Erik Noren's award-winning Prince tribute bicycle is a thing of beauty


Brad Quartuccio

It’s hard to believe that we’re only a few short weeks away from the one-year anniversary of Prince’s passing. While the Purple One's life and death have been celebrated and memorialized through concerts, parties, tours of Paisley Park, artwork, and music, Erik Noren of Peacock Groove custom bikes may have come up with one of the most unique tributes of all.

“Anna Schwinn -- yep, that Schwinn -- reached out to me a while ago about doing a custom bike for her,” Noren explains. “Then, not long after, Prince died, and she asked if I would do a Prince tribute bike.”

(Erik Noren of Peacock Groove poses with his mighty bike)

Noren is no stranger to requests for one-of-a-kind customs, having created bikes in Minnesota since 1993. However, he admits that this request was somewhat intimidating at first.

“When I do a theme bike for someone, I do the research and really make sure to get it right,” he explains. “When you’re doing a bike, you have a limited canvas. So I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to make a bike that can represent Prince. How do you take his music, his spirit, and what he did, and put that into a bike?”

(Photo by Zane Spang)

The first thing Noren did was really try and think about style.

“He was never gaudy,” he says. “He was always classic and classy.”

Using that as his guide, Noren began putting together the blueprint (purple-print?) for Schwinn’s Prince dream bike.

While he was able to construct the color scheme and theme himself, word got out about his latest project, and soon he was receiving messages from vendors and even associates of Prince himself, offering to donate items and materials to be incorporated into the pedal-powered memorial.

The final product was something that Noren felt was worthy of its namesake.

“Looks-wise, it’s the shit,” he says. “When someone agrees to spend $8 to $10K on a bike, it’s asking a fucking lot. That why I put so much of myself and my time into this. This isn’t a bike that’s going to get lost in a bike rack.”

(Photo by Zane Spang)

Noren wasn’t the only one who was impressed with the final product. Just this past month, the bike was given awards for both Best Theme and Best in Show at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, the largest and most prestigious awards organization in the handmade bike industry.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Noren says of the accolades. “I think some people at the show were kind of like, ‘Really?’ when we were announced as Best in Show. Not to sound arrogant or anything, but I really put a piece of myself into this bike, and I don’t think it’s something that just anyone can do.”

While money and trophies are great, Noren says that his greatest validation came from an audience of one.

“Anna took the bike out for a ride around Lake Minnetonka, put the wheels in the water, and was happy with the final product,” he says. “I’m happy she did that, too. I think bikes need to be ridden. You need to get some scratches and dings on them. Those are like scars on people: They tell a story. And I’m excited that she’s out making new stories on that bike.” 

(Anna Schwinn poses with her rad new bike. Photo by Zane Spang)

(Photo by Zane Spang)

(Photo by Zane Spang)

(Photo by Zane Spang)

(Photo by Zane Spang)

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