I love my bike. It has been my trusty mode of transport for over 11 years. It was a New York City flea market purchase that cost me relatively little and has required few expenses. It has gotten me from point to point with minimal upkeep and saved me thousands of dollars in subway fares, car payments, and gym memberships. It has been a constant through graduations, jobs, relationships, moves, and more moves. Last month, I decided to say thank you by giving my bike a much-needed makeover.
I rode over to the I Fell building, on South Rogers and West 4th streets, where Scot Wright has set up Re:Cycle. The space, which he shares with poetry collective Ledge Mule Press, serves as the showroom for Wright’s new bike-refurbishing business, Evren Kent Cycles. He looked at my scratched and dirty steel frame, mismatched wheels, racing handlebars, and overzealous 16-speed cassette. I felt sheepish before my filthy and somewhat impractical bicycle, but Wright immediately got excited about the possibilities. We could remove half the gears to make it an 8 speed; we could replace the drop handlebars with a more comfortable option; and, most importantly, we could salvage many of the original components. This is Wright’s passion — working with what he has on hand to make sleek, practical bikes for city riders.
Wright, a St. Louis native, came to Bloomington with his partner, Michelle Moyd, a history professor at Indiana University. Moyd’s research has taken them for extended stints in other cities, such as Austin, Texas, and Berlin, Germany. Both are great bike towns, Wright says (“Michelle’s fellowships kept feeding my bike jones”), but he was especially inspired by the bike culture in Europe. In cities like Berlin, he explains, people bike not just for fitness or style but because biking is “part of their life, ingrained in almost everything they do.”
Back in Bloomington, Wright sought to implement this cycle-centric lifestyle at home, starting with Moyd’s bike before branching out with rebuilt bikes for friends and clients. He settled on the name Evren Kent Cycles as a salute to city biking: The name loosely translates to “urban universe” in Turkish. While Wright uses the Re:Cycle studio to showcase completed bikes and consult with Evren Kent Cycles clients, much of the dirty work happens at his home or in his makeshift workshop in a friend’s garage. Working with local businesses as much as possible, he gets secondhand components from the Bloomington Community Bike Project, buys new parts from Salt Creek Cycles when necessary, and takes frames to a local powder coater to be painted.
This particular detail — the powder-coated paint job — feels like the most transformative step of the customizing process. Did I want to go light and fun with a salmon pink or teal? Did I want to stay classic and opt for a navy or maroon? In the end, I opted for the latter: a wine-red frame, perfectly offset by dark-blue leather handlebar grips that Wright made from a salvaged sofa and stitched into place by hand.
Clearly, Wright takes a bespoke approach, but that doesn’t mean his bikes have a prohibitive price tag. Because he uses recycled parts, he can keep costs down, filling a niche between the cheap beater bike that will just get you around and the premium touring bike for which serious cyclists shell out. Wright hopes to provide a middle ground — to provide Bloomingtonians with something of quality (“something that’s had someone’s hand on it”) that you can afford and be proud to ride. At the end of the day, it’s about just getting more bikers out on the streets. “If you’re happy with your bike,” he says simply, “then you’ll ride it.”