New England Bike Builders' Ball


A version of this article originally appeared on www.risd.edu.

Rebecca Erde 19 MID, Lily Douglas 20 ID, Jason Chang 20 ID, and Sam Lavoie 20 ID/SC represented RISD ID at this year's New England Bike Builders' Ball. The annual gala, held in Boston, showcases local bicycle frame builders.


Rebecca, Lily, and Jason participated in RISD Global's summer course, Tokyo: Bike Building. The 3-week course, led by Associate Professor of Industrial Design Khipra Nichols,  gives cycling enthusiasts the opportunity to study traditional steel-framed bicycle building techniques with master craftsmen at the Tokyo College of Cycle Design (TCD).


The Ball was a great opportunity to both display their work and to get to know other local craftspeople. Jason was excited to see the high level of skill on display. “In Japan, we got the privilege of apprenticing with masters in bike building, so it was very nice to come back and see the same practice going on here in the States,” he said. Lily added: “I loved getting to talk to all kinds of craftsmen. Some were old, some were young, some made bikes and some made bike accessories, but all were very unique. A lot of vendors featured really high-end craft and elegant aesthetic, whereas one guy there just had crazy Mad Max-looking stunt bikes that he built in his garage for neighborhood kids.”

Lily, Jason, and Sam were also representing the RISD Rover Team. They displayed the club's 2018 submission to the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge. “We’re not the only student booth, but we’re the only booth with a rover,” Lily noted. “It stands out because it’s huge (compared to a bike), has 3 wheels, and doesn’t really have a functional every-day purpose. It’s a very specialty machine designed for one specific competition, with specific guidelines.” Jason added, “It was amazing to see a visitor’s mind blown when we showed them how it folded into a 5x5’ cube.”

Maureen Buttenheim