Bicycles | A Continuous Lean.

Custom Bikes from North Philadelphia.

Feb 23rd, 2013 | Categories: Bicycles, Made in the USA, Philadelphia, Video | by Michael Williams


Stephen Bilenky has been making bicycles in North Philly for the past 30 years. His company Bilenky Cycle Works started out as a repair shop, and then soon after morphed into a custom manufacturer of great looking and highly functional bicycles.  The operation was recently the focus of a mini-documentary which beautifully illustrates the commitment of American small batch bicycle fabricators. The film illustrates the commitment and skills that it takes to make high quality bikes like these. And while a Bilenky bike carries a significant price tag, one can easily see that these people are not exactly in this to get rich. Things like these bicycles take time, effort and know-how — money seems like it is the last thing Stephen Bilenky is interested in.

Wants & Desires | Cielo Sportif Classic

May 1st, 2012 | Categories: Bicycles, Made in the USA, Wants & Desires | by Michael Williams

Go into any bike shop in the U.S. and you will likely find the same three or four big brands that dominate the retail landscape. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with buying a bike from any of those big companies, but it’s important to remember that there is an “independently made” alternative. Portland, Oregon based component maker Chris King’s line of Cielo bicycles are a worthy alternative and a good place to trade your hard earned dollars for a good looking and well made bicycle.

The Cielo Sportif Classic, which is pictured here, is high on my list of things that I need to own. In an age of carbon fiber, the Sportif Classic is designed with the nostalgia of steel framed road bikes of the 1970′s and 1980′s. That steel frame means it is going to be heavier than a lot of bikes out there, but it will also mean that the ride is going to be comfortable and enjoyable. All that said, the bike is great looking and made right here in the United States. The Sportif Classic incorporates many of the quality US-made components that, over the past three decades, have made Chris King such a well regarded manufacturer. The Cielo quality also extends to the styling —each bike is painted entirely in-house with a low VOC (non-toxic) liquid paint without use of any decals, and each detail is masked and painted by hand.

Wanted & Acquired | Raleigh Superbe

Sep 6th, 2009 | Categories: Americana, Bicycles, Cleveland, Cycling | by Michael Williams

Patience is a virtue and I do my best not to live by that motto. I am pretty tenacious when it comes to getting something I want, so it is often hard to wait to see what will come to market. As it turns out my English 3-speed timing worked out perfectly and I found a really nice looking green  all-original Raleigh Superbe in Clearfield, PA, right off interstate 80. Since I was headed to Ohio this weekend via I-80, the 3-speed is now mine and for nearly half the cost of most of the Superbes that have been popping up in NYC and on eBay. Update: I almost forgot to mention that I added a bunch of different bicycle makers to The American List — check it out if you are interested.


Wants & Desires | Raleigh Superbe

Aug 21st, 2009 | Categories: Bicycles, Cycling, England | by Michael Williams

Something has come over me — maybe it is this New York heat wave — but I have become obsessed with the idea of owning a vintage Raleigh 3-speed bicycle. I’m not really into the idea of spending more than $200 for said bicycle (I already own three bikes), and the typical online auction destinations have yielded little within my budget. All that aside, I did discover one fantastic piece of hardware along the way which has me thinking twice. The below gem of a bike near Hartford, Connecticut, is a beautiful English made Raleigh Superbe 3 speed, in near mint condition. The auction is holding steady at the starting bid of $475 (which I think is a little much even for a bike in such good of shape), but if money isn’t an issue I say go for it.


Leg-Breaking Alpine Adventures

Aug 17th, 2009 | Categories: Bicycles, Cycling, Sports | by Michael Williams


James Jung, a friend of ACL, offers his thoughts on cycling escapades both domestic and abroad.

As a spindly-legged kid, I spent most of my summers tucked in my Austrian father’s broad slipstream while we pedaled up and down New Hampshire’s winding back roads. Saddled atop his dinosaur of a Motobecane, ragged cycling shoes wedged into his toe clips and his unruly grey hair flapping in the wind (he never wore a helmet, which, he assured me in his heavily-accented English, were for loozahs), he’d ramble on about all the epic Alpine rides he and his fellow farm boy buddies had done as teenagers. Then he’d crack open a can of Coors when we got home, drain it and tell me more. I knew ‘em by heart: The time they’d hooked their hands onto the back of a bus in order to coast the last few rain-soaked kilometers into Munich just to buy an LP of Revolver; the time they’d stumbled into a Swiss gasthof, cycling caps askew and faces full of grime, only to be fed for free by the matronly proprietor who’d pitied such a worn-out and weary-looking crew; and of course the many occasions on which they’d outmaneuvered slick Italian sport coups down Passo di Stelvio’s 48 hairpin turns. Sure, just the other day I blew a few too many freelance checks on this carbon fiber racing rig, but no matter how modern my tastes have become, I’m still – thanks to dad – obsessed with vintage bikes, no-frills cycling apparel and leg-breaking rides.

Freeman Transport | Gravel Racer

May 13th, 2009 | Categories: Bicycles, Made in the USA | by Michael Williams

The gents at Freeman Transport have just launched their newest bicycle and this time it’s an easy to ride commuter called the Gravel Racer. The story goes that Freeman Transport co-founder Nathaniel Freeman’s “great-great-grandfather was an inventor during the Industrial Revolution. His contributions were many but perhaps his most controversial are the sites for the Colt .45. In his honor we’ve built a bicycle with a finish similar to that gun, richly patinaed with gun bluing and ferric browns, sealed with tree wax and ready to age. It comes with or without couplings, stainless steel lugged rack, chain guard and fenders, and can be built fixed or coaster braked and is perfect for commuting or general transport.”

Freeman_Transport_Gravel_Racer_Commuter_ 1

Wants & Desires | Commuter Bike

Apr 6th, 2009 | Categories: Bicycles, Wants & Desires | by Michael Williams

I’ve been after a commuter bike for a while now. Something that I will ride to work (on the days the dog stays home; sorry dog) and generally use to just get around New York. Maybe I’m just jealous of all the fun they are having in Copenhagen? I already have two bicycles at the moment, but I really think one should own as many bikes as one can effectively store at home. Seeing how my building has a bicycle room, I’m pretty much free to go as far as my wallet will take me. Tonight the better part of three hours was spent making this wish-list-of-sorts for a commuter bike. I should point out that this list is by no means recession friendly. Most of the rigs included (especially that super tasty Vanilla), are going to cost you both arm and leg. But that is why this post is titled Wants & Desires and not Needs & Requires.

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