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Beloved motorhome bike “torn to shambles” in NE Portland

Posted by on August 30th, 2007 at 10:18 am

Brian and his motorhome-bike
before vandals destroyed it (see below).
(Photo: Bob Crispin)

Last November, I shared photos and the story of an amazing character making his home on the streets of Portland.

His name is Brian and he lives in a bicycle that he expertly engineered into a human-powered bicycle Winnebago. According to reports, he has been pedaling this unique vehicle all over the world for over three decades.

He had been making his street-home on SE Ankeny Street (near Citybikes) but had recently moved to northeast Portland, just east of MLK Blvd off of NE Ainsworth.

Yesterday, Ayleen Crotty (who lives in the area) announced on her blog that Brian was looking for donations to help him with some much-needed renovations to the bike. Ayleen’s employer, OR Bike, had already chipped in $200 to the cause.

Unfortunately, this morning I received this sad news from a reader:

“…by 10pm [last night] it was torn to shambles. This morning it was still there and still in pieces. I do not know what happened (whether he did it himself or it was vandalized), but it’s a damn shame. I almost cried when I saw it.”

Someone else reported that yesterday evening they noticed, “a big hole in the side and the contents strewn everywhere.”

Here are photos of the damage sent in from Ayleen Crotty:



(Photos by Ayleen Crotty)

I haven’t yet confirmed what exactly happened, but it doesn’t sound good. I hope Brian can recover and I look forward to finding out how/if the community can step up and help him out. Please contact me or leave a comment if you have any information (or photos of the damage).

Stay tuned…


UPDATE: Brian destroyed his own creation. I met him last night. Read the full story in this post.

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Comments
  • Troy August 30, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    Brian\’s unique creation looks to be made out of foam insulation that you can get from Home Depoe. If anyone makes contact with Brian they should post how many sheets he needs. It is $15-20 for a 4\’ by 8\’ sheet. I hope he is able to get his \”motor\” home back up and running soon.

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  • DK August 30, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    He needed to move it around a bit more, it just sat there for too long…like a big target. Not a great place to park any bike for that long, not even a car for that matter. It\’ll be back.

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  • destin August 30, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    yeah that looks bad.

    anyone speak with him?

    hope he is ok.

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  • max adders August 30, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    $10 says it was done by bored teenagers.

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  • Jessy August 30, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    It didn\’t sit there entirely too long… I mean, I hadn\’t seen him for over a week, maybe even two. And besides, there\’s a giant empty lot on the street across from Walgreen\’s. It\’s not like he was in front of anyone\’s house.

    One strange thing is that I rode by around 5:30pm and it wasn\’t there, then I got a message at 10pm that it was vandalized. It didn\’t even happen overnight… Just during the evening. Although if it had been overnight, Brian would\’ve been sleeping in it, so maybe that\’s part of it?

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  • SKiDmark August 30, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Being picked on for being a weirdo. Brings me back to my High School days. I don\’t think we need any more proof that comformity runs rampant in our society and some feel it must be enforced with hateful acts.

    If there is an effort to rebuild it, I will volunteer.

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  • natallica August 30, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    i\’ll kick down some $$$. jonathan please keep us posted on where we can send it.

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  • Fritz August 30, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    Some people are just scumbags. I can\’t imagine why people would destroy things like this.

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  • Dusty Grimm August 30, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    It looked like mainly styrofoam damage when I saw it last night and no one was to be seen, which if that is the case, Brian would be able to repair the styrofoam, no problem. I mean his bike itself he built into a torque converting machine in which he just zooms around with very little effort, which is amazing. He\’s somewhat of a gearhead. So with only the help of some material providing, I think he\’ll recover ok. This is pretty lame though, I had to cry it out a little at home. I feel sorry for the vandals who think that this is acceptable.

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  • SKiDmark August 30, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Because it is different, it is outside the norm of society and must be destroyed. He should not want to subsist and live in a human-powered camper,he should want a job he hates, live in a habitrail with all the other miserable humans and drive a financed car with big flashy chrome rims that are rented – just like everyone else.

    Gotta love the herd mentality.

