US - UK Friendship Bike
President Joe Biden’s Gift to Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Photo credit: Painted Dog Media and Daniel Kilkelly
When the Biden administration needed a bike, they came to Bilenky Cycle Works… On May 23, 2021, Stephen Bilenky received a cryptic email from the US Department of State Office of Diplomatic Gifts, requesting a custom USA-made bicycle for an unnamed foreign dignitary to be delivered by June 5. “Is this a scam?” Stephen wondered. Despite his misgivings, he replied to the email and agreed to a Zoom meeting the next day. In that meeting, he was assured that this request was legit. A color scheme of red, white and blue (to match the flags of both countries) and the fact that the foreign leader was 5’8” tall were hints. Only after Bilenky agreed to take on the project was it revealed that the gift was for bicycling enthusiast and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Putting everything else aside and working 14 hour days, Stephen and his team created a masterpiece in under 2 weeks. When your country calls, you answer! The final product was delivered to Washington, DC in time for the President’s trip overseas.
The US-UK Friendship Bike (aka “the Boris Bike”) based on Bilenky’s classic '80s “Clubsman” sport/touring model (renamed in the 2000’s to the gender-neutral “Tourlite”) is a lightweight roadster with SRAM AXS shifting. It was fillet brazed, hand finished, and constructed with a mix of Columbus and Dedacciai tubing, design and fabrication assistance from Mars Cycles and wheels built by Bryan “Fuzzy” VanArsdale. It features components from these companies: Ahearne (handlebar), Selle Anatomica (saddle) Velocity USA (rims) White Industries (hubs, cranks and headset) Spurcycle (bell) King Cage (water bottle cage) Thomson Bike Products (seat post, stem) Jen Green (custom head badge), Schwalbe (tires), and Bern (helmet).
Stephen Bilenky launched his bicycle company with the British-inspired Metro 5, his reimagining of the historic English 3 speed. Early in his framebuilding career, Bilenky was mentored by Birmingham, UK builder Jim Gittins. So, the “Boris Bike” circles back to British roots. Bilenky is a firm believer in the transformational effect of bicycles and bicycling. Says Bilenky, “Perhaps this gift can help push the goal of understanding and peace.”
A limited edition reproduction is being prepared for late spring 2022 delivery.
Air shipping to UK and Eurozone will be at a fixed cost of $300; shipping to Continental US would be at cost.
All Photos: Painted Dog Media and Daniel Kilkelly
In The News
Revealed: The rocker-turned bike maker dubbed the 'father of modern hybrids' who made the bike gifted to Boris Johnson by Joe Biden
Jun 11, 2021
The Daily Mail
President Joe Biden gifts Boris Johnson US-built bike
Jun 11, 2021
How a Philly shop built a bike — quickly and at a discount — for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The buyer: Joe Biden.
Jun 11, 2021
The Philadelphia Inquirer