An Indoor Culture Emerges

As I continue my Global Search for ‘Pure Funk’ in bicycle design. I again marvel at how 4 of the hottest 5 designs I have seen lately are from foreign bicycle manufacturers. I am sure there is some simple, yet technical reason why European countries seem to be leading the way in innovative and funked out design. My opinion on this issue is simple, after researching American bicycle companies versus their European counter parts; I am of the opinion that bicycles are simply more important to their way of life than it is to ours. I read a statistic the other day that said the European bicycle market is growing more rapidly than any other in the world! NBC
Nightly News reported several months back that 1 out of 3 Americans are considered obese while 1 out of 4 of every child in this country is considered overweight. It isn’t hard to guess at the reason for this, ‘Lack of Exercise and healthy diets!’

It is a rare sight in my neighborhood to look out of the window and see a child or youth riding a bicycle or to see anyone (including me) running or walking to get exercise. Innovation tends to rapidly slow down or even halt as something, such as bicycle riding becomes less important to our society as a whole. When something is very important and economically lucrative, the opposite effect happens. To prove this point, there is no end to technological advancement in computer software, online start up companies, video games and systems and even automobile technology. These are all areas where American Business is strong worldwide. The flip side of that is all of these things take very little physical activity.

You can pretty much sit on your butt and do all of these things and you would have a very difficult time burning any calories doing any of them! And you wonder why we are a nation of fat bodies. I said all of that to say this, we are losing ground as a nation within bicycle industry innovation and funk because we are lazy. The companies who do have the lock on distribution to the stores which 73% of people in this nation buy bicycles, at Big Box Retailers are producing uninspiring designs which produce no emotional response other than “Oh, that is nice, I GUESS I can buy that.”

The companies that do have a little funk can’t possibly hope to get their designs in these retailers because they don’t have the purchasing power that the big companies do so they exist on the fringe. Each of them are so busy fighting for the scraps left by the likes of Huffy and Pacific Cycles that they never think about merging their companies to obtain the purchasing power needed to compete with the big boys! Unfortunately, the biggest losers in this drama are you and I, the bicycle buying public, and worst of all, the spirit in the marketplace that made this country great. We as a country can grab the innovation and funk back from Europe, but not until the emotion is put back into bicycle design.

Above Photo: Courtesy of Mzarek


Jobs Off-Shore = Innovation Off-Shore

With the next few posts, I am going to wax philosophical on the very real issue of Americans losing jobs to foreign countries and make a case for the fact that when we lose jobs, we also lose our edge on bicycle innovation. To clarify, many of you may believe that when I say the word innovation, I mean something mechanically different than what came before. That is a valid argument. However, innovation, to me, can mean a different type of paint job, structural configuration, new rim styles, or just something that produces an emotional response that wasn't present before. I have commented on several occasions about my belief that the brand 'Next', produced by Pacific Cycles and sold at Wal-Mart are uninspiring, cheap and basically a piece of junk. I still hold that opinion. Even those bicycles can be reworked to a point that they do produce an emotional response and a need to own by the buying public.

Before I go any further note: I AM NOT SAYING THESE BIKES ARE THE FUNK!

I have posted several pictures that I came across during the research phase of my project for your review. I can't honestly say that they made me 'Freak Out' but they are very nice and different type of designs. The mountain bike in the top right hand corner has a very eye catching paint job, loud attention getting tires and the seat ties in nicely with the over all color scheme. The Design directly below this paragraph is sure to get the attention of any browser looking for something that is different and eye catching. The description says it is a Mountain Bike and my initial thought was "This doesn't look like a Mountain Bike". After further consideration I recanted my statement and thought "Who am I to say what a Mountain Bike should look like." Yes, me! Now if I am on the search for funk and innovation and I thought like that, what are people who design bikes and are in the business thinking?

Anyone can tell a company's overall thought process by the products they produce. A company's culture is determined by those in charge. 4 of the last 5 designs I have seen that emotionally move me have been produced by foreign companies. More about this in my next posting. Back to the title of this post. With the loss of jobs, comes the loss of inspiring thought to produce innovative products in any particular field. The bicycle industry was HUGE in this country during the hey-day of American Cycle Racing in the late 19th century. Bicycle factories where popping up all over the East Coast and HOOOTTT products soon followed. Innovations such as the 'Chain less Bicycle' which was developed specifically for Marshall 'Major' Taylor to smash all velodrome speed records came along.

We went from the old school 'High Wheel' Bicycles to what came to be known as 'Safety Bicycles' which survive even to this day. The auto industry came along a few years later and the hey-day of American Bicycle Racing had passed. Racing was still popular in Europe and Australia during these years but the damage was done to the American Bicycle scene. I do not know if we can get back there and take over the bicycle innovation business, but what I do know is that the American bicycle design crowd (myself included) should really take a hard look at what we are doing and how we are doing it.

Whoever you are, email me and let's get a dialogue going on what we can do to bring the funk back into the marketplace. Sit back and enjoy these CHINESE designs for now. I will post again soon and continue this dialogue. My next post will be a stunner to most of you. It deals with the obesity in this country and unfortunately with the fact that we have become and indoor culture and how this has affected our ability to innovate with bicycles.



"I Saw The Funk,and It is Good!"

WOW! I found a site called which says it lists bike companies A-Z. After sifting through 15-20 websites, I got frustrated because outside of the different Head badge styles that various companies have, their bicycles all pretty much looked the same. Please understand that I am not being a ‘Hater’. The simple truth is that I long to see something that emotionally moves me in bike design. I saw the Funk years ago when I was a kid in the form of the legendary ‘Pee Wee Herman’, I saw it again 18 years later with Schwinn’s latest incarnation of the ‘Sting Ray’. But I haven’t really seen anything that has emotionally moved me until I came across a Swedish Company called ‘Cube’.

I believe this company is from Denmark. I am not saying that all or even 4 of their designs float my boat, but I found 2 that have just freaked me out! Below is a design with the hottest paint I have ever seen. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing 'Glam Rock' by 'Cube'.
I am not going to write about the gadgets these bicycles have because gadgets don’t interest me, it is the simplicity of the paint, contours, rims, seat etc that excite me. The above Mountain Bike has a ‘Cheetah’ style paint job, not just on the frame, but on the rims to! That my friends is ‘Urban Funk’.

