From collaborations with George Barris to Bon’s favorite bicycle
BIKE CITY: What was it like collaborating with George Barris?
Dan Bonn: George was a wonderful person to work with — very down to earth and warm. During our first meeting, we were surprised to discover that he had a love for bikes that went back to the days when he designed some pretty far-out kid’s bikes for the Stebler brand. You could see the excitement in his eyes when he started talking about getting involved in bike designs again. Here’s a man, who designed some of Hollywood’s most iconic movie cars, getting all excited about bikes. I guess, in the end, we’re all kids at heart.
BC: Tell us more about your branded bike program.
DB: We are very selective with the brands we work with. It first began with a one-season project for a co-branded bike with Paul Frank. That evolved into a relationship that has lasted more than eight years. Other brands such as Hello Kitty took note and approached us to do the same.
BC: What do you want people to know about the collaborations that you did at Nirve and the bicycles the company made?
“I guess, in the end, we’re all kids at heart.”
DB: While there are many brands in the market that offer a basic cruiser at a reasonable retail price, Nirve always developed bikes that were at the premium end of the scale offering consumers excellent value, high-quality and fashionable design. Besides creating beautiful cruisers with many design details, we strive to make the safest and most reliable products possible, even if it is against popular trends. An example of this is the front brake that we added about four years ago. This was not a popular decision at first as people want a minimalistic look for cruisers. But bikes should have two brakes that work independently to provide a means of stopping if one of the brakes fails.
BC: How did you manage to keep Nirve bicycles fresh, current and desirable, from design and function standpoints?
DB: We are constantly reviewing our line. We make improvements on a regular basis. Some changes are small, like changing to elastomer springs on all our saddles so they don’t squeak. Some are big changes, like upgrading the majority of our 3-speed cruisers to alloy frames last season. When it comes to graphics and colors we are constantly keeping an eye on the fashion world to see what can cross over into cruisers.
BC: What is your favorite bicycle or bicycle memory?
DB: I would have to say my 1964 red Schwinn Stingray. I have great memories with this one. The Stingray was my first taste of freedom at seven years old. It was the first year that Stingrays came with a slick rear tire, so cool for long skids. I went everywhere with that Stingray, no distance was too far. Nirve cruisers are nothing more than a modern-day adult version of that Stingray, especially if equipped with a set of ape hanger handlebars. To this day, the most fun part of my job is when I get to turn a wrench on the bikes we make, then take one out on the boardwalk for a ride along the beach.