Between Awesome & Invisible

You know - the kind that can be locked to a street sign in midtown for 6 hours with impunity, but proudly ridden to a party downtown at night? The New York beater takes many forms from function to fashion but the best artfully tread the fine lines between. Between Awesome and Invisible is our quest to document the best.

Meet JP. He's a Brooklyn based freelance photographer, founder of BMX was his first love, MTB his second, but really, he’s into every discipline. Chalet travelled with him to Colombia this Spring and he survived, minus one achilles. With his prototypical beater bike used primarily to get from job to job, what better way to kick off this ongoing series.

Who are you?
JP Bevins, I'm a freelance photographer and run the website

How long have you been in NYC?
Been here 3 years as of January 2015, by way of Philadelphia, Boston, and Hartford

How many bikes do you own right now?
I think about 6 fully functioning bikes right now. Road, Cross, Mountain, Track, Beater, BMX, and a bunch of other odds and ends. And a sick NOS GT Zoot Scoot.

We should probably ask about the Zoot Scoot (or perhaps not) But first, tell us a little about your beater...
It's a 1984 Gitane Kilo track bike. Nervar track cranks with some Odyssey BMX pedals, the cheapest QBP coaster brake wheelset with some Panaracer Pasela's to keep it on point with the gum walls, Velo Orange cruiser bars, forget what kind of stem, Strong V track grips, and a super rare 90's white perforated leather/titanium Flite saddle that is absolutely destroyed and covered in gaffer's tape. I just can't seem to retire that saddle, it's got too much history. When I first got the bike, it had some flipped and chopped drops as some makeshift bullhorns and the sickest polka dot bar tape. Some really nice, but incredibly corroded track wheels. Suntour sprint hubs to some nice aero Arraya clinchers. That wheel set must have been so tight brand new.

Where did you get it?
Oh man, the bike I got complete from the owner of LTI, my film lab at 30th and Park Ave. It was sitting in the basement under the film lab since the 90's. I still have a bunch of photos of it first pulled out of the cobwebs and 30 years worth of basement grime. (That's a long story JP is saving for NoLifeLikeThisLife so look out for it)

When do you ride it?
It's my daily bike. Does everything that I need to do around the city. I usually go out for rides in the morning when and where I can. Or I'm out all day or traveling on/with a specific bike. But when I'm home, or trying to get to a photo studio or the post office or whatever, it's always the Gitane really

(photo by JP Bevins)

What do you like most about it? And the least?
I like how simple it is, not really too many moving parts on it, and it's pretty chill with cruiser bars. It's got a kind of steep gear ratio for a cruiser at 52x18, but it's real peppy with some coercion. Least? Probably the bottom bracket, chain, and cranks that haven't been touched since the 90's. I never even pulled it apart or repacked it, I just put different wheels, bars and pedals on and rode it. Never even pulled the headset apart. Come to think of it, I’ve never even moved the stem, it could be seized for all I know. The bottom bracket is also so chewy after this winter, chewier than it was when I first got it, and that's saying a lot. I am not looking forward to the day when the 30+ year old chain snaps or the bottom bracket just blows up and seizes. The crank arms are kind of bent, but I don't even notice it anymore. Also, the toe overlap is sometimes a little brutal before coffee!

What makes your bike invisible?
I don't know, I think it's just not trying. Like people notice when you're trying to hard and this thing is the perfect amount of modest.

What makes your bike Awesome?
It's got such a chill back story of where the messenger and cycling community meets the photography community, and that's really everything I stand for. But damn, it's still a sick ass and super steep french track bike. It rips.

Does it have a name?
I'm scared to name this one. Names don't mean anything anyway, it's how you connect.

Tell us about the most memorable ride you’ve had on it
Most memorable ride on it had to be from the fall 2014. I finished swapping parts and making it rideable maybe a couple weeks prior, and I met this girl whose energy I really really vibed with. It was like when we were both excited about something, nothing in the world could stand in our way, and I felt that in my bones and it was exciting. I stayed out all night until the the early hours of the morning with this girl, we wandered around the Greenpoint waterfront, we jumped fences and hung out at the end of piers and talked about life, we kissed under street lights and I held her tight. She ends up overthinking the whole situation around 4am, and I can read it on her face. She jumps on her bike, and says she has to go. She's gotta go. My front tire is completely flat. She sees the flat and says "Aw fuck." and rides away. I was still so pumped. I rode all the way home to BedStuy on a completely flat front tire. I took turns as the tire rolled on my rim from side to side. I was kind of drunk. I had some visions of downhill mountain racers riding a full race on blown out flats, and I found my center. Took me an hour and a half to ride home, and I ruined my nice new gum walls. I trusted the situation entirely and felt like it would be a great story to tell in a decade or two.

(photo by JP Bevins)

It's got such a chill back story of where the messenger and cycling community meets the photography community, and that's really everything I stand for. But damn, it's still a sick ass and super steep french track bike. It rips.

Any close calls? Any parts stolen?

Nothing yet, it's slipped under the radar so far I think.

Where does it spend the night? Locked to a lamppost? Or in a livingroom?
Honestly, I leave it locked to the railing in my foyer unless I'm traveling for a couple days or more.

If you go to a party and lock it up outside… do you go and check on it? It is in back of your mind, and preventing you from fully committing to chatting up to that girl?
Nah, I leave it outside and don't think about it. It found it's own way into my life, and it was natural, anything else that happens will be natural as well. It's not a pretty bike, so if someone wants it, they know what they're looking for.

(photo by JP Bevins)

What kind of lock to you use?
I have a kryptonite mini with a purple skin on it. Fits right in my pocket. I got it through Levi's a long time ago during one of their commuter series launches. There's only one key, and I can't even read the serial number on it anymore. I'm scared that I'll have to leave it somewhere overnight and cut it off the next day if I ever lose the key at a get together or when I'm working.

Do you wear a helmet?
Not when commuting, no. I know that's stupid. I've had about 8 concussions so far in my life, and the statistics on how that's affecting me and my adult life are horrible.

Any tips for your fellow new Yorkers on putting together an awesome and invisible beater bike?
Immerse yourself in bike culture and good people that have love and histories, and the perfect bike will find you before you know it.

(photo by JP Bevins)