The funk is such that I can just sit back and stare at this ignorance for hours. You all know by now how I give kudos. I do so once again by saying “I saw funk, and it was good.” As I wrap this up, Cube also produced a very nice what they are calling a ‘Tour Bike’. I am from the Old School and where I come from they call these ’10 Speeds’. Nevertheless, this bicycle is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Pearl-White Paint with snake skin accents, light gray & white tires and rims! This bicycle is on a whole other level, just magnificent! Visit the site at These are what, properly priced, would be an absolute HIT in Urban Areas. Cube has definitely paid a visit to ‘Planet Funk’.


Good Googally Woogally!

I was surfing the web a few minutes ago and I ran across this picture that is circa 1946. I couldn't find to much information about what this design is. All I found is that it is called 'Future Design'. As I have said before and I now say again "I saw the funk, and it was good." This design is from 60 years ago and I must say that it is still HOOOOTTTTT!

A Few Things that could make this 2007 HOOOTT!:

- Bring the tip of the head badge area backwards towards frame, flatten the tip, cut and insert platinum style grill. Chrysler 300 style grill

- The whole frame cover can remain as is but loke it out with platinum (plastic) style, encrusted jewelry appearing bling~

- Larger seat, slick fur style, harvest gold in color with a slight arch on the back

- Loose the spokes! Replace with machete style blades that are accented with harvest gold imitation jewels.

-Fork isn't platinum but is harvest gold to break the monotony in color.

- Front fender length can remain the same, but top-middle of the fender should be cut about .5 of an inch and have a Chrysler 300 style grill in the center. Back fender also.

I won't go any further but just close your eyes and see that this can be HOOOTT even today if a little 'Swagger' is applied to the redesign.

I marvel at the beauty and simplicity that defines this bicycle. This bike is even hot by today's standard. By viewing and studying this image, I want to challenge all of you and myself to produce renderings that mimic such design greatness. There are a few updates that I believe need to happen on this design to make it a 2007 'Funk Ball',but it is still clean.
Just the other day I developed a sketch called I*B*2 which is the 2nd coming of the I*Bike mentioned in an earlier post. I have seen images of the old 'High Wheel' bicycles from the late 1800's and asked myself the question "Could such a design be modernized and thereby made relevant to an 'Urban Audience'?" The answer is YES! Solomon, the richest and wisest man who ever lived said something very profound in the book of Ecclesiastes in The Bible. He said "That thing that was is that thing that shall be and there is no new thing under the sun."

This is true in fashion and bicycle design also. I*B*2 excites me every time I look at it because this bicycle is designed strictly for the youngster who wants to chill out, ride slow, be noticed, and get every one's attention who sees them. The person who rides this will receive the reaction "What is that they ridin?"For you naysayers, I have made modifications to the design so it won't be as dangerous as the original. It is shorter, with my web style chrome rims, tri-cycle style crank, chrome, open air-grilled out fenders and lean back style handle bar designs.

To us design enthusiast, remember that what I said about inspiration "It comes when it will and stays as long as it pleases". Catch hold to that inspiration what it is there to be had.


A Calculated Risk

As I near the end of my 'Re sketch' project I spoke of in an earlier blog, I find myself wondering 'What do I do with them now?' I just finished my 71st re sketch which is a design called 'Buffalo Soldier' and have 3 or so more to go before I take a well deserved break. The names of these designs are 'Papa Doc', 'Holla Bak', 'Drama', 'Flossin' and several others. I have decided to send one of my sketches to a company I wrote of earlier called '3G Bikes'. I have read enough about their founder Gary Silva to realize that this guy will know 'The Funk' when he sees it! I am not an artist by trade but my sketches are good enough for him to get the idea and make what I believe is the only wise choice and that is to say 'This guy Dale has something here, let me call that brotha' up and collaborate with him!'

After much thought about which one to send him, I am going to go with my design called 'Ghostin'. This raspberry colored design features an open-air grill on the crossbar and head badge, 3 thick spoke fan style chrome rims, chrome fork with 'M.T.' Logo on it and crab-claw shaped framed that is going to make the hairs on their necks stand up over there at 3G. Many of you will advise against this because 'What if they keep it, give me no credit, no money and worse yet, go make alot of money off of this design?' My friends, to that I say 2 things: #1, right now, it is just a sketch on a piece of paper and this may open up dialogue that will take me to the heights of bicycle design success. #2, I met with the owner of PHAT FARM Clothing a few years back while pitching something else. He asked 'Brian have you shown this to a manufacturing company?' I said 'No because they might rip it off.' He said (After a few choice words) 'So what if they do, maybe they won't but you can't be scared to show what you got that is what entrepreneurship is about, TAKING RISKS!'

I had a conversation with someone recently and he advised me to send 3g a finished product. This means I am going to go on the hunt for someone who knows the program 'AutoCad'. It is my vision to send whomever something that they can flip, turn, analyze, etc so that they can make a decision very quickly on whether to go forward with the design or not. Either way, I know that my designs are going to make an impact on a few decision makers. I have come to this conclusion based on extensive research, reading bike blogs, reviewing current designs by Giant, Pacific Cycles, Huffy, 3g, Phat Cycles and a host of others. Yall keep me in your thoughts as I take this thing to the next stage of development


I-Bike Series

Greetings readers. I haven't posted in awhile but the reason is simple. I have been having one of my 'Design Funk Phases' and have spent many hours over the last several weeks re sketching as many designs as possible from my 'Rough Sketch' book onto my large pad. I had an awesome vision just a few days ago while struggling with what form I wanted my 'Buffalo Soldier' design to take. The vision was for a series of bicycles to be known as 'I' Bike'. Oh my!!!!! 'I'Bike is a process that incorporates the latest shock spring systems on mountain bikes and combines funk, simplicity, and 'Bling' decor into 'I' which stands for 'Intelligent'.

I am not talking about designing an actual mountain bike because the truth is that I really only focus on junior, youth and adult cruisers, Mountain bikes simply do not 'Float my Boat.' Large nubby tires, all the gadgets such as gear shifts, brake lines, unemotional themes and crappy bike names go against the principle reason why I design. That principle is simplicity * urban lifestyle + natural design ability = 'FUNK!' The 'I' Series has the thought process of the original Star Trek Series which is "To go, where no other bike Designer has gone before." As I said earlier in this article, I have been busy also re sketching most of my original designs. They say that Mozart never had to erase any of his sheet music while writing it because it was perfect and not in need of revising. Well folks, I can't claim that kind of genius with what I do!

