Going Electric: Raleigh Electric

By Janet Bressler-Bilenky

 

 

Like Bob Dylan at Newport in 1965, iconic bicycle brand Raleigh is fearlessly adapting to changing times. People of a certain age, (anglophiles all!) remember with fondness the Raleigh “English Racers” of their youth with that awesome “Nottingham, England” emblem. While controversy may be sparked amongst bicycle purists, just like die-hard folkies raged at Dylan for picking up a Strat, there are many others for whom an electric-assist bike makes sense. Also, from what I hear, (I haven’t tried one myself, yet), e-bikes are fun, providing an exciting wind-at-your-back sensation. At the Philly Bike Expo, we believe there’s room in the bicycle tent for everyone who wants more greenness, more fitness, and fewer cars. 

 

Raleigh comes by the electric revolution honestly. The Raleigh brand was born 130 years ago. Today, it’s the largest and longest operating bicycle company in the US. Along the way, they’ve made motorcycles, pioneered the 3-speed and 5-speed internal geared hub, and launched careers in international bicycle racing. Innovation is not strange at Raleigh. 

 

Raleigh Electric offers Pavement, Trail, Classic and Utility e-bikes with traditional-looking styling. Even some of the model names (Sprite! Superbe!) will bring on a wave of nostalgia. 

 

I’m thinking that bringing home groceries by bicycle would become much less of a chore with electric assist. I might just sing, “I Ain’t Gonna Work On Maggie’s Farm No More” while I do it!

Pedalino Bicycles: By Any Other Name

By Janet Bressler-Bilenky

 

 

Coming up with band names is kind of a hobby of mine. I’ve always been intrigued by folks whose given names could be easily manipulated into a nom de guerre (or were perfectly suited to their art “as is”). So, imagine my delight to meet Julie Pedalino, framebuilder and owner of Pedalino Bicycles, Lenexa, KS. 

 

Julie’s pre-framebuilding background is fine art and graphic design. Her aesthetic sense is evident in everything she makes. Each frame has exquisite details that reflect an underlying concept.

 

PBE: Where are you from originally?

 

JP: I’m not a Kansas native. I was born in Ohio and went to college in Chicago. After I graduated, I’ve been a bit of a gypsy - Chicago, Ajo (Arizona), SF, Monterey... KC is just the most recent landing spot!  

 

PBE: What’s your favorite part of the frame building process? 

 

JP: Learning and exploring new techniques. I think the most amazing side effect of my frame building adventure is that I have discovered a love for machining!  

 

PBE: What are you currently working on? 

 

JP: I’m wrapping up my two show bikes for PBE!  After I’m done with those, I’ll be doing a set of 24” fat bikes with special cat-themed bilaminate lugs.  

 

PBE: Before framebuilding, what was your preferred artistic medium?

 

JP: To be honest, I’ve dabbled in just about everything… painting, printmaking, fashion, drawing, jewelry, fibers. But nothing quite engaged me the way that frame building has. 

 

PBE: What’s different about making art for yourself (such as your “Sushumna” and “Gravel Queen” frames) as opposed to building for a client and does your education/experience in graphic design help? 

  

JP: I find working with others to be more interesting- interesting in some ways, because I have to work within certain parameters instead of just doing whatever I want. I find that the restrictions take me to creative places I wouldn’t have gone otherwise. I definitely think my educational background kicks in with clients - I’m grateful to have the ability to know how to get people what they want without completely losing my voice as an artist. It also helps to know how to take a critique!

iZip: Electric Fun

iZip is quick to point out that electric bikes are not a new thing. Early attempts were made in the 1890s, and a century later, increasingly sophisticated battery technology spawned renewed efforts to perfect an e-bike. It took about another 20 years of improved speed and pedal force sensors, along with lighter, more powerful, and more easily recharged batteries to place e-bikes at the forefront of a revolution.

 

This paradigm shift has already taken place in Europe, where e-bikes are a large and growing share of city and utility bike transportation. While purists may shun the use of e-bikes for recreation, it’s as basic transportation that e-bikes make a lot of sense: you can arrive at your destination fresher, and perhaps not dripping with perspiration, after using electric motor assist on your commute.

 

“Assist” is the key word here. E-bikes do not pedal themselves, and the rider still needs to turn the pedals over to make use of the motor assist that e-bikes provide. iZip’s website describes e-bikes as “hybrid bikes”, and that’s a good way to view them. It’s the combination of human and electric power that gives e-bikes such a commanding advantage.

