Trip to the Philly Bike Expo

The Philly Bike Expo is a small regional bicycle show organized by Bina Bilenky, daughter of Stephen Bilenky of Bilenky Cycle Works. After missing last year’s inaugural show, I was happy when the opportunity to visit the city of brotherly love presented itself this year.

As expected, there were lots of Bilenky bikes around. I really like their cargo bikes seen below.

Bilenky Cargo Bike

Below is the Columbus MS track bike by Chris Bishop that won Best Steel Bike at the 2011 NAHBS. Unlike NAHBS, the Philly show was not concerned with awards. However, that didn’t seem to make the exhibitors any less busy. I never actually got a chance to say Hello to Chris this time, so swamped was he talking to other show visitors.

Bishop Track Bike

Chris Igleheart had a number of nice bikes with him including this frame which can separate into two pieces thanks to the Ritchey Break-Away system.

Christopher Igleheart and Frame

It was nice to talk to Chris Bull from Circle A Cycles. Chris’s business collaborator, Brian Chapman can be seen in the background of the photo below exhibiting bikes under his own name. Apparently, my name has been somewhat burned into the minds of Chris and Brian as they read it each time they launch BikeCAD Pro. My name comes up in the credits for providing the American English for the program. It may be a little known fact that BikeCAD displays different spellings for words like color, colour, tire and tyre depending on whether you’re American, Canadian, or British. Of course, it will also display words like bicicleta, fiets or fahrrad if your language of choice is not English. More on that here.

Circle A Bicycle with Brian Chapman

Below is one of the bikes brought by Hubert d’Autremont of Cycles d’Autremont from Burlington, Vermont. Hubert also had his bike from the Oregon Manifest featuring, among other things, a rubber sleeved cable lock that retracts from the handlebar. Alas, that photo didn’t turn out.

Cycles d Autremont

I enjoyed talking with Ryan Reedell and Marie Pasquariello from Folk Engineered. They had some samples of their production bike, the Marsupial on hand. They also had the bike they designed with 4th-8th grade students from the Discovery Charter School for the Oregon Manifest.

Folk Engineered Book

Looking through the book that documented the process, I was starting to wonder how many of the kid’s ideas could have possibly been incorporated into the finished bike. Features like a massive umbrella, a water balloon bumper and wings, while undoubtedly awesome, seemed like tricky things to implement in the real world.

Folk Engineered Book

Folk Engineered Front End

While the water balloons may have been left on the cutting room floor, Ryan and Marie were adamant that they could not have come up with many of the features of the finished bike without the collaboration with the kids. The tire pump which Ryan demonstrated by pumping the seatpost up and down was just one ingenious example. The bike also charges a smart phone and powers a headlight when in motion.

Folk Engineered Seatpost Pump

Holland Cycles came all the way from San Diego to exhibit their Exogrid Bicycle which looks absolutely amazing.

Holland Frame

Peter Weigle from Connecticut had a couple of bikes on display. They featured elegant features like integrated tail lights.

JP Weigle

Rich Adams built the bike below for his wife. I really like the paint job which features a little cartoon bunny designed by his wife.

Rich Adams

Royal H was sharing a booth with Icarus. I managed to chat with Ian Sutton of Icarus but I did not get a photo of any of his bikes. Meanwhile, I took this photo of Bryan Hollingsworth’s Royal H bike without having a chance to talk to him. Both Ian and Bryan make great bikes.

Royal H

I was super impressed with this bicycle equipped with dog carrying sidecar by Andrew Watson of Watson Cycles.

Watson Handmade Bicycle Company

Andrew also built this beast that looks like it could claw its way over just about anything.

Watson Handmade Bicycle Company

Out in the alley next to the show, there was a bike swap featuring some pretty neat bikes like this crazy chopper with a funky shifter in the rear for the internal gear hub.

Green Chopper with Funky Shifter

In the photo below, Chris and Brian are packing up for the drive back to Rhode Island. It was a long way for us to come down from Canada too, but we’re glad to have made the trip. It was a great show!

Shipping Out

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The Bicycle Forest :: Pimp My Rhoades Car

The Bicycle Forest had grown to the point where we felt it was time to invest in a vehicle that we could use to get the message out about our BikeCAD bicycle design software and the wide array of specialty bicycles that we have available for rent.

Although we don't believe in psychoanalyzing people based on what vehicles they may or may not drive, we do believe that when a corporation selects a car or truck for promotional purposes, it is vital that it select a vehicle that captures the personality and spirit of the company.

Of course, the first vehicle that came to mind for us was the Hummer by General Motors. The enormous body panels would serve as moving billboards, brandishing the Bicycle Forest logo wherever we go. We found the possibility of winning customer support through vehicular intimidation particularly alluring. Furthermore, the opportunity to associate ourselves with the military industrial complex made the Hummer an obvious choice for the Bicycle Forest.

Admittedly, the 16" of ground clearance and the Hummer's water fording capabilities had us wondering if we'd be paying for features that we don't really need. Then, we learned that the Hummer has a curb weight of 8114 lbs. "Who were we kidding?" we thought. Obviously, we'd be paying for thousands of pounds more than we'd ever need. Clearly, our decision to purchase a Hummer would not be based on practicality. It would be to make a statement about our dominance in the bicycle design software and bicycle rental industries. It only seemed fitting that we should dominate the highways and byways of North America with the same might that we exert in our own business.

Vehicular intimidation

Unfortunately, once we learned of the Hummer's abysmal fuel economy, we simply could not reconcile owning such a vehicle with our concern for the environment.

We examined several other options. Some had exhaust that smelled like french fries, others had no emissions at all. We particularly liked the idea of a zero emissions vehicle, until we found that most of these cars ran on electricity or hydrogen. Although we applaud the development of all forms of alternative energy vehicles, and we are happy to see electricity being generated by more environmentally friendly means, we weren't thrilled about the idea of creating even more demand for electricity with the purchase of our Bicycle Forest promotional vehicle.

Rhoades Car The zero emissions vehicle that most impressed us was the Rhoades Car. Equipped with a butterfly steering wheel, marine grade vinyl seats and molded black mag wheels, the Rhoades Car is the most well appointed car in its class.

By eliminating the engine, the automotive engineers at Rhoades Car have created the most fuel efficient car in America. The only drawback is the top end speed. The Rhoades Car is not fast enough for freeway travel. We've come to accept this limitation. At the Bicycle Forest, we believe that in addition to making our existing modes of transportation more environmentally friendly, we must also strive to change our transportation patterns by driving less and using more public transportation. By adopting the Rhoades Car as our official company vehicle, we feel that we are doing our part by not only driving an environmentally friendly vehicle, but also by scaling back on driving in general.

Pimped out Rhoades Car If there was anything about the Rhoades Car that didn't entirely suit our corporate image it may be its lack of rugged styling. Although we are not farmers, or heavy machinery maintenance workers, we very much wanted to associate our image with that of these hard working people. That's why we decided to Pimp our Rhoades Car.

To supe up our two passenger, long frame Rhoades Car, we started by welding together a chromoly steel frame in the style of a pickup truck and wrapping it with 30 gauge galvanized steel. We painted it John Deere yellow and mounted a plexiglass windshield, 55W head lights, LED tail lights and rear view mirrors. The finishing touch was a set of aftermarket hubcaps. The pimp job added an extra 138 lbs to the car, but it was definitely worth it because now we can send the same message that other corporations have sent with their promotional Hummers. "We're the Bicycle Forest, and nobody messes with us!"

Here is a public service announcement featuring the converted Rhoades Car.