One thing I am very conscious of is trying to make any of my designs 'Too Perfect' by re sketching them over and over and over again. What I have found out during this process is that if I find myself doing this, it is only because of 2 reasons. #1- There was no inspiration for the design to begin with. When I am truly inspired and not just doing 'Busy Work', the whole thing comes together in an 1 hour to 1 1\2 hours max. That includes everything from the rear wheel to the head badge, there is no 2nd guessing. #2- It is just a crappy design. Not because their was not any inspiration, but because my concept, at its' root was wrong.

A counter argument to what I just said could go like this "If something is going to be great, alot of work HAS to go into it." I agree with that mostly, but remember this one thing, "Inspiration never has to be worked on, it just comes when it will and stays as long as it chooses." (That quote came from me!)


What is a Hoop-D?

I was recently in a local Wal-Mart and I saw a dirt bike design that is known by the name Hoop-D(See attached Picture). I will not say who manufactured it but I had to laugh! The design was marginal but it proves what I have been communicating to all of you on this blog. Manufacturers are missing the point. I believe that calling this bicycle a Hoop-D was their attempt at 'Being Cool'. What they have to understand is that when they attach an Urban Slang term to their bicycles, the least that they can do is not only know the word's true meaning, but understand the impact on the consumers thought process! Manufacturers, Hoop-D means "Piece of crap!" Sorry for the swear word but there was no other way to communicate this. A person uses the word Hoop-D (at least where I come from) to express dissatisfaction with what they are riding or driving.

A Hoop-D is usually on it's last leg, about to break down and get this, any person who calls what they ride or drive this term will exchange it in a minute when something better comes along. I have over 100 designs and I must say that Hoop-D is one name I will never use on any of my products! Nobody sets out to drive or ride a Hoop-D, it is just something that life throws at them because they can't do any better. That word promotes under achievement in my opinion. The great thing is that one of the reasons I started this blog was not to criticize but to clear up such seemingly small things that could have a huge impact on the Urban Consumer and the way they view bicycle design.

Manufacturers, email me or comment on my page and I can give you some urban terms that will not only be cool, but very relative to your Urban Consumers. I have already used 100 such terms on my designs! Instead of Hoop-D, why not name your design 'Woom-Tee' which is short in urban areas for 'Woom-Tee-Woomp'. This expression is used in urban areas to mean the same thing Jerry Seinfeld means when he says 'Yada-Yada'. Both these terms are slang for etc,etc. Come on yall!?


Way to go 3G Bikes!

I recently received and email from a VERY HOT bicycle company called Please visit there website because out of all the bicycles I have seen, 3G is closer to 'The Funk' than any of their nearest competitors. Gary Silva sent me this design which is named in honor of Marshall 'Major' Taylor. He said 'Check out our latest design' and invited me to give feedback so I am assuming he works at 3G. My feedback is this. From an aesthetic standpoint, it could definitely be more 'Urban' and with just a few tweaks, it could be funky! Nevertheless,this design is what I mean when I use the word 'Provolution' which is bringing the best of the past forward to the present and carrying that ideal into the future. This bicycle hearkens back to the late 1800's and early 1900's when there were no gear shifts and racers rode single speed bicycles in races.
I also made the suggestion to Gary to include some sort of collateral material with this bicycle educating the masses on who Major Taylor was and his contributions to the sport of Bicycle Racing. This design is very nice, elegant, but yet simple. The Head badge is an exercise in 'Funk' and to top it all off, this design doesn't have alot of 'Clutter' on it. Gear shifts, hand brakes, wiring, derailleur and many other gadgets that ad clutter, but not alot of funk.
What if 3G is the company who has the 'Mojo' to take 'Funked Out' design to the market place? I believe that they absolutely can if they just sit back, close their eyes and imagine what is it that can capture the minds of the 100.2 million people of color in this country!
Yes, chopper style bicycles can do it, but not in their present form. Yes Beach Cruisers can do it, but not doing it like everyone else does it. Yes dirt bikes can do it, but not using the industry standard thought process of design. Urban Youth don't just want something to ride, they want something that will make all of their friends sit up, take notice, and say 'Dang, that bike is ignorant kid!' Remember, it is all about the Floss.
Thanks Gary, Kudos 3G for bringing 'Provolution' to the market place and readers, please visit 3G at
After further investigation I have found out that Gary Silva isn't merely a designer at 3G but is the owner! I also saw that they have a series of designs that are called 'Chopper Lite'. I must say that 'I saw the funk at 3G and it is good.' While the designs on their home page are marginal, please go to their 'Press' page of the website and check out their Chopper Lite Series-WOW. 3G also has a 'Stepper' series and it is different and innovative. I am wondering why Silva doesn't show case these new designs on their home page somewhere. Silva has been in the bicycle game alot longer than me so I am sure he has his reasons.


The 1st African-American Champion Race Car Driver

I saw a movie about the 1st black race car champion driver a few years back that starred Richard Pryor called 'Greased Lightning'. It is the story of America's 1st black race car champion Wendell Scott. This was recently brought back to my attention by an advertisement for this same movie that is to come on TV-One this Saturday. I brushed up up my history of this great sports hero by doing a little research and again, this man and his story fits neatly into what I am doing with the Marshall Taylor Project. Scott was the 1st, and only African-American then and only, to date to accomplish this great feat! He won dozens of races during long and storied career and one NASCAR Event and finished in the top ten an amazing 147 times. This feat was so admirable because he was always working on a very tight budget, didn't have the best pit crews and numerous other challenges because no one really wanted to sponsor a black Race Car driver.

Like Marshall 'Major' Taylor, he had to contend with racism but he overcame the odds. Like Taylor, one of his wins was snatched from him by the judges awarding the win to one of his well known white rivals during an event. NASCAR did do the right thing a few days later by reversing the decision of the judges after irrefutable evidence of Scott's win. Scott, like Taylor many years before him had to overcome the many obstacles that went along with being the 1st and only black in a major sport to compete. There were racers who wanted him to fail at every turn and even conspired to bring about his failure but he kept on pushing and experienced great success as a stock car driver!

