Matt Card’s Bilenky Chuckwagon

Posted by on October 26th, 2009 at 10:11 am

The Bilenky Chuckwagon.
-Slideshow below/Gallery
(Photos © J. Maus)

As I made my way to the Oregon Manifest Family Bicycle Transportation event yesterday, a beautiful, human-powered vehicle caught my eye. Upon further inspection, I learned it was a “Chuckwagon” cargo bike handmade by Bilenky Cycle Works from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Matt Card's Bilenky Chuckwagon-9Matt Card's Bilenky Chuckwagon-1 Matt Card's Bilenky Chuckwagon-4 Matt Card's Bilenky Chuckwagon-11

The owner of this gorgeous bike is Portland-based food writer and Momentum Magazine contributor Matt Card. Card has two kids (Rohan, 5, and Judah, 11 months) who he plans on carting around on the back deck. Card is no stranger to handmade bikes, he’s got about five of them (and another on order). “We’re a custom bike household,” he said yesterday, “I love the aesthetics, and I also believe in supporting U.S. made bikes.”

Matt Card's Bilenky Chuckwagon-13

Matt Card appreciates fine, U.S. made bicycles.

Card’s Chuckwagon is a stunning mix of form and function. The lines and the paint are gorgeous, and it also “rides great… like a regular bike” according to Card. It’s also got a high utility quotient. The rear rack is narrower than an Xtracycle deck. Card likes that because it’s easier to straddle with little legs. The rack has also been custom-welded to accept the popular Topeak removable child seat.

Matt Card's Bilenky Chuckwagon-7

The rear rack is removable.

Builder Stephen Bilenky, who I spoke to from his shop this morning, says the key to the Chuckwagon is that the rear rack is removable. “It’s a frame and rack system. The idea is that the rack is removable, but it’s not held on by 5mm bolts… it’s got two, really solid, 8mm bolts at the junction.” Bilenky said that some folks use the Chuckwagon as a touring rig and with the removable rack and couplers, it can be easily shipped.

The Chuckwagon comes three sizes (small, medium and large) and the rear end of the bike is universal. This semi-production approach means the Bilenky shop (which has five full-time welders) can turnaround an order in 4-8 weeks (including custom paint, which is done in-house).

A complete bike sells for $2,800 and the frame/rack combo is $1,750. More photos in the slideshow below:

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Sean Chaney
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That’s a very impressive bike. Matt encouraged me to take a quick spin on it and I was blown away. Great work Bilenky!

Michelle
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Michelle

Aha! I gawked at this bike while waiting at a red light this weekend and then finally made eye contact with the rider and felt somewhat embarrassed for staring.

It’s gorgeous.

Jessica Roberts
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Jessica Roberts

Matt’s not just any food writer – he’s an editor at Cook’s Illustrated (which is quite impressive to some of us), and has done some fine writing for Mix, FoodDay, and Momentum. It’s exciting to see foodie and bikey circles meeting. (Lovely bike too, of course.)

peejay
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peejay

That’s a beautiful bike, as are all the Bilenky models I saw on their website, but, sweet Jesus, what a terrible website! Ugh! It looks like it’s optimized for Netscape Navigator, or something. I couldn’t even find Matt’s bike model in the mess of that site. Hey, Bilenky: spend a couple bucks on a proper web design, and you’ll sell more bikes.

Andy B from Jersey
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2,800 clams! Shoot! I’ll pass on the Big Dummy and get one of these. Plus Bilenky is so close I can actually ride it home from their shop (in a day or two).