Handmade bike exhibit rolls through downtown Iowa City

Handmade Bike
A bike built by students in the UI’s Handbuilt program is on display at Hotel Vetro. — photo by Sanna Miller

Handmade Bicycle Exhibition

Downtown Iowa City — through May 25

As part of Iowa City’s participation in the national Bike to Work Week, May 3 – 8, the University of Iowa Museum of Art has curated a collection of hand-built bikes that are currently on display in downtown businesses as part of the Downtown District’s inaugural Handmade Bicycle Exhibition.

These bicycles are made by five award-winning bike frame builders and were selected for both their aesthetics and functionality.

“These builders are some of the best builders in North America,” said Steve McGuire, interim director of the UI School of Art History and instructor of a UI course on bicycle frame building. “A good builder has a high level of craftsmanship, [and] is able to build a bike that fits a person so specifically that when a person gets on the bike, it’s as though they’ve not ridden a bike before. It’s that perfect.”

Running wild hand built bike
A tandem bike built by Stephen Bilenky on display at Running Wild. — photo by Sanna Miller

McGuire says that even for those unfamiliar with the world of bike building, these bikes are remarkable — and understandably so, if one glances at these builders’ impressive records.

James Bleakley of Black Sheep Bikes in Ft. Collins, Colorado, whose work can be seen in Iowa Artisans Gallery, won Best Titanium Bicycle in the 2008 North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show (NAHBS). Stephen Bilenky of Bilenky Cycle Works in Philadelphia, whose bike is showing at Running Wild, has been awarded several NAHBS honors, including Best Road Bike 2010.

Hand built bike
A bike built by Kent Eriksen on display at Active Endeavors. — photo by Sanna Miller

Kent Eriksen of Kent Eriksen Cycles in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, has a whole host of awards from the NAHBS dating back to 2009, including Best Road Bike, Best Titanium Bike and Best Tandem, as well as being named Builder of the Year in the 2009 Rocky Mountain Handmade Bike Show; his bike is on display at Active Endeavors.

Additionally, Ride and World of Bikes will display bikes by Peacock Groove’s Erik Noren of Minneapolis, and Iowa Artisans Gallery will exhibit the work of Steve Potts from Steve Potts Bicycles in Point Reyes, California. Bikes built by McGuire’s UI Handbuilt Bicycle Program will also be on display at Hotel Vetro.

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