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Thread: Peacock Groove Cycles

  1. #1
    liberacefanboy's Avatar
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    Default Peacock Groove Cycles

    My name is Erik Noren, and the company I run and own is Peacock Groove. My story starts a while ago and has had many strange twists and turns.... (Fade out in a smokey veil...)

    It was the summer of 1992 and I just graduated high school and was looking to spend as little time being responsible as possible. But I still had a job at The Malt Shop in St. Paul. I had been working there since 1989 and loved my job as a sodajerk. I made ice cream treats for the peoples and once even for the Mayor, who shook my hand and said:" That was the best damn banana malt I ever had." I knew he was lying because he was a politician.I was still working at the Malt Shop, when Dan Casebeer of Grand Performance in St. Paul told me that Croll Cycles is looking for a welder. And, I had welding experience. I passed on the job, because, well, we don't always make the best decisions ....

    My buddy Dave got a job at Croll, and he got me to come and talk to Walter, and then Walter told me to apply. So I did, and I got the job.

    I built my first atb bike there too, a 753-mountain bike. Lugged. 3.75 pounds. I even had to fab some custom lugs. They were not that pretty; they looked like a ducks bill. It was awesome. I never knew a bike could ride so great; I was really starting to understand this frame builder thing now. I know why people get hooked. I fell in love with the smell of steel.

    I learned about weld pull, heat distortion, how to " pull " angles, set up, prep, cleaning, and liked to talk like Darth Vader when in my hood. I was always trying to have fun too. Croll was doing well, but they tried to grow too fast, they got a loan from the Mpls small business association and went for it. But, long story short, it did not work. I stayed on and got the last of the orders out. I had to get these bikes out, to the people who ordered them. I often did it with tears in my eyes. The company changed hands…

    I started working for Frank by getting everything set up, getting on the phone to old shops that carried us, and just telling them what was up. This was shaping up to be awesome. We built about 120 frames a year. We also did some contract work too. I was in love with this style of life. It was so cool to go to big mtb races, and awesome times were had at the downtown crit races...it was so much culture involved, I felt like I was living my dreams, and it was all good. Life’s view from the saddle is hard to beat. I worked for Frank for about 5 years before things were changing for him. He was going to sell the company.... heartbreak again! It was just before then I got a part time job at QBP . Which, turned into full time because of things that were changing in the world of Croll.

    But, the company was going to be sold to another guy and kept going. This part I will sum up, there is much confusion that went on at this time, but I was around for it all, even had to go to a lawyer about it, and I know the full story about how this all went down. I worked for the guy who bought it for a while and we finally had the "big" argument. It was about a bike that I would not finish, because I said it was not up to my QC standards, and he said it had to be finished. I told him that I would not because it was not safe. If I would not ride it, it won't go out the door. The big argument was big, and he left in a tiff.

    Well, that's when it was starting to weigh heavy on me, I was working two jobs, and helping to rebuild a business and it was too much for me. I was going to get out, but first, I had to build MY bike…
    I decided to make the first Peacock Groove. And the minute he closed that door and left, I put in my two weeks notice on his door. Then, I fired up the mitering machine and got to it.

    I stayed up for two days and built my, MY first bike. I stamped " ONE AND ONLY" in the bb shell, because I was going to go out with this one bike, and have to go back to the " sucky" world. I got that bike from drawing to paint in two days. I hand filed the suits of a deck of cards in the disc brake mount, as a modern day nod of appreciation to guys like Sachs, Weigle , Kvale, and De Rosa, even though they would never know it...

    I named the bike Peacock Groove. Mostly because around that time there were so many bikes named after Raptors, and I wanted something cool, groovy, stylistic. I saw a peacock on tv earlier that week, and he had his strut, his harem, and just looked like a mack out there in his field, and I said that peacock is just groovin' . Well, it stuck....

    I had that bike and just had a full time gig at he Q, so I rode. A lot. It was really weird to have all these guys starting to talk and ask me about my bike, who built it and what not. I would just kinda laugh and tell them it was some douchebag in California. They all believed me.

    Well, this is where the story REALLY begins. I quit working for jerk guy about six months prior, and something was just missing...I had some thing that just wasn't, well, grooving for me.

