With Freak Bike Fall kicking off tonight I thought it’d be fun to take a look at a creation from one of Portland’s most talented freak bike builders.
30-year-old Jake Ryder (a.k.a. “J-Ryde”) has only lived in Portland for two years, but he used to visit so often while living in Seattle that it seems like he’s lived here longer. He’s also tends to make quite an impression.
Ryder is a talented maker of many things. He designs and builds everything from event posters to furniture (which is how he pays the bills) — and of course freak bikes.
You might recall seeing Ryder grace these pages after he won the 2010 Mini Bike Winter Chariot Wars as pilot of his Sexxon Chariot (a play on Exxon). I’ve also caught him riding his very nice FR808 cargo/sound-system bike.
His bikes have always caught my eye, but his latest creation really takes it to the next level.
Professional photographer Dabe Alan commissioned Ryder to build him a tall bike. Alan has a great eye for capturing urban culture and he has recently become very interested in Portland’s photogenic bike scene.
“Dabe wanted to be able to take pictures from the bike,” Ryder explained to me when I visited his workshop in Southeast Portland today, “He also wanted to mount lights and make it sort of a rolling photo studio.”
Alan wanted a tall bike for its high vantage point, both to shoot photos from and as a platform to attach his various lighting equipment. The bike has attachments for light poles and tripods on the rear rack and on the head tube.
Alan’s tall bike also needed to carry equipment and be balanced and stable. That’s how the sidecar idea came about.
“We went through a couple of kickstands and training wheel ideas and ultimately ended up with a sidecar.”
The sidecar has an inlaid bamboo floor and bars to keep cargo and passengers in. Showing his creativity and keen sense of how bikes work, Ryder also made the sidecar pivot. To accomplish this, Ryder attached the sidecar via two pivots taken from the swingarms of old mountain bikes. An added bonus of the sidecar is that it’s detachable.
“You can lean into it and out of it and it tracks perfectly.”
During a test ride, I stood in the sidecar as Ryder pedaled. It was very stable (even in turns). I felt comfortable not holding on even managed to snap a few photos…
Bamboo was used for the rear rack, the floor of the sidecar and for a nifty flash/camera battery holder platform near the bottom bracket.
Ryder says he loves the creative process of building bikes. He’s also excited about the inspiration loop that happens whenever a new one comes out. “I really like how stuff can spread online and how it inspires bike culture around the world.” While inspiring others to build bikes is one of Ryder’s favorite outcomes of these projects, he also freely admits that much of what you see in his designs were sampled from others.
Ryder offers custom bike making services, but for now he still relies on his furniture business to pay the bills. “It’s a fun process and a nice break from making furniture.”
Ryder says Alan will pick up the new bike tonight. He’ll put it right to work capturing images of Freak Bike Fall, an annual event that starts tonight and brings together Portland’s tall bike makers and fans.