If there has been one constant in Edwin Bull’s life, it’s been the bicycle. Bull, the founder of New Jersey-based bicycle manufacturer Van Dessel, spent his childhood moving between Belgium, West Africa, and Massachusetts, and every step of the way — whether that was riding, racing or just ripping around — there was a bicycle. By the time Bull was just barely old enough to drive, he had already built a few frames of his own.
That passion for bicycles saw Bull seriously consider a future riding in the pro peloton. After racing at some of the highest levels of the sport for a few years, Bull landed in Parsippany, New Jersey and decided that it was time to shift his passion for bicycles into a more creative direction. And thus, in 1999: Van Dessel was born.
Carrying the maiden name of Bull’s mother, Van Dessel began with what he calls “functionally unique” commuters — partly inspired by Bull’s own time away from racing, and partly inspired by just wanting to try something new and exciting.
Shortly after, though, he found himself wanting to design, build and tinker with high-end race bikes. It made a lot of sense. What better way to support and grow the sport he loves so much than to provide its athletes with the best equipment possible?
“I’ve always really loved the equipment and mechanics of the bike. That’s what I concentrate on most,” he said in an interview in 2015. “I feel as long as I put the best possible product out there, that the rest will fall into place.”
If you’ve been to a cross race or a criterium, you’ve likely seen the fruits of Bull’s labor. Race-tuned aluminum bikes like the Hellafaster and the Aloominator have proven just how capable alloy is on the road and between the tape. Modern carbon-fiber machines like the Full Tilt Boogie regularly see themselves at the front of UCI cyclocross fields and the Motivus Maximus nearly out-sprinted a three-time world champion. And maybe you’ve even seen Bull himself, Hawaiian shirt flowing through the wind as he rips through a local cyclocross race on his single-speed Country Road Bob.
And it doesn’t just end with the bikes. For over a decade, Van Dessel ran one of the country’s most-respected cyclocross teams. A program that will hopefully return in the coming years, and its impact made manifest through the Floyd’s Pro Cycling team.
In their fifth year exhibiting at the Philly Bike Expo, Bull is proud to show off his ever-expanding line of “Ride Inspired” bikes. The race machines like the Full Tilt Boogie and Motivus Maximus will be there, but so will “man’s best friend on a bicycle” the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, as well as the brand new Day Ripper — a drop-post-equipped, do-it-all gravel, well, ripper.
Most of all, Edwin Bull will be there. Come say hello. There’s nothing he loves more than talking to people about bikes.