    I had to build bikes again. Some how. I knew it had to be done by me and how do I go about that? A friend’s girlfriend said that I should see this space down by the U of M. That it was cool and that it was on the seventh floor. I cried inside wondering how often I would have to walk up seven flights ...

    I went down there to look at it, and the minute I walked in I thought:" This is Peacock Groove". I went home and talked to the Pops about a loan. I told him all about it, and that I need a welder, fixture, Bridgeport, beer, and a little help. He loaned me 10 grand. I spent it the next day on a Miller and an Anvil setup. Took me a half hour to blow ten grand. I can still do that too. I paid him back in the first year and a half. Not bad I thought.

    The rent was cheap, real cheap, but the area was, well, kinda shitty.Real shitty.I saw an ATF raid on the building once. They were going for the meth lab in there. Yep, meth. If they knew about all the pot other people were growing.... There was also a little hooker action going on, glass blowers, artists of every kind, a Vespa dealer, spice factory, motorcycle mod dudes, a couple of hoarders, some bimbo selling heroin whom was right next to me. I got her kicked out. I mean porn being filmed in the building, ok, but heroin? No. No heroin please.

    After A couple of years I had built a "loft" in the shop( we had 17 to 25 foot tall ceilings ) and 3 years after I did that the owner put and eviction notice on my door. That was the time when I got back from the first NAHBS I went to. It was the first one held in San Jose. I came back to really wanting to build, but I was getting kicked out. Trust me, out of all the tenets he had, he should keep me. I had a great epic style argument about the loft, which was the reason he was evicting me. The loft was solid. This guy was kicking out one of the 3 good people in his building. Seriously, I lost my temper. He let people make meth in there, but I was the problem? I started looking for a new place, a guy I knew told me to go look at the Ivy Building in the Seward 'hood. I did. I drove by it and said that there was no way I am going to be able to build bikes in there. I went around to the back of the building and saw a CHRIS KVALE CYCLES sign on the door. I thought, if that guy can build here, so can I.

    With all this work going on, too much stress, not riding anymore (real miles anyway) it was all becoming too much for me, and I made the decision this time that I was going to fold Peacock Groove. That I was going to go to the NAHBS one last time, and then come back to the shop, finish the orders that I have, and sell everything. That was the 2009 nine show. I brought four bikes, and went down there with my good friend Vincent Dominguez. I brought two of my personal bikes, and the KILL BILL themed bike, and the copper plated bike. These were not really the bikes I wanted to bring, but time was an issue. I just wanted to go hang with these talented people one more time. Before I left, I told my boss that I was folding the shop when I come back, and just work up in the Bike Builder department. (Assembly, NOT actual building). She said it was all good. I told her that I was at peace with the decision, and that it will be for the best.

    Well, long story short, certain people hated my bike, wrote horrible things about me and my business on the "other forum", people started a petition to get me banned, I was told that I was a pervert and that I was a bad human being. All from people at the show. I thought, "What's the big deal?” It was epically bad. What was funny, that a week later the same bikes were in a motorcycle show, and no one cared about the "artwork", or the themes. In fact they loved it.

    I came back to MN and got to work the next day. I was fired from Q for taking 3 feet of cable housing from the Bike Builder department stock. It was no big deal. But, they fired me. After 11 years of good work, even if a bit mouthy at times....

    I went back to the shop. It was so mind bending. Here I was ready to give all this up, I was at peace with it, and plan b got up and time warped away from me. I did not know what to do. I lost everything I had worked so hard for. No health coverage. No 401K. No steady income. I did not handle this well. I took me months to get over it. Working at Q was like time with a family that I loved. And it was taken from me for 1.52 dollars worth of housing. It was more than unfair, but life is rough. Wear a helmet.

    But, why do I build?

    Because the juice is worth the squeeze . Because life's view from the saddle is great. Because I am alive. Because I want to. Because I NEED to.Helping people live dreams is important in this world.

    And I love it when I get e-mails from customers that tell me I have helped change their life, that what I did has an effect on their quality of life. And, I need to see my vision of bikes is done.

