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Thomas Callahan

For the love of steel...

Steel is amazing! That’s the number one reason the best builders from around the country choose to use it. Once thought to be a heavy material, with the new alloys used on high-end bike frames, today weight can be drastically reduced with steel. Our own Horse All Road comes in at 18 lbs. Sure I’ve upgraded a few parts, but remember, the frame comes in at about 3.75 lbs., so it's just a fraction of the overall weight. Steel is the most durable building material on the market, more so than carbon, titanium and let’s not even mention aluminum. Steel maintains its mechanical properties over time, unlike the materials listed above, which start to degrade as soon as they are put to use due to fatigue. This means that a steel frame will ride as well in 10, 20 or 30 years as it did the first day you rode it.


The great thing about steel is that it’s a magic metal. It has three magical qualities that make it the perfect material for building bicycles. First, steel is stiff. This means better power transfer and less flex. And bikes can be made with varying sized and type tubing to put that stiffness in the right areas. The stiffer the drive train the better the power transfer. More watts go from your peddle stroke to the rear wheel and to the road.

Secondly, steel absorbs road vibration. This means a smoother ride, you can stay on the bike longer, riding further. Which equals a happy rider.

These two factors working together give you the best possible outcome: great power transfer and great road vibration dampening. The power is there when you need it but the steel is comfortable to ride from two miles to 200 miles.

The last quality of steel—and a melding of the two characteristics above—is responsiveness. New steel alloys are stiff and will maintain that stiffness over its life span (i.e. forever). But they also flex just enough so that it’s a joy to ride. This flex is like a power spring. When you put force downward on a spring that energy is stored in the coil of the spring and then released as it rebounds. Steel bicycles react in the same way but at a much smaller scale. The geometry of a steel spring and a bike are different but both are engineered to get the most out of the material. I would say this is most evident in the handling of the bike as well as rider input.  When you corner on a steel bike the frame absorbs the increased force placed on the frame from the g-force of the corner and rebounds as you come out of the corner. In the same way when you're climbing on the bike and out of the saddle, each stroke blasts power to the rear wheel but also has a slight spring back making the bike feel alive.


It’s the life of the bike that shines with steel and is the reason riders keep coming back for more.


The other three materials used in mainstream bicycle manufacturing are carbon, titanium and aluminum. 

Carbon is great stuff, it can be utilized to deliver different characteristics in different areas of the bike. It's much like steel in that you can cater to rider weight, ride quality and stiffness using different sizes of tubes and tube wall thickness. It also offers slightly better road vibration dampening.

What does carbon have on steel?  I would say weight. You can drop about a pound or two off the total weight of the bike by going with a carbon a bicycle. For many of the bikes we build at Horse Cycles we use carbon forks. This allows us to utilize the positive qualities of carbon in a key area giving us a bit more weight savings and a bit more road dampening. The great thing about a carbon fork is that it's replaceable. After its life span (about 10 years) it can be replaced. But for most riders the cost outweighs the benefits when considering a full carbon frame. Carbon is fragile, expensive and hard to repair. Carbon also loses its mechanical properties over time. Eeek! For most of us an $8,000 bike is out of the question. I still think carbon is a great material but it's best utilized for racing and for riders who get a new bike every other year and for fork material paired up with steel. A bike for life? I think maybe not.

The same goes for aluminum. It's great for racing but aluminum starts losing its mechanical properties right away. It’s a super stiff material which is great for short races but it's so stiff it doesn’t absorb the road or give you the springy responsive qualities of steel.  The stiffness of this material makes it very difficult to ride on for long journeys. The material is way more fragile than steel and I would say is bone-jarring uncomfortable. Best for Crits and Short Race duration bicycles.

Titanium is a material I know least about but h I do have some experience with it. My comments could be off but I guess I can just put in my two cents as a representation of one builder's experience and by no means an expert opinion. 

Unlike aluminum, titanium has a lot of more flex than steel. In my experience low-end titanium bikes are so flexy they feel like a wet noodle. The power transfer isn’t great so for overall responsiveness it’s a little lacking. This is what makes it great for mountain biking where you have a super light bike but all the flex is originating from the suspension (shocks). I would say it's even too flexy for touring. When your bike is loaded with gear that extra weight will increase how much the bike flexes and with long miles ahead of you, getting the balance of power transfer, stiffness and a comfortable ride is a must. I would say titanium is best utilized for MTB where the weight savings will help increase its nimbleness and climbing. 

High-end Ti is something different. High end means tubes are catered to the rider and wall thickness is manipulated to get stiffer qualities at the key joints where power transfer is key. Most importantly the chain stays, BB and down tube head tube. The line from the head tube down through the BB and into the chain stays is the power band.  More high-end Ti bike makers can achieve this with a positive outcome. One, it's very specialized and only the top companies using Ti can achieve these characteristics and two, it adds to the over all cost of the bike.

I love steel. I love riding steel and I love making bikes out of steel. Steel allows me to make bicycles by hand paying attention to riders' needs. It allows me to be thoughtful and it allows me the ultimate freedom to build a bike that will last forever. 

Why are we on the bike: everyone has their own reasons but for me it is because I love to ride. I’m not a racer but I’m sure competitive riders feel the same way. I love to ride for a few reasons. One, I have a high quality bike that fits me. It does what I want when I want.  It’s freedom, it gets me outdoors. It’s a great source of exercise.

CAMPING: There and Back in 24 Hours.

Thomas Callahan

photo by Bekka Palmer

Friends Bekka PalmerBrian Chu and I headed down to Southern NJ to get in some summer camping in.  Swimming, snacks and a little boogie.  Finally have the Camp Hatchet back in stock and a the Naval Knife showing a nice patina.   Check out the amazing video Brian put together. I hope it inspires YOU to adventure!  

photos by Bekka Palmer


Thomas Callahan

Custom painted in the Horse Cycles Paint Shop by in house painter Ben Falcon.  This was a really special job painted for a good friend Michael Higgins as an ode to his 1967 honda CB450 appropriately named the "Black Bomber".  Michael has meticulously restored the '67 with full chrome and black detailing and can be sean riding around the streets of brooklyn.  

Touring Disc for local craftsman: Steven Bukowski

Thomas Callahan

This is the ultimate touring / bike camping / adventure bike.  Made for local hooligan and very talented craftsman Steven Bukowski . The TIG welded main triangle was built up with USA True temper Ox Plat tubing, Paragon Machine works "low mount" disc dropouts mounted up with Paul Klamper disc brakes, Pacenti lugged fork crown, and finished off with some sweet paint from our in house spray booth guru Ben Falcon.  This lady is ready to take it to the limit and beyond!  Check out some of the details below!

Stevie B looking fresh!

XCr Stainless Road

Thomas Callahan

Columbus XCr tubing is possibly the greatest material available today for building a bike. The tubing is stainless steel so it's resilient and will be around for ever! Literally. Its elemental make-up is such that it is the strongest steel available on the market. Strong means light.  Because of its strength you can use less material and achieve the same results, making it as light as most aluminium bikes.  Its maintains all the ride characteristics that keep people coming back to steel - road absorption and responsiveness being the two big ones.  Steel also maintains its mechanical properties over time, unlike carbon and aluminium which begin to degrade from day one. This bad boy will ride the same today as it will ten to twenty years from now.  Like a beast, light as a feather and ready to eat up the miles.

Built with oversized tubing including a 44mm headtube to accept a tapered carbon (Enve) fork. This custom build bike also includes S-bend seat stays, internal cable routing and machined dropouts from Paragon, CA. Painted in-house by our talented spray booth guru, Ben Falcon. Enjoy!

Process: XCr Stainless Road Bike

Thomas Callahan

Stainless steel Can be an amazing material.  Stainless was invented less than 100 years ago around 1924.  Columbus, an italian bicycle tubing manufacturer makes the best Stainless steel bicycle tubing in the biz.  Stronger than anything else out there it can be drawn very thin while remaining super strong making for a light weight responsive ride.  Here are a few process shots of the bike in progress.  When welding stainless steel you must "back purge" the welding area.  This creates a shield that protects the weld from Oxidation, (the presence of oxygen that creates a build up of contamination).  Here you can see how the frame is plumbed as gas is fed into the frame creating the shield.  At the welding area the torch creates the shield on the outside at the welding area.  Once the steel has cooled (about a second or two), the steel is not susceptible to the same oxidation.  The shielding gas used is argon.  A non flammable gas that is just a bit heavier than air.


