Hack Bike Derby | The Klunker flashback!

April 19th, 2016

By Andrew Dodd in Features

The Hack Bike Derby – a modern nod to the Klunker movement

Andrew Denham, the man behind The Bicycle Academy thinks outside the box quite a bit – not far off the pack of guys from Northern California that started mountain biking.

In an event totally just for the fun of it, Andrew Denham invited along 16 of the UK’s best independent frame builders to a unique event called Hack Bike Derby.

All invited competitors had to build their own bikes – and compete against each other…

Hack Bike Derby

The awesome event artwork, by artist Adi Gilbert

This unique event had strict criteria to adhere to:

  1. Frame and forks must be made by the rider from steel, specifically for this event.
  2. The bike must be made cheaply (under £300, all in)
  3. Dropouts must be made (“hacked”) by the rider
  4. The bike mustn’t be painted but it can be clear-coated, raw or painted using pens, paint brushes or rattle can, by the rider (basically – no expensive paint jobs!)
  5. All bikes must use the same tyres (and hence wheel size) Bontrager have provided 26” x 2.35 XR4 Team Issue tires for every rider
  6. The bikes must also be built according to this year’s brief; 1 x gear, 2 x brakes (1 x front + 1 x rear, no hydraulic or disc, ideally not V brakes), and the bike must look like a Klunker.
Hack Bike Derby 2016 Somerset AG

If you imagine this was dusty instead of muddy, it may as well be the infamous Repack downhill in Marin County. All the riders at the Hack Bike Derby went the whole hog with the bikes – and attire. Technical clothing was frowned upon, and realistic retro jeans, boots and flannel shirts would earn riders an approving nod. How awesome does this event look? Photo | Adam Gasson 2016

Where did the idea come from?

Back in the early 70’s, a bunch of bike-loving hippies inadvertently invented mountain biking by customising old beach cruiser bikes and racing them down the fire roads of Mount Tamalpais, in Marin County – California.

Charlie Kelly, Gary Fisher and Joe Breeze were amongst those early mountain bike riders – and all went on to becoming pivotal frame builders that inspired generations of new riders. (check out the Fat Tire Flyer book to find out the whole story)

Andrew Denham wanted to bring a taste of fun back in to mountain biking – going back to the roots, just for fun.

So a freezing cold and filthy winters weekend in Somerset became home to the UK’s first Hack Bike Derby, where the invited riders would assemble, built the tracks, hang out and race each other.

Why hasn’t this been done sooner?

Check this awesome video out, produced by the awesome Alex Rankin. It really captures the vibe and makes us want to make our own Klunkers!

Hack Bike Derby from Hack Bike Derby on Vimeo.

Here are a few of the awesome shots from the Hack Bike Derby, captured by Adam Gassan…

Hack Bike Derby 2016 Somerset AG

Hack Bike Derby 2016 Somerset – Photo | Adam Gasson 2016

Hack Bike Derby 2016 Somerset AG

The Hack Bike Derby was dreamt and created by Andrew Denham – the main man behind the Bicycle Academy. It looks like cranking those Klunkers round the woods was hard work! Photo | Adam Gasson 2016

The Hack Bike Derby is a great event, and really captures the spirit of mountain biking.

Have you heard of the film Klunkerz? Check the trailer out – it will take you back to the beginning of mountain biking, where this concept was born…

See more of the Klunkers built for the Hack Bike Derby in our slideshow from the recent Bespoked hand made bike show in Bristol


Are you in to Klunkers?

Would you consider doing a bike building course so you can build one yourself?

Let us know below! 




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