 

iZip wants to bring fun to electric bikes. With bright colors and “beachy” themes that betray its southern California roots, iZip has 18 different models you can choose from, in trail, speed, leisure and utility categories. iZip offers three trail/MTB e-bikes that tempt you to consider the fun and reduced fatigue that motor assist can bring to an epic day’s adventure in the backcountry.

 

Come by the iZip booth at the Philly Bike Expo to see what all the fuss is about. You’ll come away a believer in the e-bike, and pleasantly surprised by this new technology - if not quite outright “shocked”!
 

ROTOR: Made in Spain

ROTOR is a Spanish component manufacturer that has been a brand since 1981, when Enrique del Rey opened a CNC workshop and began producing bike components bearing the ROTOR name. In 1994, Pablo Carrasco, an aeronautical engineer, and Ignacio Estellés, a lawyer, came up with an idea to eliminate dead spots in the pedal stroke, and the Q-Ring was born. Contracting with del Rey’s facility to manufacture the new chainrings, the ROTOR brand was revitalized, and an ethos of innovation and use of the latest technologies has been expanded to include new components for all types of bicycles.

 

At the Philly Bike Expo, ROTOR will display its new UNO road groupset, which has hydraulic-activated shifting and braking. With no batteries to worry about, the rider is treated to unprecedented smoothness of the shifting actuation and the lightest disc brakes on the market today. There is also a hydraulic rim brake option available, and an 11-speed cassette and chain are both a part of the UNO group’s offerings.  

 

The bread and butter of ROTOR’s component line-up remains the slightly oval Q-Rings, which come in 110 or 130 BCD, and five different Optimum Chainring Positions (OCP) that allow the rider to fine-tune her pedal stroke to result in less fatigue and greater speed. The chainrings can be mounted to any crank manufacturer’s models that use 110 or 130 BCD fitting, or to one of four Rotor crankset models, including the aero Flow model - the stiffest aero crankset on the market - designed with the use of Computational Fluid Dynamics.

 

ROTOR also makes cranksets and bottom brackets for MTB XC and Enduro/DH uses, and the INPower powermeter, which comes in road, triathlon, MTB and cyclocross versions. The INPower direct force measurement, captured through an integrated crankset and bottom bracket, combined with user-friendly software, allows the rider to analyze his power in various positions and gear combinations to determine optimum configurations for speed and power output.

 

What is particularly notable about the ROTOR component line-up, with all of its technical innovations and advanced materials, is that the parts are manufactured and hand-assembled at ROTOR’s production facility in Madrid, Spain, thus bucking an industry-wide trend toward Asian or Eastern European component production.

 

From its humble beginnings in Enrique del Rey’s machine shop to the roads of the Tour de France in just three decades, ROTOR has set high standards that it has continually met. Now you can join this tradition of excellence by using ROTOR components on all of your own bikes.

Africa Rising

By Janet Bressler-Bilenky

 

Among our 2017 Expo exhibitors there are many interesting and inspiring stories. Triumph over adversity, career changes, innovative products and more. Team Rwanda/Team Africa Rising is unique in its mission to lift up a desperate conflict-ravaged nation and ultimately an entire continent through the power of cycling. Begun in 2006, Team Rwanda/Team Africa Rising is dedicated to recruiting, training, and competing in cycling at the highest levels and also to teaching and training the next generation of coaches and mechanics. 

 

Team Rwanda was born through the raw talent discovered by the Rwanda Wooden Bike Classic. The first riders were childhood survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide- young people who had witnessed unimaginable horrors. Their homemade wooden bikes meant freedom and survival. With the real bicycles earned by membership in Team Rwanda, the passion, will, and hope of these kids was channeled into world class competition. Among other accomplishments, Team Rwanda has grown from it’s unlikely beginnings to a stage win in the 2017 Giro D’Italia.

 

Several documentaries have been created spotlighting the men and women of Team Rwanda/Team Africa Rising, most notably “Rising from Ashes” narrated by Forest Whittaker. There are multiple opportunities for the public to get involved- from honorary membership to African adventure rides with the team. A sure-fire way to put one’s “first-world problems” in perspective. 

The 1854 Cycling Company- Serious About Freedom

By Janet Bressler-Bilenky

 

 

What does it mean to be an abolitionist in 2017?  And what does abolition have to do with bicycles? The 1854 Cycling Company aims to show us. Increasing revelations of America’s ugly past heightens the awareness that slavery continues to the present day in the form of the prison system. A fundamental shift in attitude and action needs to occur for there to be freedom and opportunity for all. 

