On the west side of downtown Colorado Springs, across Bijou Street bridge, tucked away off of Manitou Boulevard you will find local artist, Eric Baar, diligently working in his secluded shop, Ground Up Designs (1516 Manitou Blvd.).
Eric is a custom handmade bicycle designer who has developed a very unique style of his own. He doesn’t use CAD or blueprints, instead, he bends titanium and steel pipes, adds metal flakes to frames (which he welds), and paints custom pinstripes by hand.
He built his first bike in 1999, and had his first customer in 2000. Since, he has built a growing customer base. His frames can cost anywhere between $1,500 for a metal flake steel frame to $3,000 for a titanium frame. If you want the rest of the bike, it'll cost you more.
But then, his bikes truly are works of art, taking anywhere from one week to an entire year to complete. His masterpiece, the blue metal-flaked BMX frame in the picture at right, has taken him that aforementioned year, and he’s still putting on finishing touches.
To watch Eric freehand paint “old school” pinstripes, watch this video — or you can see the process in person, along with his bikes, by heading to the Colorado Convention Center, where the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) will make itself at home this weekend starting Friday, Feb. 22, and running through Sunday, Feb. 24.
The NAHBS showcases the best of the best. Eric said that to be invited to be there and to teach a seminar (his topic: TIG welding) is a huge honor, and he's been focused on it every day since he heard the show was set for Denver this year.
Eric is so focused on this show that he denounced every other topic presented to him, including regular Ground Up parties and pixie races (we'll try to get some more information about this next week). The man truly wants everyone in Colorado Springs to go to this “once-in-a-lifetime experience to see the best custom bikes in the world.”
Looks like your weekend’s planned for you. Tickets available onsite.