  2. #2
    Craig Ryan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peacock Groove Cycles

    Inspiring Erik! I wish I knew you better and were just down the street. I'd like to know more about the Minn. builder scene. You guys seem to hang pretty tight, and were able to pull off an island at the last NAHBS. Is it the water up there?
    Keep up the great work, Craig

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    Eric Estlund's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peacock Groove Cycles

    It looks like you are moving within the same building again- whats the plan for the new space?

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    Tom Kellogg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peacock Groove Cycles

    Welcome to Smoked Out. Boy, you've had some real ups and downs, horrible setbacks. Do you think you can get to a place where, a)your location and shop will not be at risk of being shut down by "the Powers that Be," and b) financially solid enough to be able to weather the setbacks that seem to inevitably effect all of us? I know that this is kind of an existential question, but after all the years that you have been going through this, there has to be a plan to get past it all. We want you to keep at it. Figure out a way to pull it off. Take care.
    Tom Kellogg
    Rides bikes, makes 'em too.
    Spectrum-Cycles.com
    Butted Ti Road, Reynolds UL, Di2, QuarQ, Conour lite, SP Zero
    Steel Cross, X-7, Crank Bros, Concour Lite, Nemesis, Grifo
    Steel Piste, D-A Piste, PD-7400, Concour lite, Zipp 404
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    Default Re: Peacock Groove Cycles

    Since you're from St Paul, do you know the guys from Husker Du? Can you talk them into reuniting?

  6. #6
    liberacefanboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peacock Groove Cycles

    Thanks guys already for the questions!
    Now to answer so far in order :
    @ Craig :
    There is no water up here, only ice! Well, no ice right now....a while ago, maybe four years or so, I was really starting to think about the builders up here, and that I did not "know" many of them. I only knew "of" them. I thought, : "Why don't we know each other better? Why don't we ride our bikes together?"
    So I e-mailed everybody and said lets go have a beer together. My goal was down the line, things would click, and there would not be that standoffish feeling that you have with someone who does what you do, but you don't know them. I figured that if we knew each other better, we would all benefit by sharing knowledge and helping each other out, doing this would elevate our game and make for a better bike building scene. So we did, and we are doing it here, and we are all really starting to benefit. It has a real good vibe here now and I intend to keep it going in that direction.
    @eric :
    yep big monster space. I am super happy about it for this one reason:
    I will no longer be below the horrible person upstairs. They drop bowling balls on the floor, but tell me my heater is to loud. To be away from her will be so conducive to my work, I will feel like I do not have to walk on eggshells anymore...but really, I will be sharing the space with a couple other people, one of note is Vincent Dominguez. He is a builder too, but more importantly, a good friend.This new space will help with the production flow that I do once in a while, and I just currently need more space. The layout is not completely done, but with 4900 square feet at my disposal, a paint booth will happen. There is a big garage door that faces the Midtown Greenway, a bike path that cuts through all of Minneapolis, hundreds ride by this spot daily, and thousands more down the path further. We are at the tail end of it near St. Paul. I love this path.
    @TOM :Thanks for the welcome, it is an honor for me.
    I have had some crazy shit happen to me along this road.It helps give me character! I think that this location is a great one, and I do not see it in any strange jeopardy from any real powers. It is owned and run by very good people, who actually care about the arts, and love little small business'. The staff here really like me, 'cause I am here all the time and kick out crackheads and call the cops if I have too. I am like a little security guard here. I have also recommended some friends of mine to move in, and they all fit in the building pretty good and they pay rent on time and are not a problem. I also weld on their Harley stuff, and am way cheaper than the welder guys they know.Plus, I add an air of levity around some overly serious people.When it comes down to it, they really like me. Financial stuff?
    Oh boy. That comes and goes and I deal with it when I have too. I believe that moving is going to help me and my business, by it becoming a more conducive place to work , my own address, easily found, and set up way better for work flow.My plan? I will just last longer and sweat it out. I have delt wit ha lot of stuff, and eventually there is a breaking point, but I am getting it done everyday done here, and it is looking up for the Groove.
    Thank you for your kind words Tom, they mean very much to me.
    erik

