By this point in our NAHBS coverage, we’re running out of ways to describe the passion and energy that go into these bikes. They’re all, at the very least, purposeful works of art, and are individually and collectively a true testament to the dedication and love that the industry has to offer. We've seen the Best Gravel Bike award-winning Mosaic, Donhou's Best Cyclocross Bike, and there's still more to come, so stay tuned.
But there’s one builder that, year after year, pumps out creative projects that blow the doors off of the show. Whether or not you're a fan of the intricacies and personality that show in the builds, most everyone can agree that it's top notch work. Erik Noren, owner and builder at Minneapolis’ Peacock Groove, describes his work as “super deep custom” and “the niche of the custom world,” and if you’re not already familiar with what he means, you’ll pick up on it soon. Last year, he brought a bike called "Electric Hell."
Two years ago at NAHBS 2015, his work looked like purple lightning:
Where there's lightning, there's often rain, and we found it this year at NAHBS.
With the input of designer and fellow Minneapolan, Anna Schwinn, Noren earned two awards this year: Best Theme Bike and Best in Show. Noren completed the framebuilding according to Schwinn’s frame geometry designs. Schwinn also acquired components over the course of a year, teasing her Instagram followers along the way. It also won the People's Choice Award at the Philly Bike Expo last year, before many of the parts you'll see here had made their way onto the build.
Keeping it in the Family
Schwinn had originally started an order with Waterford Precision Cycles. Waterford was formed out of Schwinn Bicycle Group.
“I went to Dad [Waterford] to build this bike. I love the builders at Waterford. They are my family. They've built me such wonderful bikes over the years. And I had an order in, actually, for a new bike. But, frankly, Dad and I got in a tiff. Because: family. And he put the brakes on the bike,” said Schwinn.
Schwinn and Noren, already good friends, linked up and collaborated to make her Columbus Zona steel bike dream come true.
“For a theme, we talked about it, and Prince seemed pretty natural. I whipped up a geometry and spec and sent it over. It was supposed to be a quick project.
But then Prince died.
I was in England watching all the parties going on in downtown Minneapolis, being hella bummed. When I returned to town, Erik was basically like: "Yeah, now we have to really do it."
Since she travels often, Schwinn wanted a bike that could handle varying terrain and accept wide tires — it was originally built up with 43c Bruce Gordon Rock n’ Road tires — and had its own matching coupler case.
More Than a Customer
Schwinn has years of experience designing for big-name bike brands like Zipp and All-City, and it’s not a stretch to say that she felt a sense of responsibility to raise the bike to its full potential. She gathered matching and inspirational components from Leh Cycling, Paul Components, RaceFace, Zipp, Campagnolo, and more, to create a bike that's not only absolutely fitting of its owner, but first in show material.
“And as photos started coming out of details, it was clear that as a customer of this bike, and as a collaborator, that I needed to do it justice from the other end. It was my bike to build. And as someone who has designed basically everything on a bike except for, I don't know, suspension forks and geared drivetrains, brakes calipers, I care an immense amount about components.”
There are almost too many details to comment on, so we'll let the shots from Cathy Fegan-Kim speak for themselves.
Peacock Groove's Purple Reign Photo Gallery: