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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
NOTE- edited to fix bad html in 2019....Once upon a time in the early days of 29er dom, back in 2002 when there were 20 members of the forum and the first spy shots of the karate monkey were causing waves, I decided that I was tired of paying $80 each way every time I wanted to fly with my bicycle. After some web research I decided that this was the man for You can learn more about him and his company in the June 2005 issue of Bicycling magazine or at</a>, but he was willing to build the world's first travel s & s coupled 29er...

After extensive phone conversations, I flew from Miami to DC and then took a train to Philadelphia to be measured by this master bicycle builder. A few months and many thousand dollars later, this showed up....

I built it up and for the next two years, we were happy.

We rode in Florida...

We rode in Puerto Rico..We rode in Utah.
Tire Bicycle wheel Bicycle tire Bicycle frame Wheel

We rode in NY and Georgia and North Carolina.
We rode West Virgina and somehow wandered onto the Pro Norba Downhill Trails
We rode road.
We got dirty>and had great adventures over the next two years. Sometimes they were grand expeditions, sometimes they were just one day getaways tacked on to an infernal business trip. This was my only bike and it did it all.

Then one day, we went on a business trip to austria... after the conference we spent a few days riding in that beautiful country both the mountains and the danube river where they even have bathrooms on their bike trails..

On the day before we were to head back, I decided to play tourist and visit the schonbrunn palace. Plant Garden Flower Shrub Building

When I left the palace and went to the bicycle rack. The bicycle was gone. Shocked, I wandered the streets until I found the police station. There I spent $30 calling my dad from my cell phone so he could explain in german to the captain that this bicycle actually was worth filling out a report for. How do you say XTR in German??

I went back to my hotel, watch the dolphins lose to the jets on tv and came home, bicycle travel case empty.

I posted my experience on the board, alerted the manufacturer and went through the 4 stages of mourning...
Denial, anger, despair, acceptance.

My fellow 29er board members were supportive. Realbiker translated my reward message and posted it on the Austria mountain bike board, BruceBrown stopped by with advice and condolances, and many other members offered to keep an eye out.

In May of the next year, the manufacturer gets an email from a guy asking basically "what kind of bike do I have?" The guy even sent a photo of me on the #$#$#$ bike! Bilenky only made 3 29ers at that point, (although he will hack monkeys cheap!) and only 1 with that paint job. It's my bike!!
Before I could decide what to do, a fellow 29er board member from budapest emailed me that the bike was for sale.. Kerékpár magazin - - HÃ*rek, tesztek, versenyek
I emailed the guy with the bike, Nemeth Roland he claims to have bought it at a bike store and claims to have a receipt.
He was supposed to email me a photo of the serial number off the bike, but never did.
One of our fellow 29er forum members lives in Budapest, same place as Nemeth. With my budapest 29er connection we contacted the Hungarian police department and basically set up a sting. By the way all this happened in a smaller city 2 hours away from budapest so BF you ROCK for helping out.

At one point another 29er member saw one of his various advertisments, posted on the MTBR board and I had to ask Cloxxi board admin to go James Bond stealth and eliminate the thread. I didn't want to let NR know I was on to him.
So BF meets NR in front of a hotel to buy the stolen bike. Police swoop in, go to NRs house and see bike. Problem - Stephen Bilenky is an artist in steel bicycles. He is NOT an accountant. Basically he got the serial number on my receipt wrong by one digit. olice aren't bicyclists, don't speak English and since NR has a receipt plus an email from me, police leave NR without the bike. Bilenky realizes his mistake and writes a letter to Hungarian police department explaining his error, I'm heartbroken and NR is still trying to sell it..

What next? I sent NR an email offering him a reward and to pay shipping to get it back to Miami. The bike doesn't even fit him for crap sake (it's a XXL)..and he continues to try and sell it.

Then in September of 2005 I walk into my office and received 5 different emails and one phone cal regarding my bike. They are all 29er forum people. They let me know that the bike is for sale again, this time in Austria..

Its great that so many people remember me and my plight but it also points out two things 1) 29er people are obsessive - USA guys were checking AUSTRIAN sites for 29er stuff?? 2) 29er people have some free time at work and fast internet connections

But this time Nemeth has made a critical error. He has posted the bike for sale in Austria where..the laws and the police are a little more RICHTICH and they like their country oderling..
My dad is semi retired,has lots of free time, is new to computers and speaks german. My dad becomes my secret weapon. He is stubborn, patient, German and determined. He starts emailing the bike board, contacts the captain who took my report over a year before, who refers him to the National Austrian Internet Crimes Department. Once he convinces them that its not about kiddie porn he gets referred back to stolen goods and eventually contacts the owners of the website.

