The joy of creating a framebuilder show
Minnesota has such a great cycling culture and so many great bike builders that it deserves its own show, but Minnecycle founder Erik Noren doesn't always love the set-up tribulations of hosting an event like this.
Portland, Oregon, has The Handmade Bike & Beer Festival for small companies and bicycle frame builders, Northern California has its Meet Your Maker Tour, and New England has its Builders' Ball. Now entering its fifth year is Minnecycle, an event representing the rich past and present of small cycling companies in Minnesota.
The one-day event is held on Saturday, June 3, at the Peacock Groove workshop in the Longfellow area of Minneapolis, and it features a handful of the country's top custom bicycle manufacturers.
Insiders at these events are painfully familiar with the stress and fatigue induced by putting on even a small show like this, and when we arrived earlier than expected, we discovered the show's founder, Erik Noren, the owner of Peacock Groove, in what he described as his usual love-hate relationship with the event on setup night.
"Look, give me a few weeks and I'll be okay again, but tonight I'm fucking grumpy!" He half-joked, and related how the show had disrupted his workshop for several days, he didn't really have time to organize it anyway, he had work to do building frames, and he'd just fallen asleep in a three-legged chair, part of a set he'd pulled off the street so that show-goers might have some comfortable seating.
Noren making a point how he really feels. Photo: Paul Skilbeck
This is the same Erik Noren who swept the top prizes in the USA's two major framebuilding shows: Philly Bike Expo and NAHBS, and this is life in a particularly Bohemian workshop. And yes, this is the real deal. In the next sentence Noren enthusiastically announced his latest new thing, pulling some finely-cut peacock plume emblems that he will be soldering onto bicycle frames to surround water bottle mounts.
These cut-outs wrap around the frame to decorate the water bottle mounts. Photo: Paul Skilbeck
"Don't get me wrong, this is a super-awersome event, and it's great to invite customers and the public into this workshop for a day, and they will be blown away by some of they bikes they will see. You know, you plan an event for a while, and you look forward to it, then you start to organize for it and by the time the doors are ready to open you're wondering if it was such a good idea after all. But I guess I must think it is because we've done it for four years already," said Noren, and added, "organizing this event is particularly difficult. Event organization isn't really my thing, and it's not really the other builders' thing either. We were getting to crisis point and I was starting to wonder just how the fuck it would all happen, then Anna (Schwinn) asked if we needed some help, and next we knew she'd taken charge of show management and promo. She swept in kinda like a big wind, and lo things came together fast and now the show is in great shape."
One of the things Schwinn managed was sending invitations to companies that don't make frames, but are still small businesses in the Minnesota cycling community. "That was an awesome addition, and it's always been the intention of the show to do this, but with all the other things to do we didn't really manage to pull it off in the past," said Noren.
By 9 a.m. Saturday morning, in time for the Meet the Maker ride, Noren will have finished venting and he'll be enjoying the fruits of his work. And rest assured the venue and bikes will provide a show of dazzling bicycle engineering in an authentic workshop setting. Noren has come up with an integrated luggage rack design that could only come from the Peacock Groove workshop. Photos of that tomorrow.
Framebuilders displaying at Minnecycle include:
Bob Brown Cycles
Prairie Crow Bikewerks
Other Minnesota companies:
Hammer Bone Caps
Sister Black Press
Cycling Museum of Minnesota
Show location: 2718 East 27th St, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Admission fee: $5 donation requested