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Portland (and the world) needs more scraper bikes

Posted by on May 24th, 2010 at 11:12 am

Baybe Champ, the Scraper Bike King.
(Still from video by California is a Place on Vimeo)
-Watch video below-

“I’m a big shot. Scraping on my bike. I don’t need a car gas price too high… Blue, yellow, orange wit bling, scraper bikes is on the scene.”

That’s a line from a rap by Baybe Champ, the Scraper Bike King, who started the movement from his hometown of Oakland, California. Champ, his friends, and his growing legions of fans spend their days painting, decorating, and riding their bikes through the streets. They prove it’s possible to have fun and get attention and respect by cruising on two wheels instead of four.

Champ and his friends were recently at the Maker Faire in San Mateo and it gave me a reason to hear about them again since I first mentioned their YouTube video sensation back in 2007.

Gram Shipley's colorful scraper bike-1.jpg
Portlander Gram Shipley gets it.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Why there aren’t more scraper bike clubs in Portland!? We’ve got all sorts of bike clubs, but so far I haven’t seen many kids doing scraper bikes. To see why I’m so jazzed up on this, watch the excellent “Scrapertown” video below to learn more about Baybe Champ and how his bikes are saving kids lives on scraper bike at a time.

Scrapertown from California is a place. on Vimeo.

And yes, I have a policy crush on Baybe Champ.

Learn more about scraper bikes and donate to keep Champ’s work alive at the Original Scraper Bikes blog and follow them on Twitter at @ScraperBikeTeam.

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Comments
  • bahueh May 24, 2010 at 11:45 am

    seems wanting more scraper bikes would indirectly indicate wanting a larger ghetto/gang presence in portland…since the bikes are allowing a positive distraction from that socioeconomic setting…

    do you really want more scraper bikes? when it comes down to it, I’d prefer to see less…

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 24, 2010 at 11:49 am

      that’s a good point bahueh. i didn’t really think of it like that.

      i realize the fact they exist in Oakland is due to the gang issue and this activity is a refuge/alternative to that… but really, gangs don’t have to exist with scraper bikes. do they? couldn’t the scraper craze be adopted and adapted anywhere just because it’s fun and a way for kids to get attention, friends, etc…?

      anyone planning a scraper bike ride during Pedalpalooza? (maybe i should)

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  • Anne Hawley May 24, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    I’m kind of impressed by the trikes–I mean, that these guys dare to make a trike look that cool.

    Now I want to add colored tape to my spokes. Would it be weird on my Omafiets?

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  • Kaeta May 24, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    This was on the Craft feed today. Weird coincidence?

    http://blog.craftzine.com/archive/2010/05/how-to_scraper_bike_wheels.html

    I’m thinking about blinging out my merckx.

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  • Dave May 24, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Anne: if you’ve seen some of the things Dutch people do to their Omafietsen (paint jobs, streamers, little abacus beads on the spokes, all kinds of dohickies)… the sky is the limit :)

    Marc from Amsterdamize even has a photo of a tallbike made with two omafiets frames :)

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  • Black Dude on Bicycle May 24, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Paraphrase comments #1 and #2:
    We don’t want more black people on bikes but we just want their ideas and ingenuity for reasons to ride bikes…because more black kids on bikes OBVIOUSLY means that there would be more gangs/ghettos in an area. I guess black people in an area connotes a gang presence (especially if they are on bikes). And white people in spandex connotes wealth?

    Here is an idea:
    Instead of constantly trying to appropriate black culture into “cycling”, spend time and energy to address some of the issues that can help uplift the black community. What about a Major Taylor track race? Fundraiser for the Boys and Girls club on MLK and have a bike raffle? How about one of the more affluent teams in Portland create an urban outreach program and coach/sponsor some kids to ride/race bikes? Or what if some bike shop picked a home, gave them all bikes, and then mentored them into cycling?

    Or you can continue to ignore some of the larger, socioeconomic constructs and find ways to be “cultured” but ignore the cultured. It is apparent this city doesn’t want us here; they just want to talk about minorities in this nebulous cloud of “we have racial diversity!” and yet refuse to create programs or be engaged in opportunities to uplift all communities in Portland. It is like you only remember we are here is when you are clutching your purse in broad daylight as you walk down the street.

    Hey guys -> Let’s steal an idea for a bike ride from a lower income, minority community to show that we can do it better than they can and to exhibit that we are out of ideas for a bike ride THEN ignore everything else that ride represents in that other areas. Thank you implicit racism.

