Monthly Archives: September 2013

  • Wrenched Nation Tour | Twelfth Stop: San Francisco

    "What a long strange trip it's been" -Grateful Dead

    hqzIs that cliche? Starting off my San Francisco write up with a Grateful Dead quote? Listen, I'm not a hippie or anything, but my trip has been long and it has been strange at times so I think it applies here. Continue reading

  • Meet the Maker: Chrome Portland's Bag Maker, Lara Kessler

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    NAME: Lara Kessler
    BIRTHPLACE: Outside Philadelphia, PA
    BIKES IN QUIVER:
    Track: Blue TR250
    Road: Veloforma F1R
    Commuter/ rain/ training: Giant OCR A1

    Continue reading

  • Interview with Andy Fucking Ellis: Fixed Gear Guru & Curator of #wrenched_london

    Andy in Berlin by Barnie Rap Andy in Berlin by Barnie Rap

     

    Visionary. Designer. Tool maker. Photographer. Founder of Fixed Magazine and Fixedgearlondon. Andy Ellis is a modern Renaissance man. That's why we were stoked to work with him on our latest edition of #Wrenched, a low brow city guide from people we look up to. #Wrenched_london is Andy's handy work. Hear what keeps the fire burning in Andy.

    You have just released Issue #15 of Fixed Magazine, what have you learned over the past five years of publishing the magazine? Have you made any truly epic mistakes that turned out to be great learning opportunities?
    When I started Fixed Mag, I had no idea how to publish a printed magazine. It has been a steep learning curve especially since I'm self taught. I guess the main thing I have learned over the years is "if you need something doing, do it yourself" Not everyone has the same passion and drive that I do for Fixed Gear. I try to make things happen without the need to hassle anyone else. I guess I'm hoping that the Kevin Costner movie, Field of Dreams ethos comes true! (if you build it, they will come).
    I don't believe in mistakes. I'm trying to make / build a culture through the magazine. I'm not in this for the money, I'm in it because I'm passionate about riding Fixed! The magazine would still happen, even if It had to be printed on a sheet of used paper that's folded in half. I'm prepared for anything that happens concerning Fixed Mag so I don't believe mistakes can happen… does that make sense?

    Your magazine has a distinct look that has helped shape the fixed gear culture. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
    I just try to keep everything simple. We strive to have exclusive photographs that have not been all over the internet and we always have stories that are direct from the riders. I have always struggled with the over design of things, some things just do not need to be there! I like understated obscure design, I like the work that Marc Newson, Jonathan Ive and Dieter Rams have put out. The fixed gear bike is also an understated obscure object so it works for me.

    Andy in London by Jason Finn Andy in London by Jason Finn

     

    You’ve talked a lot about your love for the purity of fixed gear riding, but you come from a skating background. What initially drew you to fixed gear bikes?
    I was in my final year studying product design at St Martin's in 2003 and I rode to and from university everyday (about 10 miles per day) on a terrible mountain bike. This was mainly because they had just introduced ticket barriers at Charing Cross Train station and I could not afford to buy tickets to travel… the mountain bike was the only option I had left. Whilst riding the 40 minute journey to St Martin's I saw messengers and commuters riding these strange bikes that had no brakes or gears and they were traveling much faster than I was. I was interested in these bikes from a design perspective at first, because it seemed like the perfect balance of form and function. As soon as I got my 1st fixed gear bike, it confirmed to me that not only did these bikes look perfect, they also functioned perfectly. I was hooked. For me it's the brakeless aspect that gives you the same feeling as skateboarding, it keeps your wits about you and in turn makes you a safer rider. I skate often and I use my bike to get to and from the skate spots throughout the city, this way I get to skate and ride more places than most as the bike is the easiest way to get around in any city.

    You’ve collaborated with a lot of bike brands, from 14 Bike Co to Wolvh Clothing what was unique about working with Chrome?
    I have been following what Chrome has been doing for the last few years now. I first saw the Wrenched SF city guide when it came out and I was given a copy of the Wrenched NY whilst at Eurobike. These guides feature a lot of people I look up to and also friends of mine from skateboarding and the fixed gear scene. It was so sick to know where they recommend you go visit in their own city that it made me want to try and make the London version happen! I contacted Chrome (luckily they knew who I was ;) and they agreed to make it happen. The most unique thing about working with Chrome has been the fact that we have a similar ethos about the way we think things should be. This has made our working relationship an extremely awesome experience for me.

