The Philly Bike Expo started out with modest ambitions in 2010, but it’s now grown to become one of the top stops on the North American trade show circuit, highlighting a healthy gathering of custom builders and supporting components and accessories. We started covering the event for the first time last year, and judging by this year’s once-again impressive display, it’s safe to say that this one will occupy a spot on our calendar in the years to come, too.
We kick off this round of coverage with some stunning machines from Engin Cycles, English Cycles, FortyFour Bikes, Speedvagen, Velo Orange, and MAP Bicycles, with much more to come in the days ahead.
Want more from the Philly Bike Expo? You can find our complete coverage here, and if you want even more custom bikes, make sure to check out our comprehensive catalog of showstoppers from the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, too.
English Cycles is one of those builders that has such a distinctive style that the down tube logo isn’t even necessary.
Notice something missing on the frame pack here? That’s right – no straps. This one was custom-made for this frame, which includes dedicated mounts for a super-clean installation.
English Cycles easily uses the skinniest seatstays around.
New England builder Forty Four Bikes showed up to this year’s Philly Bike Expo with a booth full of showstoppers, such as this 27+ steel hardtail. Want to get rowdy but still keep things simple? Here’s your answer.
A pretty neat way to do serial numbers.
The long-low-and-slack theme is alive and well in this titanium 29er hardtail singlespeed.
There’s less of a need for stealth-style internal dropper seatpost routing when the trigger is mounted to the stationary part of the post as it is on this Fox Transfer.
Just in case you hadn’t noticed yet, purple is back in a big way.
Philadelphia-based builder Drew Guldalian of Engin Cycles built this stunning titanium gravel/all-road machine that he says incorporates everything he’s wanted in a drop-bar bike over the last 15 years.
The machined chainstay yoke allows the 420mm-long chainstays to accommodate 700c tires up to 47mm-wide, and still have enough room for a double crankset.
Engin Cycles machines the titanium chainstay yoke as two hollow clamshell halves, and then welds them together.
The offset and bent seat tube allows the rear wheel to be tucked in just a little bit tighter.
Engin Cycles is highly unusual amongst custom builders in the sense that virtually every single piece is fabricated in-house. The titanium dropouts pictured here are machined within the Engin workshop, for example, along with the custom hardware that secures the replaceable aluminum hanger. The upper bolt is also threaded to serve double duty as a fender mount.
Rather than settle for the chainline and chainstay length restrictions of standard road cranksets, Engin Cycles machines its own aluminum spiders that slightly offsets the rings so that they work better with 142mm-wide thru-axle rear hubs. The 110/74mm five-arm spider also allows for a much broader selection of gears for gravel riding.
Head tubes are machined in-house, too.
Seatstay bridges are something that even top-shelf titanium builders usually buy off-the-shelf (typically from Paragon Machine Works). But Engin? Nope, these are cut on its own CNC mill, as are the dual-bolt aluminum seatpost clamps.
Engin Cycles built this titanium hardtail for an employee of sister business Wissahickon Cycles. The geometry of this hardtail 29er is thoroughly modern, including a super-short rear end, a very long front center and reach, and a slack head tube angle. It looks like it’ll be loads of fun.
Engin Cycles sandblasted this Paul Components stem and White Industries headset in-house, then sent it all out to be anodized together for a perfectly matched finish.
This unreal paint job required 70 hours of labor.
Engin Cycles builder Drew Guldalian had the honor of creating this titanium tourer for none other than Gary Helfrich, who founded Merlin Metalworks.
A close-up look at how Engin Cycles puts together its CNC-machined titanium chainstay yokes.
Speedvagen wasn’t technically at this year’s Philly Bike Expo, but this flat-bar speedster still managed to make an appearance courtesy of the SRAM booth.
Hidden underneath that army-green paint is a carbon fiber Ritchey one-piece cockpit.
The integrated seatmast topper uses Enve clamp parts, all of which wrap around a stainless steel sleeve.
This randonneur bike from MAP Bicycles was one of my overall favorites at the show, thanks to its brilliant juxtaposition of old and new.
The bike looks totally old-school, but then you notice the tapered head tube, the carbon fiber Spork fork from Denver-based company Rodeo Labs, and the disc brakes.
The front rack, integrated front light, and front hub dynamo are at the ready for a long day (and night) in the saddle.
Somehow this all just looks right.
Velo Orange showed off its new small-wheeled machine. It looks oddly appealing.
The fork may be tiny, but it’s still equipped with a full complement of braze-ons for a rack, fenders, and extra bottles or bags.
More polished aluminum goodness.
Just in case you were ever wondering what you should do with those leftover wine corks.
Even more amazing than the fact that Velo Orange made this bike is that Maxxis makes suitable tires to match.
Velo Orange started out offering an incredibly broad range of retro-styled components and accessories, but the company has quickly grown to offer more than 300 different products (not including size and color variants).