Brian Motl, Bike Culturist
Brian and I met under the oddest of circumstances, we both were working for a short time selling luggage for a retailer in Chicago’s Water Tower Place. Hawking high-end luggage was a stretch for me, so I can’t imagine what exact circumstances brought Mr. Motl to be employed at this particular shop on Michigan Avenue. In any case, we soon found common ground in the Dot Game (I am still the champ, Brian), and in playing music over the store’s sound system that was wildly offensive to our clientele. Sometime during that year, I got married, and my mother selected Brian to be the human tripod for her video camera, another unlikely partnership for Brian (the result is the only surviving video record of my wedding ceremony).
All of this is relevant only to illustrate that Brian is the type of guy who is at home anywhere, despite the fact that, for at least as long as I have known him, his singular obsession is with an object that is designed specifically to take you places.
I had hoped for this interview to be a really thorough introduction for the outsider into Brian’s signature world of bikes, beer, and anti-bon vivants, but he responded in typical Brian style by keeping things painfully simple and direct. I couldn’t even squeeze a picture of a bike or two that he has built out of him…
Oh well, the world is probably better off not trying to nail down what makes a guy like him tick. So do yourself a Brian and make yourself at home, pop open a beer, read this exceedingly brief interview, and then get back on the road where you belong.
HOI- If you had to name them, what are the three main things that your life revolves around?
BM- The things my life revolves around, if I had to name them, would I guess be bikes, music, and, um, I guess, good beer.
HOI- What spurred your interest in bike culture? What is its relationship to the streets/urban environment?
BM- When I lived in Cincy [Cincinnati] my first roommate road bikes, and kind of opened the door for me to cycling. I think the relationship to streets for cycling is due to the fact that you ride on the street, and that’s also why there is more urban cycling.
HOI- Have you ever found yourself in tough spots in cities? Will you share one of those experiences?
BM- Depends on what you call “a tough spot”. If you mean, like, a ruff area of town, then yes, I think I tend to live near, or in, ruff areas. If you are talking about being jumped, I think someone tried to jump me once, but I just walked off; or [if you are talking about] just getting into a fight on the sidewalk with some bro trying to start shit with you and your friends, well I do live in Columbus “OSU”, OH. Drunk bros are always trying to fuck with you when you are riding your bike or even just walking. I hate college life.
HOI- What is a bike krew? Do you belong to one?
BM- I’m in a bike club I would say. We hang out, drink, and have bike events. I feel a krew, or crew, is something related to fixie bike culture. Though the bike club I’m in is Mosh and Brew Cycle Crew. Haha -kind of a play on the 80’s youth crew.
HOI- Where did you learn how to build bikes? What was the training like?
BM- I kind of started teaching myself how to build up bikes, single speeds and fixies, but then, I decided I really wanted to know how you work on bikes. So, I went to Portland, OR and went to the United Bicycle Institute. Thought I would like to try frame-building sometime. The training was hard at times, but it helped get me some experience to get my foot in the door.
HOI- Can bicycles be considered art? Why?
BM- Bikes can be art in my mind. It really depends on what the person is doing with the bike or what is on it. I guess it’s all in the eyes of the beholder.
HOI- Who has better pizza; Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, or Portland? [fact: Brian has a tattoo of a slice of pizza on the inside of one of his arms, an ode to one of his loves]
BM- I’d have to say that Cincy and C-bus don’t really have there own style of pizza, so I have to say it’s between Chicago and NYC. I’m going to say Chicago cause it’s hard to find good, Chicago-style pizza outside of Chicago. Anyone and everyone is making NYC style. Though, Cincy does have Dewey Pizza, which is really good, and Columbus has Hound Dogs and Clever Crow. When it comes to pizza, I’ll take them all.
All photos stolen from Brian’s Facebook profile.