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News Archive 2013

News Archive 2014




Friendly Neighborhood Bike Shop

I recently had the opportunity to visit a few of Philadelphia's bike shops. Philly was recently ranked as the number one big city for bike commuting per capita in the USA. And it shows. There are bicycle shops in almost every part of town, from modest to upscale and everything in between. Cyclists competing with traffic are also everywhere as are their bicycles attached to parking meters and bike stands with massive urban locks.

One of my favorite shops is Kayuh Bicycles near Temple University in North Philadelphia, a recent start-up which began as a senior business project by Temple grad Izzat Rahman. A modest establishment by bike store standards, the shop appears to serve its local clientele of students and moderate income families very well. A row of used bikes lines one side of the shop, and on the other new custom bicycles, frames and components from Leader, HED and Velo Orange. 

We discussed bike biz ideas, start-up challenges, custom bikes and the notion of serving particular clienteles. It reminded me that the bicycle marketplace is always local, even when a business expands to serve more than one local market. The fact is there are many forms of cycling, and most are in one sense or another local. So get local. Visit Kayuh when in Philly, or place a custom order with Evo today. 




Welcome to My Website - Archive Version

Let's get one thing straight. I'm a cyclist with a passion for building custom bikes. I'm not a webmaster, blogger or Facebook fiend. But as in all things, I will do my best. Since I began building custom bicycles, and since folks began buying my custom bikes, the two questions I have heard time and time again are: Do you have a website? and What is a custom bike? With a little luck and the perseverance of an extended climb over steep terrain, I hope this modest website will answer both questions.

Make no mistake, I have some opinions. And perhaps, over time, I will come to share them on these pages. Mostly I hope to spend my time creating custom bicycles for clients' unique needs and desires. Yet just as building a custom bicycle is a service, cycling is an activity with personal, social and societal dimensions. Formerly obscure within the greater sporting world, and dismissed as simple practical transportation on the one hand or elitist snobbery on the other, bicycling in all of its manifestations is definitely in resurgence, even boom times. The cycling moon is rising in the night sky, and we are all a little better off because of it.

While this site is certainly not intended to be a blog, I will share news and events pertaining to Evo Cycle Works and the latest projects, along with information on sponsorship and selected insights into cycling. For more commentary, I encourage you to follow Evo on Twitter and Instagram and to like Evo on Facebook.

If you are interested in cycling blogs, there are many from which to choose. These writers blog about the world of cycling in all of its extraordinary forms. While there are many high quality magazine related blogs, I encourage you to check out the independent publications. Find selections of the most influential of these at ExtanzeBuzzing Labs and Blogrank.


Philadelphia Bike Expo

"Artisans, Activists, Alternatives," the tag line of the Philly Bike Expo, pretty much sums up the sense of this exhibition shamelessly devoted to bicycle nerds everywhere. Evo did not exhibit at this event, but I had heard about it and wanted to go and check it out. So I spent one day of the two day event talking with as many custom bicycle builders as I could distract from actual potential customers. 

Most of the custom builders were frame builders, mainly welders, crafting exquisite and unusual bike frames from steel, aluminum and in one case, titanium. These ranged from performance road and mountain bikes to seriously hardcore cargo, touring and tandem bikes. There were also one or two exhibitors who built superb custom bikes from available components. All of which raises the question for me: What is a custom bicycle? 

Is it fabricated from scratch? Hand-built? Handmade? Custom designed? Are bearded elves somehow involved? But seriously, frame-building is a time honored alternative to the corporate, mass-produced bicycle. And the welding and lesser-known carbon wrapping skills are certainly artisanal in nature. The results are often exquisite, stunning and innovative, and yes, quite expensive.

Yet surely there is a place in the world of cycling for all manner of custom built bicycles, and each is a handy reminder that there are alternatives to the off-the-shelf, mass-marketed brands. Indeed the Philly Expo seems to suggest that there is rapidly increasing interest in custom bicycles. And that is a most welcome trend.



The Realm of Night Riding

Daylight Saving Time ended on November 3 this year, although by that time daylight was already receding noticeably. Every year around this time, 5 p.m. nightfall leaves after-work cycling enthusiasts, well, in the dark. At least those unfortunate sport cyclists who work daytime business hours. So what is a determined cyclist to do? Get lights of course!

