Sunday, July 17, 2005

Mutant Bikes in the late '70s.

Whilst in Chicago we briefly conversed with Mr. Payphone about old codgers shouting at you as ride by on your chopper, "hey, I built bikes like that when I was a kid." Basically, the current "freakbike" or "mutantbike" (I prefer the mutantbike typology, personally) phenomena (or "movement," if you prefer), which kicked off circa 1991, is not the first of its type. The previous proto-mutant-bike phenomena started, roughly, in the late '70s, during that big bike boom you read about here and there, and faded away in the early '80s.

This proto-phenomena is largely lost to history because, well, not only was there no infobahn for these early pioneers to share what they were doing, but there wasn't even such DIY modes of information exchange such as zines to pollinate the concept of building freakbikes with the country at large.

An exception, though, is the figures from The Bike Builder's Bible (1980) by Jack Wiley.

Riding a bike in the reclined sitting position


Wiley's classification of the different varities of mutant-bike are amusing. He is, after all, coming up with descriptions for bikes that don't look like your standard "diamond safety."

For example, the "choppers" (as us 21st century types might refer to them) keep getting referred to as "bikes for reclined sitting." Tallbikes are called "double deckers." Your standard Schwinn-esque little girls bike (referred to variously these days as minis or pixies) get called "high risers," which acknowledges the ape-hanger handlebars and upright sitting position, I suppose.

Example of a doubledecker


Bike with small wheel


Bicycle for reclined sitting


Jack's really into the decorated wheels, huh?

Doubledecker with decorated wheels


Jack Wiley on the subject of double deckers:

"Double-deckers, also called high-bikes and upside-down bikes, are fun novelty cycles. Bicyles up to 20-feet tall have been ridden. Only regular double-deckers, approximately twice the height of a regular bicycle, will be covered here. With simple additional modifications, taller bicycles can be constructed.
While double-deckers are frequently ridden on streets with automobile traffic, this is unsafe and in many areas illegal. This is strictly a novelty cycle and should be considered as such.
These cycles are not manufactured, but conversion of regular bicycles is fairly simple. I recommend that only old, inexpensive bicycles be used."

Riding a doubledecker bike.


The Swing Bike


Wow. An original swingbike. "Made by the Swing Bike Co., 412 West 10th N. Logan, UT 84321, and distributed by a network of dealers across the country." Maybe not anymore, me thinks.

Front-wheel chopper trike


Jack Wiley lays down what its all about:

"I feel the possibilities that pedal cycles offer for building, inventing and creating are extremely imporant. While specific projects are detailed in this book, considerable effort is spent in trying to get the readers to go on to originals, as they are sometimes called. In many areas the amateur innovator stands little chance, but not so in the pedal cycle field. You can really let your imagination go and have the possibility of actually building and trying out your ideas. This somthing that would likely be impossible, for, say, the subject of space travel."

Girls riding highrisers


"Girls riding highrisers," with the KICKSTANDS DOWN, nonetheless!