Southeastern North Carolina’s Lost Gem: McLean Bicycles


Southeastern North Carolina’s Lost Gem: McLean Bicycles

McLean Fonvielle was born in Wilmington, NC, my home town. He went to the School of the Arts in Winston Salem to study art and shortly after, he dropped out since his interest was in bicycle building. In the late 60’s he started an apprenticeship at Holdsworthy in London, under Roy Thame. Later, he moved back to NC where he started Silk Hope, named after a town near Chapel Hill, NC. Many people wanted a Silk Hope but couldn’t afford one, prompting McLean to begin a new company, aptly-named McLean Bicycles. These bikes flourished in the South and between 1978 through the end of his life in 1983, McLean built many beautiful bicycles.

Even though he died at the young age of 29, his bikes are regarded as devoid of ostentation and a true example of American craftsmanship. I had the opportunity to document a pristine example of one of McLean’s bicycles yesterday. Owned by the proprietor of Two-Wheeler Dealer here in Wilmington, NC, this bike is not only period correct, it’s been hanging in the rafters since the mid-80’s!

Check out some photos of Jim’s McLean road bike below!