Underground Film Journal

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Feature Film Online: B.I.K.E.

By Mike Everleth ⋅ March 28, 2010

(B.I.K.E. is no longer on SnagFilms, but it’s available to stream on Vimeo for dirt cheap.)

The feature-length documentary B.I.K.E., embedded above courtesy of SnagFilms, is the tender story of a boy who just wants to be loved. The boy is Jacob Septimus and he just wants to be loved by the Brooklyn chapter of the infamous Black Label Bike Club — and that’s “bike” as in bicycle, not motorcycle. I previously reviewed the film way back in 2007 and enjoyed it for many complicated issues it deals with.

The film’s main complication is that Howard, who co-directed the film with Jacob Septimus, doesn’t come off as particularly appealing or sympathetic, which is of course interesting because as co-director he could completely have controlled the image he puts out there of himself. It’s a bold move to go the “warts and all” approach of presenting oneself, which results in a well-rounded, complicated main subject.

Howard is dying to join Black Label, but they seem pretty dead set against letting him become a member and it’s fairly obvious to see why. Except for Howard. They’re suspicious of him being a rich kid who wants to slum it for awhile with the grungy kids, like Keanu Reeves in My Own Private Idaho. And is the only reason Howard so eager to join just because Black Label tells him no? Possibly.

Despite Howard’s outsider status, we do end up learning a lot about the Black Label Bike Club, which has chapters all over the country. They’re obviously anti-car — which I’m personally fairly in agreement with — but they’re also pretty much anti-most modern conveniences. They’re into recycling big time, making bicycles out of found metal scraps, as well as things like dumpster diving for food.

They also sponsor lots of bike-friendly events, the most fun of which seems to be the tall bike jousting tournaments where they build extremely tall bikes — like 5 or 6 feet tall — and joust with each other. The film captures several of these tournaments and they look like good chaotic good times.

Although you can watch B.I.K.E. for free in full above, if you enjoy the film and want to learn more about it, you can buy or rent it on DVD, which also includes deleted scenes and director commentary.

More on this film: Amazon (DVD)

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