Thomas Callahan

Ezra Caldwell was a friend and fellow bike builder in NYC. I didn't know him for very long, but his work still inspires me. I have been wanting to build a bicycle that spoke to his past work, his character and our brief friendship before he passed. A way to keep him in the forefront of my mind. A way to keep his spirt and love for living rolling.

Dar Patel, an architect and a friend, came to the Horse workshop with an idea for a custom bicycle. His aesthetic was spot on, with reference imagery for the bicycle design spanning furniture, textures, colors, and components. He had also shown me an image of a FAST BOY, one of the many bikes Ezra had built. The following images are of the final product, encompassing both Dar's vision, sprinkled with some hints of a very talented Ezra Caldwell. Enjoy.

Brass headset topper turned on the lathe here at the workshop / angle swept bars.

Rolloph speed hub / disc / 14 speed / paragon stainless rocker dropouts 


Hand stamped brass head badge.




Thomas Callahan

I picked up an old Atlas Drill press from a good friend in the neighborhood. I believe it was manufactured between 1945-53, and Atlas still continue to be some of the nicest presses out there. But this one wasn't working, and my buddy just wanted it out of the way as it was taking up space. Over the next 3 months I gave her some love, stripped it down to bare bones and brought her back from the grips of death.

I started by stripping all the layers of paint and years off the drill press with many coats of paint remover. I disassembled all the parts, including the motor then scuffed the whole body. Ben Falcon, Horse's paint maestro, primed and painted her with a single stage black gloss paint. I brought the Atlas logos back to life by highlighting them with gold sign paint.

Next I completely re-wired the machine so the original on-off switch was back in business, as it was not working when I first got the machine. I put new brass lever-ends on the quill feed handles, as well as a new return spring, adjustable v-belt, lubrication fittings, bearings, etc.

The Drill press runs, feels and looks great. I love these old machines and I love the idea of keeping one in operation in hopes it will continue to serve for years to come.


Thomas Callahan

Here are some shots of a recent paint job that came through the shop.  Ben Falcon has been working with us full time for about a year now and his work  just keeps getting more crispy.  All the work is done by hand by taping off different layers of paint.  After two coats of clear and a good sanding we then blew on the Matte Clear coat which I think really finished it off nicely.

If your interested in custom paint for your steed get in touch.  Enjoy the work below.


Corey's Custom Track Single Speed

Thomas Callahan

Made of OX Plat True Temper tubing and a columbus Life stays this bike is light as it is nimble.

The Paint is Root Beer on Root beer candy flake extravaganza and really pops in the light.  Paired up with a ENVE carbon fork and some custom built H+ son rims, its a road eating machine.  Challenge 32 tires are maxed out on the front and rear of the bike but give great stability, grip, and road feel.  the 300tpi casing and max pump 160 psi will carry you at speed.

Dressed up with the new Carbon Brooks C13 saddle and matching Brooks bar tape, this girl is ready to party.

Check out more detail shots in the gallery below.


Thomas Callahan


Brooklyn’s finest have come together to create the Anthem track bike. The proprietary design is from Affinity’s Jason Gallacher and handmade in Brooklyn at Thomas Callahan’s custom fabrication shop ‘Horse Cycles’.

The Anthem features lightweight, aerospace grade air hardened steel with a True Temper OX Platinum and a oversized down tube. In addition, a thin sleek integrated seat mast and classic campy style dropouts were integrated. What set’s the Anthem apart is a proprietary seat post wedge co designed with famed bicycle industry design engineer Aaron Panone of 44rn as well as the tapered head tube with an Enve fork and color matched headset.

What makes this project special and the Anthem so unique are the people who came together to make it all happen.



Thomas Callahan. Designer / builder (Horse Cycles)

Jason Gallacher. Owner (Affinity Cycles)

Ben Falcon. Master painter (Horse Cycles)

Aaron Panone. Industrial Designer

Tom Le Marche.  Stunt man / ladies man (Horse Cycles)

The Anthem is made right here in our shop and only 20 will be available to the US market.  Head over to Affinity Cycles for more info and secure yours before they vanish!

