Jasper man draws attention with customized bike

By JENNIFER COHRON
Posted 7/22/18

Lewis Ray Johnson, 75, couldn't believe it when he was offered $2,500 for his mountain bike at a recent car show in downtown Jasper. It had only cost him $99 at Walmart several years ago."I …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

Jasper man draws attention with customized bike

Posted

Lewis Ray Johnson, 75, couldn't believe it when he was offered $2,500 for his mountain bike at a recent car show in downtown Jasper. 

It had only cost him $99 at Walmart several years ago.

"I thought he was making fun of me, and I told him I didn't want to sell it. After he left, a policeman told me, 'That man had the money. He would have bought it from you,'" said Johnson, a resident of Jasper.  

The potential buyer owned a bike shop in a northern state and likely wasn't interested in the bike itself as much as the way Johnson had customized it with dozens of lawn chair leg tips, whiskey bottle corks and strips of red reflective tape.

Johnson isn't certain how many tips and corks he has attached to the body of the aluminum bike, a 26-inch Mongoose. 

His reason for doing so is simple enough — "I just wanted to see what it'd look like."

The bike, Johnson's primary means of transportation, is the end result of more than four years of trial and error. He rebuilt it at least three times before he was satisfied with it. 

One of the things he learned is that rubber leg tips made the bike too heavy ("I'd bust the tires when I got on it"), so he switched to plastic.  

Johnson settled on a red-and-white color scheme in contrast to the bike's original design of orange and white. Parts of the frame, the spokes and even a water bottle are wrapped in the same red reflective tape as the tips. 

"This thing will light up like a Christmas tree at night," said Johnson, who doesn't usually take it out after dark. 

The bike is also outfitted with two horns, a basket, mirrors, several sets of lights and a speedometer. It had a radio as well until someone stole it. 

Johnson has two other bikes that he has similarly customized, though he rarely rides them and is looking for a buyer for them. This bike, which he isn't interested in selling, has carried him all over town and as far as Carbon Hill on occasion. 

Restoring bicycles is a hobby for Johnson, a Carbon Hill native who served in the military and spent 25 years in the coal mines.

If he hears that a friend's child wants a bike, he'll make a trip to the scrap yard and find one that he can fix up.

Years ago, his father bought an antique bicycle at a scrap yard and gave it to him. He rode it for years around Townley before selling it to a man from Missouri for $3,500.

When he isn't riding, he is working in a small garden at his home in West Jasper.

"I keep my mind occupied," he said.