This week’s entry attempts to show how far a bit of creativity and DIY know-how can take you in customising your daily commuter.
Bike Hacks and its team of contributors Matt, Andrew and Brendon, aims its spotlight on the quirky modifications people around the globe have made to their bikes to make them stand out from the crowd. Some ideas are functional, such as this bike seat bag made from used tyres and inner tubes; others a bit odder, like this bike-come-shopping trolley! Whatever the creation, Bike Hacks will cover it and is a great resource for anyone looking for ideas, or with an idea to share.
Fender hacks are a running theme on the site
The site was born in 2007 as a progression from a blog written by Matt, part of which focussed on bike DIY modifications. This evolved into the site it is today, aimed at documenting commuting bike ‘hacks’ and culture, particularly in the town he lives – New York City.
“I commute to work every day, so biking is a major part of my life,” Matt told BikeRadar. “I am always thinking of new ways to improve my bike experience and Bike Hacks is a natural extension for me. New York City has such a vibrant biking culture, so inspiration is easy to come by. We are all always looking for solutions to common bike-related problems and what the site offers is a compilation of ideas from cyclists all over the world. We’ve had submission ideas from practically every continent – we’re just waiting to hear from Antarctica now!
“There’s a real community feel to the site. We encourage readers to submit their own hacks for posting and I’m constantly amazed by the creative ideas people come up with.”
A particular favourite of ours are the handlebar set-ups post from earlier this year, with the candy cane, bull horns and, most impressively, antlers putting standard alloy bars firmly in the shade. Another comes in ways to find use for your old inner tubes, such as shoelaces, handle bar wrap and wallets.
The Dictionary of Commuter Slang is a departure from the "hack" theme and is a collection of names Matt and his readers give to each type of bike commuter. There's the "Bike Salmon" (a rider who "swims up stream" by riding the wrong way down a one way street), the "Iron Man" (a rider that commutes on a triathlon bike) and the "Rim Rocker" (the rider that has no clue that their tyres have no air in them).
"As a regular bike commuter, I see some of the same riders day after day and I started to give them all nicknames," says Matt. "One day a light bulb came on and I thought it would make a great idea for a fun Bike Hacks entry. My first attempt actually did not come off so well. My goal was to try to make it light and funny but some of the wording gained the ire of some readers. I am not a professional writer or comedian so the execution still probably leaves something to be desired, but the vast majority of feedback has been positive. Many of the entries are contributions from readers rather than my own and if readers have a sense of humour and want to suggest additions anyone is welcome to write in.”
As we have found with many of the blogs we've featured in this series, their are always opportunities from within the bike industry for the authors and its been no different for Bike Hacks team. Bike brand Globe Bikes (Specialized) sponsored a contest in which they gave bikes out to bloggers to essentially review. So once Matt and co got their hands on one, they did what they do best and set about "hacking" it.
Three months on from taking receipt of the Globe Bike, it had been well and truly hacked
Despite its core concept not changing since its launch four years ago, a natural development has seen it grow to include contests, product reviews and interviews. They have thought about starting a forum, but Matt is content with the site as it is.
"It's a labour of love. It's basically a one person operation right now, so the big challenge is finding time to devote myself to the site," he added. "Bringing in another dedicated blogger is the way to go if I want to develop it further. One thing I lack is a mechanical background. I am truly a hack so bringing in someone with extensive mechanical skills - a gear head - would work well. Maybe this interview can act as a shout out for people with such skills to come and write with us!"
BikeRadar readers: If you visit – or own – a cycling website that you feel is worthy of mention in BikeRadar’s website of the week, email a link to firstname.lastname@example.org or post it in the comments section below and we'll follow up with them for a possible profile in our latest column.