Danyel Jones and Rob Heller are Planet ert, offering “elegantly up-cycled ornamentation for today’s extraordinary women.” Many of the pieces in Planet ert’s line of earrings, pendants and more incorporate bicycle-themed elements or even reclaimed bike chain links, spoke nipples, and other small parts into the designs.
PBE What’s your title/job description?
DJ: My title is Sales & Marketing Manager for Planet Ert. Rob is the artist of our team. I’m responsible for seeking out opportunities to present the work, as well as, interacting with wholesale and retail clients. Selling makes me very happy 🙂 I love to see our pieces go to the right home. Extraordinary women are everywhere!
PBE Where/how did you get your training in metalwork/jewelry arts?
RH: My background with metal started in AZ with classes from Coconino Community College, where I became fairly proficient with oxy acetylene and arc welding. When I moved to NYC in 2004, space for such endeavors became scarce and so I lowered my temperature and took up soldering and piercing; I took classes at the 92nd St. Y in metal smithing and several classes at Brooklyn Metal Works.
PBE Were bicycle-themed elements always part of your designs?
My art for the longest time has been related to the ‘singularity of scrap’ and the potential story, the inherent frugality, and efficient beauty of the up-cycle. The scrap left over from a bike shop is abundant and cool. The profile and shape of a bicycle and the pieces of, are instantly recognizable to one who loves the ride of the pedal push.
PBE Where do you find inspiration?
I am inspired by all those that ride. I believe that more bicycles in any city makes said city instantly better; safer streets, cleaner air, happy and healthier citizenry… win, win, win…
PBE What’s your favorite part of the design and/or construction process?
I think ‘the doing informs’ the making of shapes, and the chance to play, in-order to find new compositions of previously explored possibilities, is the excitement of the creative process…
PBE What’s your favorite ride/route/destination?
I love playing in traffic; the fountain loops of the Oval of the Art museum and Logan circle, and around City hall, are places that should not be scary to be a human being, and I love to be very human within the mix…
Do you listen to music while you work? If yes, what kind?
I listen to two Pandora stations; yoga workout: lots of Wax Tailor, Beats Antique, and Marian Hill. And an Ani Difranco/Beastie Boys mix station. I also listen to NPR and affiliated podcasts…
“I’m the guy who drives everybody crazy around here” says German native and former professional triathlete Micki Kozuschek, founder and CEO of Lezyne. “My micromanagement style is to just keep everything streamlined and it’s my way of mentoring all the people around me.”
Lezyne was founded in 2007 with the mission of producing premium quality accessories that meet the same high standards as high-end bicycle components. Lezyne’s goal and slogan is Engineered Design.
Lezyne turns out innovative products like their CNC Floor Drive with its secure ABS chuck connection, their Carbon Road Drive with light-weight Full Carbon Technology, and multi tools using Center-Pivot bit design.
Since 2011, Lezyne’s in-house team of product designers and engineers has been developing high quality, standard-setting LED lights. All Lezyne LEDs are tested in Lezyne’s own integrating sphere; an instrument used to measure the lumen output. Lezyne also developed its own lenses to produce the best possible optics for bicycle lights.
In 2015, Lezyne added a new category to their line – GPS computers. It was a natural progression for a brand that already had a core team of top computer and electrical engineers. Lezyne’s GPS computers were developed from the ground up to be lightweight, user friendly and packed with features, one of which is the ability to pair with the Lezyne Ally phone app, enabling email, text and phone call notifications.
Lezyne has also introduced an integrated low-profile digital gauge to their hand pumps, making them the most technologically advanced hand pumps available today.
“Some people look so far into the future that they lose track of today,” says Kozuschek. “We have the goal to make a well-working and good-looking product at a fair price. I’m very proud of that.”
“Altruism is the act of putting other people’s well-being before your own. I believe it’s what defines us as human. Also, frame building is a very selfless art form, as the artist can never enjoy the end product by riding it” Gabriel Lang, (PSBMX 2016) https://psbmx.com/2016/07/22/interview-with-altruiste-bikes-owner-gabriel-lang-builder-the-party-master-frame-from-the-rise/ )
I’m an ol’ believer in peace, love, and understanding, so I couldn’t help but feel a little tug at the heartstrings for the confluence of art, idealism, long hair and Canada embodied in the person of frame builder Gabriel Lang, I was going to ask how he came up with that most noble, (and, sadly often maligned in some circles) character trait as his brand. But I found the answer in a 2016 interview (quoted above). A number of my potential questions were already answered in that interview. A visit to altruistebikes.com serves up additional insights into the joyful, grateful soul off this award-winning frame builder. I still had a few more questions- you’ll find his answers below:
PBE When did you know you wanted to be a frame builder?
GL I knew I wanted to be a frame builder when my bike drawings started making sense, somewhere around the fifth grade. I realized it was going to be my trade after two years of political science in college. I’ve been taking steps to be a better frame builder ever since.
PBE How did you choose your location or did it choose you?
GL After learning my trade in Quebec, we chose to move back to eastern Canada, close to where I grew up. Being in a smaller province offers more opportunity for an alternative business such as Altruiste, especially with social media and online sales. Also, the sea is great to get the creative juices flowing!
PBE What’s your favorite part of the frame building process?
GL The whole process behind building a frame is quite satisfying. From conception to delivery. But I love the meditative aspect of welding.
PBE Where do you find inspiration?
GL I like simple, streamlined designs. The bicycle is a simple machine and I’m inspired by any form of art, architecture, or assemblage that applies to my quest for minimalism.
Discovery Bicycle Tours offers an experience called “Inn to Inn Touring”. From country inn to country inn, participants enjoy fine food, great lodging, and VIP treatment from professional leaders. Each tour is carefully designed to welcome and encourage riders of varying interests and skill levels. The tour company takes care of all the details at the inns and along the way. All a participant has to do is relax and have fun.
Established decades ago, Discovery Bicycle Tours goes on more than 100 trips a year including New England and Quebec, Mid-Atlantic states and Florida, Italy, France and Spain, and Scotland, Ireland and Denmark.
Scott and Thistle Cone are the new owners, committed to continuing and building upon the longstanding Discovery Bicycle Tours reputation.
PBE What’s your job title/description?
SC I actually have three titles: Chief Exploration Officer, President and Co-owner. Thistle is mainly handling our marketing, HR and payroll. Her titles are Chief Customer Officer, VP of Marketing and Co-owner. She loves to bicycle as well, and is an expert in copywriting with a background in natural resources policy.
I’m basically driving strategy and operations for all of our tours, but I’m spending some time exploring our existing tours — and designing completely new routes as well. I’m headed to Tuscany this week in fact, to go on our tour there and check it out.
PBE When did you take the reins of Discovery Bicycle Tours?
SC Thistle and I bought Discovery Bicycle Tours on May 30th 2018, and have spent the summer getting up to speed, while transitioning from the previous owners Larry and Dawn Niles. Larry owned Discovery for 27 years and was the second owner of the 41-year-old company. They changed the name from Bike Vermont to Discovery Bicycle Tours in 2011 in recognition of the expansion to tours in Ireland, Tuscany, Maine, Quebec and elsewhere.
PBE Were you associated with the company in another capacity before this?
SC We had been on one tour with Discovery Bicycle Tours prior to taking over, but we’ve also toured with a number of other companies, and I’ve been a Tour Leader for the Adventure Cycling Association.
PBE How do you choose your destinations?
SC We choose our destinations with a focus on finding beautiful rural areas with great scenery and great lodging that can be combined into an outstanding way to experience the area. The riding has to be interesting, scenic and safe, and we like to focus on being in a location at the right times of year. I’ve biked in many parts of the country and the world, and I’m excited to bring additional destinations to the Discovery Bicycle Tours lineup, including newly added trips for this year on the GAP rail trail and in the Texas Hill Country.
PBE What’s your favorite part of the business?
SC My favorite part of the business is meeting, riding with and hearing from happy riders on their tours. We deliver great experiences, and our tour leaders are a fantastic group of people who help our clients enjoy a memorable vacation. I love seeing it all come together.
I like the Q&A format, and I’m hearing that our readers do, too. My preferred method of Q is via email. I sent my questions to local bike shop and third-year-in-a-row Philly Bike Expo exhibitor Cycles BiKyle. Owner Kyle Schmeer, Shop Manager Alex Winoski and Head Mechanic Nolan Bixler joined together to make the replies a team effort. In addition to promoting their shop and their reputation as nationally known bike-fit pioneers, Cycles BiKyle will be sharing their booth space with reps from Bianchi USA, the iconic celeste green Italian brand.