 

The first glimmerings of The 1854 Cycling Company followed a somewhat familiar pattern: founder Brandale Randolph was shopping fora commuter bike for himself and not finding anything that spoke to him. But, when this Wharton grad, former financial sector guy turned non-profit exec/activist launched himself into entrepreneurship, he knew that the concept of “making a difference” would be more that a catchphrase or marketing ploy- his company must impact people’s lives and be a tangible force for change. 

 

The 1854 Cycling Company does this through direct support to a most vulnerable population- the formerly incarcerated- those who have been released to the community without resources and with the stigma that often prevents them from landing meaningful and self-sustaining employment. 

 

By staffing his workforce with these men and women, training them in the skills of bicycle building and bag manufacturing, paying a living wage, and facilitating pride of accomplishment, Randolph aspires to revolutionize trends in public policy and thought and to light the way for other businesses to do more than nod or pay lip service to the causes they say they believe in.

 

Randolph is getting lots of press, (most recently in Bloomberg- the big time!) for his ambitious and visionary plans. We’re very pleased he’s chosen the Philly Bike Expo as the place to unveil 1854’s latest products. He’ll also be conducting a seminar about social justice and the bicycle industry on 11/4.

 

The Philly Bike Expo strives to represent the entire spectrum of the cycling community. We’ve succeeded in reaching racers and recumbent riders, hipsters and crapsters, road warriors and dirt demons, the hobbyist and the expert. We’ve highlighted artists, authors, and adventurers. We’ve hosted artisans and manufacturers of bicycles, components, apparel and accessories from around the country and around the world. In our mission of inclusivity, we embrace the entry of new exhibitor The 1854 Cycling Company.

44 Bikes: Now in Titanium

By Matthew Butterman

 

Based in rural New Hampshire, 44 Bikes are built-to-order from steel, and new for 2018, titanium tubesets. Owner Kristofer Henry welcomes conversation and collaboration about the bike of your dreams. He offers road, mountain, gravel and fat bike options, but for Henry, like his fellow New Englander, poet Robert Frost, the appeal is in the road (or path) less traveled.

 

“People ask me often what is my specialty and I typically state: ‘Anything with knobs that touches dirt.’ My heart is in the woods and out on the trail. That's where I gain insight and balance. The proverbial drawing board if you will. I offer a full range of bikes in mountain bikes, bikepacking rigs, fat bikes, road bikes and everything in between.

 

“One of my special bikes is the Huntsman which was born out of the necessity to ride roads less traveled, and it just happens to coincide with the trend towards more riders to seek out dirt roads over pavement. I've been working for the past 2 years to offer this model in titanium and I'll be using the Philly Bike Expo to formally announce the release date of this model in titanium which will be Spring/Summer of 2018. I will not be doing a general material release, but rather a model release to allow sufficient time to refine each bike so that it is consistent with its steel counterpart,” says Henry.

 

The Huntsman reflects the current industry trend towards “all-in-one”, go-anywhere, adventure bikes. “The Huntsman is a great example of a road bike built to handle just about anything you can throw at it. Stable at speed, with quick and responsive handling, it climbs as well as it descends, and has room for 40mm tires and options to run 1x or 2x11 drivetrains. Race on the weekend. Commute during the week. Take the bike out on group rides or head out on a Friday or Saturday after work for a nice long solo ride to unwind from the work week,” says Henry.

 

But for all the versatility that these adventure bikes offer, Henry’s heart is still in mountain bikes, and he’s also bringing titanium construction to his popular Marauder mountain bike model.

“I'll have a prototype titanium Marauder on hand that shares different wheel size standards (27.5 and 29 x 2.4) but also can be run as a singlespeed in either wheel size. With so many different standards in axles/wheel sizes on the mountain bike side, I'm taking my time so that the performance of my mountain bikes in titanium is equal to that of my offerings in steel, but truly enhance the qualities of titanium that riders have grown to appreciate.”

 

One thing is for certain: whether on the road, on single track or anywhere in between, owners of a 44 Bike are riding on a high-performance machine. It’s an attribute that Henry guarantees.


“My bike. Your size. Made to Shred™. That's guaranteed!”

 

 

Subscription Clean Energy with Inspire

By Janet Bressler-Bilenky

 

Everybody complains about their energy bill, but nobody does anything about it! Well, if Inspire has anything to say about it, everybody will be able to! Do something that is! Inspire is building the world’s first fully integrated clean energy company. They’re on a mission to disrupt the one-size-fits-all utility model, by offering a viable alternative to the antiquated energy market that’s traditionally been dominated by government-sanctioned monopolies.