Trafficking in stolen goods is a serious offense and could get a website's license to operate in Austria pulled,so they cooperate with the police. The approriate forms are filed with the police department... Another sting operation is arranged, this time with the Vienna police department..
This time the serial numbers match and the bike is seized. Eventually I get notified via mail that while Nemeth was detained, he was not arrested because he had a receipt. The police went to the pawn shop who provided them with the name of the person who had sold them the bike. The bike thief was arrested and found guilty.

Soon I would have my bike back, right?

Not so fast, at this point the case was turned over to the Vienna court system. Nemeth had a valid receipt for the bicycle as did I. My dad spent countless hours on the phone and mailing letters to the courts. No faxes or emails were ever accepted. Eventually the court issues its decision worthy of Solomon. Neither of us would get the bike unless the other was willing to give up the claim.

Finally one morning my dad had enough and called Nemeth on his cell phone at 4am in the morning. Nemeth was awoken from his slumber and must have thought back to all the trouble this bike had caused him. He had been arrested twice, been to court and was now listening to an old german man berate him for having stolen his son's bicycle. FInally Nemeth said that he wanted his 300 Euros that he had paid for the bike and he would give up his claim on the bike. Oh and would everybody from the United States please leave him alone

He bought a $3,600 bike for all of 300 Euros or $450 from a pawn shop. Shame on Nemeth, who clearly knew it was stolen as he was selling it for $1200 Euros. I wired him his 300 Euros and waited some more.
Time passed. I bought and enjoyed other 29ers
that did other things well, in some cases better than the bilenky, but it still wasn't THE ONE that started it all for me.
Finally the fateful day when the documents came announcing the bike was mine...if I was willing to go get it. Sigh, a $1600 round trip with no guarrantee what condition the bike would be in. But wait, my dad extended a European trip and went to Vienna to pick up the bike.

Last week he arrived and my friend John helped me build the bike up. Sorry for the crappy cell phone photos but thanks to this...
it will be a while before I post any updated ride photos thanks to my badly sprained ankle... The bike looks little worse for wear. Apparently the bike never fit Nemeth properly and contrary to my fears, it had not spent the past two years outside some Austrian Penal Colony barn. Denial, anger, despair, acceptance have been replaced by relief, joy and anticipation. Relube the bottom bracket, change the cables, true the wheels, unbend the derailleur (why no hanger???) and tune the shifting. Righteous... 2 years, 1 month, and 10 days after the bike was stolen, the bilenky is back. Original thread here...

Thanks to everyone who helped. Without this board and its members, the bilenky wouldn't be back.

John Voss
Miami FL


Premium Member
48,238 Posts
Yeah!!!!:thumbsup: :yesnod: :thumbsup: :yesnod:
It looks to be in remarkably good shape!

BTW if by "no hanger" you mean it does not have a replaceable hanger, steel frames do not need them. You can straighten it numerous times and it can be replaced by a frame shop if (big if) it ever breaks.

In FTF We Trust
1,815 Posts
Out-fcuking-standing! I remember reading the first 2/3 or so of the story a year or so ago, maybe? This when when the first sting had failed due to the serial number snafu. It does the soul good to read a real happy ending, congrats John.

2,849 Posts
I nominate for best post ever...

...on the 29"er board. It warmed my heart. :) Congratulations on getting that sweet bike back. You and your great Dad sure showed some patience and tenacity in the process! It is a very inspiring story.

349 Posts
Now there's a thought

tl1 said:
...on the 29"er board. It warmed my heart. :) Congratulations on getting that sweet bike back. You and your great Dad sure showed some patience and tenacity in the process! It is a very inspiring story.
Is there, or should there be a special forum for the best posts, regardless of the forum? Craigslist has one.....

Harmonius Wrench
8,254 Posts
Congrats and Thanks!

First of all, congratulations on your happy ending.

Secondly, thank you for posting that great story, it was well worth reading.

Thirdly, and most importantly: Have a great time riding a special bike that just became a whole lot more special!

Miles of Smiles to ya! :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D
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