Brooklyn 20: Re-Cycling in Bushwick

Photos Joe Hume

“I got started with bikes as a child, like many people do, Power Wheeling over plywood ramps in the driveway with local friends,” W. Thomas Porter, the artist, custom builder of recycled bicycles, and founder of Porter Cycles tells us. “I fell in love with the feeling of cranking myself fast into the wind, banking and dipping around the corner of a neighbor’s yard, and getting away from my parents’ house…

“In my 20s, I started going to local city dumps to pull parts off discarded bikes. I also collected ‘carcasses’—abandoned bikes left around town in shambles. Once I had a critical mass of components, I would give nicer frames fancy paint-jobs with stencils and patterning, put the most solid and clean components on them, and give or sell them to friends.”

That customer base has since expanded beyond his immediate circle. In his Bushwick shop, he builds bikes for customers, but he has also taught classes on bike sculpture at 3rd Ward and even designed a set piece for a Lady Gaga video. And there’s more to come. “A slew of projects will be rolling out this spring,” he tells us, “including a public art installation at BAM, a bike parking-lot at Etsy’s DUMBO headquarters, plus some fresh new track-frames by summer.”

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