Pioneering blacks in American sports were men of vision and one thing they all shared in common was a love for their chosen sport and the will to succeed despite incredible odds. I marvel at the likes of Tiger Woods, Major Taylor, Wendell Scott, Jack Johnson, Arthur Ashe and others were true visionaries within the black community. After you read this, I want all of you to take a moment to reflect and research the careers of some of the African-American community's greatest and least talked about sports heroes. Without them, the groundwork for the mega sports stars of today would never have been laid and more importantly, the can do attitude of an entire community may never have existed! PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW FOR MORE OF SCOTT'S STORY.


It's Jimi Hendrix Baby

On last night I watched a movie that detailed the life of Rock Star Jimi Hendrix who was big in the 1960's rock scene. Unfortunately, as is the case with to many famous rock stars in the past 40 years, he died of by smothering himself in a drug induced sleep. He said something in the movie very profound. That statement was "Fame and happiness don't seem to be the same thing, I'm missing something." Jimi seemed to be what we would refer to as eccentric. His thought process had him on a whole other level than most of the rock stars of his time and he was named the #1 Guitar player in a list of top 100 of all time.

Because Jimi was doing something very different than any other African-American artist at the time, he was the subject of much ridicule from many blacks. He was called a 'Sell-Out' and many other negative things because of his style. I can never tell any of you how much this type of labeling infuriates me! I won't go into that because that particular issue isn't relevant to this blog, but what I will say is that all of you may not fit into the nice little box that those people around you try and put you in. To you I say, be like who God made you to be (God didn't make any of yall to be drug addicts and don't bother with the 'Weed is from the Earth argument). It may be an eccentric, you may do some things that others will find strange and ultimately ridicule you for. Do not be discouraged, be encouraged with the thought of, "Wow, I am a pioneer!" Although Marshall Taylor was idolized in his day by many blacks, there were those that thought he 'Didn't know his place' much like Jimi Hendrix.

Again, I was fascinated by the fashions that Jimi wore and was known for, in his honor, I am working on a design with psychedelic colors and various materials for a high fashion look. I may even design some rims with funked out colors instead of staying within the chrome arena. My project is coming along with the recopy of all of my designs on a large sketchpad. Unfortunately, some of my early designs won't be recopied and I am just going to put them in a vault because after giving it a 2nd look, I realize that those particular designs just aren't as funky as I originally thought. I have just finished drawing all my handle bar 'Samples' and Rim design samples and next up are the sprocket and pedal samples. I am so excited today because as I keep sketching, I again realize how many years I have missed out on because unlike Jimi, I listened to the crowd and tried to fit in. Don't be like me!


What an Opportunity!!!

I was recently meditating on the sheer magnitude of what it is I envision doing with this project. What an enormous burden to resurrect such a great icon from yester year as Marshall 'Major' Taylor. The burden of resurrecting a legacy of a forgotten sports hero should be handled very delicately and not rushed into without thinking of all the ramifications. I have personally read the Autobiography written by Major Taylor himself and the biography written by Andrew Ritchie withmajthe help of Taylor's daughter, Sydney (named after Sydney, Australia where Taylor was treated with the utmost respect and color wasn't an issue) in 1988.

Taylor's Autobiography, written with his own pen, presents a man that had many struggles on the Bicycle Race Track because of his race. Although the book, titled 'The Fastest Bicycle Racer in the World', was poorly written, through the pages of his book, I found him to be a very dignified man whose ceaseless focus was to overcome all obstacles thrown in his way regardless of the personal cost to him. He rarely spoke of his family or how his post racing days affected his outlook on life. A broader more objective look was given to Taylor by Andrew Ritchie in his 1988 Biography of Taylor called "The Extraordinary Career of a Champion Bicycle Racer." After alot of research that stretched from the United States to France and Australia, interviews with Taylor's only child, Sydney, I gained much more appreciation for Taylor than I derived from his own writings. Taylor's writings, while a few struggles with other riders were mentioned, painted a very rosy picture of his career while Ritchie's writings gave much more detail.

What I found of particular interest in Ritchie's book that Taylor never addressed was around 1907-1910 when Taylor's career was winding down and he no longer was the best of the best (age started to catch up with him) how he struggled and felt incredibly insecure about not making as much in prize money as he used to and his worries (indicated in letters to his wife Daisy) about wanting to buy his wife nice things but he could no longer do so because he wasn't winning as much as he had just 4 years earlier. After his 2nd retirement from racing in 1910, he really struggled to adapt because he was no longer traveling the world and was forced to be at home with his family. He started getting depressed and would isolate himself, within his house, from his wife and daughter.

I said all of that to say this, my project of presenting Marshall Taylor to the world is going to present the man as dignified, driven, a pioneer, and as the greatest African-American sports hero of all-time. Taylor did something no other African-American in the history of the world had done, become a World Champion Bicycle racer which was an all white sport at the time, he integrated a major sports team (bicycle racing) at a time when integrating anything in this country was unheard of! Marshall Taylor Bicycles is going to do what no other bicycle company has done, that is to totally capture the inner-city consumer through bicycle design and decor that speaks directly to their culture. It will be done with the class and dignity that personified the man, Marshall 'Major' Taylor.


Tiger Woods and Major Taylor is on online encyclopedia that can give you a lot of information on various topics that range from Celebrities to animals. Pretty much anything you want to know about whatever you want to know can be found there with a simple search. During one of my “Think Tank” moments online, I went to the site and typed in the Name Marshall Major Taylor and the Greatest Bicycle Sprint champion of all time pops up! What makes Wikipedia really cool is that anybody anywhere can edit almost anyone’s information at any time. Correct information isn’t something that necessarily has to be present for you to edit. I went to Taylor’s page and did something that is really cool.

There is a place on the bottom where you can ad sites and\or links to drive traffic anywhere you want it to go. I put this blog address as the 3rd link on Taylor’s page! Anyone who goes to the bottom of his biography will see this blog address. If you type in any famous person’s name in Google, Wikipedia is always in the top 5 or 6 search results which makes this a very cool promotional tool (although Wikipedia discourages promoting anything on their site).
My end in mind here is to drive traffic to my blog and to begin a discussion about the truly enormous contributions of this forgotten American Sports hero. Taylor did things in bicycle racing that had never been done, all the while defending himself against racism in a white dominated sport. His hunger and passion for Bicycle Racing made him THE biggest draw in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s worldwide. He was the Michael Jordan of his day. A Champion many times over all over the world, received product endorsements, integrated a once segregated sport and was the wealthiest athlete of his time!

