200: NAHBS - EMBRO Awards - Part One.

EMBRO Award: Best Road Bicycle (Race)
Winner: Zanconato "Max" Road

above photos by Whit Yost

Road Racing: CONFIRM
Belgie Rating: HIGH
Edge Carbon Clincher Rating: OFF THE CHART

The results are in and now you shall have them (yes I am aware that I skipped Cross -for now). There was a little bit of question (from the higher ups) as to why I was doing this at the show. Why should I put together my own awards show when The Don already has one? Why Not? That is the simplest answer, but the real reason is two-fold.

A: Content - Things to talk about in Embrocation Cycling Journal
B: The People - They want to take your money? Well, then you should have a say with the judging at NAHBS. Hell, I want to take your money, so you should have something to say in ECJ.

I do not know if you know this, but I am always trying to find ways to gather up a little content. No offense to anyone in charge over there, I could rely on what comes out of it, or I could chase it down myself. Chances are that if you hold up these bikes with a different set of lenses that maybe you might see something that you missed otherwise. (Which I would guess is what they are doing with their panel of judges) Also, I have no idea who does their judging but apparently they did not realize that they already had a tandem category when they gave BEST ROAD BIKE to Bilenky Cycles for a Tandem. And it should go without saying that I am a huge fan of the Bilenky family. But really my friends? A tandem? "Pffff" that is what I say to that.

So, that is just one example of — A: Road Bike to talk about (it wasn't a tandem) in the publication. And B: You (the people who voted at the show) chose it, so you had a say in it.

We also did our own awards so that we could talk about the racier end of the family. And I do not just mean that weird uncle who kept trying to play grabass with your cousin Suzy, that was just weird. I mean race bikes.

I thought a lot about just this subject as I threw my leg over the ol trusty steed not once, but twice this past weekend. The weather in this fair state of Oregon was nothing short of magnificent. And when the weather turns in this direction it is without hesitation that I will reach for the "race bike." If I were a professional judger of "race bikes," which I am not I would look at them with a few different things in mind. Categories, if you will. Now, these would not be the most technical ways to look at bicycles, just my own approach so bare with me.

1) Awesomeness - this is mostly the aesthetics department. How does the bicycle look and how would I (being the judge) look astride a machine of this caliber? (obviously we are only judging the highest of caliber here.) Is the paint something that looks like it was gleaned from a mid 90's Alien Drag Race movie? Or does it have the subtle tones and unweilding power of...well, I do not know what... The thing about "awesomeness" is that it also goes miles in the ability to catch ones eye while at a tradeshow, and this, my friends is a not an easy thing to do. With bicycles all but piled from aisle to aisle you need something that is going to jump out and grab your attention.

Example: One company that does this day in and day out is Independent Fabrication. Every time they go to a show they find another way to keep things fresh. Could have something to do with my man Clint putting the finishing touches on them? Could also have to do with the fact that they care about what they're doing over there and that is kind of a big deal.

2) Weightness- We are talking race bicycles here right? Well, then guess what...weight is going to be a factor. And just as it might be tough to drag your own 150 lb frame (and I am using frame here in place of "body") up a mountain...it would most definitely be tougher to push your 150 lb frame and a 25 lb frame (bicycle in this case) up that same mountain. So, I am going to say the lighter, the better. I am also aware of this strange ability for bicycles to "ride light" which I would have to say that my Richard Sachs bicycle does.

Standout in this area would have to be Crumpton Cycles. With again, the IF wrecking ball close behind, but maybe I am a little biased?

3) Lateral Stiffness - Not really, just trying to throw you off with that one.

4) "Work Hard and Be Nice to People." This is actually kind of a big one for me. Because I am thinking about things in the terms of being a customer and the customer experience. For example I like dealing with Richard Sachs because he is a really nice guy - if you have ever stepped up to talk to him you would know this. Chris Igleheart gives me the biggest hug every time I see him - this is an action that makes me want to give him my money. Tyler from IF has slapped me on the ass more than once (I'm not sure exactly what this means). And Dave Kirk and his wife were excited to show me their new logo and paint jobs, this bodes well because I instantly made a connection with them (being a fan of graphics) and I remembered them when I went on to something else.

5) Historical Relavence — What do you know about these builders and where do they come from? And how does this sort of thing relate to you? I like the stories that go behind these builders. How many frames do they build in a given year? How long have they been doing this craft? What sort of riding do they personally do?(Sachs still races cross and Igleheart rides more than anyone I know). And all of these things become a factor in owning what you as a customer would consider the best bicycle EVER...

This is just my way of looking at a show like the NAHBS. Blink judgments and quick assesments are the way to go namely because as a buyer you do not have time at the show to look through everything. I definitely did not get to see everything that I was hoping to see. This might also be because I was trying to work in two booths and take a few photos along the way as well. Whew.

But as this week progresses I will tell you who won each category and then take a little more of an in depth look at who each of these people are. And of course how it all relates back to riding bicycles, embrocating your leggies, and well, I can't think of a third one at the moment.

Does any of that make sense?