I had the opportunity to meet Alex Rindskopf at the very first Fuel Cleveland. He pulled up on his long, custom '73 CB 750 alongside his girlfriend, Anna Lee. I was welcomed with the warmest hug and the world’s biggest smile. I’ve been following Alex’s world via Instagram, and it was nice to meet him in person. I have always dug his builds and his work ethics so I thought it would be fitting to get to know the talent behind Strange Cycle. Enjoy!
Name, birthplace, history.
Hey, everyone, my name is Alex Rindskopf from Strange Cycle of Cleveland Ohio. I was born in northern Chicago and raised in the suburbs straight North of there in the town of Lake Villa, Illinois. Growing up there was fun, the summers were hot, and there were a lot of great friends to get into plenty of trouble with. We rode BMX back in these old overgrown dirt bike trails near the neighborhood; half grassland, half woods. This is the place where I learned so many great things. We crashed all kinds of shit back there, built huge dirt jumps, and saw the best fistfights ever. Kissed my first babe, had bb gun wars back by the old cars, and rode my first dirt bike back there. Fuck, it was the best. As we all got older and homes were built on that land, we started getting old Honda CBs and XS 650’s to limp down the road and crashed all that shit too. I graduated high school in 2001 and got my first real job as a mechanic at a small engine repair shop. During those 10 years working there, I began taking metalworking and welding classes at the local college, and fell in love with metal fabrication and machine shop. I quit that job and started working on a press crew at a forging plant. I learned a lot at this place. How to be efficient, how to plan ahead, how to work as a team, and most of all, fell deeper into an obsession with metal, and what you can do with it when it's hot. In 2014 I met my love Anna Lee at the Oily Soul show in Detroit. I fell hard for this particularly rad babe, quit my job at the steel plant, and moved my garage chopper shop from Illinois all the way to Cleveland, Ohio to be with her. I got a job running a Bridgeport at a shitty little job shop south of the city, and quit after six months to open Strange Cycle as an LLC, and work on motorcycles full time. Lots of interesting events happened leading up to this point of my life, and I'm stoked I am where I am today.
What brought you to Cleveland?
I met Anna Lee at a show in Detroit, and we pretty much fell in love as soon as she came up to me. I only visited her three times before I packed my shit in a Penske truck and moved 450 miles away from everyone and everything in Illinois. This was back in January 2015. I didn't know anything about Cleveland, and I think that was part of what lured me in. This town has it all and I love it.
Is there something about the aesthetic of this city that inspires you?
In so many ways! I feel so lucky to have been raised near all these Rust Belt cities. I grew up 45 minutes south of Milwaukee, WI and visited frequently. Chicago was just 45 minutes south of home as well, so I learned a lot about the cities that boomed during the industrial revolution. Cleveland has such a rich history of steelmaking, manufacturing, shipping on Lake Erie, railways, and everything else that supplies the world. There are parts of this town that remind me of Milwaukee, and some of Detroit. There are a lot of buildings here that have been abandoned, burned, or leveled since the heydays of manufacturing, and evidence of that time is everywhere here. I've seen some gnarly shit so far in the few years I've been here, and besides Anna, the town itself is what keeps me here. It's a rough and rowdy town, making it a perfect breeding ground for choppers and rock and roll.
Will you ever do a Lebron theme bike?
Cleveland had a huge victory last year, and they wanted it bad. People here love their sports teams that are for sure. The night the Cavaliers won the NBA championship, this town fuckin split at the seams. Fireworks, yelling, screaming, burnouts, car horns held for miles, entire clips emptied into the sky, and a smile on every face. No violence, no riots, no bullshit. Even with the Republican national convention here over the summer, there was no violence, no riots, no bullshit. While other cities had major issues with protesting, and adults acting like three-year-old children, Cleveland always kept its cool. It was amazing to be here for the celebration of their Championship, as I've never seen a town so happy. I don't follow sports at all, and I don't think I'll ever do a theme bike, though. Some clowns that used to be on TV have the theme bike game on lock, so I couldn't possibly attempt to compete.
How much of your work is ground up bike builds, versus making one off parts? Also, how much of your work is maintenance or troubleshooting related?
It's so cool to see some of the projects and ideas you guys have out there! I usually take on maybe three full builds a year, but most of the jobs that come across my bench are people that are building their bike, and need a little help getting over the fab work hump. Hardtailing frames, spacing wheels, mounting fenders, oil and gas tanks, and anything else that requires quality workmanship to make a bike as safe and reliable as possible. From there they finish the project with their painter, leathersmith, etc.
I don't have any production parts yet, and I’m not in a rush to do that just yet. I make a lot of one-off parts, and that's what a lot of my customers come to me for. This day and age you can order any aftermarket or custom part for your bike, and there are a lot of quality parts out there. Unfortunately, with so many to choose from, comes a lot of poorly designed and manufactured parts for your custom project. And that's just dangerous. I offer many different parts designed and engineered with safety and longevity in mind, not just at a good price. If you can think of it, I will come up with the best plan possible to build you exactly what you envision, and have it truly be your own.
