Wednesday, June 18, 2014

"My 27-year-old tandem is still a piece of art."

More great correspondence. We want to get everyone following Jim's blog and supporting this important cause...

- BCW

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Hello!

I want you to know that the tandem bike which you built for me in 1987 is still a beautiful and functional piece of machinery.  The weekend of June 1, 2014 my bike was one of very few tandems participating in America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride around Lake Tahoe on the California-Nevada border.

The attached picture shows us near the summit of the first mountain pass.  Yes, the bike is from the era when you labeled the bikes as 'Sterling.'


You can see more pictures and read my stories here: www.tinyurl.com/GoJim2014
This is my fundraising page for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Please do not feel that I am soliciting a contribution... I won´t turn it away if you do, but my only hope is that you will be entertained with my blog posts ;)

Thank you for building such a beautiful bike!

- Jim Gausman
"They say you are what you eat, so every day I order the SPECIAL"


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Inspiring Correspondence

Here is some correspondence that we received recently from a fellow member of the cycling community, which needs no further introduction from us.

The accompanying pictures were provided by RW of his 1994 Bilenky Signature Tourlite.

Thank you. Keep sending us this great stuff.

- BCW

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Dear Steve Bilenky & the Whole Bilenky Team,

I just wanted to reach out and thank you for your wonderful work in metal.  I’m looking forward to reading the review of your tandem in the upcoming Bicycle Quarterly.

I am aware of your factory and some of your philosophy, which I call rebuilding an older mode of transportation over the ashes of a newer one.
Anyway, I just love your dedication to MAKING THINGS.  I, too, love to make things.  I have recently completed assembling my own bicycle on a Velo Orange Polyvalent frame (except for the arduous task, for a novice, of fishing the wiring for the headlight from the dynamo hub through the front fork & up through the fender).  Yes, I learned how to lace and true wheels, although I finally got so frustrated with the finicky details, I had the bike shop give the wheels their final tensioning.  And I have enough bike tools that I guess my NEXT bike will be RELATIVELY inexpensive!

As I say to people who look at me, astonished, and say, “You built your own bicycle?”, I say, “Well, I only built it out of PARTS, I didn’t build it out of ROCKS.”  The parts are designed to fit together!  I am sure you are very aware of that great little book, The Toaster Project, and REALLY building something out of rocks!  If we can see farther, and do more, it is only because we stand on the shoulders of giants.
 
Imagine all of those toiling, dirty, sweaty, hot metal smiths of the distant past, in front of their kilns and banging on their anvils, each one perhaps adding one little improvement to metalworking, making metals more pure, coming up with new alloys, making a more resilient sword or shield, making lots and lots and LOTS of mistakes along the way, but a few of those mistakes turning out to be advances in the craft.
I was (and am) a woodworker, and I felt a kind of snobbish distaste for metal.  But then I got into building this bicycle and gained a whole new appreciation for metal, and I’m no longer a metal snob.  Indeed, I desperately crave a nice used metal lathe.  I know I’m rambling here, forgive me, but perhaps you are aware of the Cole Porter song, “It’s De-Lovely!”?  In the preamble to the song, the woman begins,
     “I feel a certain urge to sing/
      The kind of ditty that invokes the Spring!”

With my fetish for a metal lathe, I want to sing,
     “I feel a certain urge to knurl…”

But I haven’t thought of a good word to rhyme with knurl!  I have the complete sets of the Popular Mechanics Do-It-Yourself Encyclopedia, both the 1954 and 1968 editions, and in both sets, it seems you just couldn’t be a “real man” unless you had a metal lathe in the basement!  Amazing how much the idea of DIY was much more prevalent earlier in the last century.  I’m glad you are bringing back the art of craft.  Craft is good.  The work of hands is good!
I actually have an idea for a garden implement that I am going to fabricate from 3/4” copper pipe that I think might even be patentable (in my fondest dreams!), and I’m looking forward to designing and redesigning and building it.  And I also have an idea for a backpack frame that might be workable.

Anyway, in this age of electronics, which is also building things, and I’m not an electronics snob either, and in fact I want to learn all about electronics and maybe build a simple computer, or perhaps you are aware of the factoring machines that use rotating chains to find prime numbers….
As I was saying, before I got distracted there, in this age of electronics and social media, I just want to congratulate you on building things that are so beautiful, so spare, and yet so efficient, effective and useful!  And I hope my next bike will be built around a Bilenky frame!

Thanks for reading through this screed, and, basically, just thank you for all you do!

David
Washington, D.C. & Charlottesville, Va.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Balvenie Video

A few months back BCW was honored to participate in the celebration of American Craft organised by The Balvenie. As part of this, a short film about each participant was produced. Want to hear Stephen talk about the art and craft of a framebuilder? Watch the BCW video here >>>

video

- BCW

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sea Otter Classic 2014

Although we didn't have a stand or any demo bikes there, we did send one of staff away from the office to check out this year's Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, CA, a four day extravaganza of bike stuff and one the biggest US bike events. It has road races, downhill, an expo and is generally a great place to hang out in the spring sunshine in a beautiful part of the country.

BCW met a lot of interesting people and saw some great bikes, and noted lots of new products. Who knows; maybe next year BCW will make the cross-country trip to have a full presence there... In the meantime here are a few photos and comments about the event.

It was good to talk to the people at Bike Friday, demonstrating their neat set-up for a folding travel bike and matching trailer.


Shinola from Detroit had an elegant display of their handmade steel bikes, which you could try out, and which definitely stood out amongst all the mountain bikes and fat tires that pretty much dominated the event.


There was a lot of attention for the new bike that Salsa displayed (for the first time in public?) - their new evolotion of the fat-bike, with full-suspension: the Bucksaw.


And away from the Expo we had a lot of fun watching the racing, though sadly we didn't get a chance to try out the downhill track.




See you next year?

- BCW


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Adventure by Viewpoint

We know that people do great things with the custom bicycles we build for them, and that many of you use your Bilenky for trans-continental adventures and general two-wheel globe-trotting...

And every so often we receive an email or even a photograph in an envelope, showing a Bilenky propped against a wall or in front of a mountain in some far-off land, or of someone's favourite bike that we modified with S&S couplers to make it all ready for long-distance travel.

Photo by Royce Christensen of his S&S modified 1984 Stumpjumper.

So it was great to hear from Dave and Loren, who are about to embark on Adventure Cycling's Northern Tier Route on the Bilenky Viewpoint semi-recumbent travel tandem that we built for them, similar to this one. With S&S couplers the frame separates for packing into airline-size cases.


They've set up a blog at which you can follow their journey:
crosscountryviewpoint.blogspot.com

crosscountryviewpoint.blogspot.com

We wish them all the best and look forward to more updates as they start the ride...

And do you have a great photo of your Bilenky out in the world? Send it to us and we'll put together a gallery of riders' pictures.

- BCW