Scraper bikes began as low-budget analogs to the colorful, big-rimmed cars—also called scrapers—often seen cruising around east Oakland. Tricked-out scavenged frames with foil, colored tape, and candy wrappers, the bikes are a resourceful homage. Until recently they were a purely local phenomenon. But after a cameo in a YouTube rap video, prominent placement in the first-ever solar-powered hip-hop festival, and support from Bay Area businesses and museums, the bikes are garnering worldwide attention. Many people see potential in the maturing scraper bike movement; they hope the enterprising youth behind it can be a positive force for change in Oakland.
Tyrone Stevenson, the “Scraper Bike King” who pioneered the bikes, has played an energetic role in popularizing them. He sells them to places as far away as Germany, and teaches people to build them in the informal workshops he holds in his backyard. Andre Ernest, director of the Super Innovative Teens nonprofit, believes Stevenson has already made an impact. “He’s helping the kids who would otherwise be on the street,” Ernest told the Christian Science Monitor. According to Wiretap, Stevenson recently applied for a small business grant and is working to patent his design. He hopes to open a shop where he can continue to teach bike-building skills. “If we had a center, where a lot of kids could just come, I feel deep in my heart that would really reduce a lot of the crime,” he says.
Take a look at this slideshow of scraper bike photos, and watch the video that catapulted the bikes into the limelight below: