Klunkedelic Bike Dream

I’ve started to wonder or perhaps more accurately dream that klunkers are going to be the next cool bike trend. When fat bikes were going plaid, I found myself sitting across the conference table from bike industry executives. They asked me what I thought was going to be the next big thing Beyond the Ludacris notion that I, a fat bike riding gnome, would know his ass from a tea kettle. Be that as it may…My answer to that question for the last 15 years has been klunkers. My mama always said stupid is as stupid does, or was it… Stupid questions deserve stupid answers.

The curvy paperboy bike goes back to the last century way back to when my parents were young. Right about when the Beatles and Stones ruled a.m. rock ‘n’ roll radio, my parents bought me a black 20-inch single-speed, coaster brake, steel, Schwinn boys bicycle that set me on the path to spending all of my lawnmowing money at Bade Bikes. (a shout-out to all my Homies in Des Plaines). I ditched the fenders and upgraded that little Schwinn with a banana seat and ape hangers and it became a sting ray shaped object! I eventually bolted every hip accessory that I could find at the local bike shop onto that little black bike, like a sissy bar, a steering wheel, and a nice chrome-plated speedometer. I literally turned it into my paperboy bike when I got my start in bicycle journalism delivering newspapers in the Villas. That bike took me to Rand Park pool, the hobby shop, school, and the muddy dirt trails of the C{r}ook County Forest Preserves. I’ve kind of been hooked on riding bikes in the dirt since childhood.

Mi amigo, Julio’s Retrotec 29’r plus klunk made by the one and only Curtis Inglis

It’s not like the curvy bike frame ever went away. Curtis Inglis and (oh my gawd!) Don McClung are two custom bike builders who go way back to the beginning of mountain bikes. They both make beautiful klunkedelic mountain bikes. Merlin Metal Works made a titanium mountain bike and called it the paperboy somewhere back in the 80s or 90s. Mi amigo, Angry Andy has one (lucky dog!) I can’t talk curvy tube, mountain bikes without mentioning Black Sheep, Oddity, and Moonmen. Although each of them has blended their own creative interpretation of last century’s paperboy bike. I like to think that legal weed has something to do with their artistry. All three are in Colorado.

Backyard Bike #18 – Built by Don McClung in Salida, Colorado

I know you’re like “OK, ya’ geezer, we know all of that. Why do you think Klunkers are cool again? “

Well, I’ve got a vivid imagination to start with, and there have been a few blimps on my klunker radar that have relit this klunkedelic flashback. Let’s start with the Reverend Paul from Paul Components, and the Odditty and Monē klunkers that he’s auctioned (for charity) at Sea Otter for the last two years. Somebody else obviously thinks that Klunkers are desirable other than Muah.

(more recently)…The thing that really grabbed me by my old gray brain was Jason Boucher‘s klunkpacker custom which came to my attention during one of the last Danger Gnome Podcast interviews with Whit Johnson from Meriwether Cycles. Jason is a former brand manager for Salsa Cycles and spent the last decade guiding all of QBP‘s numerous brands. That means this dude, oversaw every decision that came out of Surly, Salsa, etc. During those years, Jason was probably expected to ride something out of that blend of brands. Recently, he was paroled from that position as the guiding hand of all of those brands, and he had a Whit build him a klunker. Think about that for a moment…a bicycle industry bigwig that was witness to, and could arguably be attributed with the success of both fat and gravel bikes, and the first bike that he purchases after he leaves that long-term position is to order a custom Meriwether klunker.

The klunker movement that sparks my imagination probably won’t be driven by companies that sell new bikes. Although State Bicycle is trying, they just released a “fuck you “limited edition of their klunker-shaped bike. In my klunky dream, consumers build their rigs up from piles of outdated parts just like at the beginning of the single-speed days of yore. In my klunky dream, this would be a trend driven by riders not created by companies. Of course, custom frame builders could play a role in getting klunky. The latest klunker that Paul brought to Sea Otter, was built by Monē Bikes down in Silver City, New Mexico. It’s a modified vintage steel frame that melds old and new aspects that are artfully brazed together.

I suppose that it continues to be mere folly to believe the klunkers are the next big thing. But if I keep that dream alive long enough, based on the theory that even a broken clock is right twice a day it could actually happen. (Right?) This particular fantasy isn’t the only recurring bike dream that I have. I’ll be sharing more of what’s simmering up in the dark corners of my subconscience attic, like maybe a gnome fest reunion. All of that and more…somewhere down the pollen path amigos.

4 Responses to Klunkedelic Bike Dream

  1. erv spanks October 30, 2023 at 12:25 pm #

    Klunk Stoke, Hell Yeah!

  2. Phil October 30, 2023 at 1:33 pm #

    I’m with you Gomez, keeping it simple is the klunker dream! Given the mainstream bike industry seems to be out-teching itself to bankruptcy, a trend of cool, simple and fun bikes would win a lot of friends…. here’s hoping….

  3. Tom November 2, 2023 at 5:31 pm #

    I think used part project bikes are the best. Probably because they’re all I make for myself. I also think the industry is steadily heading away from human power and any sense of affordability whatsoever. This to me says the future is bright for used bikes and the people who make them. Trek is onto something with their used bike program. A “good” bike shouldn’t have a 3k entry price. Most of the population can’t see why they’d spend a month’s rent on a bicycle.

    • Sunspot December 3, 2023 at 1:26 am #

      When the market does reset, there will be quite some clearout in the industry. Gone will be, as they say on MTBR, the dentist bike. The ebike scene has its pro/con crowds complete with full on hatred. Unfortunate…

      Meanwhile, I continue to enjoy my trialsy Middlechild singlespeed.

      The CAD drawing for my next klunker is a work in progress. Eventually the blueprints will be submitted to Inglis and a frame will become a klunker with proper geometry that maintains a trialsy undertone.

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