On a recent visit to the Twin Cities for a book tour the blogger Bike Snob New York rated Minneapolis higher than Portland for bicycle friendliness. What he didn’t have time to mention is Minneapolis is also light years ahead of Portland Oregon fabricating handmade bicycles. So there Portland.
This blogger had the distinction of being asked by BSNY to follow-up with a report on a secret Gary Fisher bicycle factory which he could not tour due to scheduling conflicts and a task I gladly accepted. Gary Fisher arrived in style the afternoon of our appointment. Ever the showman Gary demonstrated his unique dismount. He tells me it replicates a “header” in a controlled crash sort of way and since his days in Marin county he is well-known for pulling dangerous stunts that others only seem in awe of.
Our photo access to the state of the art bicycle fabrication facility was denied although we were allowed to view production and prototype models destined for export to Argentina. Gary is a true visionary. All of his designs are of an interdisciplinary nature. This can be seen in his MeatWagon bike. It is a BBQ on wheels for our meat loving Southern cousins. It provides a theme for wealthy individuals wanting to lavishly entertain with a conscience or a business opportunity for barrio entrepreneurs who do not have family drug connections.
Another unique handmade creation with über safety in mind is the car like, Coffin Stopper. Gary Fisher dreamed what every bicycle rider has dreamed. A bike that is safe enough that when struck by a car the bike rider has the same chance of survival as if encased in an actual car. Brilliant engineering and NASA approved material have gone into the Coffin Stopper. I asked Gary where he came up with this model name. He said, “well I was dreaming again and I dreamed that the son of the richest man in Argentina was driving this incredibly expensive automobile, like it cost a $1,000,000 dollars or something and he ran over this peasant guy on a bike and poof killed the guy, and I thought only if that peasant guy had a super bike he would have been alive today, I wanted to be the one who made that bike and here we have it today”
What other signs of Gary’s genius would we find lying about? This double seat would interest the bike world and handmade bicycle fanatics as it is the only duel banana seat in production. I asked Gary why two seats? “The sit bones are a mystery to even an expert bike fitter, but I dreamed how my girlfriend and I both get numb perineum what if we had two seats and constantly switched from one to the other before we got numb down there and voila the banana ramalama dingdong of seats was invented. Eat your heart out Schwinn!”
And finally, the much talked about chain handlebar cockpit. Taking a cue from the much beloved auto industry seating is side by side in the “Bike Car.” Inspired by Flintstones foot mobiles the Bike Car audatiousness is themed around the chain reaction that bike riding is causing in the transportation world. We hope to be invited back soon to what I hear is a state of the art manufacturing facility meanwhile we salute Gary Fisher for bringing real transportation to the South American marketplace. It’s like a reverse NAFTA!