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    Tom Kellogg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peacock Groove Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by liberacefanboy View Post
    I will just last longer and sweat it out. I have delt wit ha lot of stuff, and eventually there is a breaking point, but I am getting it done everyday done here, and it is looking up for the Groove.
    erik
    Another thought; Keep running your business / building situation by your friends. Use them like a board of directors. More minds tend to catch things that one mind might have missed. Also, made use of the Collective. Don't hesitate to contact us if you think that we can help with something specific. For example: if you have some sort of problem or concern with a welding issue, (don't call me) call someone like Carl Strong or one of the other folks who weld. Once you get your booth set up, or even as you are setting it up, let me know if I can shorten your learning curve in some way. No secrets around here. Good luck.
    Tom Kellogg
    Rides bikes, makes 'em too.
    Spectrum-Cycles.com
    Butted Ti Road, Reynolds UL, Di2, QuarQ, Conour lite, SP Zero
    Steel Cross, X-7, Crank Bros, Concour Lite, Nemesis, Grifo
    Steel Piste, D-A Piste, PD-7400, Concour lite, Zipp 404
    http://kapelmuurindependent.be


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    steve garro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peacock Groove Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Kellogg View Post
    Also, made use of the Collective. Don't hesitate to contact us if you think that we can help with something specific.
    you know i'm good for it, man. Erik called me once & said "I don't even have $$ for steel" I went right out & sent him a big damn box of it. Viva los Peacock Groove! got yer back, rock on, buddy. to field a question - favourite type of bike to build? types that just don't "mesh" with you, like - "call builder x, he's a good cat, that's cool but not my kinda gig?" {i know you love curved TT's } - Garro.
    Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
    Frames & Bicycles built to measure and Custom wheels
    Hecho en Flagstaff, Arizona desde 2003
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  9. #9
    liberacefanboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peacock Groove Cycles

    @John :
    I had a friend way back in the day, and his cousin is Bob Mould. I will call him and see what I can do for ya....
    @Tom : Yep that is what I am doing . I have no problem calling up somebody to get an answer, double check or what ever. I have no pride when it comes to making the best bike I can make. I always want to elevate my game. I have been doing this a long time, and it is funny when people meet me and say :"OHHH..... you're the Croll guy."
    But, I am a little more than just that.
    @Steve :
    dude, you are one of the really good eggs in this industry. So thanks! That steel I got from you made the Fruit Stripe bike and the gold plated 29nr that I had at this years NAHBS.
    That tubing is bombproof, and I would use it anyday. I don't care that people think it is heavy.
    My favorite bikes to build? Two really. The first one: What the client NEEDS. I get a lot of people who come into the shop to make what another builder said they wouldn't or couldn't .That is what I like to call "DEEP CUSTOM". Helping to increase someones quality of life, meet special needs, change for the better, help them when there is no help, that is one kind that keeps me building.
    The other?
    Drop dead race only machines. Road and cross mostly.
    I love it when I make a bike, and it is all built up and it is just sitting there, and you can hear it whisper:" I am going to put you in a hurt locker. I am going to fuck up the competition."
    When I make bikes like this, I think of movies like Conan the Barbarian, KILL BILL, Samurai Rebellion, Oldboy,and 300. Sounds crazy, but the inspiration is all about revenge, vengeance, redemption, deliverance, one who stands against many,and the reduction of evil.The triumph of self I guess.....
    erik

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    e-RICHIE's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peacock Groove Cycles

    yo eric i just got in from a reenactment practice and don't have any real questions to add but
    wanna post to you and say hey, you fgkicun rock atmo. we met before the nahbs at san jose
    when DW took the front line out to dinner before the show set up. you rolled in with your dad
    and we all had a good old time. you have some great energy - that i know from the nahbs when
    you were an aisle mate. do me a favor: don't change. i'd roll over for you, so keep my number
    in your rolodex bro and don't be a stranger.

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    Too Tall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peacock Groove Cycles

    I love you man.
    Funny how things work out eh? The thing about you is that your passion and connection with people might be more important than any one thing. Hope I'm not off the mark or out of line saying that.
    More to say later bro. for now I want to watch the show.
    You friggin rock.

