Monday, December 15, 2008

scraper bikes meet wiretaps

If you're already in Oakland, the Scraper Bike Movement is already old news, but it's nonetheless an interesting take on youth-led movements against violence in the Bay. For those who aren't familiar, I recently caught up with Champ, the Scraper Bike King, for a sit-down and entry-level article on WireTap. Dude is hella insightful. Peep game:

It's a Wednesday afternoon, and in the administrative offices of East Oakland's Edward Shands Adult School, Tyrone "Champ" Stevenson is talking the finer points of legal patents. He's two weeks shy of his twentieth birthday, but already has a budding business to look after.

Stevenson invented "scraper bikes," and for the past two years, they've been seen almost everywhere in Oakland. The classic scraper bike is a small BMX frame with larger, 10-speed wheels decorated with foil, colorful tape wound between the spokes of the tires and elaborate custom paint jobs. Particularly ambitious folks can get high-quality speaker systems installed.

As the self-proclaimed Scraper Bike King, Stevenson coined the name "scraper bikes" because they were modeled after "scrapers" -- late-'80s model sedans tricked out with oversized rims, custom paint jobs and sound systems that came to fame during the rise of the Bay Area "hyphy" music movement. The bikes were a less expensive, do-it-yourself alternative that didn't require a driver's license.

But the "scraper bike movement" -- as it's called among riders and admirers -- isn't just a colorful way to get noticed. Stevenson describes it as a deliberate effort to meld artistry and entrepreneurship to develop skills and opportunities for young people in Oakland.

Read more.

Shout out to Dre, Champ & Ambessa for making it happen.

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