I am now back in Texas and trying to rest up a little after spending a great weekend in Philadelphia for the Philly Bike Expo. I tried to do a better job documenting the show then the zero photos I took at the Texas Custom Bicycle Show a couple weeks ago, so here it goes….
The show was very well organized and attended. The show went together flawlessly and there were all kinds of evening activities to mingle with the other builders and relax a little. Being in Philly, the show attracted people from all over the East Coast. Both builders, and surprisingly a lot of the visitors drove in from New York, D.C. , Baltimore, Virginia, and New Jersey. Maybe thats just odd to me being from Texas, where it takes like 8 hours to get to the next state.
Gallus Cycles was very well received. It seemed like my reputation had preceded me because apparently a lot of people had heard of Gallus and have seen pictures before. It was a nice change to the ” Who are you?” and “How long have you been doing this?” that I was asked frequently when I first started going to shows a couple of years ago.
As its a little tricky traveling with bikes, combined with the fact that I had only just recently borrowed a lot of bikes from customers for the Austin show, I only took 2 bikes. My own porteur travel bike and Big Ross’s track frame. They both got a great response from the visitors.
In addition to meeting a lot of rad visitors that seemed to really appreciate hand made bicycles, the real treat for me was getting to chat with some of my favorite builders and see their work up close. I really hate name dropping, but as a young builder and total bike nerd it was kinda a big deal to talk to these legends of our craft, so please excuse me.
I had the opportunity to talk with J.P. Weigle and see his beautiful bikes. He builds bikes similar to the great French Constructeurs. His attention to detail, craftsmanship and knowledge of historical bike design definitely makes him one of the top builders in America and the World over.
I also got to meet Ant Bike Mike. Though he has lived in Boston since the early 90’s, he is originally from Fort Worth. Among many of the local cyclists here in Ft. Worth, he is still considered a local cycling hero, and his bikes are quite prevalent around town. His Texas Nationality and rad handle bar moustache aside, I have been a huge fan of ANT bikes for a long time now. His bikes have a clean and elegant, yet utilitarian and purpose driven appeal to them. His design philosophy and admiration for the European “Roadster” bicycle is very much in tune with what I think makes for a great bike, especially a handmade/custom one.
I also got to catch up with my teacher and mentor Doug Fattic and his assistant and talented builder in his own right, Herbie Helm. Its always great to catch up with Doug as I spent a lot of time with him at his workshop in Niles, Michigan and while working in Ukraine. Herbie is getting quite well known for his “fancy” lug work that is both painstakingly time consuming and a level or two above what most builders would attempt.
Messenger poet Kurt Boone traveled down from NYC to check out the show and stopped by my booth for a chat. Kurt is doing great things to document, promote, and interpret real messenger life in the Big Apple through his poetry, book collaborations/collections. Another member from the messenger community that I met was Roland from RE Load bags. It seems like there is a new bag company starting up every week as urban cycling grows, but RE Load is one of the originals and still makes there bags themselves instead of cashing out like other older bag makers have . Similar to Gallus Cycles, RE Load grew from messenger roots and still provides durable and stylish bags geared towards the working messenger.
I can’t talk about the Philly Show, or all the great builders without mentioning both the show organizers and THE Philly custom bike company Bilenky . Like JP Weigle and ANT, Bilenky is one of my favorite bike builders. The company is ran by Stephen Bilenky and his team of talented builders, craftsman, and organizers. Their bikes range in style and purpose, but are similar in their great quality and fun/vibrant style. Their bikes say “Go ride, and have a big smile on your face while you do it.”
I have previously met a lot the Bilenky team at other shows, and they are all great folks. Between them and the extended Bilenky bicycle family, they did a more than excellent job putting this top notch show together.
Outside the actual show, Philly was good fun. There was an array of side events, pre-parties, post parties, fashion shows, great food, and a little bit of sightseeing. I ll show a couple of pics instead of rambling on about it, as I know y’all are all very busy people, and once I get started I can go on for awhile.
People in Philadelphia were obsessed with locally baked “Tastykakes”. There was a whole table of them at the pre-party. At the end of the party, there was still a lot of them left, and the locals were stuffing there pockets with them or pulling out plastic shopping bags and filling them up to take home. They were good, but I didn’t quite understand their cult following.
I ate very well in Philly. Not at all intentionally, I was unable to have their famous Cheese Steak, so another trip will be necessary at some point. I did, however, have a lot of great Asian food. My favorite was Mi Lah. Everything on the menu was vegetarian and delicious.
Now back in Texas and looking back at my trip, I think that in addition to the flawless organization by the Bilenky folks, a large part of the success of the show and my trip for that matter, was the thriving Philadelphia bike scene. The layout of the city was ideal for cycling(though the drivers sucked), there was bikes everywhere, lots of nice bike shops, people making all kinds of handmade bike related products. Everyone one was just “down” for it, and it when that all comes together it makes for a great bicycle city. Cheers Philly! Hope to see y’all soon.