 

Inspire has created a groundbreaking smart home subscription that combines personalized clean energy plans with best-in-class smart devices. 

 

Fast Company recently noted that Inspire offers “a Netflix-style subscription to wind power”. While most (or all!) businesses that collect data about your buying habits do so in order to make you buy more stuff, Inspire’s technologies guide you in the opposite direction. Who ever heard of such a thing!?! Using the Inspire app, members can self-drive their smart homes from anywhere, and track progress towards rewards for using less energy. The app also includes energy use tracking, accompanied by rewards when members accomplish home performance goals. Their motto is, “The cleanest form of energy is energy that isn’t used”.

 

Inspire’s proprietary operating system, called “Symphony”, customizes a subscription for each home by analyzing data like energy use, occupancy, weather history and real estate trends. Throughout the lifespan of membership, Symphony is constantly learning about members’ behaviors in their homes, so the Inspire app gets more personalized over time. It’s like your house is watching you, but in a good way- in order to save you money!

 

Cyclists and bicycle industry pros are all about living greener, so a partnership between Philly Bike Expo and Inspire feels like a match made in heaven! I’m looking forward to stopping by the Inspire booth and finding out how their smart-home technology can be applied to an almost 200 year old “dumb home” like mine! 

‘Bent, Because

By Janet Bressler-Bilenky

 

 

Meet Scott and Diane Barrows, co-owners of Recumbent Cycles Of Lancaster. Scott had been riding ‘bent for only 3 years before becoming a trained bicycle/recumbent cycle technician. As you may have noticed from previous posts, I love hearing about our Exhibitors’ second-career journeys as I endeavor to write their Stories. In Scott’s case, prior to starting Recumbent Cycles Of Lancaster, he had more than 40-years’ experience in sales, marketing, merchandising and executive leadership.  

 

Scott took to ‘bent riding because it provided a fitness alternative that was easy on his knees and hips. Scott’s commitment to getting in shape was enhanced by the comfort of recumbent riding. It helped him shed over 150 pounds (!) and led his transformation from corporate exec to healthy bike shop owner. Talk about following your passion!

 

Diane is in charge of the business side. Her “previous life” was in education, training, human resources and business administration. Her skills and talents now serve their family-run “dream”. Diane is also an avid ‘bent rider. She lends support to local cycling causes and together with Scott is proud to say that Recumbent Cycles of Lancaster is a participating vendor in Lancaster County’s “Thank A Vet” Program. By offering a discount to card-carrying active-duty armed forces members and vets, Scott and Diane aim to give any service man or woman an opportunity for a comfortable bike ride – including those who might not be able to ride traditional foot-powered cycles. Recumbent Cycles Of Lancaster carries a variety of adaptive cycles, including hand cycles, for recovery or recreation. A selection will be available to  test ride at the Philly Bike Expo. Scott and Diane believe that everyone, regardless of ability, should get the chance to enjoy the freedom that a bike ride can provide. 

Amazing Blaze

By Janet Bressler-Bilenky

 

I love asking our Philly Bike Expo exhibitors what they did before becoming framebuilders (or other cycling-related business owners). As I'm pretty familiar with the racer-turned-framebuilder and bike shop mechanic-turned framebuilder career trajectories, I get pleasantly surprised by the more divergent paths I come across. Pierre Chastain’s story may contain the most surprising journey yet. Here are my questions, and his answers:

 

PBE: Blaze Bicycles is a one-man operation, right?

 

PC: Yes, I'm a one man shop. 

 

PBE: How big is your workshop? 

 

PC: My workshop is pretty small. It’s an efficient space filled to gills with tools.

 

PBE: Where is it located?

 

PC: I'm located in a small town in Utah called Moab. My shop is by my home and I also have a retail location. Moab is pretty remote, but it’s home to two national parks, Arches and Canyonlands. It’s also a major mountain biking destination. The landscape and riding here are spectacular.

 

PBE: What did you do before you got into frame building?

 

PC: Before I was a frame builder, I worked in visual effects.  I worked on films from Titanic to Alice in Wonderland. 

 

PBE: Wow! I just looked you up. You might be the only frame builder with his own IMDB page! So, am I correct in assuming you used to live in L.A.? And if so, did you start building bikes there, or did a move to Moab come first?

 

PC: I started (framebuilding) in 2008 while I was still living in Venice Beach.  I moved to Moab in Nov. 2010.

