Burning Bikes: The Wacky, Weird Vehicles of Burning Man

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Burning Bikes:   The Wacky and Weird Vehicles of Burning Man
Words:  Tim Monroe         Pics:  Tom Monroe
Burning Man has received a fair bit of attention in the mainstream press. For the uninitiated, tho, here’s a brief description: The Burning Man festival is an annual, weeklong event that always ends on Labor Day. It takes place in the Black Rock Desert, about 2 hours North of Reno, Nevada. You might have heard of the Black Rock Desert, it’s a huge dry lake bed where land speed records have been set.
Burning Man 2006 was roughly 40,000 people strong, with people coming from around the world for this unique event. Lots of people equate Burning Man with nudity, drugs, sex and music. This is fairly true, but it’s not as in-your-face as you might think. At any one time, probably 5 percent of the people are walking around nude, many painted up in ways best left to your imagination. Contrary to popular belief, there IS a small police presence at the event, so illegal substances had best be kept out of sight.
One of the most interesting parts of Burning Man, at least for this gearhead, is the wacky collection of vehicles. Not your basic choppers or streetfighters…oh no, those would be far too normal for a Burner (as many participants call themselves).   Just like in the “default world”, all motorized vehicles must pass inspection by the DMV before they can be operated on the “playa” surface. This DMV, however, stands for “Department of Mutant Vehicles”. And mutants they are. You see everything from a full sized Spanish galleon, on a bus chassis, to a 20 foot long crawling baby on wheels. The imagination and workmanship here is often amazing. You don’t need to do drugs at Burning Man, just the sensation of being there is more than enough entertainment for most people.
Death Guild is a long time “theme camp” that has a decidedly “Mad Max in Thunderdome” feel about it. Death Guild members have all sorts of vehicles, from 60’s cars done up with machine guns and barbed wire, to cool motorcycles that look as if they’ve survived a nuclear holocaust.
One of the more ambitious bikes at Burning man was a contraption consisting of some sort of 80’s Japanese bike morphed with two sets of forks and wheels, spread about 4 feet apart. There was a steering linkage….it might have actually worked, although I’ll bet the handling was plenty tricky.
Here then, for your viewing pleasure, are some of the wacky and wonderful machines spotted at Burning Man over the past few years.

One Response to “Burning Bikes: The Wacky, Weird Vehicles of Burning Man”

  1. I can’t wait to get my full licence so that I can get a bigger bike!

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