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.

One Fish? Twofish!

by Janet Bressler-Bilenky

For a story about new exhibitor Twofish Unlimited, I asked inventor and founder Robert Studdiford a bunch of questions- first- “How did you come up with the name?” I had a hunch about the two fish part- (because I happen to be a Pisces, myself)- and I was right! Robert said that he and his wife Lauren are both Pisces. I then went on to ask how he came to create the patented Lockblock- an innovative solution to the problem of mounting water bottles, locks, lights and pumps on any bicycle- and about the joys and challenges of operating a small made-in-USA business. Here are his answers:

 

“My wife had a problem, her brand new 16” Rock Hopper frame couldn’t hold a lock, pump and water bottle at the same time because the frame was so small. So we were limited where we could go and she’d just “lost” a couple of bikes to the “locals in need”. That led to me inventing the Lockblocks lock holder that let her carry her lock on the stem and handle bars. At that time, I was an unemployed electrician and she was pregnant with our first son. We did a patent search on the idea with good friend (and to this day business partner) Mike Dunn. When the search came back clean, Mike and I took the big leap and filed our application to the US patent office. We were gonna be rich!

 

At that point, we decided to go into business. We were sitting in our kitchen, Mike, Lauren and I. We were like… well, what are we gonna call ourselves? I looked at Lauren and said, ‘Twofish'. She had a problem and I fixed it. It took two fish to do it. Then I said, ‘We should be ‘Unlimited’, because one should never limit oneself.’ We all agreed. I asked Lauren to draw us up a logo of two silly fish swimming around a bicycle wheel.  Lauren sat down and drew it out in one take. Here we are, 23 years later. Both the name and logo have served us very well.

 

One of the difficult things about being a small company making things in the USA is being able to get your products in front of the right purchasers. Our products work on any bicycle, yet it takes a lot to inform them, the cyclist that is. And there are a lot of them! Also, you can buy a cheap Chinese water bottle cage for five bucks. My cages cost more. What does the consumer really want? Something made well or something cheap? Twofish did make our cages overseas several years ago. We got to a point where we could not control quality and realized it was cheaper and the quality was far better to make them here in the USA, so all cage production came home. All of our other products have been made in the US since we started in 1993. 

 

Clearly the most satisfying thing for me is seeing someone use any one of my products ‘in the wild’. It takes me to a very vulnerable time in my life with a pregnant wife and no income, baby on the way, and just an idea in hand… I can see our kitchen and see the leap of faith it took to bring us here today. I now have two sons that have grown up in the bicycle industry and are new college graduates. They will always have a bicycle in their life When I beam up, I bet there’ll be some serious rock, paper, scissors action over a couple of my magic flying ponies. I could not think of a better life for myself. I’ve never had a time in my life without a bicycle. I never thought I would own a bicycle company though. It just happened.”

Meet Your Neighbor: An Interview with Mark Weaver, Weaver Cycle Works

by Janet Bressler-Bilenky

You know that guy down the street you only know to say “hello”, and then one day you strike up a conversation and it kindles a new friendship? Catching up with Mark Weaver for this interview feels like that. Weaver operates a one-man custom frame building shop just a short trip across the river from Philly. This will be his fourth year exhibiting at the Philly Bike Expo. 

 

PBE What did you do before starting your own custom frame building business?

 

MW Strangely, I worked as a computer network admin and security officer for a small mid-sized company. It seems like an odd career change, but every job I held before going into IT either involved the US military or working with my hands (construction or some sort of mechanic). In 2002-2004 I was deployed to Iraq as part of Task Force Viking (Joint Special Operations Task Force – North). This ultimately led me back to bicycles and de-stressing my life.

 

PBE When did you know you wanted to become a custom frame builder?

 

MW I don’t think it was one single path that lead me to frame building. Like most builders, I started building as a hobby, I mostly built frames for myself and friends. Along with lots of riding, frame building was a good way for me to release a lot stress from both Iraq and the high stress world of managing and securing a national computer network. 4 years after building my first frame, I decided to make a business out of it in 2013. I haven’t looked back since.

 

PBE How did you come to choose Collingswood as your location?

 

MW I don’t think I chose Collingswood, I think it chose me. I spent a lot of time here (Collingswood) as a kid. I was a skateboarder when I was a teenager and young adult, and the Collingswood Patco train stop was our conduit into Philly.  Fast forward to adulthood and your priorities in life change. My wife and I decided to live in Collingswood for many reasons: great parks, a happening downtown, it’s quiet, yet still accessible to Philly with a quick train ride. So, it was natural to keep WCW close to home.

 

PBE Do you have a favorite part of the frame building process? What is it?

 

MW For me, it is doing finish work. I fillet braze my frames and all the brass fillets need to be finished after brazing. Learning to do good finish work is a skill set that people either love or hate, but most hate it. I love it. I like turning up the music really loud in the shop and just rocking out while I file and sand fillets. Since finish work is the last step in my process before it goes off to paint, it’s like I’m having a going away party for each of my frames.

Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia: Car Wheels Turn to Bike Wheels Through the Town

by Janet Bressler-Bilenky

Yes, May is National Bike Month and National Bike-to-Work Week is happening now. Activities can be found across the country. Hosting Bike-to-Work Day here in our city is the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. Sponsors this year include Allegra Allergy, Penn, Dero, Center City District, La Colombe, Snap Kitchen, The Last Drop Coffee, Zipcar, Indego Bike Share, Urban Stems, and of course, the Philly Bike Expo!

 

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia was established in 1972 . From community outreach, to Cadence Youth Cycling, to adult educational programs, to successfully "fighting city hall",  Executive Director Sarah Clark Stuart and her dedicated team of staff and volunteers, make the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia the local resource for bicycle related issues. 

 

BCGP Youth Coordinator Taylor Kuyk-White, is the one women Philly Bike Expo race team and serves as Expo ambassador. Seen throughout the region sporting the new Mondrian-inspired Team Philly Bike Expo kit, she’s racking up stellar performances and impressive stats. Taylor is a source of pride to all of us. 

 

The Expo has grown considerably since its humble beginnings in the 23rd Street Armory.  The BCGP was right there as an integral partner at the first Expo in 2010, and has participated each year since. The Coalition just might be the reason ”Advocates” is one-third of the Expo’s three word slogan! 

 

More people in the Philadelphia region are finding bicycles to be a viable transportation alternative. Correlation may not be causation, but, alongside this new bike boom, the BCGP has expanded its influence as it promotes and improves cycling for everyone in and around Philadelphia. 



 

Cleverhood: Here Comes the Rain Again

by Janet Bressler-Bilenky

I’m looking out the window at the rain that’s been steadily falling since the early AM hours. A “run-between-the-raindrops” superpower would be nice, but a Cleverhood would work just as well!

 

Cleverhood produces high-performance rainwear with bike-ready features such as hoods that fit under helmets and thumb loops so the cape stays in place during a ride. Cleverhood has accomplished the difficult task of being stylish without sacrificing safety, and safe without sacrificing style. The capes come in a wide range of colors and fabrics. Some of the capes incorporate reflective accents or reflective trim into the design, and others sport woven-in reflective thread that comes alive when headlights shine.  In addition to their selection of rain capes for adults, Cleverhood has a line for kids… and for dogs!

 

Cleverhood is a small family-run business based in Providence, RI. The apparel is made in nearbyFall River, MA. The slow bike movement, livable cities, and encouraging more people to interact with their local surroundings are all parts of what Cleverhood is about. With their form-and-function rainwear, Cleverhood seeks toprovide folks with a special way to experience rain. Yeah, rain is great - getting wet, not so much!

 

This will be the fifth year that Cleverhood will be exhibiting at the Expo. I’m looking forward to seeing their latest, but as the rain continues to fall and tomorrow’s forecast calls for more of the same, I’m thinking I need a Cleverhood right now!

TerraTrike: Trikes are NOT Toys

by Janet Bressler-Bilenky

 

Maybe my enthusiasm for trikes stems from “Danger Trike”, the tricycle I owned as a child.  It was a hand-me down from someone-or-other, but I loved its sleek styling despite its dull-red finish and rusted chrome. Its skinny tires (!) made me feel like a big kid. The tottery pre-CPSC wheelbase would be considered obviously unsafe to the modern parent, but to my three year old eyes it was perfect! When I fell off one day after an especially sharp turn, cut my chin open and needed stitches, Danger Trike was repealed and replaced by an ugly (to me!) brand-new shiny wide-tired model that I outgrew quickly.  

 

So, here comes TerraTrike, another new exhibitor for the 2017 Philly Bike Expo. TerraTrikes  began making adult recumbent trikes in Michigan 1996.  If your first steed was a Big Wheel, you may be of the “trikes are toys” mindset, however, your Big Wheel experience may already prepare you for adult recumbent design.

 

TerraTrikes was born when Jack Wiswell sketched his vision on a holiday cocktail napkin and shared the concept with old friend Wayne Oom. Through the inevitable setbacks of a small undercapitalized start-up, Jack and Wayne persevered and now they’re the world’s largest manufacturer of recumbent trikes.

 

Although they offer some of the most affordable trikes of their kind, they run a contest to see what they might accept in trade from one lucky individual. Entries included everything from musical instruments to vacations to original artwork to membership in the World Clown Association! The most recent winner was an Iowan who offered a year’s supply of her award-winning baked goods in exchange for a trike.

 

As with the entire cycling community, the folks at TerraTrikes are dedicated to eco-friendly, human-powered transportation. The company slogan is “Part of the Solution.”

 

Philly Bike Expo strives to have something for everyone. You just might find me in the TerraTrike test ride area come Expo time.

