From a modest beginning with only a couple of followers in 2008, readership has come a long way for a blog whose wheels are in full motion, velocity is turned to high and the brakes are nowhere to be seen. Mick Peel’s Busyman Bicycles Blog is a machine whose production was as natural as the first time his training wheels came off. He speaks with Pugnacious George about his passion of bikes, his blog and his wonderful creations.
When did you start your Busyman Bicycle blog?
I started the blog back in November 2008, after I had completed five bike makeovers throughout the year. I had a small exhibition in September 2008 and discovered that people were interested in my work. I decided to set up the blog as it’s an easy way to have a web presence and at the same time document the works that I was producing.
What is it about bikes that you enjoy so much that makes you create such wonderful custom-made pieces for them?
I love everything about bikes; riding them, designing them and making stuff for them. It was just a logical progression of things that I ended up making and designing things related to bikes and cycling. I ride to work every day and at least once every week I take in a pretty long recreational road ride with a bunch of friends. I enjoy both the mechanics and the aesthetics of the bike and cycling. My work is as much about the aesthetics as it is about functionality and utility. I also really enjoy the sense of community that emanates from the bicycle; it is this community that has very much validated the work that I do. I feel that my work adds and contributes something to that community.
What is your first memory of having a bicycle yourself?
I remember the first time I successfully rode a bike without being held upright by someone else. It was an amazing feeling, at first I didn’t realise I was actually riding all on my own. This was on a friend’s bike. I received my first bike on my 10th birthday in 1980, it was a metallic green three speed Malvern Star dragster.
While you’re a busyman working on your bikes, you’re also in the middle of completing a PhD. What is it about?
In general terms the PhD is an investigation into the practice of designing through making. It is very much focused on my design practice and therefore the bicycle. It looks at the practice of the craftsman and the designer. It will be another year or so before I’m ready to submit it for examination.
What made you want to create customised bikes and pieces?
I just have a drive to make stuff and I’m not satisfied unless it’s well made, well designed and looks good too. I create customised bike and bike components because the bike is very much a part of my life. The things that I make heavily utilise the knowledge that comes from my background in fashion design. Things like pattern making, handling materials, sewing and construction. I love working in leather, I have worked with leather since I was a kid and worked for a short time in a leather belt workshop when I was a university student.
Your designs are very smooth, elegant and stylish – where do you get your aesthetics inspired from?
There is definitely a Busyman aesthetic, though I’m not quite sure how to describe it. Many of my designs evolve from conversations with my clients. Sometimes a client has a vision for what they are after while others are happy to leave that side of things to me. So in a way much of my work is realising my clients’ vision for the bicycle. With a saddle I am working with a three dimensional form and that form really influences the design of its recovering. Other factors that contribute are the possibilities and limitations of the materials I work with and the techniques I have developed. I am always learning more about the materials and evolving techniques.
What is your fantasy bike?
My fantasy bike is always my next bike. At this stage I have six complete working bikes of my own. I also have a bunch of bits and pieces that would make up another two or three complete bikes. The last bike I completed was my fantasy bike. Now my fantasy is to have a frame custom built especially for me. Probably in titanium, by a local builder and with Busyman leather saddle and bar tape.