Words by Jesse Serwer, Photo by Reed Young
I first heard about the Future Shock Bike Crew about three or four years ago. A colleague asked if I knew where I could find these East Indian kids from Trinidad who’d been seen riding around Southeast Queens with massive sound systems strapped to their bicycles. Not those souped up Schwinns with mini systems popularized in NYC years ago by Puerto Rican bike enthusiasts but BMX bikes with behemoth speaker columns weighing hundreds of pounds, and cranking out as much as 5,000 watts of sound. Not too long after that, the crew from Richmond Hill was discovered by the New York Times, which aptly described the stereo bikes as “rolling DJ booths,” and featured in a quirky ProKeds ad directed by my old friend Monihan Monihan. A documentary, Made in Queens, was even made, though it seems to have disappeared since screening at several film fests in 2009.
Well, the crew is still at it, and their systems are bigger and louder than ever. The Future Shock phenomenon was recently captured in a short film commissioned by Italian bike seat maker Selle Royal. In an interesting touch, the filmmakers not only caught up with the riders but also the irked, middle-aged neighbors who’ve had to deal with “their refrigerator sized speaker systems which they like to blast out of their garages” these past few years. The clip looks great but, with its overdubbed audio, it unfortunately does not contain the element we’re most interested in: the sounds made by the bikes themselves.