Carl Schlemowitz founded Vicious Cycles in 1994, and has been building custom steel frames in picturesque upstate New York ever since. Like so many many other framebuilders in the northeast Carl’s first inspiration to build came from Fat City Cycles, in his case it was spending the mid-eighties atop an early Fat Chance mountain bike. Vicious Cycles is primarily a mountain bike brand, and mountain bikes are how I first met Carl back in the early 2000s, with path’s crossing through mutual friends and tradeshows since. Having regrettably missed the pigroast invites of years past it was a treat to finally stop into the New Paltz, NY home of Vicious Cycles.
Vicious Cycles was an early 29″ and single speed adopter, making their frames, unicrown forks and signature paintjobs a mainstay of the east coast mountain bike scene. After some twenty years in the business Carl is now opening up the shop to students, offering week-long framebuilding or frame painting classes through his Metal Guru program. Carl works with other guest builders to offer classes and workshops outside of his particular expertise, widening the offerings to those looking for particular facets of continuing education. I’ve heard positive reviews, and seen a great final result, from the Metal Guru program.
Workspaces are as individual as their owners, it’s great to catch a few moments behind the scenes. Learn more about Metal Guru lessons in bicycle manufacturing at metalguru.viciouscycles.com.
Drew Guldalian and his Engin Cycles brand have risen to the top of the custom bicycle market over the past decade. Housed in a large garage space behind his bike shop, Wissahickon Cyclery, the Engin Cycles workspace is as I imagined it from my interactions with Drew over the years. Meticulously organized and clean as it gets, the workspace matches the finish and attention to detail of the bikes leaving with the Engin headbadge. There is a lot of experience at work here with a full shop and framebuilding operation in one location, a rare combination that no doubt contributes to complete bikes being that much better. While past bikes from Engin may have sported steel tubes and braze work, from here on out Drew is putting his focus on making the best titanium bikes out there. Engin Cycles is not for the bargain custom buyer, this is a no-expense spared operation to make the best bicycles possible. It is clear that Drew takes this goal seriously every step of the way, producing the kind of bikes most of us can only dream of someday owning. Always great to see a bike being born and get another perspective on frame construction from a veteran of the craft.
Be sure to click through for a gallery of images of Engin bicycles we’ve shot at North American Handmade Bicycle Shows gone by.
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Following a weekend of debauchery including some bike riding, the Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships went off this past Sunday in Philadelphia. Qualifiers for spots in the men’s and women’s race categories included the previous day’s Bilenky Junkyard Cross, a locals led “feats of strength” ride, or last-chance goldsprints. The football fans in the audience may be familiar with how the weather turned in Philadelphia that afternoon, dumping some 2-3 inches of snow on the course in a couple of hours. The 11am “Everyone’s a Winner” category started with clear skies and wet trails, ending but 45 minutes later in heavy snow. By the time the men’s and women’s classes was hitting the course it was just short of a whiteout, with the women getting the worst of it. It all led to a party in the woods with some bike racing happening in between. The top competitive finishers were taking things seriously to turn the laps they did, it’s just that most everyone else on the course was more than happy to embrace the loose rules and heavy heckling in the name of a party. Adam Craig and Vikki Barclay took home the championship tattoos, everyone else went home a winner. Next year it’s Louisville.