Burning Man 2023 Art Bike Project

Adventures, Video

Video link: Burning Man 2023 Art Bike.

This is my art bike project that I created for this year’s Burning Man! If you haven’t heard of Burning Man, it is a week long participant run festival in the Nevada desert. I enjoy Burning Man because of all the amazing art projects.

Burning Man always has a theme, and this year’s theme was “Animalia”. I wanted to create an animal themed bike to go along with it. My original plan was to make it be a fish bike. I thought the front wheel could be the head of the fish, which would sort of mimic the circular gill area on a fish. I did some mock ups with cardboard, and I wasn’t really able to get the shape that I had in my mind, without some significant hacking on the bike. I didn’t feel like cutting up the frame, and I wanted to build around what I had.

I settled on making the front wheel “float” (and not spin) by attaching a plywood circle to the frame. I designed the basic scale shape with Vectric VCarve, creating a simple oval vector. All the wood was scrap wood from around my house: lots of fir and pine wood that I milled from downed trees, but also some douglas fir 2×8’s that I sliced up. The varying wood pieces provided a really pretty mosaic of colors.

The majority of the time and labor was milling the wood into 1/4″ thick sheets that I could then cut into scales on my CNC. I would first plane one side of the lumber, then use the bandsaw to slice it down to about 3/8″ thick. The scales were then cut out on my Avid CNC Pro 4×8 using a 3/8″ spiral upcut bit. I hot glued them to the plywood base.

I was originally worried about the heat melting the hot glue, but they did just fine. The main issue I had was the rain: the bike fell over in the mud, and the scales got soaked in water. This caused the hot glue to separate a bit, and I ended up pulling off all the scales. I didn’t want to lose any while riding around.

The bike got a lot of attention at the festival. Usually you see a lot of junky old bikes wrapped in fur, so I think people enjoyed seeing something a little different.

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