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A Burner Lexicon: Bicycle

Posted in A Burner Lexicon, and Burning Man

A customized skeleton bike and its owner in Black Rock City, 2004. Photo by Kit O'Connell.

Bicycle, –noun, A bicycle is the personal transportation of choice in Black Rock City, where mutant vehicles are the only form of motor vehicle allowed to drive on the streets and participants must sometimes travel a mile or more to get to their destinations. The prevalence of bicycles both day and night is one of the main reasons being a darkwad is so dangerous.

The ideal Burner bicycle is one with fat tires and a comfortable seat. It is not an expensive bike, because playa dust is notoriously hard on equipment. Instead, a typical bike is purchased inexpensively (often at a pawn shop or big box store), built from spare parts or even received as a gift.

Many Burners customize their bicycles into miniature mutant vehicles in their own right, using everything from fake fur to blinking lights and EL-wire. Not only does this enhance the artistic nature of Burn events, but also prevents theft — most stolen bicycles are believed to be the result of confusion and inebriation rather than deliberate malice. Even so, the BMORG recommends that you use a lock to secure your ride when you’re not around.

It seems like some piece of equipment breaks every time I attend a Burn. This includes bicycle parts. Happily there are a number of options for repair on the playa, and this iFixit blog talks about a number of them.

Other entries in A Burner Lexicon can be found at

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