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Visual artist meets “bike nut” at Revolution Cycles
By Michael Summers
Fort Wayne Reader
Stepping into Jason Roberts’ shop Revolution Cycles at 1122 Broadway is a bit like stepping back a couple decades, maybe more. It’s packed with the kind of bikes they just don’t make much anymore, like old tandems and Schwinns, from the days when helmets weren’t required and a gear change was the exception rather than the rule.
Convolution Cycles specializes in service and maintenance to these kind of older bikes, but shop owner Jason Roberts is steadily making a name for himself in Fort Wayne for his detailed and imaginative custom design work.
A self-described “bike nut” as well as an artist (he did the mural on the side of Bikes and Boards on St Joe Road), Roberts says he just put the two together one day. It’s a simple explanation for something that isn’t all that simple in its execution, requiring quite a lot of painstaking work and patience. The detail, depth and variety Roberts brings to his work is amazing.
Most of his bike design projects these days are commissions, with clients bringing him their bikes and requesting a certain look. He works with the clients to come up with a general theme or direction. “I guess I’m a typical artist,” he says. “I’d rather just have an overall theme and just go with it, rather than having a perfect plan. Along the way I usually change my mind a little bit, as far as maybe adding a character, or little parts I just throw in there to make it that much cooler or pretty.”
But whatever variations Roberts might throw into the design as it nears completion, he always keeps the original theme close at hand.
Not every bike lends itself to custom work. Road bikes are more difficult to work on; their narrow bars and fenders mean little surface area is available for design (though it can be done). But cruisers, on the other hand… “You have this big fat fender and chain guards and all that stuff,” Roberts says. “You get more options with lots of surface area.”
“Each (project) is something different, so it pushes me,” Roberts says. “Sometimes it seems just beyond what I think I can do. Right now, I’m working on goddess theme over an old cruiser bike. It has women and intricate flower images…”
Since every job isn’t quite the same as the one before it, Roberts is hesitant offering me an exact timetable, but in general it takes at least a couple weeks for Roberts to complete one of his custom projects. A really involved project might take up to a month, which is why Roberts likes working on the more elaborate jobs during the winter when people aren’t out riding their bikes. “Just breaking down the bike and putting it back together, sanding it down and prepping it, all that takes time,” he says. “It’s all done by hand, it’s not airbrushed, so like a work of art you actually get to see the texture and the depth. There are no real shortcuts.”