PBE What (if anything) did you do before coming to Cycles BiKyle?
CBK Kyle Schmeer (Owner) opened the shop in 1982. As a racer and race mechanic, he always noticed cyclists on poorly fit bikes. It was not long before he developed his own fit check system which we still use today. Being one of the first master fitters, Kyle has over 11,000 fits under his belt, ranging from professional champions to commuters. Alex Winoski (Shop Manager) started at Cycles BiKyle 11 years ago. He was an avid BMXer as a teenager and Cycles BiKyle was actually his first job. Nolan Bixler (Head Mechanic) refinished furniture for a number of years before getting his first bicycle mechanic job. He’s been at Cycles BiKyle for 3 years.
PBE What (in your opinion) is the best thing about Philadelphia (related to cycling and/or operating a bike shop in the Philly area)?
CBK Philadelphia and its neighboring areas seems to become more and more bicycle friendly with every passing year. We have access to all sorts of bicycling environments (The center city urban experience, the Wiss and Belmont mtb experience, ample bike lanes for commuters, very scenic views within an hour from the city).
PBE With its long history on the cycling scene, what are some of the changes that Cycles BiKyle has noticed (or been a part of) over the years? CBK Ever since opening in 1982, Kyle has been focused on proper fit for all of our customers. Every bike we sell, from the entry level hybrid to the full blown race bike, goes through Kyle’s time tested fit process. BiKyle has seen, sold, and serviced most of the technological advances in cycling of the past 4 decades. From the introduction of clipless pedals, to the early stages of the modern carbon fiber frame, to the age of electronic shifting and disc brakes, our staff has the knowledge to help with whatever bicycle issues you may have.
PBE What’s your favorite part of your job?
CBK The best part of the job is seeing the smiles on peoples faces when they leave with their perfectly fitting bicycle! We here feel that fit is the most important part of the bicycle purchasing process. If you feel good on the bike, you are more likely to ride! Our service department also takes great pride in their work. Nothing is more satisfying than being able to help a rider chase down that annoying creak or hearing about that great race after a fresh tune up or overhaul!
PBE What’s your favorite ride/route?
CBK We have shop rides Tuesdays and Thursdays. We ride around the Bryn Mawr, Ardmore, Gladwyne, and Radnor areas. We like to throw some hills in the ride, but we are non-drop so we always regroup at the top. It’s more of a casual fun ride for people who haven’t rode in a group atmosphere or for those who don’t want the pressure of riding in a competitive paceline. However, we do like to go fast every now and again! Afterwards, we have a nice cool down beer behind the shop!
Nobody wants to think about bicycle crashes, but in the unfortunate event that one occurs, Piscitello Law is ready to help. Joseph Piscitello is a personal injury attorney who specializes in bicycle crashes due to aggressive/negligent motorists or unsafe road conditions. Joe combines his passion for the law with his passion for cycling. A cyclist himself, he understands first hand the dangers riders face when sharing the road with motor vehicles.
Supporting cycling culture for over two decades, Joe has been a competitive road, criterium and cross cyclist. He founded a Masters Elite Cycling Team in 2010 which is nationally recognized. For the past 3 years, Joe has been a Cycling Coach and Ride Leader in both domestic and international corporate cycling rides to benefit cancer research.
Joe is actively involved with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. He serves on the Advisory Board for the Coalition’s Youth Cycling Program and is their pro-bono legal advisor. Joe has been a keynote speaker numerous times on the topic of legal rights and responsibilities of cyclists. This past spring, he was a featured Speaker and Moderator during the Philadelphia Vision Zero Conference. Vision Zero is an initiative begun in Sweden (and increasingly adopted by US cities) that seeks to reduce transport deaths to zero by 2030.
In 2017, after a competitive search of cycling attorneys throughout Pennsylvania, the Bike Law Network invited Piscitello Law to join and represent Bike Law PA. Bike Law is a network of independent bicycle lawyers across North America. As the state representative of Bike Law PA, Joe collaborates with 18 preeminent bicycle crash attorneys in the United States and Canada. Joe considers his invitation to join Bike Law to be one of the highest honors as it recognizes his commitment to advocate and protect cycling rights.
In August 2018, Piscitello Law expanded when Arley Kemmerer and Rachel Rubino joined the firm. Both are competitive cyclists racing for Fearless Femme. Arley is an experienced attorney, and Rachel is a talented bicycle mechanic and cycling advocate. Arley and Rachel spearheaded Fearless Femme’s efforts to launch Fearless Femme Cx. The team’s mission is to race competitively at the elite level while also providing mentorship to the women’s cyclocross community.
I asked Joe to talk about his favorite part of his work.
He said, “I love to teach- educating clients about the laws and the importance of having the right kinds of insurance.”
His focus on education is obvious by the wealth of information and bike-related resources found on his website: piscitellolaw.com. I learned that if you are in a cycling crash, you should make sure the police documents your version of what happened. Also, you should seek immediate medical attention, even if your injuries seem minor; many times, the adrenaline rush of an accident will mask pain. So many other helpful hints are included on the site, such as the importance to take pictures of everything (ie, the road, your bike, helmet, etc). I also learned that a cyclist, without proper representation, can be found responsible for damages to the motor vehicle! Yikes!
As our conversation concluded, Joe went on to share how rewarding it has been to bring justice to cyclists. “Over the years I have noticed that some cycling clients are not just interested in being made whole with money to compensate them for their injuries and/or their damaged bike. Many injured cyclists want to make sure that the party responsible for their pain is brought to justice. That part of the case is immensely important to both the cyclist and to me as an advocate for cycling rights.”
Hopefully you won’t need a cycling attorney, but if you do, Joe Piscitello has the experience and skills to defend your rights.
No two butts are the same, so, it’s safe to say that there can be no one-size-(or style) fits-all in saddles. It continues to be an exciting development that there are so many saddles on the market to choose from and so many companies on a quest to build that better mousetrap, er-saddle. Rivet Cycle Works is a relatively recent (less than 10 years) player in the growing leather-saddle landscape, and they’ve become a serious contender. For a certain aesthetic, nothing beats the classic good looks of a riveted leather saddle, and to those in the know, nothing can compare to leather’s individualized comfort and gets-better-with-age feel. Saddles are a very personal item, and Rivet Cycle Works stands by its products with a remarkable try-it-for-365-days offer in the hopes you’re going to love it. I caught up with company founder Debra Banks, aka “The Rivetress”, to ask her a few questions.
PBE What did you do before starting Rivet?
DB Pre-Rivet I spent my time in education, working with people across the nation to make our K-12 schools better for our kids & teachers, especially those in our toughest communities.
PBE How did you choose the location of your business or did it choose you?
DB I chose Sacramento. Sac is a great place to bike; people ride for transportation and recreation, and our infrastructure, while not perfect, is pretty good and getting better all the time. It’s also fairly close to our ports & has a great airport for when I need to travel. Finally, the bicycle community here is excellent. We know each other, collaborate on projects and come together to support cycling in the Sac region. All great reasons to be here.
Where are your products made?
DB All Rivet gear is designed here in Cali and then I work with a master craftsman in Taichung. He’s my leather whisperer.
What’s your favorite part of your business?
DB Helping people think through what saddle will be best for them. We talk about issues, position on the bike, and riding goals. I work with each individual until they are satisfied and are happy with their Rivet choice.
Where do you find inspiration?
DB All over. People watching, talking to riders about what’s working (or not) for them, and in products designed. As a woman owned business, I find strength in other women who have done extraordinary things in their lives.
What’s your favorite ride/route/destination?
DB I’m writing this from Japan, about to start a 1200k grand randonnee in Hokkaido. I’m betting that in a weeks time, it will be my favorite. Ask me again when I’m at PBE!