 

 

PBE: Where are you from originally?

 

PC: Originally, I'm from Athens, Ohio, but I spent a large portion youth in Germany, whereI went to school till 10th grade. It may sound like a radical career move, but I’ve been riding bikes my whole life. I’ve also been interested in craft.  When I was in college, I worked for Dan Erlewine fixing and restoring guitars under his watchful eye.  Oddly, it was a natural transition for me as things changed.

 

PBE: From luthier to visual effects artist to framebuilder seems pretty radical to me, just sayin’. How did you get your training in framebuilding?

 

PC: I'm mostly self taught.  I got some help form a close friend who is a professional welder.   I learned first to fillet braze bikes, then lugged construction, including making custom lugs, before I moved on to TIG welding steel frames,  and eventually titanium. It's been a long road, but I’m still learning every day!

 

PBE: What inspires you? 

 

PC: I'm inspired by riding bikes.  I like providing people with "forever" bikes. Bikes that fit well, ride like a dream, and are built to last.  I'm into making practical bikes that are relevant to riders. 

 

PBE: What's your favorite part of the frame building process? 

 

PC: The best part? Seeing my customers riding their bikes.  The joy they get from the bikes I built them is an intense feeling. Runner up: Welding titanium.......

 

PBE: How did you come up with the name Blaze?

 

PC: It’s a mystery! Originally, I brazed my frames so the word-play of “blaze” and “braze” was obvious.  I wanted something fast and modern.  "Blazing a trail." "Blazing saddles" …  Just kinda fell in love with the word. It can mean so many things.

Heart of Haro

by Janet Bressler-Bilenky

 

 

How do I begin to write about new exhibitor Haro- a legendary company that already has not one, but two coffee table books documenting their history? “Haro Bikes - The Rise of BMX Freestyle - Volume 2 - 1987 - 1993” joins “Haro Bikes - The Rise of BMX Freestyle - Volume 1 - 1978 - 1986”. The books are available separately or together in a slip-cased set from the Haro Bikes website. For decades, Bob Haro has been known as a visionary, a trailblazer, a champion and a star. 

 

Best bet is to focus on the present- What Haro Bikes isdoing now, and what can we expect to see from them at the 2017 Philly Bike Expo and in the future. 

 

Under the current leadership, Haro Bikes is once again dominating the BMX world by sponsoring talented freestylers and at the same time branching out into MTB with a full line of mountain bike models and sponsorships of winning downhill riders.

 

From walking bikes they call “Prewheelz” for the littlest ones, through kids’ bikes as feature-laden as those for grown-ups, to their wide range of BMX and MTB frames, complete bicycles, and components, Haro Bikes has a whole lot to offer. It’s been 40 years since Bob Haro first started riding dirt bikes, and the company that continues to bear his name will always strive to live up to his legacy. 

Digging Doug

By Janet Bressler-Bilenky

 

“Strictly considered, writing about music is as illogical as singing about economics.” This anonymous quote from 1918 has been paraphrased by many, maybe most famously by Martin Mull: “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” Music is meant to be heard. Art is meant to be seen. Writing about art is a similarly futile exercise- you have to experience it! 

 

Doug Dale (DUG Art) creates vibrant, exciting mixed-media works, that “just happen” to be bicycle-themed. A former racer, Doug possesses both an artist’s eye and a cyclist’s heart. The images speak for themselves. DUG Art would be welcome on walls anywhere- the joyful colors and enticing textures transcend the subject matter and speak directly to the beholder. You don’t have to be an enthusiast of the sport to be captivated.

 

An exhibit by Eric Carle (of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” fame), sparked Doug’s imagination and was the initial impetus for him to pursue working in cut paper. He has fully mastered his chosen medium. Doug stretches the boundaries of what’s possible for both material and content. 

 

DUG Art is a first-timer to the Philly Bike Expo. I look forward to meeting the artist and seeing the work “in person”.

 

I don’t have a lot of life regrets, but one of them is letting my own visual-art expression slip away amidst the challenges of child-rearing. I realize now, that rather than try unsuccessfully to either find the ”alone” time or to keep little hands out of mommy’s art stuff, I should have supplied the kids with their own and worked along side them. Duh! Seems so obvious, now! I am inspired by Doug’s personal career-changing and “triumph over adversity” stories and by the the art itself. More than any other artist whose work I’ve recently become acquainted with, DUG Art is challenging me to return to picture-making.

