Frank Sands, Miami Bike Life Rider, Pushes Street Stunt Boundaries | Miami New Times

Meet Frank Sands, Teen Who Pushes Bike-Stunt Boundaries on Miami Streets

Miami residents can spot Sands weaving between cars and using sidewalks, curbs, and roadways as a canvas for his tricks.
Frank Sands, bike life enthusiast and prolific wheelie-popper
Frank Sands, bike life enthusiast and prolific wheelie-popper Screenshot via @Onewheel_frank/YouTube
Share this:
Carbonatix Pre-Player Loader

Audio By Carbonatix

You may have seen Frank Sands before: perpetually balancing his black BMX bike in a wheelie down South Miami Avenue. Perhaps you've spotted him with his feet crisscrossed through the frame of his bike, swimming through traffic on the bridge from Brickell to downtown Miami. Maybe he was with young bicyclists, teaching them to wheelie on the pegs of their bikes.

Sands is one of the biggest names in South Florida bike life, having racked up nearly 250,000 followers on Instagram. In his most viral video, which amassed 6.1 million likes, he flips his bike on its side to slide under a limbo bar held by two other riders.

"The way he rides on bikes is serious," says Ross Lewis, a close friend and occasional cameraman for Sands. Lewis says Frank rides "the same way people ride dirt bikes, pop wheelies, drop their hands and stand on the seat."

"It’s nothing like anybody has ever seen," Lewis tells New Times.

Better known as Onewheel_frank on Instagram and YouTube, Sands is a 19 year old who has made waves in Miami and in the national bike-life scene since he started riding seriously in eighth grade. What began as a habit to get outside became a passion to up the ante with the most challenging trick or the longest wheelie. He took to the tourist-flocked blocks of Midtown and Wynwood and basked in the reactions of passersby.

"Everything that I had in my mind or any stress went straight out the window," Sands tells New Times.

He dove deep into bike life to be with "people that want to come out and enjoy riding for what it is," as he describes it.

When you join bike life, he tells New Times, "You're gonna get yourself friends. You're gonna laugh a lot, hear a lot of jokes. You're gonna see a lot of things that you wouldn't have thought would be possible on a bicycle. You’re gonna form such a strong bond with a couple of people."

Sands Rising

Frank's reputation spread in the early days of his riding, earning him recognition among Miami bike life enthusiasts. In Overtown, where he and Lewis lived, his stunts transcended a long-held rivalry between two parts of the neighborhood.

"He gets love from both sides. Everyone knows him," Lewis says. "Everybody supports him."

While Sands was still a student at Booker T. Washington Senior High School, attending class and drumming in the school band, his local fame was translating into thousands of followers online. By his sophomore year, he had 10,000 followers on Instagram. Later in high school, he surpassed 100,000.

"I could fall ten times, and I get back up and I try that trick again."

tweet this
"If you do something they've never seen before, that inspires people to share it and like it. If I want something, I'm going to chase it, and I'm going to get it," Sands says. "My work ethic is completely different than any other rider. I could fall ten times, and I get back up and I try that trick again."

On a given day, pedestrians and motorists can spot Sands weaving between cars and using sidewalks, curbs, and roadways as a canvas for his tricks. There are close calls and a fair share of spills; in one video, he's seen narrowly avoiding a head-on collision with a bus by sliding underneath its rear bumper.

Of course, some Miami drivers aren't on board with bike life stunts. Though they often reserve their disdain for ATV and motorbike crews, detractors are vocal about their complaints on stunt-riding in Miami streets. In various Miami-related Subreddits, the frustration is occasionally aired out, with one user dubbing stunt riders on public roads "hooligans."

Some of Sands' videos have a bold-face disclaimer as an introduction, warning that the "stunts are performed by professionals, so for your safety and the protection of those around you, do not attempt."

Sands' first big break came when personal inspiration and Harlem BMX legend RRDblocks (the RR is for Rough Riders and the "blocks" is a reference to how long he can wheelie) came to Miami and gifted Frank his first SE Bike, replacing Sands' starter bike from Walmart. Soon after, Sands became sponsored by the same brand, SE Bikes, at just 16 years old.

He was among the youngest riders in South Florida to get picked up by a company as ubiquitous as SE Bikes.

"There was no kid out of Overtown putting in the work to be sponsored by an actual bike company," Lewis tells New Times.
Lewis says the collaboration between Sands and SE Bikes across cities and even a few countries catapulted the popularity of SE Bikes with the younger generation. "They made videos to the point where every kid in the neighborhood, every teenager wanted to have an SE Bike and wanted to ride like Frank," Lewis says.

When Sands eventually transitioned to Mafia Bikes, another prominent brand, there was a similar boost for the company in South Florida, Lewis recalls.

Many of Sands' videos have made waves in the bike life community and beyond owing to his technical skill and creativity behind the bars.

But one of the most popular posts on his Instagram, dating back two years, stemmed from a run-in with New York City police. It shows him riding in Times Square and toppling over in front of a group of cops before he panics and runs off. The cops chased him down and handcuffed him to a bench at the precinct for hours, though no charges were filed, Sands says.

"They were kind of cool," Sands says. "It was just one officer that told them to grab me."

"His Own Man"

At the onset of the summer, Sands says, he left the home he'd lived in through high school and cut ties with his father over a domestic dispute that culminated with Sands calling the police. He was already estranged from his mother, forcing him to find a place to live on his own.

"I needed that situation to happen with my father, so I could be aware of how people are, so I learned more responsibility to do things on my own," Sands tells New Times. "Now I'm doing everything by myself."

Lewis echoed the sentiment, saying, "I know Frank to be his own man,"

Sands leans on the bike life community for solidarity and still has the support of his girlfriend and his fellow riders, but the person leading the charge, at 19 years old, is Sands himself. He shared with the New Times that he would be focused strictly on his bike content going forward.

Since his first post, Frank has racked up a few hundred thousand more views on Instagram reels and YouTube, driving his engagement ever higher. He posted on Instagram shortly after the incident with his father, sharing with his more than 240,000 followers that his trials were only fueling his desire for success.

"I'm here to say that I'm happier than ever, stronger than ever, and destined for greatness," Sands wrote in the post caption. "Most importantly and lastly, I love and appreciate everyone who supports me and my craft. My train don't stop rolling."
Can you help us continue to share our stories? Since the beginning, Miami New Times has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami — and we'd like to keep it that way. Our members allow us to continue offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food, and culture with no paywalls.