Neal Fegan was busy building kinetic structures that were powered by wind and water when he realized he was in over his head (and his abilities). Frustrated, he turned to his Montana friends who suggested he use his skills to build bicycles. With a nod to the transport in his previous home of NYC, the Big Sky resident opened the doors to the Montana Transit Authority, creating some of the most unique looking bikes you have ever seen.
Now in Portland, Oregon, Fegan calls his vehicles velocipedes, as a nod to the egalitarian bicycle’s origins – not only because his bikes sometimes have more than two wheels, but because it’s a more open-ended descriptor than what the word “bicycle” suggests. And the MTA velocipedes ignore many of the fundamentals found in other bikes. While they may use some of the same parts as the two-wheeler sitting in your garage, the similarities end there. Fegan’s designs are both free flowing expressions of movement and elegant frame geometry that evokes the speed and grace found in nature.
But perhaps one of the most geeky (and interesting) things about the bikes built at Montana Transit Authority is that Fegan prototypes all his bikes in LEGO bricks before manufacturing begins. “I love LEGO – the best toy ever. I like experimenting with different steering systems, the bricks give me more room to play with. With LEGO (especially the Technic bricks), I can build the steering and see how it works and it’s really easy to translate a LEGO model to a full size version,” says Fegan, “Although, sometimes I still get caught up and make spaceships and stuff. It brings back good memories.”
While these one-of-a-kind designs may not snap together with the efficiency of LEGO bricks, they certainly are unlike anything you’ll find in your local bike store. Be sure to check out the MTA Web site for all their designs.