Amtrak: Leave your car, bring your bike

By Matt Butterman

Philadelphia has long been regarded as one of the best cities to ride your bike in and around, but getting here is another story. One of the best ways to reach the city is by train. You can avoid the inevitable back-ups and tolls on Interstate 95, and now it’s easier than ever to bring your bike on Amtrak, another one of our great sponsors.

Specially-adapted baggage cars with racks for bicycles have long been a mainstay of European train travel, and Amtrak has now taken their lead on this side of the Atlantic. Not all trains have this capacity, however, and the number of spots is limited on each train (sometimes only 4-6 spots are available on each train). Carry-on bike service is available on select trains, and checked bicycle service (no need to box the bike) is available on select long-distance trains for a fee that varies by train from $10-$20. Still more trains allow checked, boxed bicycle service for a standard fee of $10, although you will have to take off pedals and turn handlebars to fit your bike inside the box that Amtrak provides.

The key to bringing your bike on Amtrak is to book your trip early to avoid having the trains run out of bike slots, and to schedule your trip to take routes/trains that have bicycle service. Amtrak has a page at their website dedicated to their bicycle service, and it gives you all the details you’ll need to know about bringing your bike on board Amtrak this fall, and leaving your car at home.

Take advantage of Northeast Regional Saver Fares to Philadelphia when you book your trip at least 14 days in advance. These fares offer a 25% savings on the lowest available fares, and children travel for half of the discounted adult fares. Use this booking link to take advantage of these special fares.

Jamis: Another family-owned business joins our PBE family

By Matt Butterman

Jamis Bikes is a new Silver sponsor of the Philly Bike Expo! A family-owned business started by Cypriot immigrant Georges Joannou in 1938, the New Jersey-based brand has been at the forefront of bicycle innovation for over 30 years. Jamis makes unique, high quality bikes across all categories and designed to fit all lifestyles.

According to Max Noble of Jamis, the adventure bike category is the most exciting trend in the industry currently. “We like that the adventure category has taken up where traditional road biking has left off. We think this is much more real-world and for everyday use, and we are proud to be one of the pioneers of authentic adventure bike design.”

The Renegade Series has been leading the way in the growing adventure bike category; a bike designed to be so versatile it can be used as your road, commuting, bike-packing or gravel rig. With tire clearance from 25 to 47c and over 20 mounting points for racks, fenders or frame packs, the Renegade Series is unequalled in its performance and versatility.

For mountain bikers, Jamis' line of PLUS tire-sized mountain bikes covers all bases. The Dragon Series provides the classic and smooth feel of steel while providing multiple mounting points and sliding dropouts for versatility. The Komodo Series takes the tried-and-true trail geometry of the Dragon Series and exploits the lightweight and immediacy of an aluminum frame. It's fast!

Both the Dragon Series and Komodo series are offered in both 27.5+ / 29 and 26+/27.5 wheel setups with standard frame and dedicated models for women.

Be sure to visit the large Jamis booth at PBE this fall for the full product line-up, and find all the latest at their website.

So Happy Together: Tandems East & Evelyn Hill Cycling

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!”

Got Your Number

by Janet Bressler-Bilenky

Each member of the Philly Bike Expo exhibitor community has a personal tale to tell, but many custom bike brands follow a story arc that goes from hand building one frame for oneself to building for others and then and then. I noticed right away that No.22 Bicycle Company’s history was unusual, and not only because their operations cross the US-Canada border. Founders Bryce Gracey and Mike Smith came together to establish their company from very different backgrounds.

 

Says Mike, “Bryce and I started No. 22 in 2012 with the goal of making titanium bikes that could compete with modern carbon bikes in terms of ride quality, performance, handling and value. Bryce was an architect and I was a lawyer.

 

Neither Bryce nor I weld: when we started No. 22, we designed the bikes and outsourced our manufacturing to other builders. Around 3.5 years ago we started our own No. 22 production facility, bringing all of our production in house. Our production team at that time was drawn from former Serotta builders after Serotta closed its doors. This left us in a fairly unique position: we are a young brand with a fairly modern approach to how we want our bikes to look, feel and ride, but our construction is done by true industry veterans. Frank Cenchitz, our head welder has over 20 years of titanium frame welding experience alone, and our frame design, and finishing employees have similar pedigrees.”

 

No. 22’s 5 person full-time production team works out of a creativity-inspiring restored historic mill in Johnstown, NY. The company’s sales and marketing operations happen in Toronto, Canada. They sponsor all-women’s adventure, cyclocross and gravel racing team, This Team Saves Lives as well as their own No.22 CX team.

