared the handmade bike show to auto shows, where a lot of vehicles on display are never manufactured for sale.

"It's kind of the same mentality with this show because these are the bikes that are on the cover of magazines," he said.

tharvey@sltrib.com —

Last day

P The North American Handmade Bicycle Show's last day is Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City.

 

 

 

 

 

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