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  • Elly Blue (Contributor) May 24, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Black Dude, I’d definitely be interested in working on a project like that.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 24, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Hey Black Dude on Bicycle,

    those are some great ideas and there are some programs in Portland doing stuff like that already.

    The Bicycles and Ideas for Kids Empowerment group comes to mind. They are a racing team… check them out at KidsofBike.org.

    Also, I’m not sure how you get that feeling after reading my comment. perhaps it wasn’t clear. I want kids of all colors on bikes and this isn’t about stealing an idea or ignoring anything… but thanks for the comment.

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  • Andrew May 24, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    totally disgusted by comment #1

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  • bob May 24, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Good point?!? Are you kidding? That’s a stupid point! How do you get to: more kids taking an interest in their bikes=more gangs?! That’s moronic. I hate it when the first comment on a story derails the whole thing.

    Portland already has a myriad of opportunities for bike decorating. Practically any kid friendly event includes it from Bike to Blazers to Kidical Mass to Bunnies on Bikes to the Metro Bike There map launch. We hardly lack in bike decorating. Why is copying somebody else’s style interesting? Oakland and Portland have different cultures and different histories. A desire for or against racial diversity has nothing to do with this story.
    Kids interested in bikes for their own empowerment was the theme. Who cares what color they are or how they express their individuality? The interesting part is that Babye Champ is doing his own thing and that the bike still represents freedom no matter one’s ethnicity, socio economic status or home town.

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  • armando May 24, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    we had these bikes when i was a kid back in the early 70s. pretty much all we had! ; )
    i just don’t get bahueh’s comment. really? you think that by extending scraper bikes into portland it will increase gang presence?

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  • Jackattak May 24, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Can’t believe my comment got deleted but comment #1 gets to stay. Whatever.

    These bikes are awesome and I hope we get to see more of them, no matter who’s riding it (black, white, purple, alien).

    @ Comment #6 – You must’ve been really ticked when the Beastie Boys came out, huh?

    Jackattack: I deleted your comment because it added nothing substantive to the discussion. This one does, so it will stay. Thanks.

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  • Brian Johnson May 24, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    You know what? We were just talking about bikes.

    Despite what bahueh (commenter #1) wrote, not everyone is racist, or even cares about the color of one’s skin.

    However, black dude’s comments could also be taken as racist.

    Please don’t tar everyone who doesn’t fit neatly into your worldview with the same brush.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 24, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    folks, just reminder that it’s extremely perilous to read too much into blog comments, especially when they deal with complex issues like race.

    what I read bahueah as saying is true: the kids in Oakland are doing scraper bikes in part as a diversion from all the crime and gang activity that happens in their n’hoods. if you see this phenomenon as only happening as a diversion to crime and gangs (as bahueh’s comment would suggest)… than it follows that seeing a lot of scraper bikes would mean a lot of crime and gangs… which I think we all agree is a bad thing.

    my point was that i don’t see scraper bikes as being something that’s only appealing as a diversion to crime and gangs… that they simply seem like something fun to do (as Mr. Gram Shipley demonstrates).

    All this being said, we do have crime and gangs here in Portland… much of it done by kids the same age as Baybe Champ… so is there really something wrong with me hoping that those kids can be turned onto scraper bikes and find the same sort of outlet and satisfaction that Baybe Champ has found?

    thanks for reading and for commenting.

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  • Did I miss it? May 24, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    The only thing I see racist about comment 1 is the fact that the person in the picture above is black. I did not see any mention of race in his comments.

    All that was stated was that these bikes are a diversion from gang related activities. Why is that a racist statement?

    What if Baybe Champ was Hispanic? Would it still be racism against blacks? Are we interpreting Bahueh’s comments by the picture that he did not post?

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  • Spiffy May 24, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    I’m all for giving kids an outlet, especially one that blings out their bikes…

    and yeah, there might be a lot of bike decorating going on around here but I haven’t seen any scraper bikes yet…

    I’d like to bling out my wheels with colored reflective tape… more color, and more visibility…

    on a side note, the first person to bring up race is usually the racist… race had never entered my mind when reading about these scraper bikes until it was brought up here by a commenter…

    so hell yeah I want to see some scraper bikes in portland!

    bring it!

