In the world of custom bike building there are folks out there turning out some pretty amazing projects. Most of the bikes that you see start off with a production built frame from which the builder adds whatever finish and components they choose to make it their own. Some would argue whether or not these are truly “custom” built bikes, but for most of us out there, it’s about as much as we can do with our skill set and the tools that we have. If you take it to the next level, that’s where builders like Tomas “Oddball” Cichecki of OCDconnection don’t settle for merely customizing an existing frame, they fabricate and build everything from scratch.
If you keep up with the custom bike scene then you are probably familiar with some of Tomas’s previous creations. He resides in London, England and was commissioned by Koen Van der Veken of Belgium to create the bike you see here today…”El Payaso.” The term is Spanish for “The Clown”, but it’s obvious there was little clowning around with this project. We asked Tomas about what he does for a living and he said… “I mainly do freelance work on interiors, quite often in design capacity as well as execution. My background in classically trained fine arts seems to feed back into everything I do, whether it’s a bike or a bathroom I try to take the every opportunity to exercise cross-reference design.” He started OCDconnection about 5 years ago after getting fed up with commuting by car in London and not being impressed with the bike options offered. His creative background fueled his desire to build custom bikes and we’d say he done some amazing things in such a short period of time.
When he was first approached by Koen to build the bike, he had no preexisting ideas in his head and he was given a large amount of creative freedom to come up with the bike you see here today. The only input given was the name and a vague mention of a cafe racer theme. He sat down and worked on some initial sketches of the bike and after Koen approved, he began to get to work.
The design and engineering of this bike is not for the faint of heart. Tomas said that he had built a couple of dual suspension bikes in the past which proved to be important learning experiences for this build. We asked him about the challenges that he faced when working on this bike and he said…
“The biggest challenge lay in the collaborative aspect of the build. I had fabricated and welded all the steel elements of the frame and solved the biggest technical concerns – linking the bottom bracket with the swing arm in order to maintain constant chain tension throughout the travel of the swing arm. That’s where Marc Singleton of Garaje De los Muertos came in with his non CAD aided CNC wizardry. He machined 10mm alloy “engine plates” as I call them linking the whole setup together as well as all the rockers for the girder fork. I’ve cut the alloy fork blades on the band saw and finished them off by hand. The custom hub adapters were another tricky aspect to tackle. They were made by Marek Pardal of Kahaki bikes and all the technical aspects were arranged over a distance of 1000 miles. Rob English of Gonzo Kustom laced the wheels in a 6×8 pattern also inspired by one of Kahaki’s latest builds.”
Tomas then spent many hours prepping and painting the bike and then he took it to the “Carry On Cruizing” event in the north of England where he dropped it off with Steve Ray the pinstriper for the final touches of lettering and numbering before it was ready to be picked up by it’s new owner.
There’s nothing more satisfying that seeing a project like this come together. The collaboration factor between other contributors to the project just makes it all even sweeter. The end result is a killer cafe racer style cruiser that is feast for the eyes and a blast to ride. We asked Tomas what builds he had planned for the future and he said… “Currently I’m planning a simpler and quicker build that is in the early stages of development, things generally tend to grow in the process a lot, this is one of the ways I keep things interesting for myself.”