Every once in a while you get the oppurtunity to meet up with some body who is truly authentic, somebody who knows what they love and what they are good at and just go for it. This is the best way that I can introduce Mike Anderson of VELK Straps.
Mike is a bicycle loving simple kind of guy. He lives in Orem with his wife and uses his bicycle for everything. When we approached him with the idea for this interview he was a little suprised saying that the straps are about riding bicycles and having fun, not about him. So, as promised I will do my best to highlight the straps and not the man. This is a hard task however because Mike’s enthusiasm is contagious. During our interview we touched on everything from the joys of single speed riding (Mike is a fixed rider through and through), to the power bicycles have to change lives and communities, to the different philosophical approaches in life (no joke).
BikeProvo: So where did the idea of these straps come from?
Mike: Well, I got into fixed riding and needed better retention than what was available. I did not have any money for the fancy straps that were just hitting the market at the time, and I hated riding cages. After trying cages I went to the PowerGrip brand and disliked those so much that I returned them and decided to try and make my own.
BP: So is this current strap the same one that you designed right out of the gate?
M: No. I made a strap similar to the PowerGrip one. It had a single strap instead of the double I use today. It worked out really well at first so, I made a bunch for my buddies. One day I was locked into a skid and the strap I had made broke! After that happened I wanted to make something better simply to replace the straps I had handed out to everyone. I did not have a lot of money but, I love to be creative and solve problems, so I came up with this new design.
BP: What is the verdict so far?
M: These new straps are 100% solid. They are total overkill in design. I made them so they will not wear through with use, or snap if you are doing 30mph skids. The pair I ride on my bike have 1,000 miles on them and are only getting better with use.
BP: 30mph skids? That sounds awesome! Is this your first dabbling in DIY culture?
M: No. I have always enjoyed making things myself whenever possible. I have made my own t-shirts and patches for years.
(At this point in the interview we talk about DIY/Punk Rock culture for about 30min. Mike takes me over to a closet and shows me it is full of custom jackets and vests he has made over the years. My Punk Rock Id was mad jealous.)
BP: The shop Urban Downfall carries your stuff now right?
BP: How did that happen?
M: I gave a set of straps to Jamie at Urban and he liked them so much he wanted to start carrying them. I didn’t think much of it and made two pairs for the shop. As soon as they hit the shelf they were gone. Urban has since sold about 30 pairs of the VELK Straps. There is a guy in Vegas riding these straps, and a few guys in California riding them as well. It is kind of cool to have dudes in other places riding something that I made.
BP; That is pretty awesome. Is there anything else you would like to add?
M; Yes. All the straps are handmade by me right here in my kitchen. The process I use uses all of the material so that nothing goes to waste. I make the straps so that people will be stoked on them and get out and ride their bikes.
Well there you have it folks wise words from a wise man. A big thanks to Mike not only for the interview, but also for making such an awesome product. Make sure to swing by Urban Downfall and pick up your own pair. Urban sells sets of straps for $23 and pedal/strap combos from $34-$36. Mike whipped me up a pair the night before the interview and I can honestly say they are the nicest pedal retention solution (besides fancy shoes), I have found in 16 years of serious riding, Also, don’t think these straps are only for fixed gears. Mike says there are quite a few people running these straps on single speed bikes, and I would imagine they would be a great replacement for cages on any bicycle. Make sure to keep your eye open for Mike’s work in the future. He is considering branching out into designing t-shirts and patches with pro-bicycle messages. If his graphic design is anything like his physical design I will be first in line for whatever he comes up with. Thanks again Mike.