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  • Captain Clash May 24, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    There’s been a group for awhile now doing scraper bikes in Portland but calling it “Scrapper” bikes, alluding to SCRAP, which is a good place to get stuff to decorate your bike. They are doing a Pedalpalooza ride:http://www.shift2bikes.org/cal/viewpp2010.php#13-1582

    These bikes aren’t all “scraper” bikes if by that you mean a specific style of colored plastic in the spokes. It is basically some people making a creative melding of Portland’s already existing/longstanding bike-decorative creative impulse with new inspiration from the kids in Oakland. But in the big picture, people have been blinging up bikes for decades and will continue to do so. The kids in Oakland are doing it in a way that is a great creative outlet and “diversion”, and inspiring to lots of people. In a similiar vein are the chromed-out “lowrider” bikes, though most of that accessorization must be purchased, and from conversation with several of those kids (four latino and one African American), I discovered that they aspire to leave behind their lowrider bikes for lowrider cars once they save up enough money.

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  • Captain Clash May 24, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    As for my own bike (well, I share it with Sven Sparkle too) I have put triangles of aluminum foil between the spokes and spray painted the bike gold, also a zipper from SCRAP wrapped around the tube. That’ll do until I get tired of it.
    Also, Portland Scrapper bike video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwyRg0XChw8

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  • bahueh May 24, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    wow…nice to see the typical bikeportland overreaction.

    Maus = gets it.
    others = not so much

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  • bahueh May 24, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Did I miss it…thank you, apparently you’re one of a small handful with actualy reading comprehension skills here…

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  • velomann May 24, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    I showed the video to my 6th grade students last week (as part of our poetry studies). I’ve got kids who want to start an after school bike club as a result. Race was never part of the discussion. To my mind, too many of our kids – especially out here in the burbs, see cars as cool and bikes as dorky. ANYTHING that helps change that thinking – scraper bikes, fixies, bmx, dutch cargo bike races – I don’t care. It’s all about the ride, not the color of the rider. Just get the kids “fixin’ on bikes.”

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  • Paul Johnson May 24, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Argument is irrelevant for reason of Californication. When was the last time that was ever a good thing?

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  • Izaac Spencer May 24, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    1. There is a Pedalpalooza Scrapper Bike Ride on Sunday June 13th. http://shift2bikes.org/cal/viewpp2010.php#13-1582

    2. Baybe Champ has a great message in his films which is more than just decorating a bicycle. Just watch…then go out and decorate your bicycle

    3. Watch out for that gang of cyclists that bomb down from the Zoo every Sunday evening:)

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  • George May 24, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    I’m shaking my keyboard in anger at this article. First of all, the lame assertion of the title, which is not explained -at all- in the article. Second of all that the first comment was not deleted. Maus you are a disgrace.

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  • SkidMark May 25, 2010 at 7:24 am

    Equating hop-hip culture or its offshoots like scraperbikes with gang is bordering on racist. I suppose lowrider bicycles are strictly a priduct of Latino gang culture too.

    Maybe Portland bike culture’s slogan should be “Keep Portland White(bread)”.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 25, 2010 at 8:53 am

      hey skidmark,

      can you point out for me where on this thread someone is “equating hip-hop culture…with gangs”? because i don’t see it like that at all.

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  • Roma May 25, 2010 at 9:51 am

    “I suppose lowrider bicycles are strictly a priduct of Latino gang culture too.”

    Well, they are a product of Chicano gang culture. Maybe not “strictly” anymore, but that’s where they originated.

    IMO bahueh’s comment is a little naive since it implies you have to be poor and/or in a gang to be interested in creating a scraper bike. But he never mentioned race, and I didn’t take it as a racist comment.

    On the other hand, something about white urban hipsters on scraper bikes makes me cringe a little. Much like that horrifically bad “Scrapper Bike” video someone posted above.

    Example:

    Snoop Dogg can ride a low rider bicycle with style (or even on the handlebars as per the Gin and Juice video). Whereas Lance Armstrong would look like a total tool.

    When you take something born from the street and make it generic, you take all the soul out of it.

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  • Did I miss it? May 25, 2010 at 10:15 am

    I’d like to see Gram Shipley ride that bike through Oakland (dressed as he is in the picture) and see how well that goes over.

    No doubt he would be embraced for such a cool bike and not shot/beaten/harassed.

    How many people on this blog have spent any time (more than 5 minutes spent in a locked vehicle) in the ghetto (note: there are NO ghettos in Oregon).

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  • Gram Shipley May 25, 2010 at 10:39 am

    I’ve learned a few things in my few years, and one of them is that whining about things on the internet doesn’t usually translate into positive action.

    So y’all can keep whining, I’ll busy myself with other things.

    See you on the streets.

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  • bahueh May 25, 2010 at 10:40 am

    George (#24)…buddy..calm down, take a deep breath…it’ll be OK. read slowly.

    less emotion, think more objectively, with cause and effect in mind. you’ll find yourself seeing a bigger picture eventually.

