At the 17th Annual Stupor Bowl, racers from across the country partied and rode as one — some just faster and drunker than others.
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We worked with Kamp Grizzly to document Chrome Familia member Massan Fluker riding his bike and our Barrage Cargo in the hills and on the streets of Portland. The film includes some of the best riding Portland has to offer including a gnarly descent of Burnside at 40+ mph. Check it and be stoked to go ride your bike.
Shop the Barrage Cargo, compact 100% Welded-Waterproof Rolltop bag with cargo net compression system and iconic seatbelt buckle. Made in USA.
We’re home from the desert and after scraping all the sand out of our hair and running our soiled clothes through the wash a million times we just have to say: Vegas was a blast.
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.
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.
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…
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."
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!
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.
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.
Have 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.
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.
I knew this portion of the trip would be something special seeing as I am from this area. Coming home is something pretty powerful.... especially since home is filled with Vikings fans (suck it, Murph). Skol! Leaving Seattle the route there took me straight through my home town, Fargo, ND. Or NoDoak as we so lovingly call it. I met up with my bro Blake, and we took Chrome One a step up. Next level beats, I believe is what the kids are calling it. Beer tap on the side and a grill to match.
The Chrome Artist Series celebrates photographers, graphic designers, screen printers, and painters who inspire us. These collaborations are built in limited quantities and once they’re gone, they’re gone.
Each season Chrome drops a limited edition of our most popular bags. This year we’ve partnered with Chris Milliman – renowned cycling photographer. Chris is best known for photographing the cycling industry including world-wide Cyclocross events and Road Bike races.
This season’s Limited Edition Artist Series features four of Chris' iconic photographs: A local cyclocross race around an old castle in Belgium, the iconic industrial bridge structures overlooking the bike lanes of Chicago, a locals only watering hole of the same windy city, and the organized chaos of a bike shop. The inside of each bag includes an exclusive woven patch that references from old school photo processing.
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• What were you inspirations for the photos that were chosen for the Chrome projects?
The photos are really different from each other, but they were all shot with the same thing in mind. I wanted to show the scenes with a graphic element. I was looking for a quiet, restrained mood, where the story wasn't obvious. In Chicago that was pretty easy, the city has so many converging lines and classic American structures. In Belgium it was a bit tougher, I had to integrate people into the photo more, which is never easy since they move more than buildings and bridges.
• What has been your inspiration in your work in general?
My overriding inspiration is to create images that are relentlessly honest. And for me that means trying not to repeat myself, mostly as it relates to what I shoot and to some degree how I shoot it. But at the same time, I think there's a balance for me between making honest images and maintaining a technical aspect to the shots. It's delicate, trying to maintain authenticity while also composing the images in a way that's pleasing to me. I guess you could say it doubles as an inspiration and a challenge.
• How did you get stated in photography?
My education was in writing, so I worked as an editor and writer before picking up a camera. I stumbled into shooting while on a writing assignment and it slowly developed from there. After a few years of learning what I thought I needed to know about photography, and not being totally satisfied with my progression, I knew I needed to pick either writing or photography. At the time shooting seemed much more interesting to me so I stopped writing and it was all in for shooting from that point on. I have no formal photo training, but had some important mentors and am always thirsty to learn more and get better.
• What do you enjoy the most about your line of work?
The best part about what I do is being able to have a creative outlet and working with other people who are doing things different than how I live. I've chosen to live in a small town in Northern New England. I love it, but it's pretty quiet and somewhat isolated, so going out working with a variety of clients in diverse locations around world keeps me going. I consider it a privilege to do what I do, I try not to take it for granted because I know it's really unique.
By now, you've most likely read all the great write ups about Red Bull Ride and Style 2013, seen the Wheel Talk recap video collab with #CFTY (Can't Fool The Youth) and Omar Sebai, and trolled the thousands of photos that have surfaced from friends, homies, and bike teams. Most of which, has been captured and displayed in the absolute best way it could. We've been replaying Wheel Talk's vid over and over. Continue reading
“…adventures don’t come calling like unexpected cousins from out of town. You have to go looking for them.”
— some dude
There are so many times in my life when adventure called for me and I answered whole heartedly, but never for work..... until now. The idea was Chrome buys a RV, we travel to America's top 20 cycling cities, and pay tribute to the creative people who, day in and day out, make their city awesome. Chrome Industries' "Wrenched Nation Tour". The words "dream job" came to mind and I wet myself a little in anticipation. Just a little. The plan sounded simple enough, but to really do this tour and these people justice we couldn't just buy a RV and then hit the road doing wicked burn outs along the way. I mean, that's pretty sweet and all, but it's been done. The first step was to find our vessel and without a doubt it was the Eleganza II. It's a RV that you dream about...... and in this dream you are in the 70's, 1976 in fact. Why does that year sound so familiar you ask? You didn't? Well, I'm going to tell you anyway. 1976 is America's bicentennial and what better way to explore our great country than in a vehicle of the same year? But we couldn't do that looking like this:
....although, this is pretty great. I wonder what was going on in the 70's that made companies want to color everything different shades of brown? Maybe because the 60's were so hi vis and psychedelic that by the time the 70's rolled around everyone's eyes needed a break. Right? Well regardless of how amazing all of this brown looks, it's not Chrome . That brings us to step two:
This is what you get when you take it to paint, they ask "What color you thinkin' 'bout painting it?" and you respond "MURDER". Chrome One was born, destined to travel the land, leaving remnants of parties in it's wake (insert epic metal jam here). After some fine mechanical tuning my friend, Matt De Rosa, and I took it from HQ in San Francisco to our HUB in Portland. Since our HUB is downtown and parking is about as available as water in a Mid-Western drought, we took it across the river to my house where we could work on it in my driveway, to my neighbor's delight. I couldn't do this job alone so we called on some fellow Chromies, Paul Wilson and Sean Light, to make this a dream come true. Paul and I put on our bikinis, put our clothes on over said bikinis, and started in on the washing.
Wow, that's some sexy stuff right there. Portland is known for its late summer, but this week in early May it was strictly summertime vibes. Good thing too, because it would've been very difficult for the talented Sean "Taco" Light to brand in the pouring rain, although that kid can do anything really. I once saw him jump his BMX over the Grand Canyon through a ring of fire while lighting his cigarette at the same time. It was unbelievable.
When Taco takes on a project he treats it like a competition where he competes to achieve greatness against his greatest adversary..... himself. He wasted no time getting straight to work and sprinted on paint like I've never seen before with such speed and precision. Once the red band was on and dried, he started in on our iconic griffin.
We waited for nightfall to project the griffin on the side because we have not one, but two overhead projectors so we'd better use them for something. During this time we regaled stories of past projector painting projects and shared taping do's and don'ts.
Nailed it. Taco and Paul spent the morning painting the griffin white.
Pulled the tape (l) Installed a Basset (r)
That's my dog, Palmer. I know everyone says their dog is the cutest, but there was a Harvard Study proving that Palmer, is in fact, the cutest dog around. Harvard, dude. Harvard. Well, in Chrome One's standard operating procedure handbook, it states there must be one dog for each captain. I'm not one to break protocol, so I asked Palmer if she was busy this summer and if she wanted to join me on tour. She said something about me having her at hello, whatever that means, and agreed to come with me.
This is not the part where we drive off into the sunset collecting stories and experiences along the way, although that is coming soon enough. The next step is a custom roof deck that will host dj's, roller sprints, and rooftop campers. It's where we will work on our summer time tan and where we will gaze at the stars. This is the beginning of Chrome One.