November 11, 2004

The Boyland Tandem

Those who have seen our bent blog updates over the last year have seen a lot of Tom Kabat. He and his Boyland bicycle "factory"

a picture of the factory entrance

have already been the subject of two of our reports (even the local paper has covered him) and his activities are so outrageous and so much fun that we are visiting him again.

Tom "finished" his Counterpoint (recumbent in front and upright in back) inspired tandem. It is a product of the CAD (Cardboard Aided Design), his cardboard drawing board, you can see at the bottom of the last story we did about him. Here is a picture of Tom with his bike and the template he created it from:

And he has it out on to the street with his ten year old daughter Amelia who rides in the front.

I put quote marks around the word 'finished' in the paragraph above because all of Tom's bikes are constantly changing works of art. On most of of his bike's the steering and seating are both left somewhat loose so he can make modifications on the fly. He's always also playing around with brake, pedal, bottom bracket and shifter location so he tightens these areas as little as he feels he has to. This makes the ride on most of his bikes a sloppy one until he gets the componentry located where he wants it.

Since it was a work day when I visited his "factory" about a week ago, I was not able to get a shot of he and his daughter riding. I did, however, manage to get a few shots of him pedaling it on the street in front of his house

In the pictures above, do note that he can adjust the seat height. And he does so in just a few minutes. And like all his bikes, this one was made from parts salvaged from the various dumpsters he regularly visits. He is not seen riding in the middle, most practical and comfortable position. Of note also in the fact that when he rides in the high position, he has to first get the bike rolling as he climbs up it like he is climbing a fence......

THX for keeping us smiling Tom. Your stuff is great!!

btw: After I had sent Tom the photos I took for his perusal, he replied:

Those are some pretty funny photos.
That explains the strange looks I get when I'm riding it. :-)

I noticed I used little "Cardboardelia's" arm instead of "Cardboardtom's" arm in the CAD shots.
We got the range of seat positions captured, but we didn't get any photos of the way I usually ride it with the seat at the mid point where I can still reach the ground with my foot.

Tom's entire collection and how to build your own wood bike can be seen at

btw2: Last year, Tom sent us this treatise on Why He bikes:

I've been a dedicated cyclist since being dumped by my high school sweet heart a couple decades back. Then it was just good simple therapy for the anguished romantic. It was a great break to get out and ride all out for a couple of hours, processing lots of oxygen, seeing the back roads and exploring my thoughts. It was very empowering to find something I could accomplish, with adventures and challenges embedded. I'm now a happily married father of a 10 year old daughter. I still need to keep biking every day to clear my thoughts and explore my feelings.

I find that cycling hard helps me open up to myself and confront issues and feelings more readily than when I sit around pondering. Riding helps me find solutions to quandaries that I can implement when I return.

I feel a great sense of independence and freedom while cycling. I have been a long distance bike tourer for a number of years and have warm feelings of good memories of many cycling adventures with friendly strangers, old friends, mates, groups and solo.

Some observations of ways to look at cycling:
A bike is a lever.
Its a lever that multiplies the result of leg motion into locomotion.
A bike is the right tool for the task of adventure travel, enjoyment travel, commuting and small load transport.

Biking and being somewhere
When I bike along a scenic road, I am at each point along the road. If I drive it I am only in a car that passes through. I am not really "there" at each point along the road. In a vehicle, I only see it though the enclosing wind shields and smell it through the ventilation system and hear it over the engine sounds and feel it through the gas pedal. In a car, I am isolated from the place my car travels through. On a bike I am in a place I travel through.

A self centered view of simple journeys
My feet push the pedals.
The pedals turn the cranks to rotate the chainwheel to pull the chain that turns the cog that spins the tire that rolls the globe under it, ever so gently under it until another part of the earth arrives under me. I step off of the bike and I am in a new place. It is wonderful that all of us can gently roll the earth with our bikes in different directions without interfering with one another.

I also love the elegant, transparent simplicity of bikes. So I started making new funny bike designs.

Cycling means different things to various folks.
Happy cycling to you.

-Tom Kabat

Posted by mkreig at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)