Making of a Winter Fire

Thomas Callahan

There is nothing better than a winter fire. The confidence that you can keep warm on the coldest of days is a good feeling when you're far from the hearth of the home. Better yet, is the ability to enjoy the outdoors all year round. The quiet that comes with the winter wind brings it's own kind of unique beauty. Pair that with a warm cup of joe or just some fire light to warm your toes and you're golden.

Last weekend we headed out to Montauk with a few friends, it was a bit chilly for a surf, so instead we decided to pack up some wood and walk to the beach for a snowy fire.



Having a few tools like a hatchet and a knife are invaluable when getting a fire started. Collecting enough small dry pieces of wood with as much surface area as possible is key for starting and maintaining a flame.



The strong wind and the snow on ground set us up for a challenge. We started by setting up the larger logs as a wind breaker, stacking them, one on top of the other, making an arrow pointed into the wind. We used all the small pieces, shaved with the hatchet and knife, bundling them in the little wind shelter made by the larger logs. That, with the help of some dune grass, was enough to get a spark that would slowly give us our fire.



One of the best days this winter. Just the act of heading outside with friends and the simple goal of making a small fire to warm your bones is enough to make even the coldest days worth getting out for.


29er +

Thomas Callahan

The 29er + is a boss mountain bike with the ability to rock 3" + wide tires.  This tire clearance does two important things.  One, Provides Suspension in the front and rear.  Riding on a larger volume of air allows for a smother ride and lets you topple over anything in your path.  The other and more important allowance is the traction that is gained by the larger surface area of the tire.  The more contact with the ground the better traction, climbing and stability you have.

This + size 29er is built with true temper ox platinum, USA made high quality alloy and sports a 84mm bb for grater tire clearance.  Tee head tube is 44mm and supports a tapered fork steerer.  Set up for disc,  1 x 10 or single speed gearing  and a 12mm through axel on Paragon sliding dropouts this little pup will shred the trails!

The Honda CB350 Super Sport

Thomas Callahan

By: Nicholas Altman

The Honda CB350 Super Sport sits as a cornerstone in the history of motorcycle engineering and design. Over 250,000 were sold from 1968-1973, making it one of Honda’s best selling models. During that time it became one of the most popular street bikes in America. It’s air cooled, parallel twin cylinder, four stroke engine delivers 36 horsepower and weighs in at 375 lbs wet. It’s simple engineering and abundance of parts makes it accessible to novice and advanced wrenchers alike, and it’s sleek and tight design has lent itself to the modern cafe racer revival.

I purchased my stock 1972 CB350 Super Sport this past summer, and have had a blast riding and maintaining it with the help of a few more seasoned riders and mechanics. The bike zips through crowded city streets with agility and opens up on back roads with ease, making it ideal for day trips to nearby beaches and mountains. Other than some basic tuning and an upgrade to the charging system, the bike has required little work and runs great.

I’ve considered making some modifications to the bike but there is something satisfying about riding a completely stock vintage bike, especially one that looks so sharp. The rear luggage rack is also clutch, as I have plenty of space to carry a passenger, a bag, and a blanket, allowing for total self sufficiency.


Dillon's Parlor Porteur

Thomas Callahan

Simple and understated, this bike sings a quiet beautiful song when you take her for a spin. Dillon Edwards from Parlor Coffee wanted exactly that.  Something he could make rounds on visiting local Brooklyn customers while enjoying a bike made just for him that sings.  Stout, simple, built for a front load, this single speed is made out of 100% US made True Temper double butted steel. Fenders and a simple reflector keep it safe and dry.  A Hand stamped copper down tube badged is the only branding on the bike. The final touches were the hand carved seat tube cluster and the custom quill stem with brass topper.  

Dillon is a super rad dude and is really passionate about what he does.  Meticulous in his approach to quality.  It is a pleasure working with someone who displays these traits in there own life, the same traits we at Horse strive for.  Such an honer to build this bicycle for him, knowing he loves it, and knowing he rides it hard.

Parlor Coffee is a local Brooklyn Coffee Roaster in the Navy Yard just off of Vanderbilt.  Like Horse its a manufacturing facility and not a shop store front, however they do have cupping's open to the public every Sunday so stop by and say hi, have some coffee and look out for Dillion's lovely bicycle.