Since my season this year was dominated by road cycling, I was inclined to mount headlights on my roadbike and helmet and ride on. I had used powerful lights previously, but only as insurance for road or trail rides that seemed likely to run into nightfall. Setting out in the dark for a night ride on dark rural roads is a totally different experience. One needs to seriously confront the technical issues: How many lumins? How much battery life? Wide or narrow beam? And so on. A cyclist confronts these questions with the same esprit de corps as applies to any technical or mechanical aspect of cycling. 

So I set out with my 3000 lumin array, including the much needed helmet spot for seeing around curves and spotting wandering deer. Even sticking to my familiar training routes, cycling at night felt like a completely new experience. As so well articulated in a recent Lovely Bicycle post, the experience has a unique "edge" both psychologically stressful and simultaneously thrilling. Riding at speed feels like moving through a cone of light, fast seems faster, strange seems stranger, and the landscape itself appears to emerge ahead and disappear behind. It is a play on the mind unlike anything that happens in daylight. So if thrill seeking is your thing on a bike, I say go for it!



MoCo Epic 2013

Following three consecutive years riding in the epic, the premiere mountain biking event in Montgomery County, Maryland, and recognized as an official "epic" by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), I decided it was time to throw in my hat as a sponsor and exhibitor.

This year's event was bigger than ever with some 900 riders, volunteers and exhibition ride participants. A two day Saturday-Sunday festival event, the epic rides were on Sunday, including 25, 35 and 50 miles, and the 100K or 65 mile ride, all told stringing together eleven county, state and national parks. Saturday's events included exhibition rides for all levels and a Saturday evening "carbo-loading" dinner. Concluding the event was a Sunday after-ride party with food, drink and live music - an awesome achievement by the MoCo Epic team.

We were set-up both days with the other exhibitors, hanging out the Evo Cycle Works sign (literally) along with four demo bikes, and chatting up our start-up venture and the Evo philosophy with anyone and everyone. 




Century Challenges

The century ride is a rite of passage for many road cyclists. Riding 100 miles in one day - and getting back before the tents are taken down - is a personal challenge and very often the goal toward which we train. I completed two centuries this season and directed much of my training toward these endurance events. I had become intrigued with endurance riding over the past few years, perhaps because this seemed to be an edge I retained over the younger, faster riders. Nevermind that there are always younger and faster riders, except I suppose if you are 16 years old.

Early in the season I developed a 70 mile scenic route as a club ride, and participated in the SMECO 75, a charity ride sponsored by the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative. I signed up for several shorter events during the season, taking aim at the hilly routes to build stamina.

In general I've found that breaking the 50 mile barrier brings new challenges and unique hazards. Bicycle fit becomes essential, especially as regards contact points: hands, feet and butt. Developing power is more important than long miles. That's right, I'm talking about the dreaded hill repeats, sustained climbing and weight training. Learning to eat when you don't feel hungry is critical. The average rider will burn 6000-8000 calories over the course of seven or eight hours in the saddle, and he or she needs to eat throughout the day or things get ugly.

The White Clay Bicycle Club Shorefire Century in late August is a scenic route through the rolling farmlands of central Delaware and down to the coast. It was well supported and I was doing fine until the last 20 miles or so. It seems I wasn't eating enough and I found myself slipping into the "bonk" zone. I finished but only with the help of an impromptu ride partner who was alternately encouraging and belligerent. Nausea followed for another 24 hours after the ride, not fun.

Two weeks later was the Indianhead Century, a moderately flat route through Charles County, Maryland. In between I practiced sustained bursts of power and eating while riding, until it seemed like my bike computer was becoming a hateful, sinister thing constantly judging my sub-par performance. But the result was quite positive. I remembered to keep eating this time, paced reasonably, reserved power whenever possible, and opened up across the flats. My ride time was 6 hours and 35 minutes, a personal record. Next year I'm going ultra. 

Special note to younger readers. Here is where you attack me with your ride stats. Go ahead, have some fun! It doesn't matter. The last word is the senior citizen card already imprinted with your name and soon to arrive in your inbox. 





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