By Karen Brooks
It was a sad day when I packed up the Naked custom singlespeed test bike I’d been riding. Sometimes it’s tough to let go of test bikes, and this one was particularly tough. A custom bike! That means only I am supposed to ride it! But the sad reality is that I couldn’t afford this sweet ride, and its maker, Sam Whittingham, can’t afford to just give it away, so someone else will make out.
A sidenote: the bike was not nearly as muddy as it could have been. Its maiden voyage was on the Punk Bike Enduro trails – rutted, nasty, clay-heavy moto trails that love to bury bicycles in muck – and it got worse from there. But the last few rides were in snow, or on rocks with almost no soil, or indoors at Ray MTB’s, so the Naked was looking pretty clean at the show. I rode around in the backyard of DRHQ to add some splatters before I finally wrapped it up and stuffed it in a box.
This particular test ride just got a lot more notoriety: it won one of three Best Mountain Bike awards at NAHBS, mud and all. Andrea Blaseckie, the other half of Naked Bicycles, asked that I send the bike back dirty to show how much it’s been ridden.
The inside word from the judging was that initially, the mud was thought to detract from the “show quality” of the bike. This is understandable – NAHBS is the place, after all, for chrome so shiny it will blind you if you’re standing in the wrong spot, and for paint so glossy and deep you could drown in it. But the Naked folks (heh heh) wanted to prove that their bikes were made to be ridden. Thus, some testing mud from Western Pennsylvania made its way to the Sacramento Convention Center, standing out proud and dusty under the lights.
Sam and his employee Aran demonstrated their belief in rideable pieces of art even more by riding their other two show bikes right in the Naked booth. They started in northern California and had a sweet little adventure. The backdrop was of photos taken along the way. These bikes attracted a lot of attention as well, even though Sam said they didn’t get as dirty as they had wanted them to. Too much good weather.
I’m sad to see it go, but I’m really happy I got to spend some time with such a beautiful machine.
Read more about the beautiful machine in our First Impression blog.