Every time the Philly Bike Expo gets renewed, my heart starts racing like never before, and then the speculations start. What will be announced this year, will we experience something new and different this time? I can safely say this time that I was blown out of the park with the 2022 Philly Bike Expo!
The Philly Bike Expo (2022) is an annual two-day event that features everything that a bike enthusiast can dream of: It has seminars, exhibitors, presentations, and much more. This was very much coveted and it happened over the Halloween weekend, a perfect time, I would say. The most impressive part was the unveiling of the handmade bikes, this was something that I truly did not expect!
We went there hoping for a bike expo but what we got was so much more than that, the expo was filled with events that showcased the importance of bikes and entertainment in our lives. Well, there was a movie night, community dinner, and educational seminars on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Mountain bike lovers had a great time when they showcased mountain bike history and who could forget the cyclocross race with the costume contest, it was like the perfect mix of Halloween and a bike expo.
View this post on Instagram
The History Behind The Expo
How did this expo come into existence? Ever heard of Bilenky Cycle Works? The expo was founded by Stephen Bilenky in 2010 with the intent to promote cycling culture in a unique way. Even after all this time, the expo still remains and it has a massive fan following. People from all over the United States and even other countries came to experience it.
This was the main hub where cycling gurus and activists came to meet, ideas were shared and motivations were given. The expo was very successful this year, after all, it was expected to be since the pandemic situation was finally getting better. Let me describe the exhibitor list to you: There were more than 160 brands (More Than 40% From Last Year’s Expo) that held their showcases, it was like E3 all over again but just for bikes.
Now the torch has been passed to Bilenky’s daughter, Bina Bilenky, who organized the whole event. Her main goal is to put more people on bikes can to push the awareness of bikes even further than before. She also wants the small and new bike manufacturers to be in the limelight.
During the event, Bilenky said:
These artisans are the small builders, bag makers, and boutique component manufacturers who make up a large part of our exhibitors.
We strive to support the individuals who fabricate bicycles and products on a small scale, by hand in their home country.
The Philly Bike Expo’s tagline is Artisans, activists, alternatives, and this stands true to how the event was presented and handled. It was more than about the latest bikes and gear, it was about people coming together that share a passion for cycling.
More than 39 seminars were hosted at this year’s expo, this shows that this time it was all about diversity. Even Bina Bilenky was very excited about the seminars and had this to say:
The seminars are always a joint effort between my dad and myself as well as folks who submit some great topics. We come up with a wish list of important and interesting topics ranging from culture and lifestyle to tech clinics and bike design.
Seminars were held on different but important subjects, and some of the highlights were: “The Secrets For Better Hill Climbing” and “Yoga For Cyclists”. There were other seminars too but for me, these were at the top. As was expected, SRAM also came to the expo for the third consecutive time with its Inclusivity Scholarship. They awarded scholarships to three bike builders that got to show their creations at the expo, it was a proud and happy moment for them.
Dinner and Movies Night Extravaganza
I really loved how the whole event kickstarted, with dinner and a film festival at PaperTrail Bike Cafe in Rittenhouse Town. You might be wondering why they chose this spot, there is actually a really good reason for this. The shop is surrounded by the trails of the Wissahickon River Valley, which also happens to be a very popular spot for outdoor lovers and mountain bikers.
The guests were treated exceptionally well, it almost felt like Christmas. They were given hot food from the nearby cafes and warm blankets, even coffee was served the next morning to help prepare for the expo weekend. It was a magical time indeed!
What followed the next night was something truly amazing. The PaperTrail Bike Cafe hosted a Halloween Themed Cyclocross race. You could see people dressed as piñata or a werewolf just cycling and having fun. After the race was over, we enjoyed hot chocolate, churros, Slyfox beer, and much more.
The New Mission: Making Bikes Accessible For All
Inclusivity and access are very necessary for cycling communities, now more than ever. This is one of the key topics that were discussed during the expo. We got to attend the “Adaptive Cycling–Making Bikes Accessible For All” seminar hosted by Daniel Horne of Maverick’s Square Adaptive Cyclery.
In the seminar, Horne discussed many ways bikes can be used by riders with various disabilities. It was a powerful talk and it gave power to the listeners. I just wish that I could just go and experience that all over again. Horne’s presentation also shed light on different bikes, such as tricycles, recumbent bikes, step-throughs, and two and three-wheeled tandems. All of them had a part to play for people with disabilities, and I was shocked to hear this kind of information for the first time.
I really didn’t know before that non-traditional bikes can serve disabled people in such a beautiful way. From adjusting the pedal stroke for uneven limbs to custom handlebars, there is a lot that can be done.
View this post on Instagram
PBE and SRM Exclusive Inclusivity Scholarship
For the third consecutive time, SRAM returned for its exclusive PBE Inclusivity Scholarship Program. It was definitely a big highlight of the show, and that was something truly spectacular. The purpose of this scholarship program is to help the special talent that goes under-appreciated.
The winners of the scholarship program were given booth space, food, travel, and accommodation for the duration of the expo. SRAM also gave the winners products to help them out with their presentations. The winners of the Scholarship program were:
- Em Karau (WZRD Bikes)
- B Vivit (HotSalad Bicycles)
- Katrina Leyden (Benevolent Bicycles)
- Eva Kloiber (Liberation Fabrication)
What’s Next For The Philly Bike Expo?
This year’s Philly Bike Expo went really well, it clearly surpassed all expectations. During the event, Bina stressed the importance of Bike Activists, saying that they have always have a big role to play, especially in an expo like this.
Activists are all the advocates of cycling, from policy and infrastructure to charities and DEI initiatives. We couldn’t host an expo without them.
Putting together an expo like this was a dream come true for Bina, although it still took a lot of effort and skills. After the event had ended, she stated:
It’s a lot of work, and it always feels a bit sad when it’s over, but I start right away on improvement and plans for next year. We start working on Squad applications and exhibitor registration almost immediately, so while the work is not as urgent, there is very little downtime.
Will we see an expo like this next year? We won’t have to wait long to find out!
Featured Image Via YouTube/Carl Drexler