Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Better late then never, as promised here is my account of Brooklyn's notorious annual event, BIKE KILL.

Foam Skull

I think the easiest way to describe it would be a performance art, bicycle freak show, food fight, carnival, mosh pit, taste of anarchy, with an always present potential for serious injury by a variety of different means. The crowd gathers in a dead end little stretch of road between a school and a Home Depot parking lot, and all manner of bikes are locked and piled against fences and walls in several blocks in all directions.

Bike Parking

At the foot of the road blocking any car traffic from entering was a truck spray painted to all hell with more kids busy leaving their mark. As Meghan and I entered and met up with our L.A. friends, accompanied by the friendly New Jersey crew who supplied us with bikes, I could tell this was going to be crazy on a level I've not previously witnessed. Armed with my trusty camera, I spent the day documenting as best I could the insanity that transpired.

Black Label's Wooden Bicycle
Pita Bread Masher Bike Boot Bike

The sheer variety of freak bikes in all manner of size, shape, configuration and building materials was one of the most exciting aspects of Bike Kill for me. Getting to see things like the infamous boot bike in person felt like a privilege. Surfboard bikes, modified kids bikes, wheel chairs, a rollerblade wheel bike, asymmetrical spoked wheels, barrel bikes, tall bikes of all sorts of various welded frames, and more, it was the hotbed of freak bike activity. In addition to the crazy bikes, giant foam skull heads and other shapes bounced around the street along with flying pita break and the occasional blast of tomato soup from a cannon.

One Of The More Unusual Tall Bikes Michelle Riding The Surfboard Bike With Drink In Hand Bicycle With Large Diameter Inline Skate Wheel Instead Of A Front Tire Roll Over Cage Bike Quad Stacked BMX Frame Tall Bike With Wheel Friction Drive-Train Arrangement Bicycle Type Thing
Shut The Fuck Up, Barrel Bike

As far as creative variations on bicycles go, there was undoubtedly one bike that became the focal point among the masses. This thing had two giant parallel wheels, with two fixed gear drive trains, one for each wheel, powered by two opposite facing suspended cyclists who hung from the center axis. If each rider pedaled normally then the bike would spin in place, but if each person pedaled at different rates or directions it could be made to travel around, kind of. The large metal spokes could be grabbed onto by some daring souls, my self included at one point (damn near injurying myself), and would then be spun around 2 axises of rotation, that of the bike spinning place and the rotation of the wheel. Still confused? Maybe this video and my photos can help explain.

Giant Parallel Wheeled, Duel Cyclist Driven, Rapid Spinning, Machine Of Madness
Alex & Richie Spinning The Big Wheel Like Crazy People Giant Parallel Wheeled, Duel Cyclist Driven, Rapid Spinning, Machine Of Madness

What bicycle freak show would be complete without some crashes. People love to watch crashes, it's some twisted aspect of the human condition.

Chaos Giant Parallel Wheeled, Duel Cyclist Driven, Rapid Spinning, Machine Of Madness

For those of you looking for some L.A. faces amongst the chaos, here are a few shots of some of my friends from Midnight Ridazz who attended. For some more photos of Angelenos at Bike Kill, as well as even more bike kill action, Alex Thompson got some great shots as well.

Nicole Paints My Nose This Is Marcus Alex Franz
Party Time Picture Taking Picture Meghan NYC The Despondent Banana

As night descended on the crowd, and light drizzles that had peppered the day gave way to periodic rain and heavy wind, some special beasts came out to play in the dark. Think Ghost Rider on a bicycle. Yes flaming, freaking on fire bicycles fueled with propane tanks.

Bicycle On Fire
Bicycle With Flame Thrower Fire

Concluding the evening's activities, apart from the random circles of whirling chaos that were ever present, were jumps off a launch ramp, tug-o-war and the real climax of the evening, tall bike jousting. Some of you I'm sure are already familiar with the concept, but for those who aren't, tall bike jousting is exactly what it sounds like. Two riders on double stacked frame tall bicycles ride straight at each with jousting polls, the last one standing wins. Local rider Richie, one of the birth mothers of C.R.A.N.K. Mob, represented Los Angeles in glorious fashion dominating his New York foe in his match up.

Preparing For Battle
Then Falls Hard Richie Prepares For Battle
Tug-O-War Crowd Excitement Fuck Bikes The Bear Prepares To Joust Jousting Imact

Toward the very end of the night, it became cold, wet, and windy at an intensity quite unfamiliar to a boy who grew up in SoCal his whole life. It was quite a day, and a lot to take in. In conclusion I had fun, although I was worried about the person I saw getting carried away on a stretcher with a horribly broken foot at one point in the evening. Bike Kill is certainly not an event for the overly safety safety conscience. It was punk rock, it was rad, & and it was full of creative energy and destructive energy in equal abundance.

Smoke Bomb

In the end however I love the bike scene here in Los Angeles more, where people are more laid back. Despite the carnival nature, the prevailing attitude and persona of Bike Kill was more serious and dark, and people got all up tight about things like who's tagging was higher up on the wall then others. At events like L.A.'s C.R.A.N.K. Mob, it doesn't matter because everything is written in sidewalk chalk anyways and will wash away ephemeral. That being said, it was an inspiring and certainly memorable experience. It was definitely worth the trip to see it at least once.

[Complete Photo Set On Flickr]

No comments: