At the Philly Bike Expo this past weekend the Pennsylvania Convention Center was filled with custom frame makers, component manufacturers, food trucks and yes, even e-bikes. Over the years the Expo has morphed into a sort of mini NAHBS attracting builders from all over the country to bringing some of their latest creations to show off to their peers and perhaps take a couple of deposits for future builds. Bikes range from the classic to the bizarre but it is Philadelphia’s own Engin Cycles that is leading the way with an innovated approach to custom building.
Drew Guldalian has been designing and building Engin Cycles for a little over 12 years. Based out of his bike shop, Wissahickon Cyclery, which has been in business for 23 years, Guldalian became interested in fabricating his own bike frames after selling brands like Independent Fabrication and Moots. Guldalian saw an opportunity to grow the business and create a more sustainable business plan for his shop. Rather than be the middleman for other custom manufacturers, Guldalian decided to learn the craft of frame making. Guldalian took a class through UBI to hone his craft over the course of three years, allowing him to create a product that he could stand behind and market it as his own.
Wanting to separate himself from the herd, Guldalian began investing in lathes and CNC machinery in order to draw his own tube sets and manufacture his own dropouts and bottom brackets. A perfectionist at heart, Guldalian began to take on parts of the bicycle that he saw as flawed. Redesigning the dropouts in order to have the chainstays sit lower in order to eliminate chain slap that is indicative of technical mountain biking was just one of the ways Guldalian looked to improve the modern day bike. Guldalian embraced the new bottom bracket standard of custom steel and titanium in the T-47 BB shell allowing a 30mm spindle in a non-press-fit application. If that sounds confusing, well, it is, but Guldalian quickly set out to correct what he saw to be too thin of a shell and began milling his own to be an 1/8 of an inch thicker than the current offerings to the masses.
With an offering of mountain, road and cyclocross bikes Guldalian admits that it is the all-road big tired drop bar bikes that have been most popular of late. He also stated that his mountain bike customers are moving away from traditional cross-country and more into trail inspired geometry or “Funduro” style hardtails. With NAHBS just around the corner in Hartford, we will be looking forward to seeing what is new from Engin Cycles.
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