Part of my vision for Marshall Taylor Bicycles is to not only bring recognition to Major Taylor, but to bring worldwide recognition to all of the forgotten athletes of the late 19th century and early 20th century. Athletes like George Dixon, the 1st African-American boxing champion in the world who captured the Bantam Weight boxing title in 1898. When my bicycle company gets to a place where we have product in stores, a small booklet of these athletes and their contributions will be packaged with the bicycle as an educational tool to bring the recognition that is deserved to these forgotten athletes. The world needs to hear and honor these once great athletes because what we all have to remember is that they laid the groundwork for success in athletics for the athletes today. Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, Evander Holyfield and others. Recognize that without people like Taylor, there would be no Shaq or Kobe.
To better understand exactly what he did, let us take Tiger Woods as an example. As was professional cycle racing in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, golf is and was a white dominated sport.

Tiger Woods came on the scene in about 1997 and did things that not only had no other black golfer did, he did things no golfer, period, had done. Taylor’s career and Tiger Woods career have many parallels. Along with the passing on of The Green Jacket at The Masters, the winner of this prestigious golf tournament is allowed to pick what will be served at the banquet after the tournament is over, a once famous golfer named Fuzzy Zeller said about Tiger “There won’t be any watermelon and fried chicken served at The Masters. Tiger has suffered racism as the lone representative at the top of his sport. Major Taylor suffered such insults and much worse! He beat a guy so bad in a race one time that the guy choked him into unconsciousness; he couldn’t stay at hotels like everyone else either. Yet, he pushed on. Let us all learn from the life of Major Taylor and strive against incredible odds to complete the task in which you feel you were born to complete!


Do I look at other people's designs?

The answer is yes. This question was asked of me by someone but I will also 'Hurry to add' that I am very careful about what I look at and how long I look at them. The reason is simply. Often times when we look at something to long or with too much interest, those images, words, etc are imprinted on what some people call our subconscious mind. These images (bikes) or words will creep out in ways we may not recognize. In our speech, writings, design, etc. Before you know it, you think you did something that was your own and creative when the truth is that because you viewed images, words, etc for too long, you are actually plagiarizing somebody else's work. This may or may not be done on purpose, but the result will be the same!

My inspiration for design never comes from other designers, but my inspiration comes form such places as the fashion industry, car care accessories, etc. Strangely enough, sometimes it comes from seeing the simplest things. For instance, I saw someone wearing one of those huge shiny, silver Rodeo belt buckles one time. You know the ones cowboys wear around and some of them seem as large a a saucer? I saw how one looked and I thought to myself "That would make a hot bicycle design!" A few days later, a design of mine I call 'Beasty' was born. Granted, those things are steel and unrealistic for what I am doing, but the inspiration was there. Another time I heard some one's name that I really liked, 'Emraphael', a few days later, a design baring the same name was born. My point is that design is all around, slow down and notice.

I read once that there was some design copying going on with a few of the major bicycle manufacturers. The way they go about it is they all pretty much get their bicycles manufactured in some of the same factories in China. If you don't know, China is the hugest copyright offender in the world. Bootlegging products is a way of life in China. Everything from music to fashion to movies, etc. I struggled to understand why anyone would really care about what the competition is doing, but what I remembered is that the reason they are concerned is because 'It is the competition!' What an epiphany right? Nevertheless, sure I am a nobody as design goes right now, sure the odds are stacked against my designs ever making it to market, but where most would see that as a position of weakness, it is actually a position of strength!

When this thing does go down, no one will ever see it coming. To wrap this all up, I do not spend much time looking at other designs because the truth is that I do not care what they are doing! What they are doing is irrelevant to me and small designers all over the world. Please do not think I am arrogant, because that isn't who I am (anymore anyway). I just realize that there is a higher plain of bicycle design that can be achieved. Not these futuristic bicycle concepts that win awards at the Taiwanese design competition every year but aren't relevant or practical for mass production (Although there was a design called Wild Buffalo that is HOOOTTTT!) A higher plain doesn't always mean more sophisticated, or more gadgets on the bike, etc. A higher plain in my mind simply means 'More relevant to the culture to which it is targeted'.


Buffalo Soldier Bicycle Corps.

African-American Soldiers that served in the United States Army in the mid to late 1800's were often called Buffalo Soldiers. They were so named by the Native Americans because of their woolly style hair and brown skin. I read a book about a year ago called 'Iron Riders'. This is a story all of America should know. 1st it highlights the black soldier's role in American Military service not even 20 years from the Emancipation Proclamation, but it also demonstrates the role black soldiers played in 'Pilot', or testing roles in military decisions at the highest levels. Iron Riders is a great ride and does have some really nice pictures from 1892.

The Army wanted to test the viability of bicycles in troop movements. Keep in mind that bicycles were a fairly new invention not even being 20 years old at the time. These soldiers were attached to the 25th Regiment based out of Fort Missoula, Montana. They rode their bikes, which weighed almost 90 pounds, plus hauled gear that had to be transported. Their journey was one of 1,900 miles from Fort Missoula to St. Louis, Missouri. There were no roads as we know them now, there were no gas stations, or any of the modern conveniences we take for granted on road trips today. These men endured harsh climates, climbed steep mountains (cycling minds, there were no 5-10- or 15 speed bikes), not to mention serving as their own mechanics on a brand new invention that they were barely trained on!!!

They did make it to St. Louis with much fanfare outside of the city. African-Americans have a rich and long history within the cycling community. Let's shout about it from the roof tops! Click on the link for a picture of the book cover and the 2nd link contains an authentic picture of one of the soldiers who made the journey.


Am I blind to the facts? ABSOLUTELY!