    Andy in Milano by Jason Sellers Andy in Milano by Jason Sellers

     

    What prompted you to make the Lockwhip tool?
    I was sick of carrying three heavy tools around with me! So I sketched a tool that had all of these tools in one. The thing I tried to do was make the lock whip tool reflect the form/function balance that is inherent in a fixed gear bike. Nothing over the top and everything you need to survive. I had a prototype made and carried it around with me for a few months, the first instance that I needed the tool (lockring came loose) I almost forgot that it was in the bottom of my bag! After I fixed the lockring and proved to myself that the lockwhip was discreet and effective, I knew I had to put it into production.

    In the process of curating #wrenched-london, what new discoveries did you make about your hometown?
    I discovered that most of the awesome people featured like a lot of the same things! Most of them have not met each other ever, so it's interesting to see that they frequent the same places. I went to the vast majority of the places detailed in #wrenched_london to photograph these places, doing this helped me discover some cool places. I'd never been to the Hunterian Museum before but because it had been mentioned a couple of times I decided to take a visit and it ended up being one of the places that I picked to go see. #Wrenched brings people together in many ways and I know that people that grab a copy will find some inspiration somewhere within the pages…

    Andy in London by Ty Francis Andy in London by Ty Francis

     

    If you could describe a quintessential London moment, what would it be?
    For me It would be riding in traffic on a typical damp drizzly London morning in heavy rush hour traffic, traveling from west to east on Clerkenwell Road. Commuters are trying to race you, I'll cut through some red lights to keep a steady pace and no taxi drivers will bother to shout at you because they don't want to get wet. The rain puts a dampener on most people, but not me! I've always said "It's never the wrong weather, always the wrong clothes."

    Andy in Berlin by Barnie Rap Andy in Berlin by Barnie Rap

     

    You have your fingers in a lot of pots, what do you do to find balance in your life?
    I choose the pots I want to put my fingers in! When I graduated from St Martin's I made a choice to work for myself, I never let the need for money dictate my life. It's always been my goal to do what I'm passionate about. I want to make a mark on the world in my lifetime, but I want it to be the best mark I can possibly leave. I recently got married and meeting my wife Kellen was the most awesome thing that ever happened to me! Meeting her made me want to be even better at everything and together we make a great team, we have lots planned for the future. I find balance from doing a little bit of everything all the time, designing stuff, making graphics, sketching, writing, photography, skateboarding, riding fixed, etc. If I chose to do one thing, I think I would get tired of it quite quickly…

    Is there any advice you would give to your younger self if you had a time machine and could go back ten years?
    Hmmm… I would not want to change a thing!

    Who has more bikes, you or your wife Kellen? How about tattoos?
    Haha! I have definitely have more bikes and Kellen definitely has more tattoos because I don't have any!

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  • City Series Berlin: Surface Designer Matt Manson

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    The first time we crossed paths with British illustrator and surface designer Matt Manson was while working on our City Series London installment. We partnered with Brooklyn’s Flavor Paper for the liner artwork and worked closely with Matt on the pattern development. For our Berlin City Series, we worked with Matt to develop a pattern mash up of Chrome’s take on Berlin.

    What exactly is Surface Design?
    As a surface designer my main role is to provide graphic/illustrative solutions to products and surrounding environments.  For example I am often asked to provide wallpapers, carpets and feature graphics for restaurants or hotels that fit in with the their branded identities.

    Can you tell us a little about your background and how you began your career?
    I was born and raised in Bristol, England. Bristol is a small but culturally rich city about 2 hours from London.  Growing up in Bristol in the late 80s and throughout the 90s I was exposed to the local music and graffiti scene.  Bristol is the original home to bands/producers such as Massive Attack, Portisthead, Roni Size and artists such as Banksy so I grew up around some of England's best counter-cultures from an early age.

    In my early 20s wanting to see more of England I relocated to London to study surface design at the University of Arts London. I quickly set up base in Brixton. Brixton was a part of London I was already familiar with as I was often visiting for the local party scene so it felt like a natural relocation.