    Maus is not a disgrace…its his blog, he can write what he wants. You don’t have to read it…but I would implore you to try to comprehend the words that are actually writen…both here and in other online venues.

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  • Gram Shipley May 25, 2010 at 10:41 am

    And a big up to Baybe Champ! Keep up what you are doing, since you are doing the good work and trust me, you can’t help but be noticed.

    Baybe Champ is the Scraper bike king!

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  • SkidMark May 25, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    “scraper bikes would indirectly indicate wanting a larger ghetto/gang presence in portland.” First comment, Jonathan. I know nobody that writes for bikeportland would make such an ignorant statement,

    Roma, speaking as someone from San Diego I can tell you that building lowrider bicycles is something that Latino fathers do with their sons. Maybe the problem is that you are equating lowrider cars exclusively with gangs and not with auto enthusiasts. There is way too much time and effort put into building ANY vehicle from scratch, you’d have no time be a gangster.

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  • Paul Johnson May 25, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Is it racist to call scraperbikes and lowriders (both bikes and cars) beyond tacky even for tackiness sake? If not, well, scrapers and low riders are tacky beyond being ironically tacky!

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  • SkidMark May 25, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    I think passing judgment on what other people do with their creativity is tacky.

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  • bahueh May 25, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Skidmark..you continue to miss the point.
    I think calling someone a racist when you fail to understand the comment is tacky.

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  • aljee May 25, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    people on this thread are beyond silly. ‘shaking you keyboard in anger’?? really?? “disgrace”??
    my god, man i would hate to see you angered by something, you know, worth getting mad about.
    but there i go, talking about it more. all i meant to say was: sweet bike, Gram. and sweet bike, Baybe Champ. pimped bikes all around, PLEASE. scraper, lowrider, whatever. hang up your hang ups, etc. i am working up a bike sound system. look for the bike blasting the deepest funk cuts you EVER heard.

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  • SkidMark May 25, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Well then what are you trying to say?

    Just because something grows out of a poor downtrodden culture does not automatically make it bad or gang-related.

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  • Pete May 26, 2010 at 12:55 am

    Paul Johnson, it’s your repeated insults of anything from California that’s tacky. Generalize much?

    The thing that I find coolest about Baybe Champ is that he has the courage to be original. Gangs aside, he lives in an area where the car reigns king, and just being on a bike there takes courage, let alone blinging one out. For someone his age to stand up and do his own thing, and talk about his dreams and visions for cultural change – this man will be a leader. The world needs more Baybe Champs, regardless of what their bikes look like.

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  • jered May 26, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    see…y’all might not know this, but many of the larger Portland gangs have banded together to comissioned a white paper on effective get away vehicles. Bikes are #1 on the list for effective get away vehicles due to their size weight and mobility, in addition the study found that Portland police are 98% less likely to randomly shoot black bikers… The upshot is due to the giant whiteness that is PDX the research found that scraper bikes were deemed too dangerous due to inherent stereotypes and tall bikes drew too much attention, so the study found that a beat up mountain bike with a milk crate on the back was the best choice followed closely by an ironic fixed gear bicycle.

    (full disclosure to prevent chaos, the preceding post was 100% made up for entertainment and satire purposes only, nothing is to be taken at face value, thanks for getting your blood pressure up)

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  • Paul Johnson May 26, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    @Pete: You’re always welcome to move to California if you like it so much. It’s not like Oregon isn’t full.

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  • Shar May 26, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    I am a 57 year old white woman living in East Oakland. There is nothing cooler than seeing kids riding 30 deep feeling good about their bikes and themselves. (Kinda reminds me of how we feel in my bike club, Oaklandyellowjackets, when we ride our flashy and mostly expensive, road bikes 50-60 deep.) I see kids riding them in Hayward and San Leandro as well, btw. The scraperbike craze is creative, personalized, healthy, whimsical, lawful, and green. What’s not to celebrate? I say we should all send Champs organization $25 and wish ‘em all the best.

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  • BaybeChamp May 26, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Awww Thanks Shar!!

    Your The Best!

    Thank You And Everybody Like You For All Your Support.

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  • Pete May 28, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Paul, Oregon’s wonderful economy forced that move last year, but I’m enjoying the lower income tax rate (and actually having a job). And yes, I still pay lots of taxes into my lovely home state of Oregon too.

    The Oakland hills aren’t terribly close to me but have become one of my favorite places to ride. So much to explore down here!

    Ride safe, no matter where ya ride.

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