The Knox Student: What prompted you to build a double-decker bike?
Pat Prom: Where I got the inspiration was actually at PCC [Portland Community College]. I saw one and it was hot pink and it was really really awesome because it looked super nice. I was like, “Wow, that looks so good and it’s so weird.” Now that I know they exist I just became obsessed, and that was two years ago. Since then I’ve kind of always dreamed of having one, and actually during the summer I almost built one, but the welding wouldn’t really work out because the two frames that I had: one was aluminum and the other one was steel. You can’t do two different metals, they needed to be the same metal. That’s just part of the process if you want to weld them together. When I came to Knox, in the back of Eco House I had found these two bike frames that were identical and they were both steel and they were both bare, so ready basically. I was just like, “Oh my gosh, this is so perfect.” So I cleaned them up a little bit and saved them until winter when I took the sculpture class.
TKS: Did you take sculpture with the intention of building a bike?
PP: Originally I did, but in the end the stuff we learned in that class had nothing to do with welding. I had to get help from Jason [Connell], he’s the lab technician. He taught me how to weld and gave me support. I did it in the Art department, they have a welding machine. That’s kind of how that happened. It was a long time to wait until the right moment to do it, but it maybe took three days to put it all together.
TKS: How did you gather your materials?
PP: Most of the stuff on there is found. I do have help from the Bike Shop. É I go there when I need the tools and they’re really helpful.
TKS: How does creativity help you destress?
PP: I guess working with my hands and actively doing something distracts me from the moment that I’m stressed. If I’m going through something or something is just really bothering me, like when I was homesick last term I didn’t really have the resources to be able to make things É I feel like now that I’m starting to get comfortable and I know where I can go to use the resources that are available to me, I guess it’s like, yeah, I’m going to make a tall bike because I’ve always wanted one and it’s good for me to have something to do.
TKS: What was the process like of putting the bike together?
PP: The first part is to get your two bike frames that you are going to put together, and they both have to be steel. They both have to be roughly the same size, so if you have a really big bike on the bottom and a small bike on the top, that’s not really gonna work because they both have to be kind of the same ratio. You remove all of the parts from both bikes in order to weld them. Where the pedals attach to the bicycle, where the brakes are, you have to disconnect everything and get it so it’s a bare frame. On the top frame, you remove the back triangle, where the wheel connects, so it’s easier when you hop on.
TKS: How did you know what to do?
PP: Just research. I looked up how to build a tall bike and I used Instructables, which is a do-it-yourself website, how to do the most random things. I make kombucha at home, too. That’s where I get inspiration for the things that I build. I’m still in the process because the two frames are identical, there are some problems with the actual structure itself. Pretty much the way my bike naturally works is that it’s really hard to peddle because it’s almost impossible to go up a hill, it’s really hard to peddle. And I don’t have brakes. I just put my shoe on top of the wheel. I can’t have front brakes because my front tire is so small. On the back one, the chain is in the way. On the next one I build I’m going to try to make it so there is the possibility of having brakes.
TKS: Are you going to keep making bikes?
PP: Yeah, this one is really rough, like the prototype. I know how to weld now, I know how to put the bike pieces into the bike after I strip it and put it back together. This was a good opportunity for me to see how it works. I could do hours and hours of research and only imagine. It’s a learning process. It’s a good kind of stress.