    What are your influences?
    Originally my main influence and focus was graffiti, tagging and generic vandalism.

    Nowadays I also draw influence from underground comics, the arts and crafts movement of the 1860s and roots reggae.

    Do you have something that inspires your designs?
    Life, people, the past and the future it all inspires.

    What was it like interning at Flavor Paper and Nobrow?
    When I first started to studying I wanted to intern as much as possible.  I wanted to get the intern stuff under my belt quickly and start getting paid.

    Interning at Flavor Paper was amazing. I spent a summer living in Brooklyn, found a squat to live in.

    After moving back to London I hooked up with the Nobrow guys and spent the winter screenprinting.

    In the mean time I managed to get a student visa to get back to the States. I moved back to Brooklyn to work again at Flavor Paper for 6 months.

    You're currently living in Amsterdam, how did you end up there?
    I moved back to London and spent a year working as a freelancer. I managed to get a few projects in motion and kept growing my portfolio.  Then an opportunity to work at Marcel Wanders as a surface pattern designer came up.

    I relocated to Amsterdam 6 months ago...

    What was the inspiration behind the Berlin City Series? Tell us about that project.
    The inspiration was lederhosen, beer and Bavarian needlework.

    I looked to the city's cycle culture and squat scene for inspiration and got some mood boards together.  From then on  I had my references to base my work on and developed a few ideas.

    To see more of Matt's work, please check out his website.

  • Meet the Maker: Chrome Chicago's Bag Maker, Caroline Borucki

    caroline2 NAME: Caroline Borucki
    BIRTHPLACE: Hinsdale, Illinois
    BIKE: Biria Citibike step-through in olive; her name is Laverne.
    DAY JOB: Chrome Chicago bag maker/seamstress
    SIDE PROJECT: My apparel & craft brand, self titled 'caroline borucki'
    5 SONGS ON YOUR PLAYLIST AT RANDOM:
    Lil' Red Riding Hood - Sam the Sham & the Pharaoh
    Can't Hardly Wait - the Replacements
    Age of Consent - New Order
    Glass Figurine - Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire
    Yekermo Sew - Mulatu Astatke

    Let’s start at the beginning. How did you get started making things?
    I was an avid thrift store shopper in high-school, so eventually I decided to alter clothing to my liking. After getting a good response from classmates, I decided to study apparel design in college.

    What was your first sewing project?
    I was captivated by fabrics with rad prints, so the fit and sizing of thrift items didn't impact my purchase. I know my first projects revolved around transforming long skirts into bubble skirts, and muumuu's into fitted dresses.

    You’ve been making custom Chrome bags in Chicago for a long time, can you tell us about some of the favorite bags you’ve made?
    My favorite bags have most definitely been the holiday bags I've done. I draft/cut out special patches that have resembled a reindeer, snowman, color string-lights, Frankenstein and jack-o-lanterns. The time it takes to create them is well worth it when it comes to Chrome Chicago visitors commenting on them. I get really excited about the holidays, so I'm pretty into perking everyone else up about them too.

    caroline1Have you encountered any odd #ChromeCustoms bag requests? Has there ever been anything really crazy?
    My favorite requests are from dedicated fans; I've done a few bags inspired by Zelda and sports teams. I assist with choosing the right color scheme and patch placement to make the bag perfect. From the day I began I have been asked by a multitude of people about firearm and rifle scope bags/accessory attachments. I give my input on how to go about it, but still waiting to see images of their final results.

    If you could have one stock Chrome bag which would you choose?
    My favorite bag is my Metropolis, but if we are talking about a bag I've been eying I would say the Sotnik. WHY? Only because I like wearing/using bags that I can fit into. Plus they are great in packing all my merchandise to events & fashion shows.

    Besides making custom bags at the Chrome HUB in Chicago, you also have your own line clothing, cards and frills, how do you create balance in your life?
    It's pretty tough, I'm lucky if I remember to eat throughout the day. I try to map out a weekly schedule of to-do lists, while making a habit of waking up at 6am to go to my workspace before Chrome. Never skipping my morning bagel & cream cheese is most important.

