Austin is known as a bike friendly town. Bike lanes are all over the place, even in areas that see almost no bicycle traffic. City buses and MetroRail accommodate cyclists and there are seemingly countless bicycle shops in the Greater Austin Area serving countless riders with different preferences and riding styles. So it’s no surprise that an event like FrankenBike exists in Austin.
On the morning of January 25, 2013, my girlfriend’s son and I loaded up our bicycles and headed south to 5th and Comal. We were going to FrankenBike. After a pit stop at McDonald’s, we parked near the corner of 5th and I-35. We unpacked the bikes and started our seven block trek through drizzling rain, construction and traffic and lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Sorry, I lost myself, though there was construction going on around 5th and San Marcos.
Darting through traffic and drizzle, the boy and I made it to the Yellow Jacket Social Club. The two year old bar/café was playing host to the 90th Austin FrankenBike and the 5th annual FrankenBabe.
So let me break it down for you: FrankenBike is a bicycle swap meet which will be 8 years old in June. The founders, Chris Gross and Michelle Moore, have ensured the event’s success by locking in corporate sponsors like Independence Brew Co. Independence is an Austin, TX brewery that makes a variety of regular and seasonal beers like the locally famous “Oklahoma Suks” beer that comes out every fall.
Through loyal sponsors and having the event locations volunteer their space, Chris and Michelle have been able to keep the event free to participants. The sponsorships have also allowed them to set up live music events and raffles. The music was provided by Lucas Cook Trio, Brain Halo, DownTube Shifter and The Human Circuit. Each group was unique and entertaining.
This month, the raffle was for a Linus Bicycle. Though bicycles aren’t always on the raffle block, this particular bicycle was their 6th to raffle off. Other times, FrankenBike raffles off gear and parts.
FrankenBabe is an annual event in which the ladies can get their bicycles tuned up for free. This typically happens at the first FrankenBike of the year. FrankenBabe has had different shops volunteer their services and this year the honor belongs to East Side Pedal Pushers. Lee has been in business for 10 years and at his current location on 5th St. for 4 years. There is talk of moving FrankenBabe to June, so the easiest thing to do is to check their website for details.
Don’t Be Scared
I can see how a new or casual rider may be intimidated by an event like this. After all, seeing parts on a bicycle is one thing. Seeing them spread about or stacked in boxes is another story. There’s really no need for concern. All types of people and riders attended FrankenBike #90 in January 2013. I saw people in road racing gear, tight jeans and everything in between. Vendors and attendees were friendly and helpful. I bought a seat for the boy from one guy, who then noticed another part I needed from a different vendor. That vendor asked me to name my price, which I did. The same vendor, before closing shop for the day, started giving away parts and I ended up with some goodies.
As you can tell by my previous references to my girlfriend’s son, this is a family friendly event. I saw a 2 year old boy tear around the place on a scoot bike. He face planted once. We helped him up. He cried. His mother cooed and he was riding around again in minutes. We were all proud of his willingness to not give up. Chris and Michelle were so smitten by the little dude, they made him the unofficial mascot and he helped pick the winner of the bike raffle.
Looking at FrankenBike’s upcoming schedule and seeing that there are events planned well into next year, it’s easy to say that FrankenBike will be an Austin tradition for a very long time. This was a good time for me and the boy, and we were able to bond a little bit and ride the mean streets of Austin’s East Side. “It was cool,” he said. Indeed it was.
- FrankenBike pop-up event on February 5, 2013 at Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar on West St. and 6th – 8 PM
- FrankenBike #91 on February 23, 2013 at Freewheeling Bicycles at 2401 San Gabriel – 10 AM to 4 PM
What You Need to Know
- The event is nomadic. Check their site for locations and times.
- ATM’s may not be available, so bring cash.
- Family friendly
- Pet friendly
- Have fun
David Thomas is a freelance writer living, writing and experiencing life in Austin, Texas. He lives with his girlfriend in their mid-80′s duplex in the Wells Branch neighborhood. Find him on Twitter.