Thomas Callahan


Next Thursday, Sept 10th, Horse Brand Co. will be putting on a backdoor display of their latest project, "Nothing good in Rockaway,"a photographical narrative of gritty and beautiful Brooklyn bicycles into full-blown motorcycle gear. Thomas Callahan has designed a series of motorcycle and surf accessories at his studio, Horse Cycles, and all will be on display through a visual collaboration with Joel Henderson - it's an homage to summer, the east coast, beaches, bikes and babes.



Shop Zone! BBQ Snacks! Frozen Cocktails!

325 Rutledge St.  Brooklyn, NY

We are are teaming with some solid brands and good friends, D'emploi andKika NY, to celebrate the end of summer.

Hope to see y'all out there!


Thomas Callahan


For the past few years we have been working on developing motorcycles that look good and go fast with classic styling and a vintage vibe.  We have been utilizing the spray booth to work on Moto tanks and helmets taking our custom paint to the next level.   

Coming in September we will be having a show to highlight all the work we have been doing with MOTO's including our signature motorcycle and signature helmets.  We will be showing a short video projection and some super rad photography by Joel Henderson.  We are totally excited about the project as a whole and all the amazing relationships we have made along the way.  Check out a little teaser to get you going.

We had a fun few days in the Rockaways, riding the bikes around (bicycle and moto), surfing, skating and an all around rad time in the chill zone!  

The gallery show will celebrate the freedom of movement that allows us to enjoy the city we love and those things that make us the happiest. We hope to round up some beers, have a BBQ and invite everyone by for a rock'n good time. Until then keep up to date on instagram @horsecycles and sign up for our mailing list.   Our goal is to bring old and new folks from different communities together to share the things we love.  Ride hard, ride on...

Check out a few of the images from our shoot out at the Beach and some of the new custom MOTO gear coming out of the workshop.



Lobster Helmet Back Full copy.jpg


Thomas Callahan

Meryl is good friend and a local Brooklyn cyclist.  One of the coolest things she does is work on the North Brooklyn Urban Farm on Kent Volunteering her time and getting her hands dirty day to day working on bringing the rest of us the beauty that grows from the ground.

She's a hard worker.  She rides for Pies and Thighs and bar tends at Egg (two amazing local restaurants her in N. Brooklyn.)  

Meryl is participating in a multi day stage race later this summer and we worked together to get her on a bike that would take her down the line.  A bike that was fast, light and agile.  The Urban Assault!  We spruced her up with a some fancy paint from the Ben Falcon in the Horse Custom Paint shop and sent her on her way.  Thanks for the support and good riding.

27.5er with some custom FIRERFLY Ti

Thomas Callahan

The 27.5 MTB has hit its stride in the off road circuit as the perfect tire size for medium size riders.  Smaller than 29ers, and larger than 26", makes it nimble and stout enough to roll over anything it its path.  The coolest thing about this bike was how John Munz (the owner of this beaut) brought NYC and Boston builders together.  He is a long time friend and supporter of FireFly up in Boston and wanted to spice it up with some custom anodized titanium components. After shipping the bike up to B-Town and slapping some sauce on a custom seat post, stem and bars, the boys had myself and Mr. Munz up for a shop visit and took us out on some trails to test the new ride before filling us up with some vegan tacos! Yum!!!!

I have to say the FireFly shop is one of the most impressive shops I have seen and those boys make a mean Ti bike!  On top of that they are super rad dudes.  Thanks for the shred, thanks for the ano, thanks for the tacos.

Super spicy Anodized Fade Titanium seat post from the boys up at FireFly.

The bike is specced out with a full TrueTemper OX plat tube set, Custom turned 44mm head tube, Paragon Machine works Low Mounted Disc dropouts, 15mm Reba Air Rock Shocks Fork with hydro handlebar lockout and full XTR.  Special thanks to Mr. John Munz for his vision, Ben Falcon working for us here at Horse Custom Paint and Firefly for the Spicy snacks! Check out the slide show for more pics, or our fliker to see some other builds.  Keep your eye out for Team Tomez + size 29er coming in a few weeks!