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Friday, April 8, 2016

Alex Rindskopf - Strange Cycle

At Hoodbush 2014, I remember walking up the hill to check out the plethora of bikes that were being entered into the best in show contest. All I could remember is one of the first bikes to grab my attending was Alex Rindskopf's wild, skinny, mean, and low CB750 chopper. From afar it resembled a few bikes I was already a fan of, but then when I got a closer glance, that was the farthest from the truth. Tons of intricate details and fab work went into the frame, fender, seat and bars just to name a few things. The bike had style for days and that also can be said about any bike that comes out of Strange Cycle's Shop. Moving from IL to set up shop here in Cleveland, it was a no brainer to invite him to show off one of his newest creations at Fuel Cleveland on May 28th. I sat down with Alex a few weeks ago and asked him some questions about his thoughts of Cleveland, where the name Strange Cycle comes from and what new projects he has up his sleeve, enjoy!

-Mikey Revolt

Photo by: Ken Carvajal

Alex Rindskopf, where do you call home?

A: My hometown is Lake Villa, IL - a small town an hour directly north of Chicago. I spent the first 31 years of my life there, and it was a great town to grow up in. Lots of fields and woods nearby, and my friends and I grew up crashing and fixing all kinds of things like dirtbikes and smowmobiles. It's always home to me.

Since moving to Cleveland, what have been some of your favorite things about the city?

A: Since moving to Cleveland, many things have become favorites. The food here is so diverse, and I found so many places to eat something different, and they quickly became spots to go to on the regular. I made good friends with so many awesome people right off the bat, and I have had tons of support since the day I moved into my shop. I love urban decay and there are certain parts of the city that still show evidence of what was once here. Old industry, steel, manufacturing, railways, we have it all here. It still is a very productive city, and I love that.

Where does the name, Strange Cycles come from?

A: The name Strange Cycle...when it gets boring and stale, ya gotta go out and get some Strange.

What are some things you specialize in at your shop?

A: I build custom parts in a unique way, and where possible, I avoid a welded joint and forge a part from a single piece. Forged steel parts are the strongest and last the longest. Brackets, sissy bars, handlebars, seat pans, and many more parts are made this way at Strange Cycle. Frame modification, repair, and restoration are also services offered, and I take pride in the meticulous quality that goes into every job. 

Photo by: Ken Carvajal

What started the love for motorcycles for you and when did that love turn into modifying your own bikes, and then to full out building your own motorcycles?

A: I spent over 10 years working for a small business repairing small engines in residential and commercial outdoor power equipment. During this time I bought a crappy Honda Rebel from my neighbor's garage sale, beat the hell out of it for a few days until it blew to bits, and that sparked my love for anything motorcycle related. I began to fix and modify bikes for people local in my town, and built a few for myself too. All the while I was studying and learning about metal working, and eventually got the chopper sickness real bad, and started building bikes from the frame up.

Your bikes are always always so skinny, low and mean, is it safe to say it’s kind of your style?

A: To me the most well thought out bikes are put together and built tight and snug. The first time I ever walked up to an old drag bike and looked at it, I realized how tiny and detailed all the working parts are. It was low, long, and mean as hell. That old drag bike influenced me more than I knew, and with the love for real choppers already there, I naturally began to fall in love with digger style bikes. Reading stories about early Ness, Fatland, Denvers, and the craziness that Lanza Sr. created, and how their shops and names got out, are the best stories in chopper history. The timeless style of those bikes makes me want to keep it alive, but add the flavor of my ideas. 

Who or what inspires you and your style?

A: My inspiration comes from so many things. Old mechanical theories, blacksmithing, antique machines, tooling, and the details inside old buildings. My friends inspire me the most out of all, because the neatest design and fabwork is coming out of their shops, using methods and ideas I have never seen before.

What’s one bike you would love to own and/or build in the near future?

A: A bike to own and build in the near future, and I actually have a few parts set aside for, is a shovster, shortster, with two front heads. Open chain primary will drive a 5 speed of some sort. It would go in a 60's club style bike, and be a daily rider. Someday!

What do you find most challenging when building a bike?

A: When building a bike there are many challenges. The biggest challenge I face every time is the clock! I spend so much time on the smallest details, and there is always a deadline. I can never leave it well enough alone, and if it's not exactly what I want, I start over! 

Photo by: Ken Carvajal

What’s one of your favorite trips or runs you have ever done on your motorcycle and why?

A: Last summer, I rode to Smokey Mountain Chopper Fest, and the ride down there was awesome. The winding roads and hills were distracting enough to forget about the rear drum brake fade, and really have a good time. I rode my CB 750 digger down there and back with no problems at all. That's a great trip to make every year if you can! Every year we ride to Detroit for the Oily Souls show, and that's another favorite. Detroit is one of my favorite cities, and I've made lots of good friends out there.

Is there a place in this world you have yet to visit and must go before you kick the bucket?

A: There are so many interesting places to go, and so many cultures to explore and learn about in the world. I would love to see Scotland someday, and do a backpack adventure in the hills and woods out there. I follow the big adventures that Doug Wothke takes on his bikes around the world, and hope to do something similar, in parts of the world people hardly ever see.

Is there any life codes or mottos you live by?

A: I live by many motos and life codes, but the best one I learned from my close friend and Marine BJ Ledinsky, is "Adapt and overcome". There is nothing that can't be fixed or sorted out. Another good one is "play stupid games, win stupid prizes". Think it through before you act.

Any big plans or builds in your near future you can share?

A: A big bike project I have planned is a hill climber powered by a 65' BSA Hornet engine. I have the engine and matching frame with lots of extras already, and once its completed, actually race it! It's a potent little engine, and I think it would do pretty well. Coming soon!

Are you a eggs, bacon and toast or a pancakes with whip cream & syrup kind of guy?

A: For breakfast I would take the pancakes, syrup and whip cream on the bottom, and put the eggs, bacon, and toast on the top. Now I'm hungry, thanks haha.

Anyone you would like to give a shout out to or thank?

A: There are many people to thank for the support and help I've received over the years. I moved to Cleveland to be with my girlfriend Anna Lee, and she has done so much to help the shop grow now that I'm here. From promotion to shipping t-shirts, she's there to help. I spend so much time at the shop, and she deals with a lot without any problems. My close bud BJ Ledinski is another person that has been there for me and the shop since the day I showed up in Cleveland with a truck full of everything I own. Back home in Illinois, Mike and Dan Sappanos were there since the start, helping with so many things since we were kids. Josh Bartlett is another bud that has been there for me through the thick and thin. All you guys back home, I love you and thank you for all you have done. Anyone I didn't mention, you know who you are and I thank you. I also would like to thank my customers for the business, and many have become great friends of mine over the years. Thank you!

How can people follow you and your work?

A: I'm in the process of creating a website for the shop now, but in the mean time, the best way to find out more about what I do is to check out @strange_cycle on Instagram, or look up the Strange Cycle Facebook page. I'm always on there updating events we support and showing current projects.

Make sure to check out Alex's crazy good '59 Ironhead at Fuel Cleveland on May 28th.

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