At NAHBS, sometimes the most interesting frames are found while strolling down the "New Builder" aisle. These new builders are offered a table and are allowed to present just one bike or frame. Often these new builders have a fresh take on frames and/or a stunning finish, in attempt to differentiate themselves from the crowd and leave their mark.
Walking down the aisle, if the builder opted to show off a cyclocross bike, we know that not only does he (or she) have his priorities straight, but is also someone we should talk to.
Mars Cycles' Casey Sussman of Oakland California has been building frames for just a year, but has already built 25 frames. He studied frame building in Oakland with Tim Sanner, and then in England at the Bicycle Academy with fillet brazing experts Andrew Denham and Robin Mather. To date, Sussman remains the only American to have studied brazing at the Bicycle Academy. He must be a quick learner, as he now has taken over Sanner's duties, and teaches frame building via a three-day class at Defthouse Bicycles.
Sussman, who races cyclocross himself, showed off a mint green stainless steel/Columbus chromoly cyclocross frame and fork at NAHBS 2015, with a stainless steel down tube, head tube and fork legs, and Columbus Max top tube and Zona seat stays.
His frames start at $1500 and are all built and sized to order. Custom handbuilt steel forks are also available.
The Mars Cycles cyclocross frame, like many others at NAHBS, impresses in craftsmanship and paint, and opts for a single wide/narrow chainring (from Wolf Tooth Cycling). However, the frame bucked a few trends we've seen at NAHBS. First, it still features trusty quick releases both front and rear instead of the trendy thru axles, but surprisingly doesn't go retro in the form of a BSA threaded bottom bracket as we've seen this weekend with many metal cyclocross framebuilders. Sussman opted instead for a PF30 bottom bracket shell, as the larger diameter (paired with a 24mm crank axle) offers him room to elegantly route the rear derailleur and brake housing down the down tube and through the chainstays.
Step through the slideshow below to see more of Sussman's creation, learn more about Mars Cycles here, and see our ever-growing list of NAHBS 2015 cyclocross and gravel bikes and goodies here.
Update: MARS Cycles won the People's Choice Award with this cyclocross frameset.