It was a dark and stormy night — or something like that, anyway — when Mark Buckley took a welding torch to the metal before him, gave it a final blast, and stepped back to survey his creation. Cobbled together from the pieces of five bikes, a tricycle, and a bunch of chain-link fencing, only one name could do justice to the wheeled monstrosity:
"Originally I wanted to put ten or eleven bikes together and show people peddle power, you know, over a motor vehicle," explains Buckley, who began work on Frankenbike last summer. "But all we had was enough bikes to put together a six-rider. . . it's working pretty good so far — I have to toughen it up a little for a future ride, though."
Buckley built the bike out of things he found in the trash — old bikes, muffler clips. Currently, Frankenbike sits in three pieces in the garage of a friend of Buckley's, to be reassembled as needed. The thing works, though: it's been out on three or four rides so far, including a pretty radical appearance at the King Mango Strut, in which Buckley conceived of the bike as "an evil war machine where it's urging everybody to shop," and had friends dressed as zombies following a TV had had mounted on the bike's rear. Another time, he and other Critical Mass riders rigged a boombox to Frankenbike and took it down Lincoln Road passing out flyers and blasting Queen ("Bicycle") and the Monster Mash.
Frankenbike's creator describes himself as an artist and a builder who's lived in Miami Beach for the last seven years. To make a buck, he works on boats, fixes things, does odd jobs; otherwise he makes stuff, and generally for the cause. "When those Greenpeace kids ask me for money, I say no," he says, "but I tell them to call me if they want to get something done. I like doing things."
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The monstrous six-wheeler was conceived, Buckley says, as a kind of mascot for Critical Mass, the pro-biking group that takes to the streets once a month in a mass ride. "Critical mass is trying to make the statement to get out of your car, stop using the oil — [Frankenbike] is kind of a prop, kind of a mascot, but it's also supposed to be inspiring," Buckley says. "It really brings a crowd. Because everybody wants to look at it. And then I bring Mr. Clucky and he sits on the bicycle."
Mr. Clucky is a rooster whom Buckley befriended while working on Frankenbike. Mr. Clucky, it turns out, loves bike outings: he came along for Critical Mass's last ride, riding in a box atop Buckley's regular bike. (This unique bicycle-riding rooster, the Bike Blog feels, deserves his own posting — so goodbye to Mr. Clucky for now, and stay tuned for more.)
Frankenbike, meanwhile, awaits reassembly for its next appearance — Buckley thinks he'll take it to the Earthday event EarthFest this April 22.
Coming soon: How Frankenbike met the smart-as-a-dog hen, Mr. Clucky — and what happened next. --Isaiah Thompson