Peacock-Groove-HeadtubeErik Noren is a creative genius.  Spend 15 minutes with him, and you will see and hear the ideas of what bicycle artistry can be. Making just 30 bicycles per year, he pours his heart and soul into each one, toiling away in his shop, metal as his canvas, investing so much time and care into each one that he rarely makes a profit.

True to his craft, Erik doesn’t concern much for money with his bikes, as long as he is allowed to express his vision in the end. Stories from almost 20 years as a framebuilder, he talks about the only people who have really recognized him directly for what he was trying to say with each frame are other framebuilders.  An artist who can only be understood by another artist, he then goes into his ideas for this year’s NAHBS show…

Just a few NAHBS show bikes laying around...
Just a few NAHBS show bikes laying around…

When you walk through Erik’s shop, its a mess of bikes, and he makes no apologies. Like his mind, only the really important things deserve attention, there are better things to do than organize old bikes.  I hadn’t seen Erik in about 6 months, and I wanted to visit and get a tour of the Peacock Groove shop. We started by talking for several hours, hearing his frustrations with trying to make a living with bicycle frame building, industry politics, governmental conspiracies and relationships.

V8 performance headers and a future Peacock Groove
V8 performance headers and a future Peacock Groove

Like any other mechanically-minded midwesterner, Erik has roots and passion for cars. To help pay the bills, he also started making equal-length performance headers for racing motors that were being prepared by a local engine builder. An old Dodge A series van sits out front, and Erik tells me his plans to make it into a speedy shop runner, when he gets the money someday.

Peacock-Groove-Dodge-V8His friend the engine builder comes by, and we take a quick break to take the cherry picker over, and get another motor needing exhaust assistance out of the truck.

Erik-Norens-PocketsEven though we haven’t worked on or talked bikes, we take a break, and he offers to take me out to lunch. We go to sit at a local mexican joint, and I get one of the best explanations of how Erik thinks, he empties his pockets. Comprised of about 6lbs of random metal, there are bike parts, car parts, knives, flashlights and keys.  He laughs, says he wouldn’t want to be without something he needs.

Erik-Noren-and-his-LatheAs he is showing me his new-to-him computer controlled lathe, Erik talks about his ideas for the future. Self-admitting that he is irresponsible with money, he gives me his plan to start to turn 13-year-old Peacock Groove into a profitable business.

Peacock-Groove-Headset-RingsThe first items the new lathe is creating are head tube rings for Peacock Groove bikes.  These rings are reinforcement rings that are brazed around each end of the head tube, and help Erik reduce his costs since he won’t have to buy them elsewhere, but his true motivation is tat they are custom built to an idea he had, to allow him to add a little more color and personality to each future Peacock Groove.

Peacock-Groove-HeadsetsLaunched at NAHBS this year, Erik also has a vision for an American made headset with a unique top cover design, that cleans up the overall look of the bike when installed. Made in-house on the lathe, he trails off with ideas on how to start making a limited production run of the headsets and maybe starting to sell them.

Peacock-Groove-DropoutThe most unique think about Erik’s style, and Peacock Groove bikes is that there is a vision. And if there are no parts around to fit this vision, Noren just simply makes them himself. To achieve the look of this particular disc brake post-mount, he made 6 separate pieces to get to exactly what was in his mind.

Peacock-Groove-Bridgeports

Peacock Groove has 2 Bridgeports, and no website. The closest thing Erik has to marketing is a Facebook page.

Peacock-Groove-Blood-BikeAs one of the best examples of true Peacock Groove, theme bikes are a passion for Erik. The famous Evil Dead bike features many completely superfluous additions that would make most of the cycling industry scoff. But they are important to the reason the bike exists, the art of expression that it represents. You can see this when Erik tells you about the bike. There is no discussion of weight, or spoke butting profiles or tire durometer. The discussion is why the bike is, and what it means to him. And that is all that matters.

Peacock-Groove-Erik-Noren

 

16 COMMENTS

  1. I was honored with the chance to meet him in 2011. What struck me the most about him was his honesty and directness. To this day, still my favorite framebuilder.

  2. Sorry to pick… but those headers look like they are for a V6 not a V8. Or maybe I am missing something like the extra port.

    His work seems like he enjoys making stuff more than selling it.
    Cool stuff!! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I’ve known Erik since he was a 18 year old kid when he worked for another local builder, which is long closed.
    He’s the real deal!
    Never been one to play by the rules and has no idea what the word eccentric meals just lives life and enjoys talking bikes with such intensity, passion and love you won’t want to walk away.

  4. @Thesteve4761 Ha, spot on.
    @Ace if anyone can make you a bike that won’t get stolen, it would be Noren. And you are right, he isn’t Rembrant, nor does he claim to be. That said, many will say he is the Liberace of the cycling world. And I’ll add he is indeed a genius.

  5. Erik is an inspiration to me, having seen his bikes in real life on a few occassions. Wish someone would swoop in and help him grow the business so he could focus on more scaled business ideas. I think his creativity with the headsets could open up lucrative markets to give his business a sustainable direction. Would be neat to see this happen.

  6. I remember meeting Eric at frostbike maybe 10 years ago. He had a 26″ adventure touring bike with custom racks and outfitted with nokian gazzolodis before it had a “category”. The racks looked like the grill guard on an old school fright train. The racks also had a frame matching camo paint job with a truck bed liner coating. Eric is a true visionaire. His bikes truly are works of art that obviously words can’t do justice.

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