Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"Our idols and demons will persue us until we learn to let them go.."

My day started out as per usual with the typical not so subtle annoyances I deal with on a daily basis. Then said annoyances were suddenly interrupted when a reader informed me about this bitchtastic article written on the Hetchins website in their 'What's new' section:

Bilenky 'Tribute' Hetchins

Bilenky Cycle Works of Philadelphia have produced what they call a Tribute Hetchins. The frame is displayed at their web site [] as well as featured at various other sites including Flickr and some cycling blogs. is the source for the fotos below.

The Editor has several comments to make about this frame. One Hetchins show frame was produced in the mid 1980s featuring curved stays and seat tube.
Click here to see that bike. Hellenic stays were not part of the concept. Moreover, with only two exceptions, Hellenics did not have curved stays (much less curved seat tubes); Hellenics were straight-stayed bikes. So the combination of curved stays, Hellenic stays, and curved seat tube, at least as far as Hetchins are concerned, is a non-starter. On a genuine Hellenic-stayed bike, the seat stays (whether curved or straight) run parallel to the down tube; not on the Bilenky frame. Below are the genuine articles:

A retro-fitted Hellenic;
started out straight-stayed.

Half-curly hellenic, special order.

Secondly, unless there is some distortion of the jpeg involved, the top tube also appears to be bowed downwards on the Bilenky frame. This is no tribute to Hetchins and never appeared on any genuine Hetchins frame. It appears to this Editor to be mere excess of curvature, without any design justification. Thirdly, look closely at the top foto and note the rear tire clearance. You could fit four fingers into that gap. Why would anybody incorporate a curved seat tube, and then set the bike up with such a long wheelbase? The whole point of the curved seat tube is to get a short wheelbase by moving the rear wheel closer to the bottom bracket shell than would be possible with a straight seat tube. The result in this case is amateurish: superfluous curvature in defiance of design concept. Fourthly, the lug set, ostensibly Mag.Opus Ph II, incorporates an error we have seen on a number of other replicas: the lug extension along the top tube behind the head tube is too long. On the Bilenky frame, it is the same as on the down tube; not on a genuine Hetchins Mag.Opus Ph II. Fifthly, as with many other replicas, the curves on the stays are not accurate. If Bilenky meant this as a tribute to Hetchins, it falls short of the marque. They have juxtaposed unrelated elements and the result is a farrago which Hetchins would never have produced, certainly not together on one frame. The design is further marred by inaccuracies and errors of detail. While some Hetchins were fancier than this, Hetchins were always unified by a coherent concept, both aesthetically and functionally. In the opinion of this Editor, the Bilenky frame is no tribute to Hetchins, but an incoherent jumble. If you mix five different wines, you don't get one great wine. (No aspersions are cast upon the workmanship; only upon the design concept.) Prospective buyers be advised that if you like this frame and want a similar one, you should approach Bilenky Cycle Works, not Hetchins. David Miller's terse (one-word) comment on the Bilenky 'Tribute' made it clear that he will not produce one.


...If you're not sitting there rubbing your palms together right now in anticipatory delight, you should be cause this is gonna be good!

The biggest mistake the editor made was not thoroughly researching the subject of his little bitch rant as it pertains to the actual bicycle in question. The original concept and design COMPLETELY goes over his head. Thus rendering a good portion of his expert opinion null. Then there's also the fact that he makes the critical mistake of putting himself out there for me to tear the fuck apart. Not to mention that nothing irritates me more than a belligerent attack on friends and associates...

First of all, at no point in time did I, or did Bilenky Cycleworks make any claim nor mention of any authenticity about the bike being a Hetchins outside of the vintage lug set I acquired WHAT SO EVER. It's a TRIBUTE you fucking douches! For them to start talking shit on something they obviously didn't even take the time to really learn anything about AT ALL and then base their whole opinion on an assumption of their own questionable greatness is so fucking pathetic I can barely stand it!

What's also super annoying is the way in which the editor nit picks all the 'incongruent' aspects of the bike and build as it pertains to their own standard. Which in fact is something I wasn't actually going for AT ALL because it was built as a cooonnnncceeepppptttt. I mean, I wanted it to be hetchins-esq in that it would pay homage to the brand as being one of my favorite and most inspiring classic frame builders. Though I had no interest in conforming to their building 'standards'. I was going for something different that incorporated a lot of the details that inspire me most. I didn't want a carbon fucking copy, I wanted something one off that I could call my own. As you can read for yourself in my original post from November 14 07' about this build. In it I explain all my thoughts and ideas in rich detail:

"I started this project off with a set of NOS 1950's Hetchins Magnum Opus Lugs I bought off ebay. Then came up with the concept from my love of classic Hetchins frames and mixed in a little modern styling and technology."