I recently was meditating on on strategy to push my bicycle designs to the next level, which is producing digital renderings. I remembered an email exchange I had with Richard Schwinn some months back. Richard Schwinn is the great-grandson of Ignaz Schwinn (Founder of the Schwinn Bicycle Brand), with business partner Marc Muller, purchased the Schwinn Paramount plant in Waterford, Wisconsin, where since 1980 the exclusive Paramounts were hand built. They founded Waterford Precision Cycles, which is still in operation today. As of 2003 they employed 18 workers building custom, ultra-lightweight bicycles.

I emailed him to see if he was at all interested in building my top ten design proto types. He wrote back and asked me such questions as "What is my background in the industry", you know, almost job interview questions that one expects. Anyway, I pitched my concept to him in such a way that at the end of our emailing back and forth he said "Brian, I love your imagery." He also said "I agree that the minority consumer has been disrespected with bicycle design." In an earlier post I presented my case to you all using the fashion industry as an example. There has been a huge exodus of the minority consumer from the entrenched fashion brands in the last 20 years (Levis, Jordache, DKNY, Eddie Bauer and others) to more urban lines of clothing such as PHAT FARM, Roc-A-Wear, Sean John and other clothing brands founded my minority entrepreneurs. Why? Because the entrenched brands do not produce, and can't design (or are unwilling to) clothing lines that appeal to the minority consumer!

What I told Mr. Schwinn he agreed, with "The time is coming when someone is going to be able to market an Urban Bicycle Line, incorporate that into our lifestyle, produce funked out designs (not low-riders, etc) that will freak out the 100.2 million people of color in this country. This will cause them to open up their purses and wallets and a cultural phenomenon will be born. I will hearken back to the title of this post "Am I blind to the facts, ABSOLUTELY!" The junior and youth bicycle market is vicious (Mr. Schwinn shared that with me), the odds are stacked against this becoming a reality, but hey, when are the odds not stacked against people with vision?


I Saw the funk and IT IS GOOD!

Sister Dale recently went to a festival in Boulder, Colorado. There were many vendors out there but she happened to see a few Bicycle Companies, small, but big enough to catch her eye. She brought me back their business card and I was REALLY IMPRESSED with a few of their designs. The company is called They have found a very niche design style that hearkens from the Hispanic American Culture of Low Rider Bicycle Design. There are numerous low rider style bicycle companies out there, but what set this company apart and what caught my eye was that their designs were very elegant. This is the 1st time I have ever seen such elegance in design with its' roots stemming from a culture originating from people of color.

What I am about to say, it not meant to offend anyone. That being said, every other low rider bicycle company I have seen really over do their designs. Sometimes in bicycle design, more is just that, MORE. 99.9% of the designs in this niche market I have seen are WAAAAYYY over designed. The designers have reached a point where the things they ad to the build don't offer anything more in the way of aesthetics, functionality, and certainly not the most essential element (I believe) in design and that is simplicity. Luxury Low riders don't seem to have done this (Save one design that I think is overkill). Now, these bicycles are VERY expensive and will probably never reach a mass market, but KUDOS to this company!

When Sister Dale saw these designs, a light went off in her head and she thought "Maybe my husband's designs aren't that crazy after all." I designed a 'New Age' chopper style bicycle that I call 'Hannibal' (One design in my 'Warrior Series' of bicycles) and the 1st time she saw it, she literally laughed at me! I did not take offense because sometimes when people do that, one must always remember that anytime someone sees something they can't comprehend or hasn't been done yet, people will laugh. All that being said, I continue to believe that my Urban Style designs can and will fill a vacuum in the market place. They are designed from an African-American perspective and will be priced for affordability to the masses. I just finished a sketch called 'Blingin' that I showed people. I didn't tell them I designed it as to not shade their real feelings. I just put it down in front of them and said "Tell me what you think of this". The verdict was unanimous, THEY FREAKED OUT AND WANTED ONE! To be truthful, all of my designs do not cause this type of reaction, which is understandable, I can't make a hit record every time out can I?


A Life Changing Experience

Around 1982 right before I turned 11 years old, I saw neighborhood kids and family members riding new bikes such as the old school black and yellow “Mongoose” or Huffy. I wanted one so bad but knew that my foster mother would never spend that kind of money on something she didn’t see as necessary. I got a paper route with the local weekly trade newspaper in the Waterloo\Cedar Falls area called ‘The Hometowner’. I made $17 dollars per month delivering papers once per week. I bought my 1st bike from a man that had a junk yard next to his house for $10.00. It was one of those 1950’s era Schwinn bikes and it was in really bad shape. Tires were flat, chain was rusty, it had been painted black with house paint, seat had tears in it. This bike was basically a piece of junk!

This didn’t matter to me. I have always had the ability not to see what is in front of me with bicycles, but what they could become if I worked on them. You develop this mentality when you are used to shopping at places like Goodwill and St. Vincent Depaul, 2nd and sometime 3rd hand stores. I bought the bike and got new inner tubes with the remaining money, the guy, Mr. Shear, who I bought the bike from, oiled the chain and taught me over the course of a couple of weeks, how to do the basics of bike repair. I can never describe how proud I was of my bicycle. Not only did I buy it myself, with money I earned, but I finally had a bike of my own! Of course the brothers in the neighborhood laughed at me and my bike because it was ugly (to them) and theirs was better and newer. They said things like “Look at Brian riding that truck.” Or my favorite “Your momma can’t afford you a bike boy?” Well, I worked on my bike, despite the comments and the more I worked on it, the better it started to run. 4 months later, I rode this same bike in a bike race and WON! I was racing against other boys my age in the “My Waterloo Days” annual carnival and all of them rode new dirt bikes and the race was about 1 mile around a road course. Their sprockets were smaller and the distance gave me the advantage and I WON! Boy was I proud! I got a certificate and a green duffle bag, in addition to the free T-Shirt.

I rode these sorts of bikes for the next 3 years and in 1985 I saw a movie that changed my whole life. The movie was “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.” As I watched the movie, I was in total shock and awe. Excitement was running through my bones like a kid on Christmas morning. Pee Wee had the most beautiful bicycle that I had ever seen!

