It’s no secret that Corvallis is a bike town. Everyone from college kids to their grandparents take to two wheels around here, most everyone sporting the traditional cycle. However, with classes back in session soon, new blood is coming to Corvallis and with it, radical new ideas.
Matt Rothig made the decision to enroll at OSU based on the atmosphere in Corvallis and when he saw the great lengths the city had gone to, to accommodate cyclist, he was hooked. “I’ve always liked to ride bikes, it’s the way you get around as a kid,” the 21-year-old shared with The Advocate. He went on to explain, “When I was younger, I got into an accident and went right over the handle bars of my bike. My face was a mess and I fractured both wrists. So my dad came up with a solution.”
That solution was to create one of a kind chopper bikes, making it impossible to fly over the tall handlebars. “I started making the bikes with my dad and then it just grew from there. The metal work is all hand done. I basically take junk bikes no one wants anymore and I chop them and cannibalize them to get all the mechanical parts. But the handlebars, design, all of the art work like the roses and things, that’s all done by hand.”
When Matt first started showing the bikes, he says, people were impressed by the design but were not all that convinced they were functional. “I had to actually ride them in front of people. The bikes have the same pedals and breaks as other bikes. It’s just balance, the same as any other bike except no one else has the bikes I’m building.”
Depending on the design, a single bicycle can take up to a month to complete or as little as two weeks. “It really depends,” Matt shared. “If I spend a lot of time on it, I can be done quick. Sometimes I like to do a little and then walk away for awhile. Sometimes I’ll just do all the welding on it and then not come back to do the detail stuff for awhile.” Details, Matt says, are what makes his bikes stand out. Features as intricate as spider webs and roses are displayed on some models while others spot light feathers and faces.
“I get my inspiration from everything, really. I’ll see something on the street and think it’s really cool. Or things will just come to me, like having a bike that looks like a dragon. I think that’s pretty cool.”
For now, Matt says he’s not opening a store front but may after he gets out of college. “I want to get my degree but I like doing this on the side. I take orders and build for individual people. I think that’s the cool thing about it. If you’re going to go out and get this wild bike, you want it to be the only one like it so I build individual bikes for individual people.”