I’m a big fan of printed page, whether it’s books, magazines or newspapers. Maybe it’s because of the way I grew I up- my parent’s home was lined with sagging bookshelves. My dad subscribed to multiple magazines and newspapers. I’m thinking that the newer generations who’ll never know of a time without digital media, will wonder what all the fuss was about. Books are heavy and cumbersome! What about all the trees? Etc, etc. But I can’t help feeling there’s something about the sensation of fingers turning pages, something about the satisfying thump of book covers closing, or the rustle of a newspaper, or the exciting sight of a shiny new issue of a magazine in the mailbox. I do know definitively that whenever I have to memorize something, whether it’s song lyrics or information for a test, being able to visualize the text in unchanging placement is very important. Dirt Rag/Bicycle Times are sister publications of Rotating Mass Media, founded in Pittsburgh in 1989. Dirt Rag/Bicycle Times has been a sponsor of the Philly Bike Expo since our very beginnings and we’re proud to have them back again. They started out when actual physical magazines with USPS delivery or newsstand purchase was the only way to go, and they’re still here on the web, as an app, but also by subscription and in bike shops.- a testament not only to their strength and perseverance in a changing world but also to the loyalty of their readership and supporters. We live in a time where the combined arts of writing and editing seem to be becoming quaint relics. I mean, how many people are out there that still know that the word “rag” is a colloquialism for “magazine” referencing old paper-making processes?
I sent in my questions to DR/BT, in the manner I usually do, not sure who would answer, and got these responses from Maurice Tierney, self-identified as “Big Cheese” at Rotating Mass Media.
What (if anything) did you do before coming to Rotating Mass Media?
MT Professional photographer and ambulance-chaser, school bus driver, ice cream man.
Could you provide some thoughts/insights into the world of online vs print publishing?
MT Don’t get me started. We’ve always worked really hard to make the magazines, but I have to say, everything used to be so easy! The internet is fine but every time you turn around there’s a new business model to follow.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
MT Being a part of the greatest team ever. And all the people who have touched my life in one way or another through 30 years of doing what we do.
What’s your favorite ride/route/destination?
MT Whatever’s in my backyard at the moment. But the Whole Enchilada ride in Moab is the ONE.
“Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clime, nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.” John Donne, 1572-1631
With the premise that “a lot of women need better pants”, Debbie Baer founded The Willary in 2016. Ms Baer’s career trajectory went from costume design for the theatre, to designing jerseys for Nike, to starting the Willary. Ms Baer launched her company with a Kickstarter campaign that was so successful, it caught the eye of Forbes magazine. Forbes then ran a 2 part profile of the start-up. In the Forbes articles, entrepreneurial experts weighed in with advice and suggestions on how The Willary could best continue to build on its initial success.
With determination, persistence, high standards, and a dedication to the women who wear her clothes, Debbie and the Willary are holding strong and returning to the Philly Bike Expo for the 3rd year in a row. Each investment-quality piece in the Willary’s “Core Wardrobe” is made of durable, stain-resistant fabric and constructed to hold its shape off the bike and hold up to the rigors of the road. While more and more companies seem to be entering the market of sport (and sporty-looking) cycling clothing for women, the Willary’s pants, tops and dresses are designed so the wearer arrives at work (or anywhere!) looking neat, tailored and put-together.
PBE Where did you receive your fashion design training?
DB I started as a costume designer and hold an MFA in costume design from Northwestern University. Later I studied at Parsons School of Design where I hold an AAS in fashion design. A lot of my training also came from working in the field–first as an intern at Outlier and later as an assistant designer for Nike SB.
PBE What’s the story behind your business name?
DB The Willary is a mash-up of my grandma’s names: Wilhelmina and Mary. They’re the patron saints of this operation.
PBE What’s your favorite part of your business?
DB My customers! The women I outfit are all around superstars–bold, interesting, driven, active, creative, dedicated–I must be doing something right if I connect with such a stellar group.
PBE Where do you find inspiration?
DB Inspiration for the functional aspects of our clothes come from observation. I pay attention to moments when women are fighting against their clothes and try to figure out how to ease those pain points. Creative inspiration comes from architecture, art, and my background in costume design–I love costume history and am a geek for quirky little details from the past. I’m also really inspired by a recent trip to Japan–you’ll see some of those influences coming through in the next few collections.
PBE What’s your favorite ride/route/destination?
DB I’m a 100% recreational rider! When we lived in Philly I liked taking the Schuylkill trail to the art museum. My wife commutes by bike everyday and is The Willary’s beta tester. If the pants survive her they’ll survive anything!
Philly Bike Expo’s “Exhibitor Stories” feature is a way to get to know the people behind the showcased products and services. Our hope is that by getting a little more inside info, Expo attendees will feel like they’ve already been introduced to that person in the booth. Recently, I’ve found that the best way to do that is by emailing my subject a few questions and letting them tell their story in their own words. In the case of NJ’s Crust Bikes, everything you could possibly want to know about Australian expat and founder Matt Whitehead can be discovered on the crustbikes.com website. This includes detailed descriptions and reviews of the bikes and frames, blogposts, podcasts and video interviews. Although this will be the first time Crust Bikes has exhibited at the Philly Bike Expo, the PBE “family” has known Matt for a while -besides visiting the Expo on the other side of the booth as an attendee, some years back Matt commissioned our Stephen Bilenky to build him a couple of bikes for his own use that would be capable of carrying surfboards. This specialty purchase opens a little window of insight into Matt’s activities and interests. While someone else might order more custom bikes to suit their next set of required features not (yet) available elsewhere on a production bike, in 2014, Matt decided to launch his own line of bike designs. From sketch to prototype to production, (oh, and Instagram!) Crust realized a dream. I highly recommend watching/listening to Russ Roca’s lively “Path Less Pedaled” video interview, if you want to know more about Matt and Crust Bikes, his views on a wide range of topics, and his vision for the brand. I had a few questions not already answered by the video. Unfortunately, my timing was “off”, as I found out that Matt had recently undergone surgery for a broken ankle, and wasn’t feeling up to “talking” much. Get healed soon, Matt- we know you have tons of adventures ahead of you! Note: My last questions may seem odd, but I first thought that the “crust” in Crust Bikes must be a reference to crust punk. (It’s not?) Then, I saw the “tweet length statement” Matt had furnished on his Philly Bike Expo Exhibitor sign-up form and questionnaire that read: “Crust bikes, maybe I should have opened a pizzeria.” I now thought the name had to have something to do with pizza! Doesn’t everybody love pizza? Well, you know what they say about assumptions!
PBE How did you choose your NJ location?
MW It just happened by chance. You could say it chose me.
Where and by whom were/are your prototypes made?
MW Some in Taiwan some in the US all by different people.
PBE I noticed on the Crust Bikes website that your Evasion, Terrible One, and Cheecho models say “out of stock”- are you in the process of restocking?
MW Yep, new stock is always on the way, just takes time.
PBE What’s next for Crust Bikes?
Bankruptcy? No not really sure, I just take it day by day.
PBE What’s the story behind your company name?
MW To earn a crust, means to making a living, which is what I am trying to do, in the best way I know how.
PBE What’s your favorite pizza?
MW Vegan cheese and pepperoni.
When you think chainlube, company founder Joshua Simonds hopes you think NixFrixShun. I wrote about the “ultimate bicycle chainlube” for last year’s Philly Bike Expo “Exhibitor Stories”, but I had yet to settle into the interview format. With this Q&A, I dug deeper into what makes NixFrixShun tick, or should I say, glide.
PBE What education/training/experience prepared you for this business?
JS My family talked a lot about science. Mom was a biochemist and I’ve always taken a keen interest how things work. I’m a decent chemist; however, my real strength is figuring out how to make things work well, then finding how to accomplish this in a real world using excellent science. You could legitimately say that through the course of preparing for and riding four fast TransContinentals and two Paris Brest Paris my experience with the downfalls of bicycle chainlube were huge! In the long rider community, our “holy grail” chainlube would work without compromise for at least 600K in the rain. We never found “the one”. Instead, we overapplied lube, made a mess and ruined equipment. I never stopped thinking about why other chainlubes were inadequate and how to solve the puzzle. One day it came to me!
PBE Why is NFS better?
JS I never speak badly about other chainlubes. What I will say, is that too often chainlubes are designed or rather over designed without considering the consequences of the ingredients. What do I mean by that? For instance, suppose you have a chainlube that uses a solvent to deliver the “active” component(s). In this case there are a couple problems. First, I am opposed to solvents in open air applications when there are better methods to apply the product. Second, you are essentially buying a bottle of solvent or carrier fluid and paying for that plus a small amount of active ingredient. NFS is 100% active ingredient, there are no carriers or solvents or anything to evaporate. This is why NFS can last for 10,000+ miles of regular use in all conditions. Last, but not least, some makers create lubes that are designed to have the lowest friction numbers. That is fine and well, except these lubes are never durable unless you are using them for race day applications. NFS beats most of these special low friction lubes and it lasts for a long time.
