Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Labor Day Sale - 10% off retrofits and new frames...

It's been a busy summer in the workshop, so busy that it's been quite a while since we wrote anything here.

There's been plenty of stuff published on our Flickr site though, so you can always keep an eye on what we've been up to.

And now it's time for the annual Labor Day flash sale here at BCW. We have two discount offers for you. Discount prices are good thru end of day Tuesday 2nd September.

including packages & accessories ordered with a retrofit

That means a steel retrofit starts at $595 $535 and a ti retrofit starts at $925 $830. The more accessories you add on, the more the savings add up.

S&S couplers are a simple, elegant addition to any bicycle. The investment can be repaid quickly if you travel a lot in the saving on airline luggage charges. Call now to get your favorite bike travel ready. Then take it anywhere in the world.


Want to get in our Fall build queue and have a shiny new bike all ready to go in 2015? Place your order now and get 10% off the cost of any frame, any material, any construction.

Phone us to discuss your dream bike and then we'll plan and build it. (215) 329-4744.

A 50% deposit will be needed to confirm the design and to get a reserved space on the production schedule. No idea is too crazy or impossible. Really. We build bikes like nobody else, but we can only do that because so many of you come to us with ideas and designs that are unique and beautiful.


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...




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:
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.



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!

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 >>>


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?


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:

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.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Field Testing: Sinewave Cycles' "Revolution" USB charger

The "Revolution" made by Sinewave Cycles is a neat bit of kit that we recently got the chance to test out, both here in the shop and on a Bilenky expedition touring bike that went on a trip to South America.

Sinewave Cycles (formerly BikeBright) is based in Cambridge, MA, and their products are made in the USA too. Here's why we like them so much.

The Revolution is simple and effective: plug it in to your front-wheel dynamo - in this case a Shimano DH-3D72; but it worked just fine with a Supernova Infinity too - and then use the USB outlet to charge up your iPhone, iPod, digital camera, or pretty much anything else with a USB port. (We even managed to charge an iPad with it, though we're not sure whether that's officially recommended!)

Although touring cyclists are not usually so concerned with the weight of their rig, for us one of the great advantages of the Revolution are it's size and weight. It really is about the same as a box of matches. It's sturdy and compact, easily tucked into a framebag. It's even water-proof (though thankfully we didn't have the need to test this claim)!

So we highly recommend the Revolution for touring. It doesn't have a battery for storage, but we simply unplugged the lights during the day and used it to charge electronics. It worked flawlessly. And there are other options too that you check out on the Sinewave website for charging or running multiple items.

The set-up was very simple. A Topeak RideCase iPhone holder mounts easily onto the stem without taking up handlebar space. Then just add your iPhone and the useful Gaia GPS app (maps can be downloaded) and hey - you're all set to explore...


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Balvenie & American Craftsmanship

BCW was honored to take place in the recent celebration of American Craftsmanship supported by those fine makers of single malt Scotch whisky, The Balvenie.

Full information is available here. See if you can spot Stephen in the picture...

We were amongst five unique businesses who are masters of their craft selected to participate in this award. We would like to thank The Balvenie and the American Craft Council for giving us the opportunity to feature our work alongside so many other talented and skilled people. We welcome the opportunity to demonstrate just how good 'Made in America' can be - and to show the time, effort and cost that go into to crafting something of the very highest quality.

And we'd like to take this opportunity to salute the four other participants in this event and refer you to their remarkable products...

Douglas Brooks
Boat-builder, Vermont - Winner of the 2014 Rare Craft Fellowship Award

Scott Baxendale
Luthier (Guitar builder), Athens GA

Ubaldo Vitali
Silversmith, Newark NJ

Ina Grau
Shoemakers, Minneapolis MN


Friday, February 14, 2014

Maryland Swapmeet 2014

The winter storms keep rolling through but a good number of sellers, buyers and general enthusiasts still came out for the annual Stop Swap & Save in Westminster, Maryland – a big agricultural barn full of bikes and bike parts and bike people.

This swap-meet is now well established as one of the largest on the East Coast and business was good for many stall-holders.

Rummaging through tables of old and new bike gear is a relaxing way to spend a Sunday morning.

Who knows what treasure might be lurking in the $5 box? Deals and bargains are the nature of the day.

On the Bilenky Cycle Works stand, we weren’t selling any custom frames, but instead took the chance to clear out a selection of nice used, new and nearly-new parts. We also shifted a lot of old tires with plenty of mileage left.
Bicycle swapmeets are like a meeting of the community – some people come to buy or sell, others just to catch up on news and friendships. Everyone is an enthusiast. The exhanges of information and knowledge is one of the best parts of the day.
It was good to see the many old friends that stopped by to say hello. We hope you had a good swap and found plenty of bargains... See you again next year!


Friday, February 7, 2014

Ti Touring Tandem

Another unique bike that we built to commission - to be fast, light... and a tandem.

This bike is for a team where the captain is 6'7" and the stoker 5'2". They already owned some very fine bikes - a Calfee Design Di2 tandem and a Rodriguez Cycles steel tourer - and we were happy to add a BCW special to their stable.

