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Affinities: Tinfoil Swagger

Our monthly study of uniquely Bay Area tribes

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“The bigger, the better; the brighter, the louder,” says Tyrone Stevenson Jr., 25, better known as Da Scraper Bike King. Stevenson, a community activist and aspiring hip-hop artist, founded the Original Scraper Bike Team in East Oakland five years ago. The name is a spin on scraper cars—so called for their oversize rims, which scrape the inside of the frame. The team’s 30 members, aged 7 to 28, “scraperize” their bikes with duct tape, aluminum foil, cardboard, and spray paint. Then they ride single file through the city during group outings and neighborhood events. (The OSBT were among the first to pedal across the new span of the Bay Bridge last fall.)

New recruits are subject to approval by Da Scraper Bike King himself: Beyond creating an original bike, members are required to maintain at least a 3.0 GPA to ride. “Scraper Bikes keeps the kids out of trouble,” says Stevenson. “It’s something they’re proud to be a part of.” His own tricked-out trike tugs six speakers powered by a 12-volt car battery. He blasts his own songs, written under the stage name Baybe Champ—one is featured in a viral YouTube video called “Scrapertown.” “We’re, like, world-renowned now,” says Stevenson. “Look it up.” originalscraperbikes.blogspot.com

 

Originally published in the January 2014 issue of San Francisco

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