 

Continues Mike, “One of the great things about the current framebuilding scene is that there are so many extremely talented people making some really innovative, well thought out bikes. It's great to walk a show like the Philly Bike Expo or NAHBS and see clever details or novel ways of approaching a particular problem on bike after bike. Having great brands in our space consistently pushes us to improve, and I hope that we are able to drive the industry forward in the same way.”

Selle Anatomica returns as sponsor of Philly Bike Expo

by Matt Butterman

Making beautiful, comfortable and light handmade saddles is a family affair for Selle Anatomica. The San Diego-based company returns as a sponsor of the Philly Bike Expo for the second year running.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering again with the Philly Bike Expo. Bina and Stephen do a great job with the show, and it’s one of only two shows that we attend each year,” said Ryan Hosmer, Selle Anatomica’s Director of Marketing and Product Development.

Ryan’s mother, Carol, now owns the company that was founded by her brother, Tommy Milton, a long-distance cyclist. It was a mission to produce a comfortable and lightweight saddle that inspired him to start the company in 2006. Unfortunately, Milton died of a heart attack while riding a double century in southern California in 2010, and his sister Carol Hosmer left a career in hospital administration to come head up the family business. Both of her sons, Ryan and Andy Hosmer, work with her in various roles to run the business, so it truly is a family affair.

And it’s the same sense of family that the Hosmers really appreciate about the Philly Bike Expo. “What I really like about Philly is that it’s a family business, just like ours. With that aspect, the partnership really works well for us. For instance, Bina really sets the stage for a successful partnership by coming up with a lot of great reciprocal ideas that add to the value of our presence at the show. With the Bilenkys, it’s personal, and you’re not just another booth on the floor,” says Carol Hosmer.

“Being from southern California, we don’t have as strong a following on the east coast, and so our presence at Philly is really important for us,” says Ryan.

Selle Anatomica will use the Philly Bike Expo to introduce a few new advances in the product line, including the new, lightweight X2 frame that reduces weight by about 100 grams. Customers can now also replace the leather on their saddles themselves, without the hassle of sending it back to the manufacturer. There are a couple more new features that won’t be announced until show time, so you’ll have to pay a visit to the Expo to find out more.

Ryan, who handles product development, says that reducing weight is the new focus at Selle Anatomica.

“We already have the market cornered on comfort, so now we’re really focusing on reducing weight,” he says.

Two critical factors for cyclists who spend many hours in the saddle, and for whom a well-engineered saddle can be the difference between debilitating pain and high performance.

Rolf Prima: Re-Inventing the (Spoked) Wheel

by Janet Bressler-Bilenky

Re-Inventing the (Spoked) Wheel

 

The safety bicycle was born in 1885, and the wire wheel is a few decades older than that. So, yeah, changes to bikes-as-we-know-them have been incremental and unpretentious. Why mess with what works? That’s not to say that improvements in design, materials and construction have not happened. Acceptance of the “new” takes time in the tradition-bound world of cycling. And when innovations are adopted, it can seem like an industry-wide “why didn’t I think of that?” 

 

In 1997, Rolf Dietrich came up with his paired spoke technology, resulting in a stronger, lighter wheel than conventional spokepatterns. Through patent issues, licensing agreements forged (and dismantled) and economic fluctuations, the brand that bears his name has weathered the storms and come out triumphantly hand-building wheels in the USA. Mr Dietrich retired in 2009, but under the leadership of Brian Roddy, Rolf Prima lives on stronger than ever. 

 

Rolf Prima presents a full selection of road, mountain, triathlon and tandem wheels featuring in-house rim manufacturing to their exacting standards. They now have a staff of 14 employees (and growing!), and recently moved to expanded facilities (still in Eugene, OR!)

 

“We will be showing some of our new Adventure wheels,” says marketing manager Brooke Stehley. “They come in 650b and 700c with customized hub, rim and decal color options. Adventure and gravel equipment is one of the most exciting trends in the bicycle industry today. Many of us here are bike packers and gravel seekers, so it’s fun to see it become more popular.”

 

The folks at Rolf Prima are “cyclists, craftsmen and perfectionists”. Their wheels go through rigorous testing and they love what they do. Because of their dedication to the sport, Rolf Prima offers sponsorship opportunities to athletes, teams and clubs. The Philly Bike Expo is proud to welcome Rolf Prima as a sponsor in 2017! 

