work, though. All of the work I’ve received has been
from people that have been referred to me or have
seen me at my shop.
NS: Tell us more about your shop.
GD: It’s a mix of storage and workspace dominated
by different bike parts and metal creations. One-quarter of it, filled with some basic shop tools — a
110-volt MIG welder, band saw, a few angle grinders,
a drill press, pipe bender, and a 2-gallon compressor
— is devoted to steel fabrication.
I also have a table for electronics tinkering and one
for sewing, but the welder, angle grinders, and band
saw see the most use. I build large items on the floor
or design them modularly to be assembled from
multiple small pieces.
There’s also a very long, expensive wish list of
things I would like to have: TIG welder, plasma cutter,
lathe, mill, tubing bender …
NS: Describe your design and development
GD: The initial design usually comes from a basic
concept, which is followed by designs on paper.
There I’ll add and subtract features and figure out
if the original concept is workable. I used to build a
proof-of-concept piece with chopped bikes, scrap
metal, poor welds, and sharp edges. Now I build
straight from the design when the concept is clear
and I understand the method of execution. I’ve also
been toying around with Google SketchUp but I’m
still learning how to use it.
NS: How long does a bike typically take to design
GD: Depending on complexity, from a few days to
a few weeks. The Jesus Lizard took me six weeks
from design to completion, with design taking about
two weeks. Each pedaler had multiple sets of gears:
a basic set for road riding and a super-low “
sand-crawler” gear. Working with multiple gear sets took
The Kitten took me about a week for the frame
and wheels. The headlights and brakes took about
NS: What sorts of reactions do you get from people
who have ridden the bikes?
GD: People like them. Some like the ride, some like
the look, some are impressed by their sheer size.
Each bike is different. The Bigger Wheel was built
to be ridden like a caffeinated 10-year-old. When
the right person rides it really hard, they come back
with a devilish grin on their face. That’s when I feel
NEVER GROW UP: The Kitten (opposite) weighs in
at 205 pounds (yes, those are car tires). The Jesus
Lizard (above) seats four and can go up to 17mph.
fully satisfied. The Kitten was built because the
wheels were free. It’s excessive and inefficient —
it’s sort of the anti-bike.
NS: What’s your favorite project so far?
GD: As far as bikes go, the Jesus Lizard; it’s a lot of
fun and rides like nothing else. Although it’s 25 feet
long, it has a 7½-foot turning radius. You can ride
it at full speed (about 17 miles an hour), throw it
into a hard corner, and it will hold firm regardless of
whether or not the passengers can. Assuming that
acceleration is not a limiting factor, a person on a
two-wheeled bike would find it hard to outmaneuver
It used to have a head that would go up and down,
move side to side, and open its mouth, but this one
time, at Burning Man, the neck didn’t make it back.
NS: What’s next in terms of future projects?
GD: The Choo-Choo Train, a pedal-powered train
with multiple cars, capable of being pedaled by kids
or grownups. It will resemble a toy train and have
similar design characteristics to the Lizard but be a
lot lighter. I’m hoping to get it going by next summer
but I’m in need of more funding.
NS: Will the public be able to see it somewhere?
GD: When it gets built it will be in Chico but I would
love to tour it around different cities. I’d actually love
to bring it to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.
NS: Why do you do what you do?
GD: Let me step up on my pulpit … I would like to
get more people on bikes for fun, transport, and
health. I’d like to see more folks bike-commuting
and reducing their car and fuel dependence.
Creating interesting, functional, fun bikes is my way
of coaxing more people into the bike-riding fold.
Nik Schulz is an illustrator and writer, and a fan of almost
anything with wheels.