Yep.. Nothing quite like quoting yourself ;)

..and way to be on top on the 'news' ye olden bastards!

What we're dealing with here is fetishism of a brand from which the original builders are long dead. I can understand wanting to defend or legitimize a legacy such as Hetchins but at the same time, not only do I think their aim is way off course as it concerns the Bilenky, but their focus is clouded as well. They have an opportunity to do something really grand with a name the entire cycling world knows and admires, yet they choose to retain their stale elitist views instead. Perish the thought that they make an attempt at changing things up a bit or coming up something new that pushes the boundaries. I mean, come on fellas, I fucking DARE you to make a concerted effort..

Now I can totally understand that the Bilenky isn't for everyone because I will admit it is kind of ridiculous (ly AWESOME!!!) in a lot of ways. Though at the same time no one who knows anything about bikes can completely disparage it with a simple one word "terse" comment. Doing so is much more telling as it pertains to that person's own disposition than the actual article in question. This is just a classic instance of complete pompous snobbery coming from a company that is KNOWN for having put out questionably built frames for DECADES. Nevermind countless stories from dissatisfied customers. Can you say brazing gaps and cloudy decals?

Then he talks about design justification as though it's something they're known for. Because you know, intricate lugs and curly stays can be justified. I mean are you really going to go there- fa realz?! Everyone knows that the only justification of super intricate lugs is to well.. show the fuck off! THEY SERVE NO OTHER JUSTIFIABLE PURPOSE OTHER THAN THAT. As far as their signature curly stays go, they only came about as a way to identify their bikes during races in which branding decals were not permitted. In other words- they bent the rules in order to be better well recognized. Smart, but a marketing ploy none the less. Don't talk to me or anybody else about design justification you fucking tools- you yourself have not shown us that you know or care a thing about it. Nor has it been shown that it was something Hetchins is really about. Just shut the fuck up and try to keep those vertical dropouts aligned properly wouldja plzkthx!

One of the main reasons why I didn't get a Hetchins in the first place is because I honestly just don't want one. I mean I do, but I don't. If I was to procure one, I would prefer one from like the 40's or 50's. Which you kinda can't guiltlessly beat on. I find comfort in the knowledge that all the bikes I own fit me and are super fun to ride as hard as I want. I don't know about you guys but I would never spend the money on a newly manufactured Hetchins. What makes a modern Hetchins a Hetchins anyways? Who even makes them anymore?? I know Jackson did for a while and apparently some dude does now but who can really tell seeing as how they update their site once like, every other year. The notion of ordering a wicked expensive custom frame from a tobacco and alcohol consuming retiree, who in no way shape or form is involved with any of the fine intricacies of the actual frame building, leaves much to be desired..

It's kind of like going to see a Metallica show now as opposed to that moment in time for which they're known for being great. When I say great I mean when Cliff Burton was still around to wail on his bass for like 10 minutes straight. (side note: Rob Trujillo was SO MUCH better in Infectious Grooves and Suicidal Tendencies, Jason's not worth mentioning outside of saying that he's not worth mentioning and this is the raddest video EVAR!!!) Then again I really can't get down with all the reunion band type gigs/albums. It's seems like they're only doing it because they've suddenly became aware that there's a market for their music now. Though in Metallica's case, they just lost their edge hardcore. In particularly during all that Napster suit bullshit. Totally killed their image as far as I'm concerned.. And with their image having gone down the drain, Hetchins gets to enjoy that same swirly abyss. Though not before I have a squat and add a painfully steaming hot shit squirt to the mix..

This is one of those classic situations such as a fan meeting their favorite movie star and having that person turn out to be a total asshole. Then all they're left with is an overwhelming feeling of stupidity and shame for having admired them in the first place..

It makes me think of this old school Candy shop out on Route 17 in Paramus next to the GSP mall that my parents would NEVER take me to when I was child. Then one day a good friend of mine and I decided to go check it out. As it happened he'd also never been in there for whatever reason. It seemed wondrous at first with that fresh blast of chocolaty air but that succulent smell wore off not long after we took our first few steps. Whenever you visit a place like that going into it with similar aspirations as you did when you were a kid, only now you're 10+ years older, the reality of it all inevitably sucks balls and lets you down. BUT.. The real clincher of this story is that behind the counter of said let down candy shop were two super cute chicks who were visibly bored and in dire need of entertainment. The second they feasted their eyes on a couple of strapping young lads (well, me anyways) their eyes immediately lit up as did ours. Until of course my friend and I made the horrible realization that we both had lady friends patiently waiting for us to return in the car parked out front. Making it that much more of a tragic bummer. Not long after that we said our thanks and goodbyes and sauntered back out into the rain and got in the car. Our lady friends eager to hear our reactions of boyish excitement were also let down when all we could come up with was kind of looking at each other and then saying: 'eh.. it sucked..' before quickly changing the subject..

