In a dank and dark industrial basement lies the realm of a modern wizard’s apprentice, where they envision, then create their disruption. Where they derive their power and what sacrifices have been made to get to this point are a mystery, though the products of their spells are obvious: rideable works of art, built to enable transcendence for those lucky enough to partake.
While Em has been known as the WZRD. for many years, I feel like they truly began their apprenticeship when they began crafting their dreams from raw steel. Harnessing the divine intelligence of ancient magic, Em’s long-standing moniker became their expressive direction. The alchemy and creativity of the craft became their passion, but this is no average wizard.
WZRD. bikes officially launched in early 2020 with a focus on progressive geometry and progressive politics. Unapologetic about their radical ideologies, Em forges forward. At the front of the wave, WZRD. geometry is the kind of thing you’re going to see on “progressive” production bikes in years to come. That’s always been the beauty of custom, but not all custom builders have such radical ideals.
Based in Victoria, BC, at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Em’s designs are inspired by their own relationship with the environment as much as the shortcomings they see in production bikes. We’ll get a bit deeper into the numbers side of Em’s bikes tomorrow, but suffice to say they like their reach long, their bottom brackets low, their seat angles steep, and their head angles slack.
But there’s more to life than making bike stuff. WZRD. is about more than that.
THE WZRDS THEORY ON COMMUNITY
It is vital to step out of your own dungeon’s brain cave, set fire to your old ways, and conjure new spells.
This is when the adventure begins. When we begin to see the magic within all of us, our own potential is revealed. When the unexpected demon bursts from the swamp, bears its teeth, and drools on your face – keep climbing dear mystics and embrace the ones you meet along the way.
WZRD. bikes is as much about transcending run of the mill geometry as it is about transcending ourselves. Em is seeing the magic within themselves, and the community is lifting them up. A couple months back, Em came out as trans, and we couldn’t be happier for them.
I asked Em if they’d be willing to share a bit about that process and experience, and here’s what they wrote:
“I am trans and use they/she pronouns. I didn’t come out until my early 30s, but since allowing myself to explore my own identity I’ve felt so much happier and lighter.
Social influence, internalized transphobia, the drone of retail life and racing has held me back from coming out for a long time. With the pandemic’s forced step back from ‘normal’ life and all that extra time stuck in my own head has allowed me to do a lot of self work and discovery.
Since coming out I’ve been able to find a network of other trans frame builders, racers and riders. For a long time I wouldn’t look into other queer bike nerds because I was so nervous about confronting it within myself.”
Unless you’re lucky enough to be one of their most trusted humans, you may never know when one of your friends is experiencing gender dysphoria. The ways in which this struggle manifests are different for all. Seeing someone in our community taking this step publicly is inspirational. Seeing your friends experience gender euphoria, whether you knew of their struggles or not, is incredible.
Em’s partner April also deserves a shoutout for her support and her creative input at WZRD. April’s responsible for all the art work you see on WZRD.’s merch as well as a number of the absolutely wild paint jobs that a bunch of recent frames have received. You can also buy a print with some of April’s art, on a sliding scale, which supports WZRD.’s local unhoused community.
When we visited Em in their shop space, they were working on WZRD. frame #29. In just over a year and a half. They’ve been busy! Especially when you take into account the side projects of complex custom racks, bar-stem combos, and integrated bar-stem-racks – and a bunch of stems they’ve been working on too.
I always enjoy visiting creative folks in their workspaces, getting a view into the questions and problems they grapple with – and the solutions they find – as they hone their craft. Em fillet brazes everything – frames, racks, and stems – and prefers to leave fillets raw. Following along on WZRD.’s Instagram, I’m always impressed with the creative solutions they come up with to keep projects moving forward.
Can’t find the rack parts or the dropouts you want? Draw them up and get them laser cut. Want a better way to carry your camping gear? Dream it and build it. Want to build a frame with an ISP, or a segmented fork, but have never done it before? Just do it. Want to push the limits of frame geometry? Push your personal bikes, and find out what happens. And the rest of us, well, we get to come along for the wild ride.
I’ve been learning so much watching Em develop their craft over the past couple of years. I’ve learned you can create your dreams, you can create yourself, and you can leave a lasting impact on others by doing so. Thanks Em.
Tune back in tomorrow for a detailed look at three bikes from Em’s personal collection: their BCXC “big” bike, their XCXC “little” bike, and their 26” park bike. I think you’re gonna like what you see.