I'm slowly getting away from doing maintenance and troubleshooting on motorcycles at this time, and focusing on the growing demand for quality metalwork. When I outgrow my tiny shop space on Cleveland's beautiful east side, the plan is to get a larger space to store bikes and stock parts on the shelf to offer customers annual maintenance and troubleshooting once again.
Photos by Benny Stucker
Why Strange Cycle?
Man, I don't remember why it stuck, but I've always loved that word, strange. The logo I drew up of a cyclops with two different-sized feet, and an arm sticking out holding a cleaver, has an interesting origin, though. I spray painted a quick dot on my hard hat at work one day, and it dripped down the side, drying in the shape of that creature. I drew it on a sheet of paper, added and arm and an eye, and that's where it came from.
Quick Silver- Photo by Ken Carvajal
What's the one bike you are sad about letting go?
I never sold any of the bikes I've ever owned. There was a shitty Honda Rebel I left in some ex-girlfriend’s garage years back, but I still have an '04 Sportster chopper I built years ago, and I still have my '73 CB 750 chopper I built from scratch. Still never painted it. I have a problem with parts too. I never sell anything, just let the shit pile up, so you always have what ya need, especially in a pinch.
Do you have time for riding? If so, what is your favorite spot to rip around?
It's a lot harder than I thought to make time for myself to ride motorcycles when I spend so much time working on them. But when I do have a chance, or we plan a long trip, I get super excited. I've been lucky and got to see a lot of killer roads over the years on my bike, and it's so hard to pick a favorite. If I had to choose, I would say Detroit, MI. Anna and I have so many friends there, and whenever we visit, it's always super crazy riding. Some of the surrounding areas of that town are severely deteriorated. Burned out buildings, empty lots, really bad roads, and really bad neighborhoods. This is the ideal setting to have the most fun on a motorcycle ever. Especially at night. I will forever love that city.
How much do you work on Harleys versus other makes these days?
I work on pretty much anything, but I do get Harleys in there a lot. The other thing I get a lot of are old Triumph projects, and Honda CB stuff. Mind you the majority of these bikes are in there for the framework, sheet metal, and general fabrication, and the smaller percentage are in for wiring, carburetor, or tuning problems. I don't do major engine rebuilds anymore, mostly because I don't have a clean room, and I would just need so many more specialty tools. Instead, I'm investing time and money into the machine shop and fabrication tools, to continuously improve a variety of services and parts for your custom bike project.
Have you seen any changing trends in the last ten years of what folks are riding?
The motorcycle community is made up of so many different parts, and so many different people. One thing they can all relate to is the fact that it's the best way to express one's personality. From racing to cruisers, to choppers, there's always a trend of some type that develops and looking even further than 10 years ago; there are some entertaining changes we've all seen, I'm sure.
What's your take on social media, and are you using electronic means to bring in new business and get new ideas?
Social media has helped get my shop off the ground and running in so many ways. It's a great way for people to follow along with my work, and I get a lot of it from there. Since moving to Cleveland, I think word of mouth has also played a big role in the success my shop has had so far as well. The phone rings every day, and I get emails and messages on social media practically every day, making it easy to stay busy year round.
Iron Maiden or Judas Priest?
Tough one! If I had to pick I would say Iron Maiden because I blew out my first set of speakers listening to Piece Of Mind. Plus the album art was always the best!
What do you want to be doing 20 years from now?
If my hands still work and my spine still holds shape, then I hope to be still learning about ways to be a better metal worker. I'll always keep motorcycles in my life, too, no matter how old I get.
Who's always got your back?
I have so many great people in my life, from my best buds back home near Lake Villa, to my best buds here in Cleveland, they all have my back, and I always have theirs. Also, Anna Lee is my absolute rock. I fucking love that woman to the moon and back, and actually, I asked her to be my wife this past January. She said yes, and I couldn't be happier. We have each other back for life, and I'm so lucky to have met her. The places you see and people you meet in life are the best parts, and when you have your bike to take you there, it's even better! Cheers to choppers!
I would like to thank everyone who has supported the shop from the very beginning. Starting with my good friends Mike and Dan Sappanos back home in Chicago for always being there to help out whenever and wherever I needed it. I wish I could have brought them fellas with me all the way out here. Thank you to my good bud Josh Bartlett for helping any way he could throughout the years, and especially for following me to Cleveland the day I moved to help unload an entire machine shop from a Penske truck. Thanks to all the guys back home for the support even though they didn't want to see me leave. Thank you to everyone in my family. Evan, Ross, and my Mom Kathleen for always being there when I need it and coming to shows and events to help out and support the shop. Thank you to my fiancé Anna Lee for helping with so many things around the shop. She gave me the drive to go full time, helps with merchandise, promotion, and helps this business to grow in so many ways. Most of all thank you to my customers for the continued business and support I have received since the beginning and going on two years of full-time business, you all have made it so easy to keep the dream alive. And thank you ChopCult for helping get the word out about Strange Cycle, I couldn't have done so much already without the help of so many great people and I thank you all! Cheers!
Be sure to give Alex a follow on Facebook and Instagram.
Photos by Benny Stucker / @benny_stucker