DaMan, DaMachine, DaHÄNGER

by Janet Bressler-Bilenky

 

When I saw a company by the name of DaHÄNGER on the Philly Bike Expo New Exhibitor list, I thought, What’s with the umlaut? Is it some kind of Motorhead reference or IKEA spoof? Then I discovered that DaHÄNGER’s founder comes by that umlaut honestly. DaHÄNGER is the brainchild of Juergen Beneke, the legendary German-born former professional racer and winner of multiple German championships and World Cups in the mountain bike and downhill field. Beneke moved to the USA in 1996, and in 2000 retired from racing and launched a second career in home renovation and furniture building.

 

“I truly believe life is better when you ride a bike, “says Beneke. “The daily stress melts away and you can think clearly. Bikes are everywhere in my day to day life, so I needed to find a better way to organize and store my cycling equipment.” 

 

Beneke designed the DaHÄNGER and DaHÄNGER-Dan to make it easier for everyone to store their bicycles in their home. He subsequently staged two successful Kickstarter campaigns to bring the ideas to fruition. The DaHÄNGER suspends a bike by the nose of its saddle. Any style frame can be hung without damage to finish or kinking of cables. There’s also a place for a helmet and other items. The DaHÄNGER-Dan is a fun pedal hook system for hanging multiple bikes in a staggered configuration.  

 

It’s family lore that the Bilenky children literally cut their teeth on bicycles. Innovations such as the DaHÄNGER and DaHÄNGER-Dan would have spared both insult and injury caused by too many bikes crowding the narrow hallway in our house.   

 

Aficionados know that bicycles can be works of art. DaHÄNGER’s USA-made products are meant to not only solve the problem of storage, but at the same time create a display for prized possessions. The DaHÄNGER and DaHÄNGER-Dan free up prime living space, while bikes remain on view and within reach to inspire that next ride.

NixFrixShun: Grease (or Lube) is the Word

by Janet Bressler-Bilenky

 

There are the stars, then there’s the back-up band, and then there’s all the behind-the-scenes individuals without whom there’d be no show. Once in a very rare while these hidden wizards and alchemists get to step out from behind the curtain or mixing board as the case may be.   

 

If the frame is the star and the components are the back-up band, then chain lube is one of those unsung workers that literally makes things run smoothly. And NixFrixShun is the world’s most effective bicycle chainlube.

 

The testimonials are many and effusive: “NFS isn't just the best chain lube on the market, now or ever,” says Tom Kellogg,  “It has changed the relationship I have with my bike.”

 

NixFrixShun makes NFS, which was recently proven in independent testing to be between .4 and 4 watts better than some of the most popular brands sold and by far the longest lasting. Also in the product line is NFS+ Ne Plus Ultra - the only odorless, colorless, biodegradable endurance chainlube and NFS Race Grease, all are hand-crafted in the USA.

 

Founded in 2010, (the same year as the first Philly Bike Expo!) NixFrixShun will be exhibiting with us for the fifth time. When asked about what's exciting in today's bike industry, NixFrixShun founder and creator Josh Simonds says, "There are a huge number of new vendors providing exciting products that help folks get outside!" Simonds himself helps folks get outside. Besides the contribution of his products, he organizes "Ballers Camp" a challenging mixed terrain course in W. VA.  He's also hosted morning rides at the Expo- no word yet whether he'll be doing one in at Expo 2017. Stay tuned.

JDRF: Type 1 to type none

Type 1 diabetes (T1D), sometimes referred to as “juvenile diabetes”, is an autoimmune disease that impacts millions of people around the world. Including this writer and lifelong cyclist.

 

The disease occurs when the body's immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, a hormone essential to turning food into energy. Without insulin, glucose from food stays in the blood, where it can cause serious damage to all of the body's organ systems.


Type 1 diabetes strikes both children and adults suddenly and is unrelated to diet or lifestyle. It requires constant carbohydrate counting, blood-glucose testing, and lifelong dependence on injected insulin.

 

Cycling is a fantastic way to help control this disease, and the professional cycling Team Type 1 has drawn international attention to what athletes with this disease can accomplish. But whether you have Type 1 diabetes or not, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Ride to Cure Diabetes can serve the ultimate goal of finding a cure for T1D.

 

JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes is a destination cycling event in one of seven stunning locations across the United States. Every year, riders come together to raise critical funds to help JDRF find a cure for type 1 diabetes. JDRF Ride is more than a bike ride. It's an unforgettable experience where you'll be surrounded by a passionate community of cyclists, friends and family. Whatever the skill level, whether cycling 25 or 100 miles, JDRF has a Ride for you.

 

Riders choose a fundraising package and set their own mileage goal. Along the way, riders receive the full support of the JDRF Ride Community, from the ride coaches to the fundraising experts who will help you reach and exceed your fundraising goals.

 

Ride locations for  2016 included Lake Tahoe, CA, Burlington, VT, Amelia Island, FL and Tucson, AZ. 2017 destinations are yet to be announced.

 

Visit the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes web site to get started planning for next year’s rides today.