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  • michael downes August 30, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    A sad thing indeed but we cannot discount the fact that he may have done this him self. Over the last few months I have stopped by to talk to him. Sometimes he is cheerful and sometime he is mad and drunk. I have even heard him threaten to smash up his vehicle. It is clear that he struggles with mental illness. I hope he is okay and this still shouldn\’t prevent us form rallying around to help him.

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  • Jim Bombardier August 30, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    I know what it is like to be discriminated against for doing something out of the mainstream. I can only offer him his choice of one of our bike saddles and my one-armed assistance at this time but want to help.

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  • SKiDmark August 30, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Even if he did do it in a fit of rage I would help him rebuild. Life sucks sometimes, I can relate to that.

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  • bikerinNE August 30, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    Why did he move it from SE Ankeny St? I\’ve seen him around there a while back, he was asking for spare change. Did Citybikes Annex ask him to move? It would seem his lifestyle would be more acceptable in the SE, rather then up in NE.

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  • Tomas Quinones August 30, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    Aw man…that thing was a work of ART.

    I don\’t care who did it, it belongs in the history books. I\’m so glad I stopped and took some pictures on my way to work a few weeks ago.

    Hope he rebuilds it stronger…faster…more deadlier…

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  • Spencer August 30, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    The ironic part is that I have never seen it in Portland, but have seen it a couple times elsewhere on the west coast. The most recent place I can remember was at the Trees of Mystery on 101. Before that, I think it was Squim in Wa. What a small world.

    If people are passing the hat, I\’ll kick in a gift card to a lumber/home/bike shop of choice if Johnathan lets us know where to send it.

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  • stankonia August 30, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    anyone seen this thing actually moving? every picture i see, it\’s up on the kicks. does it even work?

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  • michael downes August 30, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    I think the first priority is finding Brian and ensuring that he is okay. His vehicle is, frankly, of minor importance in this scenario. He is currently more homeless than he was yesterday. Thank god it\’s summer. If this happened in January it could very serious.

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  • the duke August 30, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    yeah, i noticed it on my commute in this morning too, as i live right around the corner. if brian\’s there when i ride home tonight, i\’ll see if i can find out what happened. i\’d be happy to be part of any rebuilding effort too. a handful of us biker/engineer geeks at my work have been geeking on that thing since last year, and might be able to hook him up with some aluminum or insulation or extra stuff from our shop.

    keep up the good reporting johnathan.

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  • amanda luna August 30, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    He lived on my block with my next door neighbors for a few months. I honestly think he did it himself, he\’s been wanting to trash it and start from scratch for the past few months. He told me. He partied with us on a daily basis.

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  • Robert Ping August 30, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    I met Brian many years ago when he rode into Marin County, CA and visited me at the Recyclery bike thrift shop in San Rafael (Trips for Kids). He had just finished a ride through the Rockies and said that the 80 lb flywheel helped a lot. I hope he can recover from this, and

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  • Alicia August 30, 2007 at 11:49 pm

    The simple inhumanity of this act brings tears to my eyes and sadness to my heart. How can anyone be so cruel? (this is rhetorical, fyi)

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  • Jonathon Severdia August 31, 2007 at 12:31 am

    Hey everyone,
    Brian and his bicycle are, by relative standards, in a safe place tonight and for the next few days. I learned from the employees at the nearby Safeway that he vandalized his own bicycle last night while being viciously harassed by a handful of teenagers. Please don\’t think any less of Brian, nor any more of the random evil imaginary strangers. Even just considering that, as has been stated here already, he wished to scrap the cabin of his bicycle and rebuild it, it is better that he took his anger out on the bicycle rather than get into an altercation with multiple individuals who were abusing him.

