Best in Show: Most Beautiful Handmade Bikes in America, 2018

The North American Handmade Bicycle Show wrapped up in Hartford, Conn., last week. More than 150 exhibitors displayed the latest in handmade bicycles and gear. Here are the judges’ picks for this year’s best. Photos courtesy of NAHBS.

Best in Show, Best MTB

This year’s big winner came from Canada. New Brunswick’s Altruiste Bicycle Company won overall honors for Best in Show and also took home the award for Best Mountain Bike. This full-suspension build takes hand construction to a tricky, highly engineered level with a sick-looking elite crankset and SRAM XX1 groupset.

President's Choice, Best City/Utility

Who wouldn’t want to be seen riding to work or the grocery store in this bike from Salt Air Cycles? A gorgeous finish with matching fenders, front cargo rack, and belt drive won Salt Air Cycles both the President’s Choice and Best City/Utility Bike honors.

Best Tandem

Let’s be honest, most tandem bikes look ridiculous. But this two-seater from Chapman Cycles in Rhode Island is a jaw-dropper. Brooks saddles, chrome fenders, and a stunning custom cargo trailer make this a tandem worth saluting.

Best Road Bike, Best Lugged Frame

Another double-dip winner was J.P. Weigle. A “constructeur” of eye-popping, one-of-a-kind bicycles grabbed honors for the best lugged frame and road bike with this elegant, classically styled ride.

Special Judges Exhibit Award

Not all the best bikes are custom, made-to-order rides. The Drifter by Toronto’s No. 22 Bicycles is a semi off-the-shelf titanium build. You choose your size, stem length, seatpost setback, and anodized finish, and in 2–3 weeks the handmade Drifter is yours. That is, if you can afford the $6,799 sticker price. Still, it’s pretty enough for the Special Judges Exhibit Award.

Best Cyclocross Bike

As the sport of cyclocross grows, so too do the advancements in the bikes’ designs. More nimble than a gravel rider and beefier than a road bike, Triton‘s Best Cyclocross award-winner has muscle where it needs it and minimalist elements everywhere else. The single-speed titanium beast hails from Moscow.

Best Track Bike

Pure speed. Italy’s T°RED snatched Best Track Bike honors for its no-frills compact fixie. Aero is everything on this bike with carbon wheels (rear disc) and flawless welds along the aluminum and magnesium frame.

Best Gravel Bike

Tough as steel and pretty as a painting, Breismeister Bicycles‘ gravel rider was best in its category. Designed to crush long miles on unfriendly terrain, this rig sports dual bottle mounts, a top-tube pump garage, and a steel frame built to absorb plenty of bumps.

Best Artisan Bike

Because sometimes its less about the function than the form – and craft – judges recognized this one-off from Black Sheep Bikes in Fort Collins, Colo. An S-curving down tube, cage pannier baskets that can best be described as “radical,” and stunning custom crank case all lend to a bicycle that is beautiful beyond its myriad details.

Best Finish

It’s hard to miss a metallic, cherry-red sheen that sparkles in the light. But a closer look shows this ride from Enigma Bicycle Works has a subtle honeycomb design worked into the paint. And the gorgeous finish coats the Chris King headset, seat post, and drivetrain, too – bringing the Campy Record groupset in line with the total package.

Best Carbon Layup

It’s not all about great welds and beautiful lugs anymore. Crumpton Cycles took home the award for Best Carbon Layup on this road ride.

Best Fillet Brazed Bike

Nothing grants a bicycle more prestige than a gorgeous lugged frame. Pulling that off requires highly skilled fillet brazing, and this year’s honors in that category went to Baltimore’s Bishop Bikes.

Best TIG Welded Frame

Lugs are pretty, but a good weld can be just as good – and cheaper and more practical. For Best TIG Welding, Kent Eriksen Cycles out of Steamboat Springs, Colo., was the standout.

Best New Exhibitor

In many pursuits, it’s a ritual to haze the new guy. Unless that sir or madam crushes it on their first appearance. So it is with this year’s Best New Exhibitor, Eyewater Bicycles. Made in Seattle by Corey Lowe, this carbon road ride is sleek and beautiful.

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