PBE What did you do before starting NixFrixShun?
JS I did Geology for the Government for a few years, then found the IT department and began there by repairing computers. This evolved into all sorts of network support, management and other boring stuff. My other side jobs were my real interest. I have been a massage therapist for more than 25 years. Also, I was a professional bicycle coach and bicycle camp organizer.
PBE What is your favorite part of your business?
JS Talking to people, seeing their success and hearing great stories about their adventures. Everything is about people.
PBE What inspires you?
JS Kindness, Integrity, courage not in that order.
PBE What’s your favorite ride?
JS You mean route? I’m not telling. Did you mean bicycle? That’s easy, I obsess over all the bicycles made for me by masters of the craft. When I throw a leg over my: Spectrum/Vanilla/Goodrich/Seven/CoMotion/DeSalvo I’m incredibly happy and will usually use that bike until something breaks or needs a refresh. Handmade bikes elevate and guide me to a better way of life.
Turns out that many of Philly Bike Expo’s small-business exhibitors work at other careers, and the variety of “day jobs” is intriguing. Bikie Girl Bloomers offers USA-made specialty cycling clothing for women. The company is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based attorney Karen Canady, an avid commuter (and recreational) cyclist. Karen is on a mission to inspire more women to get on a bike. Bikie Girl Bloomers’ line of tops, hitchable skirts, and lace-trimmed shorts is designed for both looks and comfort.
PBE Do you still work as an attorney?
KC Yes! I help clients (mostly universities) obtain patents for their biotech inventions.
PBE Did you have any special experience/training in the apparel and/or the bike industries that prepared you for starting Bikie Girl Bloomers?
KC Only my own experience wearing clothes and riding bikes! Luckily, I have a friend who has been working in the apparel industry for many years, and she has been my consultant/production manager ever since I first developed the idea.
PBE Are you a CA native? How did you wind up in your current location?
KC No. I was born & raised in Colorado, although we lived in the San Francisco area for part of my childhood. I went to college in Oregon, and grad school/law school in Seattle, then moved to Los Angeles to accept a job offer after law school. I ended up staying, as I fell in love with the City of Angels more & more the longer I lived here!
PBE What’s your favorite part of this business?
KC Meeting other people who love to bike in style, and also meeting women who are bike-curious. I get really stoked when someone comes to me because they’ve just started bike commuting or are getting ready to try it!
PBE How do you choose the colors, fabrics, designs etc., for inclusion in your line?
KC Choosing fabrics is like going to a candy store and picking my favorites. Lots of knit fabrics are made right here in L.A., and I love going to the supplier’s show room and marveling at all the adorable prints to choose from! Beyond the print and color selections, I’m thinking about what fabrics and styles/designs will be least restrictive and most comfortable for bicycling, while also looking good when you are off the bike. I always imagine biking to see my client and being able to get off the bike and walk in to the meeting without worrying about a change of clothes. That’s why the drape neck top is sleeveless: I don’t want to get too sweaty on the ride, and then when I get there, I just throw a blazer over it, and I’m good to go!
PBE Where do you find inspiration?
KC Ideas for new designs always come into my head as I’m biking to work. I don’t just wear my own styles, I try those of others and notice what aspects I like and don’t like, or what I wish existed.
PBE What’s your favorite ride?
KC One favorite? That’s hard! Here’s one: https://welove2bike.com/2018/01/29/bikiegirls-epic-new-years-donut-ride/ that was my favorite for having fun with friends. This next one was my favorite bike date: https://welove2bike.com/2018/03/14/bike-date-weekend-in-ojai/
And if you just mean to do on a regular basis, I like riding to the Griffith Park Observatory, which is a 23-mile loop from my house and features a stunning view of Los Angeles: https://welove2bike.com/2016/03/29/errandonnee-my-mad-dash-exploits/
I conducted a brief Q&A with company representative Rob Meendering to learn more about VelocityUSA and The Wheel Department. Rob’s official title is “Sales, Brand Manager, Supplier of Smiles”. Gotta love that!
PBE What’s your job description?
RM We all wear many hats around here. This is mostly the result of being a very small (15 employee) company. My duties include: Sales, Brand Manager, Beard Care Consultant, Supplier of Smiles, Beer Acquisitions. I have also been a photographer for several years primarily shooting cycling events all over Michigan.
PBE Could you provide a brief history of the company?
RM From our website (because our owner, Tom Black, says it best):
“Velocity was founded just outside of Brisbane, Australia in 1989. Our first product was an adjustable aluminum waterbottle cage called the ‘Velocage’. It was such a clever and simple design that sales spread outside of Australia to the United States. As the company grew, so did our product offering and in 1991 we introduced our first aluminum rim, the Aero. Velocity set itself apart by offering a variety of rim drillings, sizes, and colors for the custom wheel builder. Our reputation was formed by providing an excellently manufactured and high quality product, with service and flexibility that is unmatched. In 1998 we began to produce fully built wheels using cleverly sourced high end components paired to Velocity rims. Many generations of high end, fully customizable wheels later, The Wheel Department was formed in Grand Rapids, Michigan near the beginning of 2011. In January 2012 we packed up our Australian facility and moved it to Jacksonville, Florida making us one of the only United States made aluminum rim manufacturers in the world – a fact we are very proud of. Most recently in December of 2016, we consolidated all of our production and distribution into our Grand Rapids, Michigan facility.”
PBE What’s your favorite part of your work?
RM What I love is traveling to personally meet our dealers all over the country. Each shop has it’s own vibe and personality. Getting to meet the many shop dogs (and sometimes cats) is also pretty darn cool. Managing the many athletes and events that Velocity sponsors and seeing the adventures shared by our many fans on social media, I am always in awe of those whom tackle a particularly long and/or difficult ride/race. It always amazes me what the human spirit is capable of accomplishing when it ignores the pain.
PBE What’s your favorite ride?
RM My favorite ride is a bikepacking tour which I take every summer (It starts this week, in fact!). It started 6 years ago with a trip around the Door peninsula in Wisconsin and every year since then has been spent exploring our amazing state of Michigan. I like to keep the route and accommodation planning to a minimum in an effort to really embrace the adventures that can be had on a bicycle. Cheers!
We love returning exhibitor Cleverhood and they love Philly (and us)! Cleverhood makes rain capes with bike friendly features and other kinds of cape-shaped outerwear in a wide variety of fabrics. With their full product line for superhero city dwellers, cyclists, men, women, kids, and dogs, (even little capes for beards! No! Seriously! Check them out!), Cleverhood is on the worthy mission of getting people out and about in all weather. Rain rain go away? With a Cleverhood, everyone can be ready for whatever the skies bestow. There is something in the Cleverhood arsenal to suit any discriminating taste or need, from boldly utilitarian to chic to warm, comfy and inviting.
I’m fascinated by American clothing manufacturing and I’m always extremely curious to find out how an apparel company came to be, and in the case of an item of bikewear, how that particular niche was chosen and what background/training in fashion, sewing, etc., the principals may have had before launching.
Cleverhood was founded in 2012 by Susan and John Coulbourn in Providence, RI.
In answer to some of my questions, I learned that Susan’s prior experience was in design and painting (and raising a family). She also recently went through the rigorous Goldman Sachs 10KSB small business program.
“US garment production has been a priority for us since the beginning,” says John. “It affords us great benefits in turnaround and collaboration and helps to support experienced garment workers in nearby Fall River, MA who’ve been hit hard by low-cost offshore facilities.”
A visit to Cleverhood’s website reveals a detailed list of the US made materials and components that go into each Cleverhood. Fabrics, zippers, labels, shock cord, reflective trim, mesh packaging, heat transfers patches, mailing pouches and more are sourced from CA, CO, FL, IL, MA, NY, and RI. The site also has several fresh videos that really make you want a Cleverhood. I know I do!
The cycling cap- it’s not just for cycling any more! Since 2011, Toast Tea Threads has been making limited edition wool cycling caps in Olympia, WA (where warm and cozy headwear is is a must!) In my fascination with the who-what-when-where-how of our Philly Bike Expo exhibitors, I needed to know more about this particular entry into the world of bike fashion. Here’s founder/owner Ricky Rodriguez in his own words.
PBE What did you do before starting Toast Tea Threads?
RR Before TTT I was living in Southern California, working as a bicycle repair educator (still do) and surfing every single day. It was pretty dreamy.
