Author’s Note: Rather than ask exhibitors the same set of interview questions, we’ve asked several to take part in interviewing one another in the lead up to the Philly Bike Expo. This mixes up the format a bit, allows people in the profession to ask what they feel are important questions (or, maybe not… who knows?). For the first builder, Eric Baar, I asked a set of kick off questions as someone who knows him and who has spent time with his cat. We hope you dig it.
When Eric Baar isn’t making sick stitches for daVinci in Denver, he’s at his Ground Up Speed Shop in Colorado Springs constructing all manner of fun (bikes, his race car, the Dizzy Drome). When I interviewed him last year, it was clear that his cycling interests were on the fringes of what most people associate with the culture. His heart is clearly in bike polo and track racing, and his creations in those realms are some of the most engaging and expressive bikes you will see.
The bike that really caught my eye during my visit last year was his Love Potion #2, a polo bike he took with him to the Philly Bike Expo last year. With a fat coat of metalfleck paint, goldleaf decals, and striping everywhere, it’s clear right off the mallet that Love Potion #2 isn’t your typical polo bike. I wanted to ask him more about that particular creation, as well as a new track bike I’ve heard he’s got in the works…
BIKERUMOR: Firstly, you’re very passionate about bike polo- a sport many in cycling don’t know much about. You play it. You’ve built several polo-purposed bikes. Why do you love this sport?
ERIC: I like the intensity, and the control, and the chaos, and that it starts with random chance for teams. I like that every time we play, something wild and crazy happens. I like when the game turns into epic battle mode. I like that when you make your moves, you cannot hesitate, naturally inspiring confidence. I like the DIY aspect with mallet and polo bike making parties.
One of my friends claims bike polo is a bunch of reincarnated warrior spirits sent back out into battle. I can see that.
BIKERUMOR: You brought a particularly distinctive polo bike to the Philly Bike Expo last year. How did you choose its name?
ERIC: This one is Love Potion number two. It was built to replace Love Potion after that bike twisted from being crashed so much. I saw a bmx bike at the grocery called “Love Potion” when I was getting some food at the store to barbeque with friends at a polo game so I set up a new polo bike with that inspiration. It seemed like a good name for a hot rod. It makes me smile big.
BIKERUMOR: Tell me a little bit about why you built this bike. How does it contribute to the dialogue of bike polo technology?
ERIC: If the bike doesn’t matter, then I can have a lot of fun making something wild I haven’t seen before.
There’s no special technologies here, just made with some thicker tubes to be a little more dent resistant. I made a stainless steel disc protector that works pretty well. I mean I haven’t bent a rotor yet. I also wanted to test a process for the metal flake paint and gold leaf. It’s like ten paint jobs thick.
BIKERUMOR: What’s your favorite aspect of the design or build?
ERIC: I liked how the turnbuckle heim chain tensioner turned out. That stainless X seat stay bridge makes me think about wheelie bars. The top tube pinstriping was performed at NAHBS ’13 and that is a wonderful memory, like getting a tattoo.
BIKERUMOR: Your other main cycling passion is velodrome track racing. What is it about track that attracts you to the sport?
ERIC: The speed. The simplicity of the bike and the complexity of the games. The sound the disc wheel makes is hypnotic. Entering the pain cave with a plan to get out. Breathing. The shape of the Velodrome and all those racing lines. It’s all about gravity and timing your accelerations.
BIKERUMOR: What is it about the track frame makes it an attractive medium for you?
ERIC: There’s not much for components so the frame really sticks out. They stay clean. They stay relevant.
BIKERUMOR: (Bike)Rumor has it that you’re working on a particularly rad track frame for the show. Break down the construction for us
ERIC: Name: 🚀Rocket.
Material: 7005 Aluminum frame, Titanium Dropout, Steel Fork. 1 shot lettering enamels. Lil Daddy Roth Metalflakes.
Tubing choices: Easton Rad MTB tubes and Columbus Aero shapes. Custom Squozen.
Joining method: Big Fat Flat Old School Yeti Style Heli Arc Action. 12+ feet of stitches.
BIKERUMOR: What gets you excited about this bike?
ERIC: I just want to make something I haven’t seen before. Someone said It’s not about the bike, so that gives me total creative freedom (but within applicable rules) I see space ships and top fuel dragsters in this speed machine.
This is a continuation of many wild track racing bike designs over the last 17 years. The basic geometry does not change, so I kinda play with the rest. I haven’t made myself any bike at all in the last 3 years and I want to bring a new one to life that has been in my mind for a while.
The indoor velodrome is 3 miles from the Speed Shop and is part of my winter fitness regime. I like to knock out 100 laps and hang out with friends during a snowstorm. I can feel the workouts kick in when I get back on the trail bike or polo bike. I like to sprint and it feels good to open up the legs and let it fly!
BIKERUMOR: You’re as renown for your welding as you are for your brushwork, which you tend to bring with you to the show and perform live. Will Love Letters be making an appearance at the show?
ERIC: YES, absolutely! I love that I can travel with my paintbrushes and do art for anyone anywhere. I don’t mind when people watch.
BIKERUMOR: You’ve pinstriped just about everything. When I toured Bilenky a few months ago, I even saw evidence of your work there. What was your favorite thing to doodle on?
ERIC: Uhhh… not gonna lie: Boobs. They are a delicate substrate, and I have to be very gentle with those smooth flowing lines.
BIKERUMOR: Lastly: space aliens have landed in Colorado Springs. You have 90 seconds to evacuate with your cat, never to return, and can only bring one of your bikes with you. Which one do you grab?
ERIC: Without hesitation- my Titanium Single speed trail bike. Head to the hills, run for your lives!
(Next Interview: Megan Dean of Moth Attack)