    Your clothing line takes inspiration from nature’s seamy underbelly – a decaying peach, intertidal sealife – what qualities inspire you? What is your process of getting inspired?
    I'm inspired by botany, mostly rooted in mycology and plants. The textures and colors associated within these topics is extremely inspiring for me, and I love to use new techniques to mimic the appearances. I try to classify each collection with a specific biological taxonomy, the goal is to learn as much as I can about science along the way of creating collections each season.

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    Your clothes are very sculptural, how did your education as a sculptor effect your design decisions?
    After getting experience in sculpture I realized how similar it could be translated into fashion. While in college I did a lot more sculptural fashion pieces, but when trying to branch into the industry I've had to tone down my ideas for wearability. I appreciate the one-of-a-kind mentality for art, so everything I produce is hand-crafted to be different. I've branched into a lot of 'craft' because having a variety of outlets allows for me to continually develop new skills.

    You got started out in fashion, what drew you to work at Chrome?
    Having life-time warranty products is a pretty rare occurrence, so knowing Chrome had such high standards for their products made me really want to be part of the team. I have always been a 'bag-lady,' carrying around a bunch of cheaply-made thrift-found luggage bags while making daily commutes. It wasn't until I made my own first Chrome bag that I realized I didn't need to invest in a new bag every couple months.

    Can we pick your brain a bit about Chicago? What’s your favorite thing about living in the Windy City?
    I've been in the Chicagoland area my entire life, so for me walking down the street and running into people I know on a regular basis is probably my favorite part. Witnessing Chicago's crazy weather is always exciting. Plus the food out here is fabulous!

    If you some have time off, but only enough for a bike ride where do you go?
    I ride around the forest preserve, specifically the Salt Creek Trail. I've been riding that trail since my brother led the way when I was in elementary school. Plus, hanging out with deer in the forest is one of my favorite things to do when I have the time.

    What's the best music venue in Chicago?
    It's not exactly a venue, but my favorite Chicago performance was at the Fourth Presbyterian church downtown. I saw Andrew Bird's holiday show there in 2009, and it was simply fantastic.

    Besides having fun at Third Thursdays, do you have a favorite bar?
    Hopleaf, it has the most amazing selection of Belgian beers, as well as delicious grub.

  • Wrenched Nation Tour | Eleventh Stop: Denver

    "I pictured myself in a Denver bar that night, with all the gang, and in their eyes I would be strange and ragged and like the Prophet who has walked across the land to bring the dark Word, and the only Word I had was 'Wow!"  -Jack Kerouac "On the Road"

    800px-Colorado_in_United_States

    Colorado has a special place in my heart and it's right near the aorta. I used to live and party my brains out at high altitude and loved it like crazy. When I was there my mom and brother each decided to make the move from Fargo and join me in this beautiful state, so stopping in Denver wasn't just another city I was visiting. I was going home. Continue reading

  • Interview with Wolf Pack Hustle Champ Veronika Volok

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    Back in March, Chrome Coffee barista and Destroy Bikes team rider, Veronika Volok slayed it at the Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash race across LA. Next weekend is the 6th Street Drag Race, the final event in the Unified Title Race Series and things are looking pretty good for Ms. Volok. We caught up with her to hear her thoughts on riding fixed, philosophy on racing, and why testosterone is highly motivating.

    NAME: Veronika Volok
    BIRTHPLACE: Pacifica, CA
    AGE: 23
    BIKE CLUB: FWOD
    FIRST BIKE: Bight pink Bianchi Fremont
    DAY JOB: Barista at Chrome SF & Cento
    FAVORITE SUPERVILLAIN: Jafar from Aladdin
    3 SONGS ON YOUR PLAYLIST: Mariah Carey "You'll Always Be my Baby," Daft Punk "Around the World," Sabertooth Zombie "Curly Lox"

    How did you get into bikes? Have you always ridden fixed?
    I got into bikes 'cause one of my friends was riding fixed. He was actually the person that sold me my first bike and I thought it was a weird concept at first, that there's these pedals that can't go backwards, they just go forward. I got into it as a way to get around in 2008, I never thought I'd get so seriously into it.