PBE When did you know you wanted to go into this business?
RR I started making caps for friends while I was in SoCal, but it wasn’t until I moved to the Pacific Northwest, where I incorporated wool, when I started to see cycling caps as both functional and fashionable. I really enjoy the creative process, and the value of a unique cap made in small batches.
PBE Do you have background/education/training in sewing or bicycles or both?
RR When it comes to sewing, I have to give credit to my mom. She gave me most of my informal training up until I worked at Swift Industries for a few years, and had professional experience.
When it comes to bikes, I’ve been an educator for adults and young people since 2009. It ranges from basic mechanics to leadership skill building. Bikes are such a great tool that have the potential to connect people to emotions, community, and nature.
PBE What made you focus on this particular niche of the bike industry?
RR As someone who is into bikes, the cycling cap is an iconic and practical piece of attire. It’s a great for sweat, shade, rain, and it looks cool. A cycling cap can say a lot about you by the style you choose, whether it’s all black, bombarded with logos, or hella loud with color. I think of cycling caps as a form of expression.
PBE How did you choose the location for Toast Tea Threads or did it choose you?
RR It definitely chose me! The Pacific Northwest is such a beautiful place with two real seasons, and as wool became a staple for my wardrobe, functionality was the key to making a product that is fun and essential for colder days.
PBE What’s your favorite part of your business?
RR I love shopping! 🙂 it’s so fun finding new fabrics, patterns, and thinking of how to blend different ideas, colors. Of course sewing is also great, because this project is really like therapy for me. I love the repetition and creative process.
PBE Where do you find inspiration?
RR I’m inspired by the traditional design and wacky-ness. Most importantly I feel that there is a gap or lack of expressiveness that can come from an industry that is dominated by machismo, heteronormativity, and sexism. It’s rad to see how folks in the cycling industry are creating change and it’s important to continue to focus on being inclusive.
PBE What’s your favorite ride?
RR Currently, my favorite riding happens in Capitol Forest, here in Olympia Washington. There are some rad, well maintained multi use trails that are great for mountain biking, and forest service roads that are great for gravel rides. If you or anyone wants to come shred in the PNW, we’ve got tons amazing MTBing…
Begun in the 90’s by machinist/triathlete/pilot Sven Folmer, Hawk Racing is in that small and exclusive club of made-in-USA bicycle component manufacturers. Although Sven continues to serve as a behind-the scenes consultant to the company’s line of bottom brackets and other componentry, the reins of the business have been transferred to Eric and Cindy Parlin. Every Philly Bike Expo exhibitor’s story is unique. Among the tales I’ve heard are startups and sole proprietorships, career changes and legacies passed down within families or taken over by former employees. I was curious to find out how the Parlins came to be the ones to drive Hawk Racing into the future. Cindy answered my questions.
PBE: What (jobs? other businesses? education? training?) did you and Eric do before becoming Hawk’s new owners?
CP: Eric has an MBA from the University of Michigan. He has worked in manufacturing and process engineering for the past 20 years. He has always enjoyed riding and tinkering with his bike. I have a BFA in Art Education from East Carolina University. I taught middle school art and special education. I am a casual rider who enjoys trails and stops for lunch and drinks.
PBE: When did you know you wanted to go into the bicycle business?
CP: We knew we wanted to own our own business and had been searching locally for quite awhile. Eric and I work well together and we wanted a business that we could feel passionately about.
PBE: How did you choose this particular niche of the industry?
CP: Hawk Racing found us. As I said, we had been looking for a local business for awhile, when one day Eric got an email from a business broker about Hawk Racing. He ignored it because it was located in Florida. About two months later Eric got a phone call from a different business broker asking if he would be interested in getting some details about a great business that was for sale. When the broker told him it was in Florida Eric said no thanks. The guy was persistent and finally Eric agreed to receive more information on this “Great Business”. When he opened the email and realized it was Hawk Racing again, we thought it would be a good idea take a serious look at Hawk Racing.
PBE: How did you choose your location or did it choose you?
CP: We chose to relocate Hawk Racing to Fort Wayne, Indiana because this is home. At that time we had lived here for over 14 years and our daughter was still attending Indiana University. We have now been here for 15 of our 23 years of marriage and we can’t imagine living anywhere else.
PBE: What’s your favorite part of running your business?
CP: I enjoy the people. I never have a problem talking with a customer about what their bike needs are, how their riding season is going (lots of cold and rainy stories this year), events/races they have been to recently or are planning to go to soon. From a biased perspective, my favorite stories are about how great our products are. Eric enjoys more of the mechanical side of things. Like figuring out how to improve products or processes and coming up with new product ideas. We have prototypes of new over sized pulleys in the testing stage.
PBE: What’s your favorite ride?
CP: My favorite ride is on a Saturday morning to meet up with friends and ride the trails/paths around Franke Park into downtown, stop by The Deck for Mimosas and a bite to eat, then head to the Barr Street Farmers Market for a few fresh veggies that will fit in my back pack, and then head home to enjoy the rest of a relaxing day. Eric’s favorite ride is to head out on the back country roads with music in one ear, the sound of his wheels on the road in the other ear, and surrounded by corn fields. It’s his time to unplug and decompress.
Interview with Jeffrey Neal, VP Sales and Marketing Ergon USA.
As those who have been following the interview series here may have been able to discern, my modus operandi is to submit interview questions via email. Sometimes the subjects are very prompt and forthcoming (which really makes my job easier!) Sometimes they don’t answer at all. (Maybe they’re too busy? Maybe I didn’t ask the right questions?) When I contacted Jeffrey Neal, VP of Sales and Marketing for Ergon USA, he suggested an in-person interview at Sea Otter. Bina would be there, so she brought my Q’s and recorded Jeff’s A’s on her phone. (Any mistakes are mine- it was noisy where the interview was conducted- I did my best to make an accurate transcription.)
PBE How many people in your company?
JN Ergon in the United States is only 5 people. But in Germany, say, 40 people. It’s an international corporation and we sell all over the world. Our headquarters is in Koblenz, Germany. And our United states headquarters in in Los Angeles and in Eagle CO. We distribute through QBP and in Canada LivetoPlay/Norco, BTI, KHS and Olympic. REI is a big partner also.
PBE Is everything designed and made in Germany?
JN Everything is designed in Germany. Some of it is produced in Germany. A lot of it is actually made in Taiwan. We have a really good relationship with a factory there. Almost all the material in our grips is made in Germany. It’s compounded in Germany.. That’s why it’s really sophisticated in execution for what it’s supposed to do for a grip. Then we ship it in bulk to Taiwan for molding, packaging. The packaging is really sophisticated, too.
PBE When did you start working at Ergon?
JN I’d say about 8 to 9 years ago.
PBE Who’s the company founder and can you give some brief history?
JN Franc Arnold . He and his brother started Radsport Arnold in Koblenz, Germany. His brother went on to do Canyon. We’re located in Koblenz. Ergon is on one side of the Mosel River and Canyon is on the other side. So we have a really strong relationship with them in terms of them using our products on their bikes. Their race team uses it. Franc has a passion for design. We thoroughly engineer the ergonomics of everything in a way that costs a lot of money. Our stuff is really well thought out. And our saddles in particular- we have 3-D modeling – we can actually make prototype saddles that are fairly rideable for 2 or three rides – and then shave it and look at what we’re doing and work with some of the pro riders that we work with, like the Canyon Rapha women’s team. We had a lot of feedback from Pauline (Ferrand-Prevot.) Franc has been in the bike industry a long time. Our parent company is RTI Sports- a large distributor of bike parts. First Topeak distributor in the world. And then Ergon came out of that relationship.
PBE How was the niche of grips and saddles chosen?
