February 19/08 10:03 am - Canadian Bike Builder Wins Best Handmade Bike And Sells Bike To Lance Armstrong
Posted by Editoress on 02/19/08
Naked Bicycles and Design Wins the 'Oscars' of Bike Building
Courtesy Sam Whittingham
This year's North American Hand Made Bicycle Show turned into a red carpet affair for Sam Whittingham and Andrea Blaseckie of Naked Bicycles and design. The Quadra Island couple arrived at the packed Oregon Convention centre with high hopes. The previous year, Sam's offerings impressed both his fellow builders and cycling aficionados. This year, Sam forged all his craft and soul into one bike to rule them all.
All the hard work paid off. Before the weekend was over, the unique Naked machine won three awards, throngs of drooling admirers, and caught the eye of one of cycling's living legends, Lance Armstrong. The seven-time Tour de France champion, after a long gawk, bought the bike for $12,000, much to the disappointment of his friend and fellow cycling connoisseur, Robin Williams.
Sam remembers the moment well: "Robin Williams stopped by our booth on Sunday and asked if we had sold the bike yet. I had to tell him that it had already been bought, but that I was pretty sure he was friends with the new owner, who would probably let him ride it."
The coveted ride, a marriage of vintage class and modern techno-bling, captured three of the show's top awards: best in show, as voted by fellow builders, people's choice, and the president's choice award, as selected by the show's head organizer, Don Walker.
Naked Bicycles and Design's accolades came as a result of quiet persistence in what is, by factory-produced bike standards, a fringe industry. For over a decade, Sam has worked as tirelessly as passionate eccentric to build up an underground following, mostly through word of mouth and web-based traffic. Naked produces roughly 60-70 bikes each year, from road and mountain to track and touring machines. All production, from initial design, to welding and paint is handled in-house by Sam, while Andrea handles PR and administration.
Their award-winner took 6 weeks of daily work to make; the frame alone is a complex amalgam of over 250 individual pieces. For the less obsessive, but equally passionate about riding a custom, hand-built bike, expect to pay between $3000 and $6000, depending on materials and parts.
Sam and Andrea have a passion for ridingËœboth are multi-world record holders in the human powered vehicle sceneËœand an artisan's approach to their products and business. Current wait time for a Naked bike is six months, but all the awards and celebrity attention might just push that ahead further.
To learn more, or to get your name down early on their rapidly expanding waitlist, go to the Naked Bicycle and Design Website at www.timetogetnaked.com
With some imagination and Naked guidance, you, like Lance, can saddle up on a one-of-a-kind design to the envy of others.