    Tomorrow, Brian says he will begin building a new cabin and I will be going there after work to see how he is doing. I don\’t anyone here to naively or romantically believe that what Brian necessarily needs is a bike winnebago mk II, (or III or XIV, god knows how long he\’s been at this) because it may well be that he actually needs things the rest of us either take for granted or just shirk in less dramatic ways, things such as a preponderance of days free from the stress of the fight or flight instinct, stability, purpose, and connection with others. But with that last thought in mind, I think it is vital that if Brian is to rebuild his bike, that in doing so he be helped by as many kind people as will show up. I broached the idea of a work party with Brian tonight and he seemed open to it. I can plan it if need be, but I can\’t even organize my silverware drawer, and I know all of about seven people in town, so any and all assistance would be appreciated.
    Maybe plans can just spring organically from this page as people post their intentions and their availabilities. I am available Saturday morning and all day on Sunday. I think projecting past this weekend is risky for now since I don\’t know how long Brian will be able to stay where he is, but he says he has another location lined up nearby to move to afterwards.

    That\’s all for now; I have to be at work in six hours. I reiterate that I do not know what good rebuilding Brian\’s bike can ultimately do, but I believe that it is better than doing nothing, and that showing up as a community to help Brian out could in fact be a wonderful gesture of support to help him get back on his pedals. So, although I use this slogan under protest for the way it glorifies a truly vile member of society, it is the most relevant rallying call I can think of: let\’s pimp this ride!

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  • Lem in FL August 31, 2007 at 8:03 am

    I have been keeping up with this from afar. I have posted this on a few bicycle related pages so I apologise for redundancy if anyone is angry about stumbling upon this mumbling…again !
    I lived in a small town called West Chester that is very close to Philadelphia PA back in the 80\’s. Brian and his creation were mainstays of that small community back then. He could regularly be seen pedaling down any of the main streets much to peoples amazement who werent used to seeing him. He would park the rig in various places, but most often in the parking lot of Joes Sportsmans Lounge. I forgot all about him until I came to this page yesterday. Although we all breath a collective sigh of relief that scum didnt physically tear up his bike themselves, let us wish that whatever demons are haunting this well traveled, unique and interesting individual give him a break in the future. Its just as sad for me to see so someone so tortured because that torture and hurt never stops as opposed to vandals who will get bored and move off to find something else to assault. I really respect and admire the Portland bicycle community for offering help to him regardless of the situation. You people are a great community !!

    Be safe…
    Lem in Florida.

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  • Tankagnolo Bob August 31, 2007 at 8:33 am

    Too bad. If money is needed, let us know. If photos are needed by any site or for any story, I have a bunch of photos, some at Bike Palusa, some on the streets. The man is a legend. Tankognolo Bob

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) August 31, 2007 at 9:08 am

    I met Brian last night. He did do it himself but mentioned nothing to me about being harassed by anyone. I\’ve just posted the full story.

    Also, if you\’d like to contribute to supplies or help Brian out this link will take you to a PayPal donation I\’ve set up for him.

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  • Jonathon Severdia August 31, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Hey Jonathan,

    I spoke with two girls who work at Safeway who gave me secondhand information that he was being harassed with extremely derogatory language by a group of fifteen year olds. This information came to them from two courtesy clerks at the store who actually witnessed the incident, but I was not able to locate those two to talk to them directly.

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  • woody August 31, 2007 at 11:55 am

    the vandalism was done by bored hipster fixies, who cannot stand to see anything different other than their clone fixie bike bikes.

    donation sent.

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  • Martha S. August 31, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    If I weren\’t so exhausted from my one person bike move I\’d be very angry! In any case I wish Brian well, and hope things turn out well for him in the end.

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  • dave santos August 31, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    Brian is real, a long standing legend, but society never caught up, & it wore him down to be so persecuted by jerks, plus always being awoken by awed fans.

    he has needed a new front wheel of a particular kind, & was afraid to go too far on the old one.

    FREE BRIAN!

    he needs a bit of quiet land to park on.

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  • Noelle September 4, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    Brian parked his bike outside of my house for a few months and he basically lived in our house. Many times he said he was going to destory the bike and start over or just get rid of it all together because of all the unwanted attention it gave him. I think he did it himself. It is a shame.

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  • » Brian. July 1, 2009 at 7:55 am

    [...] he rolled through Portland quite a bit, and of course, Bike Portland was a fan.  They reported in August of 2007 that his house was trashed.  A follow up post got to [...]

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