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One cool evening in March we met up. Ricky and several friends rent a corner of a huge space in West Philly, which they operate as a loose collective. “The Warehouse” has all the amenities one could desire to build a bicycle, or just about anything else out of metal: drill presses, MIG machines, oxygen and acetylene bottles, torches, vices, and a 3000lb milling machine.

Each of us first cut about a 5’ length and filled it with cement mix. This would ensure that the tube wouldn’t kink when bent. Next we put it in a pre-made jig and bent until the tube roughly matched the big drawing on the big table Ricky had set up for us. We had now completed the first step in fabricating the main tube of the bicycle, “the boom.” Later, I learned how to miter a joint, then to braze—heat the joint until it’s just hot enough, add brass. Melt it in and watch the molten blobs smooth out and flow to the places with the greatest heat. Learn to make the brass go where you want it to go.

Seven months passed. I worked on mine when I had a free night, which wasn’t often. During this time, Ricky had finished his. Anyone who knows the experience of owning a new bike knows how you ride it everywhere at first, regardless of whether it’s appropriate. This phenomenon is magnified when you have built the bike yourself, and magnified further when you’ve built a crazy head-turning machine. For that first month, whenever I rode with Ricky, it was me on my Pogliaghi alongside him on his cargo bike. I remember thinking how unlikely this would be in the car world—two guys out for a drive, one in a vintage Italian sports car, the other in a dump truck. Bike world beats car world again.

I borrowed it, first occasionally, then more and more often. My trailer broke several times until I finally gave up on fixing it. Back at the warehouse, the piles of rusting rolled steel, boxes of scavenged parts, and the remains of a wrecked mountain bike were finally joined as one. I got lucky one day volunteering at Neighborhood Bike Works ( when a nice mountain bike came in with a broken frame. I bought all the parts from it, which made a nice upgrade. I spray-painted my new creation, put in a plywood bed, built it up, convinced my dog to get on, and we were off. I didn’t realize it at the time, but a new chapter in my life had started. A chapter




FBM Fixed