Episode Five – US Bike Mechs: Black Star Bags and Double Darn Caps

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This session of independent bike mechanic interviews features Dave Stoops of Black Star Bags and Misia Pitkin of Double Darn Caps. L interviewed them under the same roof (which they share) on Hawthorne Blvd in Portland while sipping on a six-pack of beer on a hot summer afternoon.  They both run small businesses based around the cyclists’ needs, i.e. the Propa’ hat and the Perfect Messenger Bag. In these interviews they talk about how they came about creating their businesses, being and staying local, the challenges and perks of being independent, and what makes their products special! Besides the shop, both have been vendors at the Portland Bike Craft and Etsy.

Dave talks about processes: the process behind put a bag together and putting a bag business together, and being a part of the Portland independent cycling community. By the way, Black Star Bag ship to the UK!

“I’ve always been a building, or a creator I guess…So I have an eye for how things are constructed. I understand processes really well, so I can kind of take it apart with my mind, but I never really took apart any bags. After being a courier for years, I sort of knew what I liked about bags…but yeah, I was able to take those basic shapes and a lot of trial and error. My first bag was yeah, not a very good bag at all!”

“I’ve always contributed to alleycats and bike races, you know, and I got a lot of my personal coming of age in that community. And so it’s really nice to give back to that community.”

“Having hundreds and hundreds of bags out there, I think that just having those options of local instead of largely distributed is better.”

Misia got into Double Darn by putting her long held passion for sewing and her love of cycling together, “growing from a hobby into a business.”

“I started making bike caps for him [Misia’s husband] and actually tracing the shape of his head.”

“freedom of schedule”

PedalpaloozaLDN: It’s Alive! Allliiiiivvve!

That’s right, Pedalpalooza has officially migrated across the pond to London! PedalpaloozaLDN is a week-long, London-wide bike festival made up of self-organised bicycle rides, races, performances, cinema, etc. Their aim is to show that cycling is fun and empowering, as well as a sustainable form of transportation and environmentally-friendly.

Self-organised you say? Yes, how so very DIY!

Get creative – make and host your own event at the website: pedalpalooza.org.uk

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Episode One: London Indy Bike Mechs – Jon of Old Street Bikes

This is the first installment of our interview project on independent bike projects. L of the bikespace has been interviewing some of London’s independent bike mechanics, and different independent bike spaces/people/projects during her summer travels in the US of A.

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Jon of Old Street Bikes (formerly known as Ganesha Cycles) talks about his racing past, working solo, constructing a bicycle, philosophy of riding and fixing a bike, changes in London, recommended rides and bike shops/mechanics, and he shows us some of his sweet refurbished bikes — check out the rim with the floating sprocket! His business is mainly out of his house in Whitechapel where he has up to 100 bikes! He also sells bikes at bike jumbles and the like around London.

“Really, I try and put bikes back to how they were when built. So I try and keep my original parts, and if I can I’ll improve them. So maybe I’ve got a ’30’s bike, maybe I’ll improve it by taking off the rod brakes and putting on a ’50’s drum brake. So a certain bike which would have been updated in the ’50’s, it’s a better bike than it was. That’s what I try and do; I try and either improve bikes or put them back.”


Jon can be contacted at 07five7218zero815 and operates out of 34 Mount Terrace E1 2BB.

We’re on The Bike Show!

We were recently featured on resonance.fm’s Bike Show programme, “Fix Your Own Bike.” Check us out!

Jack, The Bike Show presenter


“Community bike workshops are a beautiful idea. A place where anyone can learn the basics of bicycle repair by doing it for themselves with the help of volunteer mechanics – and have access to specialist bicycle tools. A stone’s throw from the Elephant and Castle, the venerable 56a food coop and radical infoshop has its own ‘do it together’ Bike Room, open 16 hours a week. Over in France, the Pignon Sur Rue association in Lyon runs a rather larger and more ambitious community workshop project, with 1200 members and support from the local city government. ”


: http://thebikeshow.net/fix-your-own-bike

‘Tis the Season for…Bike Touring!

From the Rootz Bike Tour

Summertime, And the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumpin’, and the cotton is high…
It’s warm and the weather’s nice! What better time to go long distances on your bike

Here are some links we’ve compiled on bicycle touring

General Info:

Ken Kifer’s Bike Touring + Ken Kifer’s Basic Skills for Cyclists
DIY Cycle Tour Zine

Cycle Routes UK
CycleStreets UK

Cycling stories/trips:

Calais Jungle Tour, July 2011
Rootz Bike Tour
Touring and Recreation, Bicycling Life 
P.E.D.A.L. to Palestine 

A bit of DIY:
Ken Kifer’s Panniers
Bucket Panniers+ Zines, like the Urban Adventure League’s Cycle Touring Primer!
From the P.E.D.A.L. tour