Cream of the Custom Crop

Four-year-olds can be pretty speedy on two wheels. So Shelly Horton suggested to her husband, Brett Horton, that they invest in a town bike for her that would be comfortable and fast enough to keep up with their son, Trevor, on the streets near their home in San Francisco, CA. A simple-enough request, unless your husband is a famous bike racing memorabilia collector with a penchant for lugged steel.

Within three hours of getting on the phone, Brett Horton had secured some of the top handmade builders in North America to design and construct a fully custom bike. His pitch to the handmade craftspeople: “Let’s see if we can build the coolest bike that the world has ever seen.”

Horton started racing in the 1970s and now owns one of the largest collections of original bike racing memorabilia in the world. It probably won’t come as a surprise, then, that the Shelly Horton mixte bike was designed around a vintage French chain guard.

Bilenky Cycle Works (BCW), of Philadelphia, PA, was commissioned to do the job of designing and building the frameset because of their expertise and experience building bikes for women. The inspiration for this, Horton said in a telephone interview, was drawn from a door that BCW owner, Stephen Bilenky, came across while at a train station.

The town bike is considered to be part of the constructeur tradition that began in post-Second World War France. The Art Deco aesthetic of the frameset is complimented by a custom handmade Brooks, England saddle, built around the B67S ladies saddle – something, Horton said, they were very lucky to get.

While the Shelly Horton bike isn’t complete yet – some newly fabricated elements will be added before it is shown at Interbike 2011 in Las Vegas, NV – Shelly is already happy with the design, Horton said.

The Shelly Horton bike was debuted at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Austin, TX, from February 25-27, 2011, where it took home the grand prize for best lugged frame by Bilenky Cycle Works.

Originally published in the July/ August 2011 issue of Momentum Magazine and on

Take the Lane: Championing the Cause

While attending an advocacy seminar at the 2011 National Bike Summit in Washington, DC, in March, I was reminded of one message in particular: we need champions of the cause.

Movements, whether for civil rights, women’s rights, democratic freedom, etc., have all had figureheads – individuals who, by way of their charisma, public speaking ability and dedication, attract the eyes and ears of a lot of people and bring them together under one banner. Added to that, if the examples of the Libyan and Egyptian democratic uprisings have taught us anything, the willingness of the masses to get behind a cause has much to do with the success of a movement – that’s where you come in.

David Byrne, on the cover of this issue, can certainly be counted among the notable individuals getting behind the cycling banner in North America. His work in New York City – including designing several themed bike racks – and speaking tours have done much to change perceptions about what it means to ride a bike, i.e., it’s fun and cool to bike in the city, and you don’t have to be an athlete to do it.

People like Byrne and the many other dedicated advocates of cycling in North America make our job here at Momentum easier. They present shining examples of how mainstream, popular and natural it is to choose to include biking in your transportation mix. And the more people recognize the utility and attractiveness of biking, the more policy-makers will take notice and the safer and more convenient city cycling will be.

Safety is a key issue that is causing some tensions in the bicycling community. The whole discussion surrounding helmet use often seems to come down to a “you’re either with us or you’re against us” mentality, leaving “us” without a clear resolution (or message for that matter) in sight. Reporter Elly Blue does a great job of exploring both sides of the argument, and the gray areas in between, in our feature story about helmets, p. 36.

We also have some fantastic Arts and Culture content in this issue, p. 16, along with our feature chat with David Byrne, which was covered by Arts and Culture editor Bryna Hallam, p. 34. And don’t miss our look at cycling in Minneapolis, p. 40, our MOHow about getting your bike on a plane, p. 50, Mia Birk’s load-bearing experience at a garage sale, p. 54, bikes we love, p. 46, kids’ helmets, p. 27, and much, much more!

It has been six years since Momentum Magazine re-launched as a business designed to get more people on bikes. I hope you enjoy our six-year anniversary edition.

Keep it wheel,

Sarah Ripplinger

Editor, Momentum Magazine

Originally published in the May/ June 2011 issue of Momentum Magazine and on