We love Bilenky Cycle Works, based in Philadelphia, PA, for their quirky, creative and wildly artistic bikes. But what would you expect from a brand that hosts an annual cyclocross race in their neighbor’s junkyard? (video here and here)
Bikerumor: What materials do you build with? Which is your favorite and why?
Bilenky: We love steel! Steel is real. We love its versatility, the many ways it can be connected, and the incomparable ride it provides. We also like titanium and do many repairs and retrofits and a bike here and there, but steel is our passion. We’ve been using stainless quite a bit lately – TIG welded, lugged and silver fillet brazed. It’s a little bit lighter and stiffer than regular steel, and the unpainted finish options are limitless. We have a big sticker at our shop that says “I ride lugged steel and I vote!”
Bikerumor: What have you been working in since NAHBS last year?
Bilenky: As above, we’ve been doing a lot with stainless. We’ve been experimenting with better ways to use belt drives and Rohloff hubs. We’re also beginning titanium bike production in earnest. Not to mention the Ephgrave and Herse tribute bikes, and their fabulous lugs.
Bikerumor: Any killer custom bike builds?
Bilenky: We made a bike for a marine biologist with a fish on it. It had everything— even a disconnect in the cable housing to easily swap out the handlebars. We also made an all stainless road tandem with no lateral tube, a Rohloff hub and belt drive. It took a good deal of planning and designing, but eventually rode like a rocket ship.
Bikerumor: Did you see anything at NAHBS last year that’s inspired you?
Bilenky: We didn’t make it last year! We’re looking forward to being inspired this year.
Bikerumor: What are you bringing to the show this year that’ll have every other builder standing slack jawed in awe?
Bilenky: There are two – One is a lugged stainless townie with a Rohloff hub and a Gates belt drive. It took one of our builders almost a week to polish the lugs and brush the rest. The other is a tiny little lugged track bike with an incredibly loud Wonder Woman themed paint job. The colors are audible across the room.
Bikerumor: Scenario – A customer commissions you and one other builder to create the ultimate bicycle using the same parameters, same base material and same budget in an Iron Chef style competition. Who would you want to build against that would push you and elevate your game?
Bilenky: Bruce Gordon– just to make him mad!