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Freakbikes, choppers, funnybikes, clownbikes, kustoms, tallbikes, swingbikes, lead sleds, chunkbikes, trashbikes, mutant bikes, tallbike jousting, cargo bikes, tallchoppers, and frankenbikes. This is a record of human-powered creativity in Chicago.


-'52 freakin'-
-vintage p-cola freakin-
-zany bikes of redmoon ii-
-zig anime-
-australia freakin'-
-rat patrol russia-
-vintage freakbikes ii-
-skunk's cloudbuster-
-bikes of burning man 07-
-pedal-powered crane-
-rat patrol belgium-
-jet rides-
-fat boy's bikes-
-vintage freakbikes-
-Steinlauf family 1920's-1960s-
-afghanistan tallbikin'-
-india tallbikin'-
-spain freakin'-
-not hard enough-
-porno squad-
-green machine-
-rolling bonfire-
-the human television network-
-zany bikes of redmoon-
-fatback bomber-
-two-wheeled tank-
-precious cargo-
-ghana's national tallbike-
-twang bang-
-trampoline trailer-
-san fran freakin'-
-wooden packrat-
-the loserbago-
-foley freakin'-
-n'awlins freakin'-
-schwinn cycle truck-
-the bike formerly known as the white elephant-
-trashbike 1-
-UV chopper 2-
-gateway drug-
-lee's bent 1-
-trout lake freakin-
-UV chopper 1-
-pipe bomb-
-unicyclin bear-
-a work in progress-
-the chopper-

-pride 07-
-death of a tallbike-
-st ratrick's day 07-
-guerilla floatilla 07-
-st. ratrick's 07-
-bike kill IV-
-hootenanny 06-
-ratification 06-
-5th annual st chino's run-
-sweethearts build day-
-madison art bike parade 06-
-slaughterama 06-
-guerilla flotilla 06-
-st ratrick's day 06-
-the buurn, maaaaan 05-
-rat rides 2005-
-black label bike kill iii-
-pedal pushers-
-ratification 05-
-Guerilla Flotilla 2005-
-St. Ratrick's Day 2005-
-2nd Annual St. Chino's Run-
-rats on the mass-
-gimp haulin'-
-rat patrol vs. human television network-
-monkey tag ride-
-stockyards ride-
-build day 112004-
-magic bean ride-
-puke ride-
-ratification 04-
-rat rides 2004-
-rat race 04-
-clunker classic III-
-ghana freakin'-
-st. ratrick's day 03-
-the stingray kids-
-may day 2003-
-the scallywags come to chicago critical mass-
-a rat retreat to the redneck riviera-
-a visit from the BLBC-
-rat rides 2003-
-rat rides 2002-

-can't you read?-
-rat trikes-
-scratch-made arc welder-



Email and Submissions: johnny@rat-patrol.org

Ghana Freakin'

This site has been static for a while, as I have traveled to Ghana to start a school for the modification of bicycles. Here are some pictures of us freakin' it up in Africa. Check back often, I'll update this post with more pictures.

This picture was taken on our first Rat Ride. We rode four miles to a nearby village called Adomfe where one of the students, Sekyere, has a blacksmith's shop. What a grueling four miles! Mile-long hills over rutted dirt, with a creek at the bottom- you invest effort on the way up AND on the way down. In rural Ghana a bike is simply a tool that you push up one hill to let you coast down the next- if the roads are good. The roads and hills are so bad around here that I've taken to walking everywhere. Perhaps I shall return with massive Gluteus Minorus and join a pedestrian gang.

On the left that's Emelia in the hat, riding on our Mule (afunumu). Then there's Kofi on 3nwa (the snail), an ice-cream-cart style bike. Then there's Isaac on our tallbike Akranty3 (cane rat), Sekyere with his own tallbike, Eugene on the chopper Okusea (rat), Nana on a shortbike, and Asante with a trailer we were using to haul extra wheels. The rest of the kids are just part of the crowd of 100 or so that gathered to see the whitey. This village was remote enough that they didn't start with the OBRUNIOBRUNIOBRUNI taunt, they just looked on with awe and fear.

3nwa, Twi for 'snail'. A slow bike suited only for town! On rutted roads it jerks to and fro, and even with 18 speeds and a stump gear it is no use against African mountains. Still, by taking turns, we rode it to Adomfe and back.

This is Okusea, or Rat. That front-only brake sure is scary to sit on top of like a pole vaulter comin down those big hills!

This is my giratte, or ratty giraffe unicycle. Everyone here calls it a 'one-tyre'. I knew I would never find a unicycle wheel in Africa, so I made a giraffe out of an old British 16" commuter with a two-speed kickback hub that was probably worth hundreds to collectors.

I switched the wheel for a freewheel and made it into a fixie, the easiest weld in the world. For the seat I cut the nose off an old BMX seat and duct-taped it to another one.

The first version taught me that the rider's center of gravity on the seat, on the pedals, and the axle must all be in line. On a unicycle the latter two are the same and so this happens automatically! The second version taught me that the gear ratio has to be low to give you some control. The third one was rideable!

Chain tension really effects reaction time. As you can see from the shadow of my flailing arms, I can ride it around but I haven't hit that zone that unicyclists use to juggle or drink beer or whatever while up there. I wonder how much of my inability is the rough ground, the tiny wheel, the sluggish reaction, and the shabbily balanced bike.

This hugenormous bulldozer was left behind at the gold mine last time it shut down. Here we are hanging out on it before jumping into the quarry after a hot and sweaty rat hunt in the bush.