I started Bantam Bicycle Works in 2012, after moving from Philadelphia, PA to Portland, OR. I have had over 12 years of experience fabricating, repairing, and modifying bicycle frames of all sorts.
I got my start in framebuilding when I built a bicycle frame in the living room of a large Victorian rowhouse in West Philadelphia. With a couple of files, a hacksaw, a plumbing torch I found in the closet of my house, and $300 worth of materials bought off the internet, I managed to cobble together a bicycle frame. It took about a month of working eight hours a day and a bunch of extremely tolerant housemates, but in the end I got a very functional bicycle.
The real upshot of all this, though, was that that experience landed me a job at the very prestigious Bilenky Cycle Works in North Philly. I worked under master framebuilders Stephen Bilenky and Simon Firth for six and a half years. I learned a lot of things. Most of them about how to make stuff out of metal, namely bicycle frames. I learned about fillet brazing, milling and machining, lugged construction, about frame geometries and fitting, TIG welding, and finish work. So much finish work. By the time I left for greener pastures, I was head framebuilder (Simon had gone on to other things, Stevie B. was mostly involved in running the biz), and Bilenky Cycle Works had racked up quite a few awards (at NAHBS and the Cirque du Cyclism) and excellent magazine reviews for bikes I had worked on.
Then a few years ago, I packed up my bags and headed out to the west coast and landed in Portland, OR. After a short stint at UBI’s Portland campus teaching framebuilding, I acquired a shop space and got back to work building frames and honing my craft. These days you’ll find me cutting metal and firing up torches most days of the week, working to get people on the bikes of their dreams. I don’t particularly specialize in any single type of bicycle, I can definitely say I have made nearly every type of bike at this point in my career. I do tend to make more commuting, touring (off- and on-road both), randonneuring, and allroad bikes than other types. But I have had plenty of experience working on cross bikes, cargo bikes, MTBs, track, etc… What ever type of bike you may be interested in, I would be happy to talk to you about it. I look forward to hearing from you.
- Bob Kamzelski, framebuilder and owner of Bantam Bicycle Works