Thursday, March 10, 2011

Custom bicycle show touches the imagination, wallet

Thursday, March 10, 2011 at 3:43 p.m.
San Diego Custom Bicycle Show co-founder Brian Baylis stands by a couple of the frames from his La Mesa shop. Baylis has been building bicycle frames since 1973.
/ San Diego Custom Bicycle Show
San Diego Custom Bicycle Show co-founder Brian Baylis stands by a couple of the frames from his La Mesa shop. Baylis has been building bicycle frames since 1973.


If you go ...

Website: San Diego Custom Bicycle Show
Tickets: $15 at the door. Two and three-day passes available.
Children under 12 are free.
Show days: April 8-10
Where: Golden Hall, San Diego Concourse
Website: 3rd annual Gran Fondo Colnago

— If you have ever been curious about what a $15,000 bicycle might look like, check out the 3rd annual San Diego Custom Bicycle Show at Golden Hall in April.

Granted, this entirely custom-built bike won’t be the norm, but it is a suggestion to where the imagination and pocketbook can take the really avid cyclist.

A typical custom bike, according to Bina Bilenky, the show’s publicist and a veteran custom frame builder in Philadelphia, will cost no less than $2,500 and more likely is in the $3,000 to $4,000 range.

And there will be plenty of craftsmen exhibiting at the April 8-10 expo who can put you on the seat of the “perfect” bicycle. There are at least 35 custom bicycle frame builders and many more bicycle industry component suppliers signed up to exhibit at the show.

If it is a frame you are looking for there will be artisans who work in steel, aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber and bamboo. One, said Bilenky, builds bicycles from wood. Most are West Coast businesses, she added. A few will come from Colorado, Texas and the East Coast.

San Diego Custom Bicycle Show is the brainchild of three local framebuilders -- Dave Ybarrola, Chuck Schlesinger and Brian Baylis -- and drew around 2,000 attendees in each of the first two years at the Mission Valley Town & Country Convention Center.

This year, with the move to roomy Golden Hall, some program changes and a tie-in with Little Italy’s Colnago Gran Fondo, the show is expected to easily bust a few records, according to Bilenky.

The Gran Fondo, a Sunday touring ride that is expected to draw as many as 3,000 bicyclists, will have its packet-pickup at the Custom Bike Show.

Riders who want a custom-built bicycle are usually motivated by two things, said Bilenky, fit and function.
“Nobody is the perfect shape for a mass-produced bike,” she said. “A guy who is 6-foot-2 could have short legs. A petite woman might fit only on a youth bike.”

“As for function, whether a cyclist is racing, riding across country or peddling around once a month every cyclist wants a bike that fits exactly to that purpose,” she said.

If a $3,000 custom bike isn’t in your future, Bilenky says there will be other attractions, including a series of seminars on bike building and one Saturday, titled “Empowering Women Cyclists” includes editor Samantha Ollinger, framebuilder Megan Dean, and bicycle planner Andrea Garland among the panelists.

Richard Schwinn, one of the last descendants of the bicycle dynasty to run the company, will be on a panel titled “70 Years of Hand-built Glory,” celebrating the history of the Schwinn Paramount.

San Francisco Cyclecide -- a bicycle club composed of “clowns” with a love for welding who take junk bikes and turn them into objects of mobility, whimsy and wonder -- is bringing tall bike jousting, a bicycle rodeo and a kinetic sculpture parade to Golden Hall, said Bilenky.

A fashion show will explore cycling clothing and accessories, from Spandex to tweed, she added.

Bilenky said that the custom bike industry has “really boomed in recent years. It used to be a small collective of well-known builders. A regional show, like this one, is an opportunity for emerging young talent in the industry to stand out."

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