Ratpatrol Uk, Freakbiking Uk style. A different take on cycling.

Here is a brief introduction to a sideline to my work as a sculptor. This is something I do as a bit of a hobby with a group of friends, and an activity through which I have found friends around the world.

I had been working on sculpture for a while, when dabbling on these new fangled computer things I came across the 'Freakbike' scene in America, via the gang Ratpatrol. This involves modifying and rebuilding bikes into new 'improved' forms



 Being a keen cyclist I had a selection of bicycles and huge stash of worn out components. I also had welding technology and a dead bike lying around. My partner was away visiting family, cue instant project.

 My first attempt at building my own bike gave me Dr Hannibal, see photo above. Not bad for a first attempt.

What attracted me to theRatpatrol was the ethos of doing everything for free, recycling some of the discarded bikes on a no/low budget, and having fun doing.

My next move was to build myself a Tallbike, pictured here is Godzuki, son of Godzilla, my second tall bike and my favourite ride, veteran of some serious road trips, as well as cross country racing.


A shot of The tallbike in action, here I am heading into the 20ft deep bombhole, got out the other side, made the jump railed the berm and fell off through laughing to hard.

After building my first Talbike my friend John came aboard, and wanted a chopper with long forks. So we built Foxy lady.


At this point we were officially a gang, the Uk branch of Ratpatrol. Being a gang we needed suitable names, I became Chunkolini Prince of Darkness, and John became M23, president and Henchman repectively. Once we were a gang my son Cedric had to be involved. Here he is on his second Chopper, Warlord. The Brolley and basket were his ideas.

Note, my wife has yet to get involved in this nonsense.



 The next thing that happened we were approached by Tallmartin, a true genius; seen here on one of his creations.


Below is another Tallmartin creation, the Fatback Bomber. Genius.

freak bike


Inspired I set to work on a truly radical bike, see the Poison Dwarf below. A truly awful thing, charitably described as being a scab of weld on wheels. This is the third incarnation and the first that was even vaguely rideable, just. Above 10mph it becomes a killer


My most recent build, sponsored by my ex employer, I designed it during long tedious staff meetings is The Longpig, a back to back tandem. Two days in the building, easy to ride, and very very strange.

There is a Utube video clip of it is available here  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlSc8wCIies



This a just a selection of the bikes we have built. Note the quality of workmanship and the attention to finish that goes into these bikes. ie none, I have been asked 'how do you work out the angles?'  'where do you get the plans?'  Easy there aren't any.

 These are not fancy pants boutique builds, they are frenzied lashups, built on an average budget of maybe £3.00 each usually in a single day. The theory being that it is Ok to buy brake cables and maybe brake blocks, everything else should be found as discarded by society. If you have access to a hacksaw you can build bike like this, a welder helps bit it can be done with no welding.

The important thing is that the person who rides the bike helps to build it, as it gives them a sense of ownership, avoiding the bike becoming a commodity.

I have shown these examples to give an introduction to the weird world of Freakbiking. In fact these are fairly tame compared to some of the things on offer.

To get an idea of the broader picture, and see some of our adventures go to http://www.rat-patrol.org/ and check out the Uk pages, there is also http://www.chicagofreakbike.org/ run by my friend Johnnypayphone in Chicago. From there you will find links to a whole world you never knew existed.

      A final thought.  I have been asked 'But is it art?' my answer to this is 'no it's a bike'. But is it art?

                                                     And no I will not build you a bike.

                                                  contact artinsteel@tiscali.co.uk

                                              call 075905 80853 or 01989 563153