Thomas Callahan started Horse Cycles—a custom-made bike shop—because he was obsessed. Callahan tells us, “When I started making the bikes, I just had no control over it. I was so excited. I couldn’t sleep at night.” Callahan, who has a background in fine arts, started handcrafting bikes at a time when his career as an artist was leaving him unfulfilled. “I needed something where I could make a connection with other people. It’s like playing music by yourself or playing with a group of people, it’s all just multiplied when you have positive relationships and are interacting with the whole community.”
The passion Callahan felt when he started his shop is in evidence years later as he talks about the newest endeavor for Horse Cycles, the Urban Tour Project. “I’ve maxed out on what I can physically make with my own hands, because I’m one human,” Callahan says, and then goes on to show us the prototype for the first Urban Tour Project Horse Cycle. The frame’s elegance lies in its simplicity and its attention to detail. Although this will be Horse Cycle’s first bike not made start to finish by Callahan’s capable hands, his influence is evident in the prototype’s beauty.
This same juxtaposition of beauty and strength is evident in the Williamsburg workshop where Horse Cycle is headquartered. Full of the heavy-duty machinery Callahan requires to make his wares, dozens of tools, and multiple steel bike frames in various stages of completion, the workshop’s industrial environment is balanced by photograph after photograph of horses running wild. Callahan spoke with us about how important achieving balance was in his own life, how essential that blend of industry and freedom is to him. And nowhere is that better represented than in the images of the horses. He explains, “I like the idea of what a horse means in terms of freedom. A horse was a mode of transportation people used and it helped with the development of this country, and with Horse Cycles, I can reference all of these past meanings and begin to reappropriate the Old World idea of freedom in a way that we can use today.”