 

I Love You, Honey

by Janet Bressler-Bilenky

New exhibitor Honey Stinger will be bringing their products (and samples!) to the 2017 Expo. Although I’d never tried them myself, (until now!), Honey Stinger Chews and Waffles are a familiar sight in the Bilenky household. They’ve been a staple item in Aaron’s training fuel arsenal for at least the past five years- so, I know they must be good! I’m looking at a packet on my dining room table right now as I write. (Oops! Too personal a glimpse into my “home office”?)  It’s their “Lemon Waffle”. I see it’s certified Kosher, (and organic!) therefore, I'm going to have one (For dessert! For research purposes!). 

 

I’ve learned that patriarch and matriarch Ralph and Luella Gamber, owners of Dutch Gold Honey (est. 1946) introduced the concept of healthier snack options when they tried marketing a honey-based energy bar back in the 1950’s. The world wasn’t ready for the “En-R-G Bar” at that time. Fast forward to 2002- Ralph and Luella’s grandson Bill Gamber founds Honey Stinger, staking out the family’s rightful claim in the exploding sport-fuel/healthy energy snack landscape. Another fun Honey Stinger historical fact: together with  beekeeping partners Woodrow and Rita Miller (Miller Honey Farm, est. 1917) Ralph and Luella invented the iconic Honeybear packaging in 1957! If you’ve ever bought honey of any kind, I’m pretty sure you’ve brought it home in a Honeybear at some point! Bill Gamber, Sr and John Miller serve on the Honey Stinger board today.

 

In addition to edibles and logo wearables, Honey Stinger offers a generous sponsorship program for athletes, teams and events. Their online system makes it easy to apply. And here’s one more fun fact: After a Waffle is consumed, the wrapper makes a perfectly fine tire patch in an emergency situation! (See Stingerbuzz blog post dated 2/23/17)

 

Time for my product review: I pronounce the Honey Stinger Lemon Waffle “Yum!” (Highest praise in our house!) Not too sweet, just enough natural lemony flavor, satisfyingly chewy honey-based consistency- now I want to try the other flavors. Aaron, would you please add some of the chocolate ones to your next order?

Good Policy: ISU Insurance Services of Westlake

by Janet Bressler-Bilenky

Insurance. Everybody needs it, but who wants to talk about it? We do! Why would an insurance company from CA want a presence at the Philly Bike Expo? I already knew that ISU Insurance Services of Westlake’s first bicycle industry client was Yeti, 35 years ago. And that they now handled insurance for frame builders and bike businesses large and small, but how did this specialization come about? Company president Lora Van Dixhorn tells her story:

 

I was young in my career, “cold-calling” fellow tenants in our office/industrial building, when I knocked on Yeti’s door, 4 suites from mine. John Parker proudly explained a Yeti as a $4,000 carbon fiber bicycle frame. Knowing nothing about bikes, I asked who in their right mind would pay this much for a bike. “No ma’am, that’s just the frame”. I worked hard to find him the best product liability coverage with a good insurance company, and came back with precisely what he needed, for only $800 a year. Starting price anywhere else was $10,000 so most builders went without insurance. Linda Parker sat me at her desk with 3 pens and a lot of paper. “This is just what we’ve been looking for! Here’s my Rolodex. You need to call our friends”. And I started phoning.

 

There were quite a few custom builders back then, most starting in their garage, passionately and carefully crafting beautiful bikes. I needed a quick means to market this more expansively. By the early 1990s the internet was catching on, so I jumped in wide-eyed, creating my own website. Builders called me from all over the country, even Canada and Europe. Then retail shops, large mass producing manufacturers and importers. I grew staff carefully, only hiring sharp, licensed agents. We learned which companies were able to grow successfully, and why other struggled. Instead of just “selling insurance”, my staff and I trained ourselves to understand and manage this risk, helping our clients grow their business, and reducing costs. I travelled throughout the US, meeting new underwriters, to constantly keep our insurance policies broad and the rates low, and I continue to do this even today.

 

Kristin Ruda now heads our bicycle manufacturing division. I hired her 15 years ago, and her passion is riding and racing mountain bikes, so she is a perfect fit! My husband and I bought our first electric assists last December, after insuring electric bikes for more than 30 years. I enjoy a long cruise around the lake or at the beach. Tom appreciates the extra power his serves in our Santa Monica mountains.

 

John and I met again a few years ago at Burbank Airport, boarding the same flight for another custom bike show. We’re both 30 years older now, looking back on how this little garage industry has grown up to play with the big boys. The excitement is still in his blood, and it keeps me knocking on doors.