Philly's Closing Ceremonies: a tribute to four greats of the bicycle

It’s an always uncomfortable topic, mourning the loss of our friends, our mentors, our partners in cycling. It’s particularly poignant and tragic when these lives are taken through accidents, before we’ve had time to prepare for their passing, and while their lives still had chapters to unfold. And it’s cold comfort to know that they were doing something they loved just before their abrupt quietus.


Over the past two years, the handbuilt bicycle world has lost four great figures: Tom Teesdale, Tom Palermo, Brian Baylis and Jeff Archer.


Teesdale was an expert frame builder who did contract work for famous brands like Gary Fisher, Ritchey, Dean and Kona. He died of a heart attack at age 62 in July 2014 while participating in Iowa’s RAGBRAI.


Palermo was a part-time builder and full-time software engineer for Johns Hopkins University who lived in Baltimore and plied his passion in the evenings and on weekends.  He was killed in December 2014 at age 41 while cycling in a bicycle lane in North Baltimore, struck by a vehicle driven by an Episcopal Bishop who left the scene of the accident and was later convicted of DUI, vehicular homicide and other crimes.


Baylis was a renowned artisan of lugwork and exquisite paint schemes with an artistic temperament to match. He produced framesets under the names Wizard Cycles and Baylis Cycles. He died at age 63 in February of this year from complications of pneumonia.


Archer also fell victim to a drunk driver, in his case not while cycling, but while crossing a street on his way to a vintage car show in July. He was 52 years old, and the proprietor of First Flight Bicycles in Statesville, NC, named in honor of his fellow Ohioans, the Wright Brothers. Archer was also a vintage mountain bike expert, longtime member of the NAHBS award jury and founder of MOMBAT, the Museum of Mountain Bike Art and Technology.


Bina and Stephen Bilenky wanted to do something to honor these men for whom the bicycle was an important, if not wholly defining, part of their lives. So at 3:30 pm on Sunday, November 6th, the final afternoon of the expo, they will hold a public tribute to these four men, and they welcome contributions from the public - stories or memories about their lives. There will be a special display area both days of the expo for bikes from these builders. If you own a Teesdale, fillet brazed Fisher Mountain Bike, Palermo Cycles, Baylis Handmade Cycles, Wizard, or Mountain Goat frame or bike, please contact Bina Bilenky ( to add your bike to this display. 


The point of the tribute is not to end the show on a somber note, but to remember the beauty and joy that these men brought to the world through the bicycle. As show attendees and owners of their bikes, you can do your part to help us remember their gifts and honor their legacies.