Category Archives: History

Episode 5: Tillie Anderson, Champion of the World

With seemingly more coverage of the issue recently than ever, women’s fight for an equal place in bike racing kind of feels like a modern phenomenon. But women have been fighting for the right to race bikes for nearly the entirety of bike racing history. In the late 1800s, a young Swedish immigrant named Tillie Anderson joined that fight and quickly became the star of American cycling with a nearly flawless record and the world champion title to her name.

Music:
“Intractable,” “Floating Cities”
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

tillie

Episode 4: A Brief History Of The American Sharrow

It may come as a surprise, but in some circles of the bike world, sharrows are a source of passionate debate. Are they a lip service from cities hoping to appease cyclists without spending any money or political capital? Are they a viable form of safe infrastructure? In this episode, we trace the origins of sharrows back to their inventor James Mackay, P.E., a former Denver bike planner and talk to bike advocate Noah Budnick and University of Denver, Colorado professor Wes Marshall to look at the evolution of biking and bike infrastructure in America over the last 25 years.

Music:
“Bicycle,” “Night Cave,” “Finding the Balance”
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Episode 2: How To Deal With Belgian Demons

After just one year of racing in the American professional cyclocross scene, Elle Anderson got the chance to join a European team and race full time in Belgium. It’s the stuff dreams are made of for young American bike racers. But reality turned out to be more nightmare than dream. A series of compounding events left Elle deeply depressed and struggling on and off the bike.

Music:
“Dirt Rhodes,” “Long Note Two,” “Static Motion”
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Bill Davidson: Seattle’s Legendary Frame Builder

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Bill Davidson in the new Davidson-Kullaway shop. Photo by Josh Cohen.

A few months ago, custom bike builders Bill Davidson of Davidson Bicycles and Max Kullaway of 333 Fabrication officially joined forces after many years of quiet partnership. One of the cool features of the new Davidson-Kullaway custom frame shop in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood is a picture window in the wall that separates the customer area up front from the workshop in the back. It allows customers to watch the pair at work building beautiful bikes. When I arrived at the shop last week, I did just that. Kullaway was behind a translucent screen welding up a frame. Davidson, looking like a blue collar scientist in his denim shop smock, was standing over a milling machine cutting tubes. Eventually, they noticed me standing there and Davidson joined me up front.

If you know anything about frame building, Davidson likely needs little introduction. He’s been in the business for over 40 years, which puts him in the company of just a handful of other American builders. When he got started in 1973 there barely was such a thing as a custom frame builder in the U.S. We sat down at his new shop to talk about his long career, learning to build bikes in the 70s, the evolution of the frame building business, his new venture with Kullaway, and more.

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Mike Flanigan: Frame Builder History with ANT Bike Mike

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ANT Bike’s Mike Flanigan with a Boston Roadster. Photo via ANT Bike flickr.

New England is a stronghold of American custom frame builders. Portland, OR may have more of them, but New Englanders have been at it longer. The U.S. custom frame building business traces its roots to the 1970s when Richard Sachs, Peter Weigle, and Ben Serotta learned the craft at Whitcomb Cycles in London. Of course, companies such as Schwinn and Huffy had been manufacturing bicycles in the U.S. for decades, but Sachs, Weigle and Serotta were among the first to bring the tailor-made style of bicycle building to the States. When they returned to New England in 1972, Weigle and Sachs started the short-lived Whitcomb USA. Serotta started Serotta Cycles. The three laid the foundation for many generations of builders to come in the region.

Flash forward to the late 80s, Fat City Cycles was in full swing and a young Mike Flanigan rolled into Boston from Texas and talked his way into a job in the paint department. Over his five years there he became a master painter and found the time to teach himself TIG welding. When Fat City was sold in the mid-90s, Flanigan and a few other Fat City refugees started Independent Fabrication. In the early 2000s, dissatisfied with the direction of his company, he left and launched his one-man, city and cargo bike-focused shop, Alternative Needs Transportation (ANT). Between Fat City, Independent Fabrication, and ANT, Flanigan has played an important role in shaping the modern frame building landscape. He also played a part in bringing city bikes to the American mainstream. I spoke to Flanigan about his deep history in the frame building world, Fat City’s major influence, the value and significant of custom bikes, and his recent closure of ANT bikes.

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