Factory Tour: Bilenky Cycle Works – Custom Bicycles, Repairs and Fabrications
Rather than just show up and drink their beer and race their junkyard cyclocross course, we arrived at Bilenky’s shop a bit early to take a tour and snap some pics of their handiwork.
Bilenky Cycleworks does more than just make pretty bikes, they’ve got quite the bustling business repairing and modifying existing bikes from any brand (as long as it’s titanium or steel), adding things like S&S Couplers to convert your ride into a travel bike or replacing an entire tube (or three) if you wreck hard.
Come on in and check out their place…
This is Steve’s fillet braze station. He works here when he’s not playing phone jockey. He also does fitting and sizing for people ordering a custom frame.
This is Casey’s work area, which is a secondary build area for the finished frames when he’s not using it to build racks and cut frames to prep them for couplers.
This is the primary build area where completed frames get the parts installed so they’re rideable. Mmmm….tools.
This is Carl’s workstation where they build the Viewpoint, a tandem with a recumbent seat in the front and standard bicycle seat in the rear for the stoker. He also does the TIG welding.
This monster machine in the foreground is Simon’s cutting machine for mitering the tubes. In the background is the tacking jig where frames are initially assembled. Simon welds the titanium bikes.
Steve Bilenky stands in front of the giant lathe. It’s used to turn lugs and tubes and anything else that needs to be rounded in certain sizes and dimensions. This is one of the ways they fabricate special parts, particularly for the Viewpoint and their cargo bike.
This is the employee kitchen, and the blue wall there is the bathroom, which has an open air ceiling. Personally, I’d be making a side trip on my lunch break if necessary, but it’s there if you need it.
Isis paints the bikes (as do some of the other folks). That’s her showing off some of her art. The Gold duo-tone paint job was done to match the owner’s dog, named Oro.
This blue bike was driven over and sent to Bilenky for replacement of the top- and down tubes. If the bike’s not too old, most of the time they can get the tubes out of the lugs and replace them using the original lugs, then just repaint to match.
This Vanilla Cycles repair saved the lugs and replaced the downtube, too. Some polishing and replacement decals and it’ll look good as new!
An example of a cut frame with S&S Couplers added to it.
This one’s a Bilenky bike for a customer in NY, it’s their Hedgehog mountain bike, and this particular customer really, really didn’t want a logo on it. Normally, they won’t do that, but this guy apparently owns like 12 bikes from Bilenky, and they’re all the same color.
This is Ray’s Bilenky cyclocross bike. He’s their PR person who was supposed to show me around, but Isis did most of the work since he came in late that day. Jeeeesh, I mean, it was a Sunday after all.
They build tandems, too. The brown one with the plastic bags on the saddles won an award at NAHBS 2010, then was damaged in transit on the way home. Yes, these are hanging from the ceiling, I just flipped the picture.
Here are the fancy bikes, and I’m mostly going to let the pictures do the talking. Click to enlarge any of them.
This is their cargo bike, which can be fitted with an assortment of carrying contraptions on the front.
This (pink) is their crazy recumbent tandem.
This is Isis’ old Trek that gets the left over paint.
Like most builders, they get the majority of their lugs from the same few suppliers as everyone else. Where a custom builder shows their personality and skill is when they start cutting, shaping and customizing the lugs to create art. This one’s a headtube-downtube lug after being cut and polished. Below is a BB lug getting ready to go under the knife.