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    Default Re: Peacock Groove Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by liberacefanboy View Post
    .That is what I like to call "DEEP CUSTOM". Helping to increase someones quality of life, meet special needs, change for the better, help them when there is no help, that is one kind that keeps me building.
    That's what makes you one of my favorite builders, the drive to make a bike truly unique through lots of fabrication and talent. I put some of your showstoppers right up there with Rody's (Groovy) stuff.
    Can you take us through one of your favorite builds describing the what and why?

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    Default Re: Peacock Groove Cycles

    Hey man, good to see you in Smoked Out. I saw your booth at Richmond, and while most of it wasn't my cup of tea visually, props for making a go of it and having the balls to be one of those "love it or hate it" guys.
    I am wondering where your welding experience came from, are you self-taught, learned at a job etc. Also, do you foresee PG being able to pay the bills soon, and have any plans to take on other work to fill in any gaps that you may have?
    Eric Doswell, aka Edoz
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    Default Re: Peacock Groove Cycles

    @E-Richie:
    that was such a hoot that night in San Jose. I remember when I met Deb and I thought I was going to make her cry. I felt like she thought I was the antichrist or something.But I think shew "gets it" now.Some people don't know how sarcastic I can be. Even me. That was a fun sake filled dinner.Yo go, and thanks for the props, it means a lot.
    I can't thanks you for all you do here and on the cross scene .
    @TooTall:
    not off the mark and you can speak candidly to me hear.It is funny how things work out. Some people who only hear about me assume I am some racist, sexist , fat, truck driving guy. Well, they are wrong. I own two Dodges' .both 1986. Now that's redneck.
    Back in 2009 nine when I was called into question about a bike I had there, someone was saying something about my character , and Did not know it was ME! After she said that that Erik Noren is" a little fat, sexist ,poor taste man."
    I showed her my badge and said: I aint that fat!"
    I almost peed my pants. I have so much experience from people telling me that when they meet me, I am nothing like my reputation.I am actually pretty boring I think.
    @chauncey:
    thanks man. I like to think I do things differently, not to be different, but to build the bikes I want to see.
    One of my favorite builds was for this big, overwieght dude. He called around and certain builders would not build hime a bike, they told him he was too heavy. I said that I would build him a bike and he was like:" Well, I never heard of you . Are you any good?"
    I told him to get down to the shop for a consult. Dude was crazy big, and weirdo proportions. His bike ( standard road) turned out to be a 57 ctc seat tube, and a 62 ctc top tube.He was 480 pounds. I built the shit outa that bike. And, I told him if he gets to his goal weight of 250, I would build him a bike that is better for the weight he would be, for free. Wouldn't you know it that fucker is only 30 pounds away from that last I heard. But, that's the drive, get him to want it. I feel that I am not losing a sale, but this guy is getting his life back. He told me he was making life changes, quitting smoking, no more fast food, shit like that. That is pretty cool for me to be a part of.Oh yeah...the bike has campy 10 speed....right when no one else could get it, I got it for him.Oh yeah- his frame was made out of huge oversize zona and a bunch of tandem stuff, crazy custom re-inforced seat tube and a big thick head tube.It still looks traditional, but it's a sleeper. You really gotta look to know what is goin on with that frame. And, an Alpha Q no weight limit fork. He still loves it.
    @edoz:
    thanks. some people don't groove on what I do, and that is cool. I make what I make because I want more than the contemporary aesthetic or what is in current framebuilder fashion. Fuck that. It's my company and I want to make what I want to make.It seems to really be hard for some people to say:" I don't care for that ". That is the polite thing to say, that's what mommy taught me. Whats cool is that you can say it. and I don't take it poorly. I don't care for some peoples work, and that is just my opinion. If their ( and my ) customers are happy, then the is right on target.
    Welding? I took a tig and mig and stick corse in HS. I took it because it was off of school grounds, and we got to leave early and goof around sometimes. I only caught myself on fire once. Catholic uniforms go up in flames fast!
    I got pretty good, was second in the class. But, like anything school related, I didn't apply myself....I wanted to go ride....I really just started riding around then.
    When I got to Croll, I got to weld scraps...for a month...nothing but weldin, 6 to 8 hours a day. After it was deemed that I was good enough, I got to the tig bikes. It was awesome. I welded a shit load of bikes there, and not Just Croll too. Quite a few little runs for other companies. Did a little bit of consulting too after that.Was a great time in my life then. So much knowledge was gained....
    PG does pay the bills, sometimes it can be close, and sometimes I fall short, and sometimes it is a feast. I do some contract work too. I know that may not be respectable in some circles, but, it keeps certain bikes to be built here, in the US .And, that means a lot to me. I love American Fabrication.
    erik