JN Franc did a survey of a bunch of customers. “What would you like to improve about your bike the most?” And people would say they had numb hands. And so he thought that’s a direction that nobody’s really looked at. So we started developing- Franc is really good at gathering the best scientists, engineers, anything- physiologists… so what we did was we started doing prototypes and getting feedback and we’re like, “we’re on the right track here” and then we went to a Swedish ergonomic specialist who makes customized tools for people- purely ergonomic stuff- and he’s the one who – working with our guys- they discovered that this is the thing and thats the two elements of our grips we had patented. And so as soon as they came out, they just took off and exploded right away and that kind of led to where we were grips for a long time and we, like, planted our flag that the thing we really do well is ergonomics- and using them to study and interface with our products – so obviously saddles would be the next thing because part of the original survey was people would say, “my ass is numb”, and so we started doing saddles, and started doing really well. This year we’re really excited about our new women’s project. It’s a project that we started from scratch and Janina Haas, she’s the head physiologist. She did a survey for her Master’s study asking all these women in Germany what they like and don’t like about their saddles. However many women it was, it really has nothing to do with the back. It has to do with the front. She found that women- especially the fast, road-type woman- she’s almost not ever touching (the back of the saddle) but she’s fully engaged with the front. So we started doing prototypes and going out and riding with people and getting feedback and we realized we were on to something. Women really need relief up here. So what we did that’s really different – we moved the pressure relief poles more forward but we beveled the two sides (like this) so you’re always in contact. It’s a gradual transition. We also put gel here- so, we pad this- it’s a little wider- because women are wider through here. We offer two sizes- that’s a really important part of saddle measurement. Also a little shorter nose. It’s our best selling product right now.
PBE Is this the most exciting thing at Ergon?
JN Our gravity grips are doing really well- that was last year, but that took off. But then what’s exciting about (the women’s project) is we’ve got (pro mountain biker) Karen Jarchow on board. We have women. Women are way more comfortable talking to a woman. It’s a delicate thing- and it’s a real issue. And we were hearing over and over- really hard core riders say “I just deal with it- I thought it was supposed to hurt and I’ve gotten used to it.” When we started prototyping we connected with the Canyon women’s team really early in the process. They’re in the saddle 150 miles at a time. It has to work. We saw the Katusha men’s team at Canyon once and they all had these saddles that were like this thick and we asked them and they said, “As much as we ride, we want to be comfortable and we’ll sacrifice that amount of weight. “ If it makes it better, then we’re there. So it’s a natural transition in terms of our ergonomics story.
PBE What did you do before Ergon?
JN Worked in a bike shop. I managed one of the largest bike shops in America in Los Angeles. Before that, I was in film production for a long time. Sort of drifted into that and said, “I’ve sort of been in the bike business for a few years, I better get my life together!” and suddenly it was like there becomes things that are effortless – you just kind of go – you’re swept into the current of that river… I always think that anyone in the bike industry- one of the most important things is they have to work in a bike shop. Because then you understand. It’s like war- it’s where the battles are fought, really. A lot of people (in the industry) they’re really into product but there is no replacement for working in a bike shop,. Did you ever sell someone a $5,000 bike and have them come back the next day and say they didn’t like it because they get a buyer’s remorse attack in the night and you have to deal with that and 30 other people in the store and the phone is ringing off the hook?
When I visited new exhibitor roll: Bicycle Company’s website (note to self: the correct spelling is with a lower case r and a colon) I was intrigued by what appeared to be a remarkable, and may I say, revolutionary approach to the design, manufacturing and marketing of a US-made custom bicycle. roll: Bicycle Company builds bikes one at a time, custom fit to you, in 48hrs. Does this also mean that unicorns are real? I did not know that when I contacted this 30 person operation, that my interview questions would be answered by the company’s founder and CEO Stuart Hunter.
PBE What is your job title/description?
SH I’m the Founder of roll:, first with our Shops and more recently with the roll: Bicycle Company. Which means I get to support a great group of people who share a passion, who are working hard to make a difference with bikes, and who humor my meddling!
PBE What did you do before this?
SH I’m a designer by training, and used to work for a couple of large agencies both here and in the UK before I moved to the states on the back of my design career.
PBE Can you provide a brief timeline/history of the company?
SH We opened our first shop in 2006, and have grown to 3 Shops in Columbus, before launching the roll: Bicycle Company in 2016 as an extension of our own experiences in riding and retailing. I describe us as a start-up 10 years in the making. We’re bike geeks with a passion for customer experience, and the idea that bikes change lives. Not just in grand gestures, but we believe that if we can invite more people, to ride more often, we can have a real, positive impact in the community.
PBE How did you choose the OH location?
SH Ohio chose us. We lived and worked here before roll:, and have been nothing but humbled by the support and encouragement of the city for roll: since day 1. Columbus has a thriving entrepreneurial community, with such strong values, and a rapidly growing sense of self identity. Keep watching!
PBE What’s your favorite part of your business?
SH Seeing the impact that we have on a person when they first get back into riding bikes. Bikes have changed my own life. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that we have helped spark a positive change for someone else in some small way.
PBE Where do you find inspiration?
SH I think as a company, we’re inspired by the idea that we’re making a difference. As a designer, I’m inspired any time I can travel. You see things differently when you break your daily routine, and become more open to new experiences and perspectives. I’m grateful for that every chance I get.
PBE What’s your favorite ride?
SH I’m a mountain biker by passion, the further off the beaten path the better. The riding in South America, and Peru in particular, pulls me back there every couple of years. There is really nothing else quite like riding amongst such rich, ancient history and culture.
In our family lexicon, “Ortlieb” is a verb. Used mostly in the past tense, it is what happens to fruit (usually a banana) after being transported (and forgotten for a period of time). Various Ortlieb bags have been in constant use since their arrival in our household in the late 90’s. While Ortlieb bags are waterproof and virtually indestructible, bananas are not. Hence, “That banana (or apple or pear) has been Ortliebed.”
I had the opportunity to catch up with Ortlieb USA’s customer service rep, Hillary Washburn, to learn more about the company and it’s premium quality German-made products. Among Hillary’s many duties, she assists retailers with their orders, talks to Ortlieb users/fans, plans tradeshows, organizes events, and helps with marketing.
PBE What did you do before coming to work for Ortlieb?
HW I met my, now, friends and coworkers at Ortlieb while I was working at a bike shop in Issaquah, WA. I was the Retail Sales Manager/Buyer and brought Ortlieb to the store. I actually left the shop to go work in the tech industry. After about 6 months I saw an email from Paul, at Ortlieb, asking if I “knew” anyone that might be interested in a job opening. I was ready to get back in the cycling and outdoor industry. I have loved that decision every day!
PBE How long have you been with the company?
HW 2 years
PBE Can you give me some background/history on Ortlieb- (how the founders/creators came to choose this particular niche of the cycling industry)?
HW Hartmut Ortlieb is a creative, brilliant man. When he was younger he was on bike tour and it was pouring rain. He was super distraught when he would get to camp for the night and all his stuff would be soaked. While riding, he noticed the long-haul trucks all had this tarp fabric that kept their loads dry. Thus was born the idea of the first set of Ortlieb bags. Hartmut made the first set of panniers with his mother’s sewing machine out of tarpaulin. After this first model, he realized that the bags were still not truly waterproof because of the holes made from the sewing machine. Because of this, our bags are made through radio frequency welding to bond fabrics and create completely waterproof/dustproof seams. Our panniers are our legacy products and we are proud to have grown our offerings to so much more.
PBE What’s your favorite part of your job?
HW There are so many things, but what they all boil down to are the people I work with. Each one of them offers a lot to the company and to an awesome work environment.
PBE What’s your favorite ride?
HW Each summer my husband and I do at least one bike tour around the three, main San Juan Islands. Each is a magical place and some of my favorite rides and memories are from those islands.
by Sean Walling.
If you’ve ever met Doug White, the words “humble”, “unassuming”, and “low-key” come to mind. And it’s exactly because of those very traits, that many are surprised to hear about Doug’s deep history in the local cycling community, as well as his many innovations under the White Industries brand. For the last 40 years Doug has run his company much the same way, choosing to focus on how to succeed in an ever-changing industry, rather than spending much time on self-promotion or celebrating past successes
Doug White got his start as a machinist working for United Airlines at SFO in the late 60’s. But like many kids in their early twenties at that time, he grew restless, and in 1970 decided to quit his steady gig and move to Marin County, not knowing what his next move would be. With his machining background, the idea of becoming a shop teacher appealed to him, so, he enrolled in the first class of the newly launched Industrial Arts program at College of Marin, soon becoming a teacher’s assistant to Ray Moitoza. As chance would have it, one of his classmates was a guy named Craig Mitchell with whom Doug would become friends with and later collaborate with on bike-related projects. Their friendship came into play when Craig left his job at Sunshine Bicycle Center in Fairfax in 1971 and asked Doug to take his place.
It was at Sunshine where Doug’s career in the bicycle industry began. The cycling boom of the 70’s was in full swing and Doug and a frequent Sunshine customer named Phil Brown decided to go into business making bicycle frames in 1972 under the Brown & White Cycles name.
