ROSY, A CARGO BIKE COME TO LIFE
During the winter of 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Relámpago Wheelery had the pleasure and honor of working with an incredible young man by the name of Aidan. Aidan came to our shop via local youth advocacy organization Bresee. They primarily focus on gang prevention and capacity building for their youth in the densely-populated and diverse Koreatown neighborhood of Los Ángeles.
Re:Ciclos is a project of Relámpago Wheelery — over the years we have made a few attempts at realizing our vision of youth-led fabrication of cargo bicycles. Aidan, in collaboration with Bresee and the amazing Bea from Church of Fun — a local community who dedicate themselves to fabrication and good times working together — got to work and in a period of 10 days built our first true cargo bike with the intention of selling it to a client. That client was Ayla, a local bicycle advocate, baker and rad human who was down to experiment with us and provide seed funding to realize the project.
GLUTEN FREE, OIL-INDEPENDENT, HUMAN POWERED
At the time Ayla was working to establish a gluten-free bakery business and to deliver some of her delectable baked goods via bicycle. Decent new cargo bikes start at around $2500 making that possibility somewhat unattainable for a fledgling business, but once we proposed to do the job for $500 as a pilot, it made all the sense for her and for us. And there began a 10-day journey that we are working to transform into the beginning of a much bigger venture.
Aidan is a 16-year old young man of Mexican descent. He plays basketball and comes from a large family where he is the oldest. When we met Aidan he was not skilled at any of the fabrication processes we were to teach him, but very quickly he learned and not too much later he was better than (at least) Me! Throughout the process Aidan showed integrity, patience, resilience and determination. We cannot express enough our gratitude to him and his family and pride for the work he created.
A Long John is a cargo bike that traditionally has a 26” wheel in the rear, a cargo bay in the middle and a 20” wheel in front of the cargo bay that is steered via steering linkage.
This type of cargo bike carries a lot of weight with relative ease and control and is a great option for folks vending goods, transporting children and pets or both!
After having a design meeting with Ayla, Aidan and the Re:Ciclos team got to work on assembling our parts and components. An old 26” steel Motiv would do the trick for the primary bicycle and an old unbranded steel BMX bike would serve as the load-carrying front end.
Like tandem bicycles, long john cargo bikes have a tube that connects the rear to the front. This is called the Boom Tube sometimes referred to as the Bottom Tube. We did not have such a bicycle tube in-shop, but for months there was a galvanized post that was abandoned in a parking lot across the street. I eyed that post every time I passed it and thought, “is that bicycle tubing thickness? That would make a great Boom Tube.” Sure enough, after scavenging the post we dissected it and boom!: A BOOM TUBE!!!! Of course, welding galvanized steel is a no-no, so we made a food-grade citric acid bath to remove the galvy.
Aidan got to work with a portable band saw, an angle grinder with a flap wheel attachment, all the proper safety equipment and began sculpting Ayla’s cargo bike. We utilized an ancient relic, a murphy bed stanchion clamped to steel saw horses as our reference fixture to align the two bottom brackets.
MIG welding has proved to be the best approach. We used a tiny and inexpensive flux core MIG welder from Harbor Freight and got to gluing metal together. It did not take Aidan long to become fluid in his welding technique. Bea is an incredible welder and she taught us so much in a short period of time.
A couple of highlights of our build involved the repurposing of ½” schedule 40 pipe. This stuff is everywhere to be salvaged. We used it in the steering linkage and also on the kickstand where we welded it to the old BMX bottom bracket along with the steering column. In all, this cargo bike was about 95% produced with recycled materials.
When we first proposed to Ayla building this cargo bicycle, it was clear that the expectation was to be low due to no one on the Re:Ciclos team being a master bicycle fabricator. But it was that expectation that the Re:Ciclos team took on as a challenge to create not just a bicycle that rode as well as any well-built bicycle, but one that was also attractive and that other people might be inspired to use. We are proud of what we accomplished on this our first foray at building a cargo bike led by a diligent young person with almost entirely recycled materials. The result, both in product and process, solidifies that this is absolutely doable and replicable and more that it can be executed with professionalism, elegance and fun! That Rosy will be used in the world for business further exemplifies the need for this resource in Los Angeles.
Rosy is the culmination of years of effort and dreaming. Rosy is also our pilot bicycle! The Re:Ciclos team is working to create more cargo bikes in this fashion and will soon be working on funding and networking to transform the operation into a full-fledged bicycle making institution.
We’ll post some of our progress on social media and when the time comes, please do consider supporting Re:Ciclos as it makes a leap into tier two of transforming bicycle transportation in the city of angels.: CARGO BIKES FOR ALL!!!!
Much Love. Mucha Bici.
There is limited car parking available at Relámpago Wheelery. Please plan your trip accordingly. We are conveniently located close to the Beverly/Vermont Metro station and on several bus lines.