You can certainly find mainstream bikes at the Philly Bike Expo, but they’re vastly outnumbered by the more outlandish and personalized machines that surround them. Show founder Steve Bilenky hails from Philadelphia, and so it was no surprise that his booth was chock full of custom bikes given that it was comparatively easy for him to get them there. Groovy Cycles builder Rody Walter made the trip from Ohio, bringing with him a curiously retro machine built with 26in wheels and cantilever brakes — at the customer’s request — for an upcoming trip on the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Towpath.
In this round of coverage, I’ve also shared with you some incredible custom head tube badges from Jen Green — the undisputed queen of the category; a new, and truly drool-worthy, disc-brake facing tool from VAR; Industry Nine’s colorful new mountain bike stem; and a fresh take on a custom finish for your current bike.
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.
Groovy Cycles builder Rody Walter built this for a repeat customer, who wanted something mechanically simple to tackle the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath.
According to Groovy Cycles’ Rody Walter, this paint job required 400 pieces of masking material.
Groovy Cycles often equips its custom bikes with custom segmented handlebars.
Throwback 26″ wheels and basic Paul Components cantilevers may seem like odd requests for a brand-new custom bike, but the job of a custom builder is to provide what the client wants, not to talk them out of it.
Custom TIG-welded steel cranks, too.
Steve Bilenky (together with his daughter, Bina) started the Philly Bike Expo in 2010. Each year, Bilenky brings a veritable army of custom creations to the show, if for no other reason than the fact that it’s in his backyard, and it’s relatively easy for him to do so.
This custom chainguard is minimal, yet graceful.
Yowza! This stem extension is mega-tiny.
This Breismeister gravel bike is going full-send with its knobby 650b Teravail tires. The powder blue paint is offset with a brown saddle and bar tape for a striking, yet classic, look.
I love how the post-mount rear brake caliper is tucked inside the rear triangle on this Breismeister.
Industry Nine recently debuted its first stem, called the A35. This machined aluminum beauty is intended for trail and enduro use with its burly rectangular profile and 35mm-diameter handlebar clamp.
You want colors? Industry Nine has got you covered.
Paul Components has added a new flat-mount version of its Klamper mechanical disc brakes, plus a new 35mm-diameter edition of its machined aluminum stem.
How does Phil Wood get its hubs so shiny, you ask? Most companies polish their hubs first, and then color-anodize them, which inevitably dulls the finish. But Phil Wood then polishes its hubs once again to restore the lustre.
Kirk Frameworks is based in Bozeman, Montana. The S-bend seatstays are a trademark feature that easily distinguishes one of David Kirk’s creations from other builders.
Beautifully detailed paint work on this Kirk Frameworks machine.
Fastback seatstays aren’t used often, which is a pity given how beautiful they are.
Co-Motion is one of only a handful of builders who offer the Pinion gearbox transmission as an option.
I’m still awfully intrigued by Pinion’s gearbox transmission. But I also can’t ignore the fact that it’s very heavy and quite laggy when you start to pedal again after coasting.
Pinion also needs to develop a better solution for drop-bar bikes (although Cinq Innovations has a third-party solution that will soon be on the market).
VAR showed off at this year’s Philly Bike Expo a stunning new disc-brake tab facing tool, which works on both post-mount and flat-mount interfaces, and mills both tabs simultaneously.
The two cutters are gear-driven by the black aluminum knob up top. The design not only reduces the cutting time in half relative to tools that only face one tab at a time, but also ensures that both tabs are coplanar.
The tool is quickly adjusted for use with post-mount and flat-mount interfaces, front or rear.
Princeton CarbonWorks has announced some big changes for its Wake 6560 aero wheelset, trading the generic Bitex hubs for White Industries ones, and dropping the retail price from US$2,800 to US$2,200.
The White Industries hubs are a bit heavier than the Bitex ones Princeton CarbonWorks originally used on the Wake 6560 wheelset, but it’s unlikely anyone is going to complain.
If you’ve ever seen a custom head tube badge, chances are very good that it was made by Jen Green.
If you can imagine it, Jen Green can probably make it for you.
Someone is clearly a big Transformers fan. Bumblebee, I believe?
Just because something is custom doesn’t mean it has to be overly intricate.
J.P. Weigle is one of the most highly respected builders in the randonneur world.
Triathlon bikes certainly provide an awful lot of canvas to let your creative minds go wild.
New York company Bicycle Makeover doesn’t use paint to create these looks. Instead, the frames (and wheels, in this case) are wrapped in printed vinyl.
According to Bicycle Makeover, wrapping a frame in vinyl is preferable to paint because it’s cheaper (particularly for complex patterns), it allows for more outlandish designs, it’s more durable, and it’s easier to repair if damaged. Fair warning, though: it might be cheaper than paint, but it’s still not cheap.
Detroit Cargo offers a diverse range of leather cycling products, all of which are made in Michigan.
None of this stuff is cheap, but it’s also not painfully expensive, either.
The DaHänger isn’t new, but it’s still one of the most elegant solutions I’ve come across for simple and attractive bike storage.
The Kinekt seatpost intentionally does without any damping, instead preferring to “isolate” the rider from disruptive vibrations by keeping him or her in the sweet spot of the travel range. In this way, the rider basically floats in a springy pocket. Claimed travel is up to 35mm.
NixFrixShun is a tiny one-man company owned and operated by Joshua Simonds. Despite the seemingly limited resources, the company’s chain lube and “race grease” are some of the most highly respected around, and the chain lube has already been tested to be one of the best around by Friction Facts.