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    Default Re: Peacock Groove Cycles

    Catholic School, that's pretty funny.
    Some people can't separate the artistic part of something from the work that went into it. That's the thing about art, even if you're not into something there's still a lot of skill and passion that went into the piece. I can respect a guy who does what he likes more than a guy who just does something that sells. I've built tons of stuff for the money, hell, it's my day job. I take pride in the work that I do, but I really don't care about aircraft parts or oil rig crap or anything else I've done. If a guy can make a go of doing what he loves, then I'm happy for him. (and a little jealous;)
    Eric Doswell, aka Edoz
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    Default Re: Peacock Groove Cycles

    I love your bikes Erik! Not too many have the guts to put something out there that's as individual and unique as a 'Groove, and I respect that bigtime.

    Now all I need to do is find a 'Pops' that'll lend me 10 grand.....
    FRAMEBUILDING PARTS FOR SALE!

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Peacock Groove Cycles

    Of all the great stories on this forum yours is by far my favourite.

    That white MTB on your site's gallery page is pretty slick. Custom brake rotors!!!

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    Too Tall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peacock Groove Cycles

    Pardon the interruption.
    There are Twitter and Facebook icons located in each post.
    Get the word out. Go nuts.

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    Default Re: Peacock Groove Cycles

    Ho boy thanks everybody. Now lets answer some q's ......
    @edoz:
    I was raised in one of the most morally correct places in the world. I went to church 3 times a week for 0ver 15 years, then it dropped down to two for about ten years.I learned a lot with that stuff, and when I went out to the real world, I learned a lot more. When I did an art piece once in school, the sister said Jesus would not approve of what I had made. I asked her : "Do you really feel comfortable talking for the Son of God?" My work was confiscated and I never saw it again. I guess what I learned from that was that people, no matter who or what they are, will try and make you live your life by their morals and ethics. That is not what it is all about. So, I learned that I am going to do what I do, what I like, and if you like it too, then lets go for a ride! We don't all have to agree on what is "art" , even though Lady GAGA is now rich and all over youtube, doesn't mean her shit is good. Just like a lot of rap, it is garbage culture. It does nothing to elevate the spirit of man.( as in humans, not just dudes....)
    @thylacine:
    thanks dude! I am glad that some one gets it.
    And it was not that easy to get that dough. As time has gone on, at every turn it seems my father has been the only one in my family to help and be supportive. My other family comes around when they need shit welded.So, I have a high amount of respect for my Pops....
    @cs124: we will be having new custom rotors in a couple or few months. Sick shit fo sho ! watch the facebook page.
    thanks! Glad you are enjoying it. That white bike is the first Peacock that I built at my "own" shop. I really enjoyed building it, and to think that was 8 years ago....but, I do have a disclaimer: I know my website sucks. I will get to it one day, and with the impending move it is ever so important to me to get done. I would like it to be bettere representing the "brand" of PG, and I do have some things lined up for it.But, my philosophy has always been: Make the clients bike first. They do not want to hear about how awesome your website is and how far behind you are on their bike.
    ya dig?
    @ tootall :
    on it. I just learned the other day what a twitter is. I thought it was some deviant practice of the coupling kind.
    erik

  20. #20
    e-RICHIE's Avatar
    e-RICHIE is offline Administrator

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    Default Re: Peacock Groove Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by liberacefanboy View Post
    I just learned the other day what a twitter is. I thought it was some deviant practice of the coupling kind.
    erik
    first the wheel art, now this.
    bro' you are sure the master of the double entendre atmo.
    that's french for two entendres.

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