by Janet Bressler-Bilenky
Tandems East was among the pioneering exhibitors at the very first Philly Bike Expo and have been loyal returnees every year since. Owners Mel and Barbara Kornbluh go way back with Bilenky Cycle Works. Despite so much shared history, I realized there was a lot I didn’t know about the beginnings and background of TandemsEast, their “house brand” Hokitika and their new sister company, Evelyn Hill Cycling clothing. So, I asked Barbara some questions. Here are her answers:
“We bought our first tandem sight unseen from someone we met on a ferry boat crossing the English Channel in 1974. It was a beat up very small Jack Taylor frame. We fell in love with tandem riding and the time shared together on the bike. Starting Tandems East was a natural progression from being enthusiasts.
It all did start in our garage and to date still is. The garages have grown and now we have a warehouse less than a mile from our home where most of Tandems East work is done.
When Burley stopped producing tandems Mel felt there was a great need in the market place for an affordable quality tandem. He worries that young people cannot get into the sport with the cost involved. So, he designed an affordable steel bike with good components and we named it after a favorite city in New Zealand (Hokitika).
After many years of "squeezing" into bike clothing that was designed for either a male or a skinny racer chick, we found Sheila Moon from CA who designed a great line of women's cycling clothing. Then Sheila decided to stop producing the clothing. With my son Jed in the custom cycle clothing business and both his and Mel's encouragement as well as Sheila's blessing, I was convinced that my arty talents as a classical musician and my cycling experience were a great combo to start my own line. Evelyn Hill Kornbluh is our granddaughter, Jed and Sara's first born… the perfect name for a cycling line. Now I am in my third year of designing and selling Evelyn Hill Cycling. I have added matching captain and stoker kits, bras, gloves, arm warmers, jerseys, vests, bibs, shorts, socks, headbands and boleros. There is no stopping me now!
So, there you have it. I hope this explains our craziness. We still have day jobs. I teach classical piano to 40 students a week, perform several times a year at a Steinway studio, spend time with family and manage rental properties in North Wildwood, while Mel goes to work everyday at Vineland Syrup, a business he has owned for 50 plus years. Our children love cycling and their kids all ride. Life is a mystery and where it takes us is interesting. We are living in the moment and look to the future every day!”