That whole movie revolved around Pee Wee’s love for his stolen bike and he went all over the country to find it. This movie made me really happy because I realized, even at 13 years old, that I wasn’t the only one who liked those so-called “Truck Bikes.” I lied about my age that summer so I could detassle corn to make money. I was so inspired by Pee Wee’s bike that I wanted one of my own. I set about to spend some of my detassling money on bike parts. I bought an old red frame, repainted it to a glossy red, bought new rims, purchased about 15 reflectors, added a large bicycle lamp on front, two old school hand bells, 2 mirrors, a set of red and white streamers, polished up a front and rear fender set (Chrome), took my newspaper delivery basket off my old bike, wrapped the whole thing in red and white yarn, placed turn signals beneath the rear of the seat, added two tail lights and BAM- I had my own personal, ghetto style, Pee Wee Herman! Before I brought it out of the basement, I had a Cadillac hood ornament that I placed on the front fender by punching a hole in the fender with a screw driver and hammer. That Cadillac emblem was the ‘Cherry on top’ so to speak!

I remember the day I started to ride my bike at the park, all of the kids and grown ups were laughing at me and say things like “Look at the black Pee Wee”. I was so proud of my bike that I didn’t care what they said. After awhile, the tide of public opinion turned and the bike grew on people. All of the sudden, the brothers wanted me to ride with them in their little bicycle posse and be seen with me(Hello James Humphrey, Bobby Madison, Catfish & Others). They actually decided that my bike was funky! A boy we called Pooh Bear even offered to buy it from me, of course I said no! Others threatened to steal it, but with Waterloo being such a small town, everyone knew whose bike it was and they couldn't have gotten away with it.

I shared my experience to remind all of my readers that if you have a dream, a spiritually healthy dream, you have got to go with it regardless of what others say. This bike had such an impact on people that I talked to a guy I grew up with named Sam about a year ago, I hadn’t seen or heard from Sam in almost 16 years and the 2nd question out of his mouth to me, after all of that time was “What did you do with your bike?” Although I had not actually ridden it in more than 20 years! God has gifted all of us with different talents and abilities. They are to serve HIM, and also serve those people around you. You may be good at something and worried about what others will say if you try. I was, all I wanted to be when I grew up was a bike mechanic and bike builder but as I got older, people said it was stupid and I should get a ‘Real Job’, and ‘Kevin Culpepper fixes bikes better than you.’ I finally did, forgot, until recently my dream, and the result is I missed out on a whole industry opportunity. The bicycle I designed and built in 1985 was out of style but original. Today, there is a huge industry built around the same bike I built in 1985, you may have heard of this type of bike, it is called “A Beach Cruiser.”


Time to "Bring it!"

I have been going on and on about exactly what I believe is lacking in youth and junior bicycle design for awhile now. Some of you that are regular readers must be thinking "This guy has alot of criticisms but very few solutions". For this posting, I have opened up my design sketch book and scanned in a few images for your review. I am sorry I do not have anything in the way of electronic mock ups in the latest software ie, Dream Weaver, Image Ready, or others but I do not possess that skill set. The truth is I was so frustrated with the last renderings of my Graphic Artist that in the last few months I have attempted to sketch myself. Although they are not the greatest in the way of artwork, my vision on these is to 'Preserve the concept' for each new bicycle I dream up, partner with a Graphic Artist and then the funk will really flow!

To often people in every area of life have wonderful ideas, do not take the time to write them down and forget them. Don't be a victim of that thought process. I have had debates on whether to post my sketches or not. One side says "Brian don't do it because someone will see them, copy them and possibly make money off them!" The other side, which is only me says "That may happen but the fact is that they may get one or two of my designs, but they surely won't be able to keep up the high level of heat I bring each time I put my concepts on paper." The great thing is that not only do I have the two that are posted on this blog, but I have 61 others that are just as hot, and I can and do design 3-5 more each week!

When I put the Funk down on paper there are three things that I always remember about the viability of each. #1- Can this concept be produced and sold within the normal price points of $65-$250 that seem to be present at the big-box retailers where urbanites like myself buy most of our bicycles? #2- When potential consumers see these bicycles, will there reaction be "Oh, that's OK" or the preferred reaction of "Dang momma or daddy, I gotta have that!" I will not have anyone say "Oh, that's just another bicycle." #3- If I was meeting with a major manufacturer on the feasibility of partnership, are my designs so compelling, hot, and practical enough that they would not let me leave their place of business (Hello Madison, Wisconsin) without signing some sort of deal to manufacturer and distribute my bicycles in relevant, urban markets.

The 1st design that you see on this blog is called "Soldier". This concept came to me while I was here in Denver at a local Sam's Club. I saw this young brotha' that had the nicest brown bomber jacket that I had ever seen. It had a brown camouflage look to it with a imitation fur lined hood with black spots on it. I thought, "That would be funky as a bicycle design. Soldier was born a few hours later. Soldier is what I refer to as a 'Short Stack' design. That is to say it is about 7 inches shorter than a normal dirt bike but 4 inches higher. The next sketch you see on the blog is called "Humps". It has what I refer to as "Raptor Ear" handle bar designs, a slight hump on the cross bar, and the bust of the coolest Camel you will ever see. An area of focus on all my designs is the rims, spokes, and mags because in "The Hood", rims and tires is what separates a nice car from a car that is funky!

More later....

Inspired by:

Marshall 'Major' Taylor


What is Urban Bicycle Design?

Great question! There is little doubt that most of the major cities in this country such as Detroit, Chicago, L.A., New York City, Atlanta and others are more than 90% minority. Within the confines of these cities, there is a whole culture that some of you have lived while still others have only read about, heard about, or seen on TV or at the movies. When I say Urban, I am talking about a lifestyle that includes, but isn't limited to: Fashion, Music, Hairstyles, families, schools and a host of other things that are largely minority driven. When I say minority, I am not talking about African-Americans only, but Latinos (who recently became the largest minority population in this country topping 40 million), Asians, African, and others. Before I tell you what it is, I am going to tell you what Urban Bicycle Design is not.

It is not kids and youth riding around in city parks on bicycle trails. It is not bicycle parks set up in the suburbs with suburban kids and youth 'Jumping ramps', riding down stairs, doing tricks and all of that! When I say Urban Bicycle Design, the definition is "Bicycles that will appeal to an inner city market by representing its' culture, lifestyles, fashions and FUNK!" The key word in that definition is "Inner City". When some think of inner city life, they get an image of "The Ghetto" if you will. All inner city neighborhoods are not ghettos. That thought process may spawn into images of bicycles rolling around with "Spinners" (rims) or loud music. Again, that isn't URBAN! I think to put spinners and rims like that on bicycles would be tacky and totally miss the essence of Urban Funk. I keep using that word Funk don't I? If you do not know what funk is, I can't explain it to you but I can try and paint you a picture.

