Bike Cult Show
Words by Anna Maria Diaz-Balart, Photography by Tayler Rae Dubé
It has been years since the knockdown center manufactured its revolutionary steel doors, but, this August the space featured a different kind of cutting edge construction when it hosted the area’s premier hand built bicycle fabricators. The second annual Bike Cult show had over two dozen local and international builders displaying their wares. And whether you were interested in a tall bikes for touring, a custom bamboo build, or just a sexy steel track bike, there was something for every cyclist.
We biked over early to get a good look at these beautiful bikes, and to talk to the builders on the challenges of making custom bikes for women. We were struck by the friendliness of the bike building community. At these price points its not unreasonable to expect a little bike snobbishness but, everyone was eager to talk and show off their beautiful builds.
BECAUSE HAND BUILT BIKES FOCUS EXCLUSIVELY ON THE INDIVIDUAL, THE TYPICAL MANSPLAINING AND CASUAL SEXISM OF SOME BIKE SHOPS WAS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. INSTEAD WE FOUND BUILDERS EAGER TO WELD ULTRA LIGHT FRAMES FOR FEMALE RACERS, TO CUSTOMIZE WITH WILD, TOTALLY IDIOSYNCRATIC PAINT JOBS, AND ULTIMATELY CREATE A RIDER’S PERFECT BIKE. HAND BUILT BIKES APPEAR TO BE THE PERFECT ANTIDOTE TO THE ‘PINK IT AND SHRINK IT’ MENTALITY THAT STILL PERVADES THE CYCLING INDUSTRY.
Another thing that struck us is the tradition of apprenticeship in bicycle building. So many of the manufacturers had been mentored by their fellow exhibitors. The well established builders had often produced hundreds of frames, but some builders were just striking out on their own. Many of us experience cycling as such a deeply organic part of life in New York City. It was incredible to see such an array of builders who ride the same city streets. As New York increasingly pushes its own makers to the farthest edges of the city, this was particularly inspiring. So regardless of gender, or whether your build will whip you around the Kissena Velodrome, up 9W, or just help you commute over the Manhattan Bridge, these area builders have you covered.