“He was the money/logistics guy and I was the frame builder”, says Doug with a laugh. “We sold 30 to 35 frames over a couple years before I got fed up with a particularly needy customer and said, ‘that’s it!’.”
He sold the frame fixtures he had made while at College of Marin to Craig, but was able to “borrow” them when needed, which he did in 1976 when he built a 20” wheeled mountain bike to ride on his local trails in Inverness. About this same time in 1976, Craig used those same fixtures to build a 26” wheeled, diamond-style mountain bike frame for Charlie Kelly.
After ending his frame building career and looking for another way to pay the bills, Doug saw an opportunity with riders using their bikes for commuting and came up with “Peggers”, a multi-colored elastic band with Velcro to keep your right pant leg from getting stuck in your chain or marked up with grease. So off to San Francisco he went in 1978 to buy two custom modified sewing machines and set up shop in a spare room in his house in Inverness, and the first White Industries product was born.
“We sold thousands and thousands of those things. We sold to Raleigh, Schwinn, Merry Sales. I had to hire people to come over and sew piecework.”, Doug remembers. For ten years Peggers were the one and only White Industries product but with the birth of Doug’s daughter in 1987 it was clear more income would be needed. “Yeah, the Peggers weren’t going to cut it.”, he says.
So it was out with the sewing machines and in with the milling machines and a move to a small shop in San Rafael’s Canal neighborhood where he did various job-shop work as well as machine work for Gary Fisher. As the business grew, another move was needed, this time to Bel-Marin Keys in Novato in 1988, where White Industries would start to make its name in the mountain bike world. First were their sealed-bearing titanium spindle bottom bracket and Craig Mitchell-designed Limbo Spider which allowed riders to bolt on a (then) readily available 18-23 tooth Suntour threaded freewheel cog to their cranks for ultra-low gearing. Next, in 1992, were their 260-gram “Ti Cassette” rear hub and “Tracker” front hub. The cassette hub was the lightest on the market at that time and the Tracker incorporated an oversized axle that helped stabilize notoriously flexy suspension forks of the era. As a testament to Doug’s knack for designing and engineering parts, the design of that cassette hub has remained basically unchanged for 30 years.
“I couldn’t believe he had the balls to make a freehub. That seemed so far out of my grasp at the time,” says Paul Price of Paul Component Engineering. “And it worked well, nonetheless!”
The mountain bike industry of the early 1990’s was known for the “CNC craze”, when every time you turned around there was another machine shop making whatever mountain bike parts they could on a CNC machine. It would have been easy for Doug to throw in the towel with all this new competition, but he was just getting started. Over the next few years White Industries would introduce several innovative products: forged cranks, a derailleur/shifter system, and 2×9/2×10 drivetrains. The LMDS (Linear Motion Derailleur System) worked with a push/pull cable system (similar to many motorcycle throttle systems) which didn’t require any springs and came with a “twist” style shifter. Not stopping there, Doug designed a rear add-on cassette system which converted a 7-speed Sun-Race cassette to 10 speeds with an unheard-of 38 tooth large cog. “His linear-motion derailleur is a smart piece of engineering,” says Mark Norstad of Paragon Machine Works. “It represents Doug’s willingness to innovate and compete directly with the biggest component manufacturers.”
As the 90’s faded like purple anodizing in the sun, and many of the companies born from that era disappeared, the future of the small handful of companies still making bicycle parts in the U.S. looked bleak.
“I felt like maybe the industry had passed us by and we might be an afterthought,” Doug remembers.
But as he had done before and would continue to do, he adapted. The singlespeed movement had finally hit its stride and Doug saw yet another opportunity. The two products they introduced at this time are now almost synonymous with the White Industries brand; their singlespeed freewheel and ENO eccentric singlespeed hub. At the time, Shimano and ACS had a lock on the singlespeed scene and almost overnight the White Industries freewheel became the “must-have” part for serious singlespeeders the world over.
“I was so tired of busting Shimano freewheels! When White introduced it I thought, ‘Finally, a freewheel on the level with all the other good stuff we were running’,” remembers Robert Ives of Blue Collar Bikes.
The ENO eccentric hub allowed anyone with an old geared hardtail frame lying around (a lot of people!) to retrofit their bike to a singlespeed. Add to this a proprietary fixed-gear hub spline to prevent stripped cog threads on fixed gear hubs as well as a quick release pedal system for travel bikes, and it’s easy to see how Doug gave his company a second (or third? maybe a 4th?) life on the back of trends that the industry at large wasn’t paying much attention to.
In recent years, Doug (and now his son Alec) has been busy refining and upgrading their ever-expanding line of hubs, freewheels, cranks, chainrings, bottom brackets, headsets, and pedals, as well as planning for the future. But as exciting as it is to highlight Doug’s many design contributions to the industry, it’s easy to forget that over the last 40 years he was also running a company. A company with employees. Employees with families, mortgages, and responsibilities. And this may be his greatest achievement of all; navigating his company through changing tastes, fads, new standards, increasing overseas competition, a couple recessions, and lots and lots of broken end mills to where it is today; still making things here in the U.S., doing business all over the world, employing (gainfully) 16 people, and getting people excited about riding their bikes. And after all this, he still comes to work every day, excited about new projects, and always hoping to sneak out for a bike ride (and maybe a beer!).
About Sean Walling: Sean Walling has spent his whole adult life in the bicycle industry, mostly as a frame builder. He owns Soulcraft Bikes but recently decided to stop beating his head against the wall (at least full time anyway) and took a full time gig with the fine folks at White Industries, where he enjoys using the time clock and receiving paychecks every 2 weeks.
When I first started writing Exhibitor Stories for PBE last year, I had yet to find my way to the Q&A format. I used research to write “Da Man, Da Machine, DaHANGER” about Jurgen Beneke and his innovative bike storage products. For this year’s piece, I took the interview approach. Here’s Jurgen Beneke in his own words:
PBE What influenced you to choose this niche in the bike industry?
JB I would say that my company is a complete reflexion of my life. I grew up in Europe and have always have been surrounded by lots of bikes.
My family lived a normal middle class apartment lifestyle, where space was always something that needed to be maximized.
As a tool & die maker by trade, I learned about the world of production and how things are made. I was fortunate enough to have a successful professional cycling career in my twenties and thirties before starting a remodeling business. Eventually, that lead me to making some furniture and also our first product- the DaHÄNGER bike shelf.
PBE The design of the whimsical “Dan” is so different from the utilitarian-looking DaHanger. Can you walk me through the development of the concept?
JB I think that it is important how we live and that the things that surround us should bring us joy and happiness. I love designs that solve problems in the simplest form possible. From the contemporary bike-shelf DaHANGER that cradles the bike by the seat, to the fun and space saving Dan that grabs the bikes by the pedal, everything should look like it belongs, and if we can create some smiles as a side effect, I think it’s a win win.
We also don’t take ourselves too serious and after making our first pedal hook prototypes, we discovered how the bottom kinda looks like feet.
check our designer secrets video: https://youtu.be/e37zqi-750g
PBE What brought you to the USA?
JB After being sponsored by Schwinn in the mid 90’s, and meeting my wife on the US circuit, I really enjoyed the creative freedom in the US. You can start a business anywhere in the world, but the US with its (slightly naive) positivity is special in how it makes you believe that you can do anything. You have to be an optimist at heart to start any business, and the US is the perfect place for this.
PBE How did you choose the location of your business or did it choose you?
JB I really like the North East because of its proximity to Europe and it’s massive cycling scene. We are located upstate NY and the road riding is in some way better than Europe (lack of cars). There are tons of small little side roads with hardly any traffic. The Catskill Mountains are tall and steep enough for road, gravel and mountain biking.
PBE Where do you find inspiration?
JB A long road ride by myself is still one of the best ways for me to think about what comes next or how do I solve a certain problem. Usually this needs to be followed up by making a pretty rough prototype and see how it can work in the real world.
PBE What’s your favorite part of your business?
JB My favorite part is to get customer feedback. I am so happy when I hear about how the Dan pedal hook puts a smile on somebody’s face or how the DaHÄNGER helped clean up someone’s messy cycling lifestyle. We get a lot of feedback photos and love sharing them on Instagram @DaHANGER_USA
Around here, we always say, “There’s something for everyone at the Philly Bike Expo.” With the inclusion of new-this-year exhibitor Apothecary Muse, we most certainly expand on that concept. Owner, artisan, and botanical wizard Eryn Hughes handcrafts organic, plant based, sustainably sourced (and packaged) soaps and skin care products specifically for the outdoor adventurer. I asked her some questions about her unusual entry to our roster. Here are her answers:
PBE What made you decide to try your hand at making that first batch of soap?
