A redcoat settles in Philly, and helps create connections in the bike community

You Can Get There from Here

by Erin Patterson

Simon Firth of Firth & Wilson Transport Cycles has a passion for bikes that started early with his days as a bike messenger in London. 

After making connections with American cyclists during the Cycle Messenger World Championships, he traveled to the U.S. for a visit and ultimately decided to stay. In 1996, he traversed the entire country on a bike.

During a Las Vegas bike show 15 years ago, Firth met business partner and friend David Wilson. They both felt there was a need for cargo and transportation bikes in Philadelphia, and Firth & Wilson Transport Cycle opened their doors in June of 2013, originally on Spring Garden Street, as a full-service bicycle shop and retail showroom, selling predominantly cargo and transport bikes. Firth’s wife Victoria is also an owner.

Firth & Wilson Transport Cycle moved to its Frankford Avenue location in Fishtown in 2015, and all of their bikes are neatly on display in a spacious showroom.

“We have a great space, in a great growing neighborhood,” says Firth. “We are lucky to be here.”  

Firth and Wilson handpick bikes and styles that accommodate customers looking for a reliable form of transportation. 

Although they sell many specialized bicycles, including a cargo bike with a front car to haul anything from a baby to your groceries, they don’t want to limit themselves to being seen as a niche shop.

“We strive to cater to the commuters, transport cyclists and people who just want to get to work on a bike” Firth says. 

They consider their bread and butter to be one-speed bikes that are meant for casually tooling around town, and they sell a variety of bicycles and accessories from companies like Pure City, Xtracycle, Brooklyn Bicycle Co. and Larry Vs. Harry. 

Customers also have the option to purchase customized frames—made by the owners to fit any specific need—under the labels David Wilson Industries (DWI) and Hanford Cycles. 

When you’re in the shop, it’s hard to miss the oversized antique shoe-shaped sign pointing to the area reading, “Repairs—This Way.” Casual bikers who need to fix a flat shouldn’t be intimidated by their specialty shop status. “Fixing bikes is also a huge part of what we do,” Firth explains. They have a frame shop, as well as several repairing stations connected to their showroom. 

Firth is passionate about bicycles and also about creating community. When he and Wilson were opening their original location, they had plans to include a cafe in the space, and in their current home they’ve hosted events for organizations like the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and the Indego bike share program.

Firth is also one of forces behind the Philadelphia Bike Expo, now going into its sixth year. When the events of 9/11 made it too difficult for New York to continue having a regional expo, organizers in Philadelphia picked up the baton. 

It’s been a long road from Firth’s birthplace of Stoke-on-Trent in middle England, but he’s now firmly rooted in his adopted country, and he’s a believer in his new hometown. He’s committed to growing both his business and the cycling community here. 

“This is what I do,” Firth says. “This is what will make Philadelphia a better city.”