    What bikes do you have in your stable? Your track frame is USA made, isn't it?
    Cerberus Pro made by Destroy Bikes, who I currently bike for. My second bike is a Look K6386 road bike, that I'm currently building up. The Cerebus is made in Redwood City. I don't like keeping a lot of bikes around my house if I'm not going to use them, so I limit myself to those two.

    You crushed it at the Marathon Crush, and are ranked #2 leading into the final Wolfpack Hustle event. How did you get so damned fast? Have you been racing for a long time?
    I actually haven't been racing long. I feel like the reason why I did so well is because I ride with my boyfriend who is not easy on me, so he helps me push push my limits. I feel like even though I'm in a bike club full of women, it's nice to challenge myself riding with men who are hell of a lot faster than me. I feel like that's the only way to improve myself is by riding with people that are faster than me.

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    It was rad to see you and your man cross the finish together at the WPH Marathon Crash race, how was that? Most people don't get to race with their partners.
    Honestly, it was a really overwhelming and heartfelt moment. I didn't know if I won at that point. It felt good just to know that, not only did I finish, but we both had been able to finish together after pushing so hard.

    He was with me 80% of the way, we lost each other at some point, but  I was able to catch up with him. At the end, he was on my tail saying "go go go", and pushing me to go faster. I didn't even realize he was there with me, I just was looking at that finish line thinking "I want to get this done, let's go let's go!" My legs were so tired.

    What type of race do you like best: Sprints or Endurance?
    I used to hate endurance because I thought sprints were easy, you just had to get from Point A to Point B. Lately I've been doing a lot of endurance, not just races, but riding. With sprints, it can go either way, either you do really well, or you don't. In the beginning, I loved doing sprints, because it was easy, but now I love endurance because it's such a challenge. You need to not only be physically strong, but also mentally strong. It's not about starting the race, it's about having the mental strength  to finish it.

    How do you think you’ll do this weekend at the WPH 6th Street Drag Race?
    Oh man! It's coming up! Honestly, I feel neutral about this weekend. My mentality is "can't stop, won't stop." When I do something I'm not in it to win it, I'm in it to do it. If I can finish in the top three, that will be amazing for me.

    I hate having the mentality of being #1, because if you don't reach that goal, you're really crushed. I like not having any expectations, playing it by ear.

    We’ve heard you’re in an all-girl bike club in Oakland called Fixed Without Dix (FWOD).
    We're helping the community by inviting women and transfolks to go ride to go have fun to feel like you're a part of something. The bike industry is so male dominated, so it's awesome to have this group of girls that gets together once a week and just ride bikes and doesn't give a f*ck.

    How has riding in a dude-free environment increased your skills?
    It's different. It's really relaxing. It's fun to have a girls night out, because there's no competition, you're not trying to impress anyone, you can just be yourself. That's the best part. I feel like sometimes when I ride with guys, they're all showing off. It makes you have to ride even harder because there's these dudes full of testosterone trying to beat the next light.

    It feels awesome just having a group of women who have the same interests and hobbies and are united by their two wheeled vehicles.

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    Having won a #CovetedJersey by winning the WPH Marathon Crash race, what advice do you have for dirtbags like you who aspire to greatness?
    You can't have the mentality that you're going to win it. You just have to have the mentality that you're going to do your best, try your hardest, and if you can get that jersey, then eff yeah, but if you don't get it this time, there's always next time. There's always next year.

    The fact that I was able to win the race and get the jersey, it was like the angels were singing to me.

    You’re a barista at Chrome Coffee in SF, go to school in SJ and ride with a FWOD in Oaktown. How do you do to find balance in your life?
    I don't even know. My bike is able to give me the balance of doing everything I have. My bike helps me get from Point A to Point B.  My boyfriend also lives with me, so that really saves on time, because I don't have to make plans with him, I'll see him in the end. I think the coffee helps a lot too.

    You ride for Destroy Bikes, how long have your been riding for them?
    I've been riding with them since 2011 or 2012. My second track bike bike was the Lady Death, but it was too big. The Cerebus Pro was actually a prototype, and the first time I rode it was the Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash and it was so comfortable. With guys, size doesn't matter, but with bikes, it makes all the difference.

    Do you have any shout outs?
    FWOD
    Destroy Bikes
    Team Cento
    WOB (they're like FWOD for boys)
    team jortz
    Slurpcult
    CBNC

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