A fleet of Huffy Cranbrooks

Saw an ad today on a Burning Man Facebook Group to which I belong — a theme camp was selling of its camp’s collection of playa bikes. I pounced.

These are the bikes in the back of my truck. Almost all of them are Huffy Cranbrook cruisers. [Three are already spoken for for the upcoming burn.

Chariot for the Kids (aka Makeshift Pedicab Trailer)

For our third Burning Man experience (2010) my wife and I decided to take our kids with us. We knew they would have a blast riding their bikes across the flat expanses of the playa. But having experienced the sheer size of Black Rock City in years prior we also knew that the distances travelled to get from one art installation to the next would quickly tire our children. So I began to think of a solution that would allow us to bike across the open playa as a family.

The main mode of transportation in BRC is by bicycle. The obvious solution was some kind of bike trailer in which to pull the kids around. In 2010, I had not yet begun building custom and mutated bikes.  I had no welder, grinder, or materials.  Heck, I didn’t even have a workshop back then.

So, my trailer design needed to be simple, and built from repurposed items. I searched Craigslist for bike trailers, and found a used one for $30.  The canopy was torn and dirty, but that was fine because all I needed were the wheels and bottom frame.

I removed the canopy and canopy’s support rods. As luck would have it, the steel frame had four brackets welded to it for connecting the canopy’s supporting frame.  These brackets were positioned nicely for attaching a chair to. The chair I had in mind was a reclining camp chair, which I already had.

Again, as luck would have it, the width of the recliner’s legs matched the width of the trailer’s frame. When opened the recliner’s legs fit nicely between the front and rear canopy mounting brackets on the frame. I then securely fastened the recliner to the trailer frame and took it for a spin.

Success! My first build — pre-welder days. Of course, I admit I got lucky that the used trailer I picked up and the camp chair that I had in the garage sized so well together. Also, the design of the recliner was such that when the rider reclined the center of gravity remained over the trailer’s wheels and axle.

Pictured below is my daughter in “The Kids Chariot” at Burning Man 2010.

Of course what Burning Man chariot wouldn’t be complete without some protection from the sun. In the photo below you can see a repurposed beach umbrella stuck inside a piece of PVC pipe.

This was a quick and easy DIY build and would mark the beginning of many more bike builds to come.

Our family at Burning Man 2010.

The Marauder returns to Burning Man 2016 – after a repair and a mod

The Playa Marauder remains my favorite bike Burning Man. The sheer size of it continues to strike fear into the hearts of the citizens of BRC. 🙂

For 2016 I made a repair and a modification to the beast. During the 2015 festival I lost a couple spokes on one of the front wheels. I thought I’d simply purchase a couple new spokes and install them. Wrong!

As you may or may not be aware, typically when a spoke drops out of a rim while moving the spoke will tangle around the rotating axle tightening against itself until it brings the bike to a complete stop …unless discovered immediately and stopped.

In my case I was unaware of the dropped spoke until the Marauder was slowed to a halt each time. At that point I was forced to dismount the beast and unwind the steel spoke from the axle in order to proceed.

What I was unaware at time and did not discover until I attempted to replace the spokes was that the weight and momentum of the Marauder wrapped the steel spoke so tightly around the axle that the entire front hub twisted.

Here’s a shot of the torqued front hub.

How the heck did that happen?!

Pretty gnarly, huh?

So, my thought of a relatively quick and easy spoke replacement turned into sourcing a new front hub and a complete re-lacing of the wheel.  [Given the unique size of the wheels (32″) this was not an easy task.]

You can be sure that I tightened the spokes on this re-lacing quite tight. And I’m happy to report that not a single spoke was dropped during the 2016 festival.

The modification I made was to make a new set of front fenders utilizing the original rear fenders from the Genesis Super 32’s.  Because the rear fenders are longer than the front fenders, using them in the front really lowered their profile (see photo below).

As you can see I modified the rear fenders in the same cow-catcher style that I had used on the original front fenders.

Above is a photo of the Playa Marauder in its element at Burning Man 2016.

I’m always thinking of new builds for the playa.  Not sure what I’ll build for 2017’s festival, but regardless the Marauder will accompany me as well.