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A story in Christian Science Monitor features Oakland, CA teenagers who are remaking ordinary bicycles and turning them into something colorful and cool.

His name is Tyrone Stevenson, though most know him by his nickname, “Baby Champ.” He is, everyone agrees, the Scraper Bike King. He wants to change the rough, violent world that he and these other boys are growing up in. He thinks he can do it with bikes. “I just want to give them something positive,” he says.

Until recently, most people had never heard of Stevenson or the tricked-out homemade bicycles he invented back when he was a troubled 13-year-old. Stevenson modeled his creations after “scraper” cars, which are popular in east Oakland and feature booming stereos, candy-colored paint jobs, and big wheels with matching rims. The cars’ name derives from the rims, which are sometimes so large they scrape against the wheel wells. Stevenson simply borrowed that idea – big wheels, bright colors, loud music – and applied it to bikes.

Here’s a YouTube music video showcasing these scraper bikes:

I hope to get some of Oakland’s scraper bikes to Maker Faire in 2009. They’d fit in well with Cyclecide.

Writer Jocelyn Wiener concludes her story: “Among the scraper-bike boys, a light-hearted enthusiasm abounds. At least for tonight, these streets belong to them.”

Dale Dougherty

I’m founder of MAKE magazine and creator of Maker Faire. I am CEO of Maker Media, the company that produces MAKE, Maker Faire and Maker Shed. I am Chairman of the Maker Education Initiative (www.makered.org).


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Comments

  1. mlange.myopenid.com says:

    Hmm. Note 1:20 when he almost gets hit by a cargo van. That might hurt.

    Good job on the rap vid, though :)

  2. selfsilent says:

    Terrible song.

    Scraper cars have: booming stereos, candy-colored paint jobs, and big wheels with matching rims. These bikes have none of that, so where is the similarity?

    The trikes look like something an Italian should be selling ice creams out the back of.

    If they had been scrapPer bikes (bikes made of scrap) then maybe, but not this.

  3. Nick says:

    I love how they just ride willy nilly into busy traffic and do donuts in the middle of intersections.

  4. em00guy says:

    @selfsilent

    Taste in music aside. It seems that they are attempting to reinterpret, not recreate, Scraper cars in bike form. I wish we would all encourage our children to be half this industrious. Get out of the street though.

  5. selfsilent says:

    em00guy – to reinterpret something you have to leave some of the original aesthetics showing in the redesign. I could paint myself green, stand with my legs spread and say I was reinterpreting the Eiffel tower. That would be closer to the original than this.

    These are just tarted up bikes.

  6. Anonymous says:

    @selfsilent

    If your argument is that they should call them something else to avoid genre confusion with the more elaborate scraper cars, I concede the point. However, you seem to be arguing that their efforts are pedestrian and irrelevant. I take exception to that.

  7. YoungGass says:

    I own 5 scraper bikes of my own one that is kalled MickyDs,One that is Pepsi,i gotta all black on spinners ,all blue sittin on whits i gotta a jamican one and a super man one on spinners with 2-15s ith an amp to have the base boomin……To me its a culture to the hip hop enviroment.like whit people have their nice mercedes and bmws and what not…but for lil kids that aint aloud to drive yet and want big rims candy colored cars with knock in da trunk BIKES is what comes closer to a car than any thing eles.