Ti Racing Tandem

The ti tandem we created for them has full touring capacity, with S&S couplers, lightweight high-end components, and a rigid construction through oversize tubing that makes it stiff and responsive.

Frame construction
  • open/no-lateral construction frame design - the lateral was omitted for simplicity and for weight saving (for both speed and as it's a travel bike)
  • oversize tubing to compensate and provide strength: down-tube 2", bottom tube 2", topt-tube 1 3/4", seat-tube 1 1/2"
  • oversize head-tube to accommodate an 1 1/4" Reynolds Carbon Tandem Fork
  • We used Paragon Machine Works low-mount expedition disc dropouts, which allow for a chainstay mounted disc brake and mountings for fenders and a rack. We recommend Paragon components for most of our ti frames.

Frame detailing
  • the stoker stem is not mounted on seatpost but is an integral part of the toptube - pierced through and welded in
  • this allows more choice of stems and retains a space between bars and captain's seatpost (so you can use a handlebar bag when touring)

Components - all selected for quality and weight
  • Spinergy Tandem wheels
  • White Industries titanium bottom bracket
  • DaVinci tandem cranks
  • DuraAce shifters
  • modified DaVinci wide-range rear derailleur to run a wide range 9spd DuraAce cassette
  • oversize 203mm disc rotors
  • Paul Racer Rear Brake to act as a 3rd brake/drag brake operated by stoker
  • Chris King headset
  • Carbon dropbars
  • Thomson Masterpiece seatposts
  • Avid SL disc brakes

Finish and lightness
  • tig-welded construction
  • glassbead blasted for stress relief
  • we even drilled oversize holes in the S&S couplers to remove excess weight ('S&S drillium'?)

If you see this tandem out and about, it probably means it just went past you. This thing is seriously fast and we wish it's new owners many hours of happy riding. And two final statistics to conclude:

Total Weight: 25lb
Top Speed: Unknown


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Otto's Rando - Signature 650b Randonneur

Just before Christmas we finished one of the most special custom steel bikes we've built for a while - a Bilenky Signature 650b Randonneur, which we are proud to present in tribute to the style and flair of René Herse.

One of the pleasures of this build was that the customer was very specific in how he wanted the bike to look and ride, and took an active part in the design process. As a result of this ongoing dialogue and exchange of ideas, the design of the bicycle evolved as we built it. The result is beautiful and unique.

And so here (as they say in England) is the full SP on the build...

  • Bilenky Signature Rando 650b x 42c
  • Handcut investment-cast lugs with a Herse-inspired profile
  • Columbus Life tubing
  • Imperial oval fork-blades with Grand Bois fork crown

Frame detail
  • stainless steel chainstays and rear dropouts
  • integrated Tony Pereira Constructeur taillight, custom mounted
  • custom rear brake cable hanger
  • internal wiring
  • custom chainstay fender mount
  • mitred-in seatstay attachment
  • custom fabricated bottom bracket shell to match Herse-tribute lugs
  • customer supplied custom headbadge
  • SonDeluxe SL fork dropouts with internal wiring
  • S&S couplers - custom cut to match lugs

  • Pearlescent Lunar Peach - gold and pink pearl over custom mixed color to emulate the moon's rising color. Fun process story- originally the customer wanted a classic grey. When he came to the shop to pick up two other bikes we had modified and repainted for him, the painter took him outside to discuss grey armed with the color books. As they were talking about color and the love of bicycling, a delivery truck arrived with a package. After running the delivery inside, the color book was randomly open to a page with some peaches and Naomi the painter pointed to it and said "one day I'd like to paint a bike a color like that because it reminds me of the moon". The customer appreciated the recommendation and seeing her other work, he enthusiastically gave her full artistic freedom.
  • color coordinated racks to decals and lug-lining to emulate twilight
  • hand-painted Bilenky stencil logo
  • pump painted to match and mounted behind seattube

Components - a mix of new and vintage
  • SKF roller-bearing bottom bracket
  • RenĂ© Herse crankset
  • Vintage Mountain Goat tapered roller bearing headset
  • Custom wheelset using Velocity A23 offset rims
  • Mafac Raid brakes (with custom braze-on mounts)
  • Grand Bois Hetre tires
  • Brooks Professional saddle
  • Rear hub: White Industries polished 36h

Custom lugged stem
  • custom Bilenky Fabrications lugged steel stem
  • twin handlebar binderbolts
  • painted to match the frame and lug detailing


  • custom Bilenky Fabrications front and rear racks
  • detachable low-rider rack at the front (to remove when you aren't carrying panniers)
  • center-mount dynamo headlight positioned beyond the tire profile
  • Honjo Hammered fenders with painted stripes to match frame and lugs
  • custom fabricated decaleur with integrated cable hanger for Berthoud bag

You might call this bike 'full custom', as the attention to detail is evident in every aspect of the frame and the components, and particularly given the number of custom items that we designed and fabricated solely for this bike. It is one of a kind. Artistry in steel.