Chrysler has designed a really nice car called the Lincoln Town Car. The 2006 models are beautiful. However, Chrysler also designed a car in 2003 called the 'Chrysler 300' which was the Motor Trend Car of the Year in 2003 and 2004. (Incidentally, the lead designer on that car was an African-American.) The Town Car is a nice vehicle wouldn't you say? But the 300 is FUNKY! It's kind of like Soul, can't properly explain it, but one knows it when they hear it. Whitney Houston is one of the best selling female music artists of all time. She has a great voice but no soul. Aretha Franklin has Soul! Designing 'Funk' demands that one stay true to what is uniquely urban. Let me paint you a small picture of what I am talking about.

What if instead of just a regular, black covered leather (or pleather) seat on a bicycle, that same seat is not covered with leather, but denim? Not just a plain blue denim, but for the girls, a soft pink denim and for the boys a dark maroon denim covered seat. Let's take it a step further, what if instead of the status quo bicycle reflectors that are all shaped the same, those very same reflectors are made 1\3 larger and cut in the shape of diamonds? Put two on each rim and not just one. How would that look yall? Imagine with me if you will that instead of 32-45 spokes on a rim, that number was tripled to 120 spokes. The naysayers will say "Well that would make the rims heavy!" Well, what if the spokes are 1\3 as thin as normal! This would create an incredible "Bling-Bling" affect when the sun hits them.

Take a walk with me for just a few more moments and picture this: What if instead of a normal set of handle bars, someone designed handle bars in the shape of 'Raptor Ears'! What if instead of the run of the mill chrome mags, a little girls bike has chrome mags that are in the shape of daisies? These daisies could be outlined with a soft pink accent to match the color of the bicycle. What about a name for these bicycles? The junior girls soft pink, daisy styled bike could be called 'Baby's Beach' or 'Queen'. Many of you will not be able to picture what I am saying, but again, it's all about the 'Funk'. I can picture a bike theme of 'El Tigre' dedicated to our Latino brothers and sisters! How hot would a bicycle be that was painted like a Tiger? With a black imitation fur seat with dark orange tiger stripes on it!!!! Watch this yall- What would be really urban is thick black nasty tires, dark orange rims, with black 8 point, diamond shaped mags! The frame would have to stay light, but thicker than normal because those tiger stripes have to be an eyecatcher. WOW.

That is some Parliament P-Funk stuff. More later.

Inspired by:

Marshall 'Major' Taylor


Low Rider Bike Naysayers

I recently read a very popular bicycle blog where the writer made the statement "Some of the designs I receive are good and some are totally unrealistic". I do not know what he meant by unrealistic but let's wax philosophical on what he might mean. He might be talking about whether the bicycle has mechanical challenges and thereby making it unrealistic. In the 1940's or before, men were dreaming about space travel and there were those who thought that was a pipe dream, today, men being launched in space barely makes the news. When it does, it is because some millionaire has decided to pay $20 million to make the flight. The challenges with space travel are vast, yet, if men and women can travel in space, what is so hard about overcoming challenges with the industrial portion of bicycle design? Maybe he meant the cost would be to high IF it could be done at all. So what! If I bicycle costs $6,000 to $8,000, the company may not sell a ton of them, but there is a market for that as we find with the cost of some electric bicycles topping $8,000.

I helped launch a watch company a few years back, and the concept of the watches was to put all sorts of luxury woods down in the face of the watch (, the manufacturer that we worked with was totally resistant to the idea because as he put it "Their is a reason why this hasn't been done." He then agreed to make the watches, but said "We will not put our names on them as the manufacturer." The longer he worked on the proto-type designs, the more of a fan he became of the whole concept and now, one of the designs is even featured on his website. Not only that, others have copied the designs and are now marketing them. As a Reebok commercial proudly claims, "Impossible is nothing". This also applies to bicycle design. Yes there are some staples such as round wheels, a round sprocket, and the like that will stay consistent,(although even round sprockets have been challenged by the advent of the chain less bicycle of the late 1890's) but the design possibilities are infinite!

When I look at bicycle designs that are on the market now, I marvel at the lack of risk associated with the most simple designs by major brands. Take for instance the brand manufactured for Wal-Mart, "Next". I compared this design in 2006 to the designs by Huffy and Mongoose in the 1980's and it is sad to report that they are virtually, from an aesthetic standpoint, THE SAME! What would happen to Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, Levis, Nike and other big companies if they manufactured the same products, with virtually no change, as they did 20 years ago. The answer is, they would be OUT OF BUSINESS because some young, hungry entrepreneurs would have exposed their weakness and bought them out. The same with Microsoft. What if they were still writing software like Lotus 3.1? They would be irrelevant today instead of commanding a market share of computer operating systems worldwide of 92%.

I am very excited on today because once some young Bicycle designer wakes up, designs funky and relevant bicycle designs that kids can relate to, want to ride, show off to their friend, and compel their parent to buy, Pacific Cycles, Huffy and the like are going to find themselves with a shrinking market share! I ask myself this question about the big boys "How can they pay someone to show up for 40 to 50 hours per week to design bicycles, day after day, week after week, etc?" Bicycle design isn't something that you can just show up and try to do, like a good song or book, it comes from INSPIRATION. They are wasting their resources conducting business like this. Again, think outside of the box or become irrelevant.

At this time, I am calling on young and hungry graphic\industrial designers to challenge the status quo. You do that by coming up with your own bicycle designs, product designs, fashion designs, software and anything that you may be passionate about. Yes people are going to laugh at you, mock you, tell you it won't work and that you are just a dreamer. Remember, a dreamer named Thomas Edison changed the world, an eccentric man named Albert Einstein made possible space travel, a pirate named Bill Gates and his company Microsoft now command 92% of the world's computer operating systems, a man named Stephen Knight, Founder of Nike starting by selling athletic shoes out of the trunk of his car at track meets, a few years later he signed a rookie in the NBA named Michael Jordan to a shoe contract and the rest is history! Live the dream designers.

Inspired by:

Marshall 'Major' Taylor