EH While I was in college, I was in the pre-law track studying political philosophy at UC Berkeley but working nights as a DJ and sound engineer to pay for my living expenses. I found I was struggling to stay awake in my classes and needed more sensory stimulation, so I filled in my schedule with art classes so I could stay on campus until my night shift. By the time I was nearing graduation, I had completed a double major and was dabbling in combining materials to expand the sensory experience. Hardware store meets art store meets (kitchen) laboratory = soap.
PBE Are there other art form(s) that you’ve worked in before (or while) making skin care products?
EH Before studying fine art formally, I considered myself a painter and preferred making large, textured oil paintings featuring mountainous landscapes. I was able to continue that through college, but left all my work and materials in storage at a good friend’s house when I moved to Pittsburgh, thinking I would move back sooner than later. After awhile, I realized that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon and hired a graduate student to remove the canvases from their stretcher bars and ship to Pittsburgh. In the meantime, the house of the friend where my work was stored had flooded while he was serving a very conflicting military conscription in his home country. That’s legit and the physical state of my art is unimportant in comparison. Current access and the status of my previous artwork remains unknown, but I have found even greater meaningfulness making adventure skincare products that have an ephemeral life.
PBE What’s your favorite part of the process?
EH Learning and sharing are super exciting for me. Right now, I like comparing the chemical changes in my material applications. For example: anthocyanin is the chemical name for the blueish color found in plants, but using it in cold process soap-making tends to alter the pH enough to make it temporarily shift to purple and then reddish pink as it becomes less basic and cures, so I try to anticipate such changes when I “paint landscapes” into my soap. I want the sensory experience to strike up a conversation.
PBE Where did you get your training? Are you mostly self-taught?
EH While it was still a hobby, I was self-taught until it outgrew demand from friends and family. I wanted to increase my expertise of materials and pursued formal training with the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild, Sage Mountain Herbal School and Aromahead to establish safe, professional practices. Whenever I want to create a new product, I head outdoors to identify a gap or problem requiring attention and then conduct research and testing of materials and packaging until it satisfies my criteria in sustainability.
PBE What’s your favorite outdoor adventure?
EH Hands down, it’s mountain biking. It is always an adventure getting there, finding new routes and learning new skills, but the trails offered a steeper learning curve and their advocacy is inherent. Never having a driver’s license means that I wouldn’t get to experience the outdoors if I didn’t ride there and I want to remove barriers to the outdoors for other people. In addition to volunteering in trail stewardship several times a month, I continue to integrate my outdoor advocacy with my business by donating relevant product to fellow trail stewards and sponsoring Ambassadors who are emphasizing diversity in the outdoors.
PBE Do you listen to music while you work? What kind?
EH YES. I often find that having all my senses engaged helps me to problem solve while I am making anything. When I was DJing, I enjoyed working with a female hip hop crew, and the more obscure dark jungle and grime. I have a mixcloud account with a couple of my late 90s DJ Muse mixes. I also have a playlist of newer songs that I’ve been listening to when I’m making soap, that connect me more with the moment, politically and creatively.
PBE What made you choose Pittsburgh or did it choose you?
EH Although I grew up in New York, lived in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California; I moved to the small city of Pittsburgh in 2009 to provide some health and financial support to my family. I’ll be scoping out living potential in Philadelphia while I am visiting for the Philly Bike Expo, so I invite attendees to introduce themselves and tell me where I can ride, eat vegan foods and get a good cup of coffee.
It’s that time again, and we’re presenting Philly Bike Expo “Exhibitor Stories”, 2018 Edition. A profile of Bryan Hollingsworth and Royal H Cycles is long overdue, as Royal H has been exhibiting at the Philly Bike Expo faithfully since 2010. The modus operandi for these stories, is to send out some questions and based on how they are answered, (or not) craft a portrait that leads to an understanding of the exhibitor beyond what might be gleaned from “official” promo or a company website. Bryan graciously and thoughtfully answered all questions in-depth. So, here’s Bryan Hollingsworth!
PBE Was Philly the first show you exhibited at? And what is it about the Expo that has you returning each year?
BH The Philly Bike Expo was the first show I exhibited at, yes. I was definitely nervous about showing my frames so early in my career, but the whole atmosphere was inviting and supportive, so those fears were immediately assuaged. I think that’s why I came back- the mood of the early shows at the Armory was… fun! The indoor polo, bike fashion show, castle setting- it was a celebration and lacked any competition or judgement that would discourage a new builder. Even though the show is at the convention center now, that vibe remains and is why I will keep showing there every year.
PBE When/how did you decide on a career in bike building?
BH I think it was mostly a bad engineering job that sent me down the framebuilding path. I was trained as an engineer, and grew up in a cycling family (I remember learning about Nervex lugs around the time I first learned to ride), so a year too long at a ill-fitting job was enough motivation to head out west to the United Bicycle Institute and take some framebuilding classes (TIG and lugged construction). Striking the torch and making those first frames was the most satisfying thing I had ever done, and there was enough physics and metallurgy involved in framebuilding to appease my engineering side, so it seemed like a good thing to pursue. This was in 2006 and I was an outsider to the framebuilding world, so I applied for a job at Seven Cycles to get my start in the industry. That was the best decision I could have made, because it was such a great place to work and I made a ton of framebuilding connections/friends. I still work there part time!
PBE Who were your early influences?
BH Generally, I am probably most influenced by the Italians. I got my first proper road bike in the early 90s, so that’s the era of steel bikes I idolize. Steel was still being raced on back then, and those lean, steep Pinarellos and Colnagos will always resonate with me. When I started building though, Moyer Cycles was a big influence- clean lug work, creative use of polished stainless steel, nice colors and minimal branding. Circle A was a neighbor to the south, and their combination of creativity and pragmatism was a real influence. They also painted a lot of my early bikes, so I was in their shop a lot.
PBE What led you to strike out on your own as a solo frame builder?
BH I think for me it was less about striking out on my own as it was striking out with other similarly minded builders. For the first 12 years of doing Royal H, I have always shared a space with at least one other framebuilder. When I started, I shared a cramped corner of Marty’s Geekhouse shop with Ian from Icarus Frames. Three young builders all building and riding ridiculous fixed gears around Boston- the camaraderie appealed to me more than being solo in my own shop. Even though we each had our own companies, there was a communal air that permeated our work, and I valued that immensely.
PBE After your stint at Seven (titanium), what drew you to steel?
BH Partially the aesthetics, and partially the way the frames are built. Brazing steel is a lot slower and calmer than welding- you flux your lugs, pre-heat the joint, add the filler, distribute it, rinse and clean it. Welding is much quicker- things are melting as soon as you hit the pedal! So the pace was appealing. I also think that lugs are a great canvas for further customization. There are a lot of framebuilders out there, so a few unique cutouts or lug shapes can set you apart. The strength of steel allows for smaller tube diameters, and I find that in addition to looking better, it results in a more comfortable ride. The constant threat of corrosion is the only concern, but with a good painter and enough frame saver, you can hold that at bay.
PBE How did you come to choose your location? (Are you MA born and bred?)
BH I am not MA born and bred, no (I grew up in northwestern New Jersey). Work had taken me to Boston initially, and it was pure luck that there was a huge framebuilding scene here when I returned from UBI. At that time, Independent Fabrications was still in Somerville, Seven was in Watertown, and there were probably ten single person builders in the metro area. Now Indy Fab has moved north, and a lot of the single builders have scattered to the winds, but that moment in Boston’s framebuilding history was a great time to start a business in.
PBE What’s your favorite part of the frame building process?
BH I enjoy the design process a lot- as a lugged builder, it is satisfying to have a modern design in mind and find ways to make it work using traditional construction techniques. But my favorite part of the process is the part that got me hooked- firing up the torch and whetting out filler material into joints. Seeing capillary action pull liquid silver into a lug is still something that I find profoundly satisfying. The first thing you learn though when you start a framebuilding company is how little a percentage of the process the actual brazing is. Framebuilding is mostly emailing the client, tube cleaning, lug prep, and finish work. But that hour of torch time in the middle is definitely the most fun.