One of my favorite encounters at the 2017 Philly Bike Expo was with Rody Walter of Groovy Cycleworks, both because of the fact that he makes cool bikes and because we share a special central Pennsylvania connection – I grew up in and still live in the area and it’s where Walter decided to become a custom framebuilder.
Walter fell in love with the concept of framebuilding when he commissioned his own custom bike from Bill Grove of Grove Innovations in the early 1990’s.
Disenchanted with the tandem options out there for himself and his wife, Walter decided that they would need to create their own machine capable of exploring the rough roads and trails the pair found themselves on. He contacted several custom framebuilders, finally landing on Grove. After months of phone calls and prototypes, Walter finally went to the Grove Innovations shop in Centre Hall, Pennsylvania to watch the final steps of the build process, and it changed his life. He became enamored with the idea of building his own bikes, so he asked Bill Grove if he could do an apprenticeship. After initial hesitation, Grove agreed.
Walter spent two years at Grove Innovations learning frame layout, mechanical engineering and design, tube mitering, Tig welding, brazing and painting. In 1994, Walter took these skills back to Ohio and started Groovy Cycleworks.
Today, Walter works in steel, aluminum and titanium and makes any and all types of bikes. Every bike is made to order, and he builds somewhere between 12 and 20 bikes a year, depending on the complexity of the projects. He doesn’t only build frames – he also makes custom stems, cranks and other accessories and components to tie each bike together perfectly. He loves doing intricate paint jobs and as he says, “a touch of whimsy.”
While he enjoys working on every bike he makes, his favorite projects are usually mountain bikes due to the challenge they present. Building a bike that is lightweight and aesthetically pleasing while also being strong enough to withstand the forces of riding rough terrain is not an easy endeavor. Walter gains a sense of satisfaction by working directly with each and every customer to assess his or her needs and building a bike that will meet them.
Rody’s personal bike, which he brought along to ride while at the Philly Bike Expo:
This bike was built for a customer to match his Volkswagon Bug, from the paint job to the curved lines to the intricate details:
And this custom all road bike is just beautiful: