A man who made the bike Joe Biden donated to Boris Johnson has been revealed as a rocker-turned-bike maker dubbed the “father of modern hybrids.”
Stephen Bilenky created the ‘all-American’ vehicle and custom helmet for £1,000 ($1,500) for the State Department last month.
The 67-year-old said he only had ten days to finish it off with his employees at Bilenky Cycle Works in Olney, Philadelphia, and it was “chaos.”
Yesterday, the president handed over the bicycle and helmet to the prime minister as a ‘gesture of friendship’.
In return, Johnson gave Biden a photo of an anti-slavery activist on the occasion of the couple’s first meeting.
Stephen Bilenky created the ‘all-American’ vehicle and custom helmet for £1,000 ($1,500) for the State Department last month
The 67-year-old said he had just ten days to finish it off with his employees at Bilenky Cycle Works in Olney, Philadelphia, and it was ‘chaos’
Mr. Bilenky revealed today that he received an email from the State Department on May 23, asking him to make the product in less than a fortnight.
Mr. Bilenky revealed today that he received an email from the State Department on May 23 requesting the product be made in less than a fortnight.
He admitted it was a tough question for his small business, which takes six to eighteen months to make most items.
The agricultural engineer graduate said it was made more difficult by the budget of just £1,000 ($1,500), while his bikes usually start at £3,100 ($4,500).
Mr Bilenky said he was persuaded to make the bike when he found out it was going to Mr Johnson.
He told the Philadelphia Inquirer it was “an opportunity” to boost his store’s reputation and “controlled chaos” ensued, adding, “It was 10 crazy days.”
He also wrote on Facebook: “You may have seen President Biden gift British Prime Minister Boris Johnson an American-made bicycle today.
The bike is hand made and painted by none other than PBE Founder, Bilenky Cycle Works.
“A modern take on the Sterling Metro 5 that launched Bilenky’s career as a custom bike.”
He added: ‘The ”Boris Bike” returns to its British roots when Stephen Bilenky began his frame building skills with an English builder based in Birmingham.”
He admitted it was a tough question for his small business, which takes six to eighteen months to make most items
The bicycle repairman was previously a member of the music group The Notekillers, which he started in 1968 with two high school friends, originally as Dead Cheese.
He said: ‘Our roots were psychedelic, blues and rock; that thing in San Francisco, and then we expanded.
“At one point we had double drumming, then saxophone and multiple players like Blood, Sweat and Tears.”
He added: ‘We were going to do a ‘Be-In’ in a large community backyard called ‘Cheese Nation’.
“Like Woodstock. That would be ’69, ’70, ’71. Eventually it all fell apart and people went their separate ways. In 1979 there were only three of us.
“Music had changed a lot. We weren’t polished like the new wave bands, we were more like a cross between Free Jazz, world music and Black Sabbath.’
The band split up for a few years before Mr. Bilenky returned in 1977 to play bass – performing in clubs and colleges around the city.
They practiced six days a week in the basement of his father’s hair salon – where he also ran a “Bike Doctor” repair shop – but were not popular with the public.
The Notekillers released a record and played in New York City with other bands such as The Feelies and The Bush Tetras.
During a band hiatus between 1981 and 2001, Mr. Bilenky set up his bike shop and founded the Philly Bike Expo.
With the help of three workers, he completed Mr. Johnson’s custom frame—made from Columbus steel—and painted by Memorial Day.
They drew on the Union Flag of Britain and the Flag of the United States on the head tube and the signatures of the Prime Minister and President on the crossbar.
Boris Johnson presented Joe Biden with a photo of a US anti-slavery campaigner on the occasion of the couple’s first meeting at the G7 summit in Cornwall yesterday
The bike was shipped on June 4 – in time for yesterday’s presentation – but the helmet took longer and was shipped Monday.
The State Department had insisted that the bike be made from as many US-made products as possible.
The team found the rims at Velocity USA in Michigan, the hubs, cranks and headset from White Industries in California.
They also got derailleurs and shifters from Chicago Sram and the saddle from Selle Anatomica, California.
The company has won numerous awards in recent years, including praise in magazines such as Bicycling Magazine and Tandem Magazine.
The president met the prime minister in Cornwall on his first foreign visit since entering the White House.
Mr Johnson gave Mr Biden the framed image of a mural of Frederick Douglass, a former slave who became a leading figure in the 19th-century abolitionist movement.
Douglass traveled to Ireland and Britain in the 1840s on a speaking tour.
The image, painted by Ross Blair, is part of a mural around Edinburgh and the photo was taken by Melissa Highton – a British-American dual citizen.
First Lady Jill Biden received a first edition of Daphne du Maurier’s The Apple Tree.
Downing Street said the choice was to display Du Maurier’s tapes in Cornwall – she lived in the county and drew inspiration for many of her works from the surrounding area.
Carrie Johnson received a leather tote bag made by military women and a presidential silk scarf.
Frederick Douglass (pictured) was a former slave who became a leading figure in the 19th-century abolitionist movement in the United States
The image, painted by Ross Blair, is part of a mural around Edinburgh and the photo was taken by Melissa Highton, a British-American dual citizen.