What I'm trying to get at here is that not unlike the aroma of sweet chocolate and allure of fresh pussy, it's time to dump the old girls and move on to something new. Not in spite of the old but out of a necessity to keep things fresh and inspire new thoughts. Like Metallica, not only has the current incarnation of Hetchins long lost any value or edge- but they've lost what little respect and adoration they had left as well..

As cyclists we are privileged to bear witness to an ASTOUNDING renaissance currently taking place in bicycle manufacturing and artistry. This is just one sweeping change among many going on in the world right now. There's a time when you want to pay homage to the past and their achievements but it's not something you can let yourself get too caught up in or held back by. We are on the cusp of a ever hastening time with technology and advancement. Breakthroughs are being made every day and for those so caught up with the details and facts of yesterday are going to be left behind. It's sink or swim time- you either move on or you move the fuck out!

A great example of which I'd like to point out is that had I been held back by the same bullshit conservative thoughts to authenticity, this creation of Olli's inspired by my Bilenky might not exist either:

This is something that was a curiosity at first but once I READ MORE INTO THE PERSON AND THOUGHTS BEHIND THE BUILD I was super stoked on it! Fucking thing came out awesome!! There's a certain brilliance in the way he took something old, chopped, bent and welded it up into something completely different he could call his own. Like that single arm fork!

What I had originally considered to be the greatest achievement of the Bilenky, by winning at Le Cirque du Cyclisme 07' for best track bike, has now not only been toppled but blown away! Not just because it carries favor by a good portion of those most respected in the cycling community, but because it also inspires jealousy and contempt by the 'makers' it was originally inspired by and pays homage to. So much so that they felt the need to publicly denounce it. That right there carries more weight than all the compliments the bike has received combine! It's like an aging Lord so hell bent to hold on to land and title that he'd gladly sell out his own people to the enemy to retain his power and wealth. Maybe we can get Mel Gibson to don the blue face paint and kilt to slay treacherous mutha fukaz by wielding a flail or some other painfully blunt looking object..

So in closing, a big thanks to Hetchins for their grand unintentional compliment! I'd like to say that I'd have toast with you chaps and share in some of that fine unmixed wine of yours but you know what, you might as well just save that grape juice for yourselves because I don't drink. The next time someone offers you a tribute to a name brand that you just happen to loosely manage despite having no real ownership to the origins of it's former achievements, you should keep your dentures shut and graciously accept their favor. Though I'm glad that the poligrip didn't live up to it's name because nothing pleases me more than outing a phoney..

You can learn more about the history of Hetchins here, here and here..



SeveM said...

Champagne IS made by blending different white wines... As said on this page (

the blender will seek balance, complexity and where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts

Simon said...

yeah, since when did a TRIBUTE have to be a REPLICA anyway...

CyclingWMD said...

SeveM - Thanks for that info and link man! Not being a drinker means things of that nature escape me more often than not..

Simon - Good point man! I'm def not a big fan of replicas. Which is another reason why I didn't build up a fake 'Hetchins Bogus' or something..

Jimi said...

I don't think its an attack on your design, rather that Hetchins have their own way of doing things, and more than likely your bike has spurred a host of people to ask for one like yours which they out of pride would not bow to.

Hetchins will never set the world alight in any modern sense and I guess this is their way of protecting what they have going for them, and that is making the good ol fashioned bikes the same way they used to in their heyday.

Granted the same ol chaps aren't building them sadly.

Whatever, I love your bike, I wasn't brought up in that era and yours blends a lovely mix of old and new ideas to combine into a lovely project favoured by the new school.

I have the same approach to my own bikes and they roll faster, smoother and far more enjoyably and effortlessly than any of the real classics, so the oldies can die hard on their mechanical stubborness while I make them feel old riding off into the distance!

After all its a Cycling WEAPON of Mass Destruction.


Anonymous said...

crazy. it is odd that they would critique your curved seat tube since their own trademark curly stays serve no purpose other than to look pretty.

Anonymous said...

i wonder if hetchins will cry now that maddefacking brian baylis has produced a curly stayed machine. see picture no. 3 on this page: