Graeme Obree likely needs no introduction among cyclists who’ve been involved in the sport for any length of time. The Scotsman is famous for his world hour records and the unorthodox “superman” position he used on his custom built track bike, Old Faithful. Nearly two decades after beating the UCI hour record, Obree is chasing a new world record, the human powered vehicle land speed record. Given that the only rule for the HPV record is that the vehicle must not have an engine, Obree is free to play to his creative strengths and build any wild bike he can dream up.
Humans Invent–a British website focused on inventions, design, and innovation–produced a series of video interviews with Obree as he built his bike and prepares for the speed record. They’re well done and provide terrific insight into Obree’s unique way of thinking about bikes, design, passion, and more.
Return of the Flying Scotsman: inside the mind of Graeme Obree from Humans Invent on Vimeo.
Graeme Obree: Hand-building the fastest bicycle in the world from Humans Invent on Vimeo.
Self portrait. Photo courtesy of Emily Maye.
Cycling photographer Emily Maye is on the rise. Only a year and a half after shooting her first race photos at the Tour of California, she’s been published in cycling magazines such as Bicycling and Paved and worked for major brands such as Rapha, Bontrager-Livestrong development team, Crankbrothers and more. Emily is known for her strengths as a visual storyteller. Rather than only focusing on a race’s major climb or finishing sprint, she turns her lens on the drunken fans, the anxiety-filled race prep, the harrowed mechanics, to try and capture the entire atmosphere of a professional cycling event. In this interview, Emily discuses her background in photography, her attraction to professional cycling, the parallels between ballet and bike racing, her approach to storytelling, and more.
Though far from mainstream, freak-bike gangs have become a fairly ubiquitous part of American bike culture. Black Label Bike Club, C.H.U.N.K. 666, Dead Baby, most major cities seem to have their own version of tall-bike riding, vest wearing, bike clubs. But long before crusty punks were bike jousting under bridges, the clean-cut Chicago chapter of the National Bicycle Dealer’s Association was building amazing freak bikes in their bike repair shop.
Life Magazine published photos of the artsy creations in a December 1948 issue. From the magazine:
To Webster a bicycle is ‘a light vehicle having two wheels, one behind the other.’ Such a definition theoretically describes the contraptions [seen in the article], but fails to do justice to the imagination of the Chicago chapter of the National Bicycle Dealers’ Association.
By artfully applying welders’ torches to metal tubing, the chapter’s members transform ordinary, utilitarian bicycles into traveling monstrosities. By far the most outlandish ideas have come from the Steinlauf family, who produced from their bicycle repair shop most of the oddities [shown in the article]. They are hazardous; generally at least one member of the clan is to be found in the hospital.
Here are a few more of the photos from Life. Click to see the full gallery on Time Magazine’s Life archive.
Angles & Poise, a bike blog focused on the high-end and boutique end of cycling, put together a neat infographic tracing the history of the New England frame building world. The timeline starts back in 1972 with Witcomb and Serotta and goes all the way to present day with companies like Firefly, Tomii, and Chapman. Click the picture above to see the full version. Fingers crossed they give the same treatment to other regions of the country with a high concentration of frame builders!
Posted in Art, Bike Industry, Everything Else, Frame Builders, History
Tagged angles and poise, boston bike companies, custom frame builder, firefly, new england frame builders, richard sachs, serotta
Day Labor from Minka on Vimeo.
Brendan O’Neill Kohl’s “Day Labor” is a charming short film that imagines what would happen if everyone started hiring day laborers to do their work for them. It starts with one enterprising (read: lazy) bike messenger, and snowballs from there. And though the film ultimately is not about bikes, Kohl features a bunch of real Seattle messengers, which is more than enough reason to post on this Seattle-based, bike-centric site.