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.