Sunday, April 28, 2013


One of the things that I'd like this machine to do is be able to travel longish distances, carry some luggage, and possibly combine this with some overnight camping. I have long had a hankering for some bike-packing and this might be the time to try and get some action. There are a bunch of great blogs about people's cycle touring escapades which become portraits of the riders as well as documents of adventures and I'll post more about that in the future.

This first outing was one that needed to test the ability of the bike to be ridden for a few hours at a time over varying terrain, with a small amount of luggage. For this journey I chose to ride from where I live in Adelaide, Underdale, south to Seaford, travelling predominantly along the bike path which follows the Southern Expressway. The trip is a couple of hours long at a casual pace, with one particularly steep hill, after which the ride yields some lovely views of the Fleurieu Peninsula and the ocean.

Shortly after this happy snap I ran over some broken glass at high speed (I think it was an old television that someone had generously smashed on the bike path), resulting in a rapid halt and a majorly severed sidewall on my front tyre. Often this sort of incident is the kind of thing that can put you out of action for the day as once a repaired tube has been inserted, the inflated pressure can bulge it out of the cut in the tyre, producing another puncture. Fortunately, as Australians, a happy little fix that can be performed in this situation is the insertion of one of our lovely plastic banknotes. The notes are very strong and support the pressure, inside the tyre, allowing the rider to continue on their merry way. This presented me with a lovely portrait of Queen Elizabeth - thanks Lizzy!

I arrived at my destination, an event celebrating artworks made with tarps, held on the Seaford beach. The guys from TARPSPACE hosted a lovely afternoon, with some extra special outdoor artworks from a range of artists. I used James Marshall's construction as a launching ramp to practice my TALL BIKE BACKFLIPS.



So, this particular bicycle is to be a little different from the average- it is to be a 'tall' bike. A tall bike is not something that can simply be bought from a shop - they have to be built - which is one of the main things that makes them attractive to me. There is a strong culture of tall bike building across the planet with varying styles and degrees of finish being applied. Usually these sorts of bikes are fairly D.I.Y. in terms of materials used and construction methods applied. My build fits the D.I.Y. ethos - there are many lovely tools that I would love to have but simply do not. This is not something that will get in the way of my adventure. In many ways it is the creative restrictions that determine many decisions.

The Pile
This is the bulk of my materials. A couple of old frames - a GT and a Peugeot - some wheels and an assortment of other bits. 

The Shape
I have a few basic shapes decided that will form the basics. These include general measurements of wheelbase and bottom bracket height.

The Fork 
With the basic frame shape locked in I can now make some choices on fork length.

The Basic Build 
This is the basic shape of everything ready to have parts added. 

Jimmy's Tall Bike Adventures - The Build from James Dodd on Vimeo.

The Build Video 
We all love a little time lapse footage to help us condense and quickly view things that would otherwise require a great deal of time to experience. Here's bit of freaky motion to help you understand the build process.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


This project is to be an experiment in the potential of a self-portrait in contemporary art. 
Whilst most of the artwork that I create is connected to my passions by default, there are some things that I love that have not been present in my practice to this point. The part of my life that I will be exposing in this project will come as no surprise to those people who know me closely.

I am a complete bike nerd.  I always have been and always will be.  Bikes have always been my form of escape, a very real expression of freedom.  As a child I rode BMX bikes, making motorbike noises and fantasizing about being a race winning superhero.  As a teenager I developed a passion for mountain biking, spending hours pedaling through the Adelaide Hills, still dreaming of being a race winning superhero.  As an adult I commute daily by bicycle, ride my mountain bike most weekends and have finally succumbed to humility, realizing that I am not the world champion athlete of my dreams.

The most recent development in my cycling life has been my introduction to the freak bike world.  I have a very distinct memory from more than a decade ago of witnessing a horde of outrageous looking people riding strangely modified bikes, I thought that this one of the most amazing sights that I have ever witnessed.  Over time I have come to know this group as local freak bikers, the Tongue of Fire.  In the last couple of years I’ve finally met some of these people and begun to build weird bikes of my own.  This has become a combination of my creative and cycling passions but also extends my socio political concerns, as these bikes tend to become very real public challenges to the norm. I have resisted bringing freak bikes into my art world because, most often, they engage best in their natural state – being ridden publicly.  This project will become a framework for me to explore potential cross over between my outdoor and gallery pursuits. 

As such, this will revolve around the construction of a bike and the adventures of that machine.  This particular bicycle will become a site and a vehicle with which I can test my own ideas and engage with viewers in both the physical and virtual world.  It will become a kind of research tool to explore, social, political, cultural and physical ideas. The online component of this adventure will work as all blogs do, offering links and jumping points to relevant and aligned outcomes as filled out by personal musings and highjacked content.