The bike with two fronts

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Trevor Gordnier
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

A bike is not hard to describe: two tires, two pedals, some gears and two handle bars. The back tire is fixed in place while the front tire can move left to right. But like many things, there are always exceptions.

A bike owned by Staff Sgt. Eric Mann, 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs broadcast journalist, could be described much differently: a bike in which both ends pivot.

“I have a bike that my grandpa made for me,” said Mann. “We call it a swing bike, you can steer with the front wheel and the back wheel simultaneously.”

Swing bikes are novelties generally used in parades or shows. They have free range of motion in both wheels, giving them the ability to make very sharp turns. For the mechanically savvy, these bikes are relatively easy to put together.

What makes this bike even more special is the connection it gives Mann to his family back home in Ohio.

“My entire family knows how to ride swing bikes,” said Mann, “When I ride mine in Incirlik, feels like a piece of home is here with me.”

Mann told stories about learning from his grandfather’s experience as an engineer.

“I just like hanging out with grandpa,” said Mann, “He’s a good teacher. If there’s a problem we have to fix, he’ll let me troubleshoot and try to figure it out even if he already knows how to fix the issue.

“I once helped him fix a tractor,” Mann continued. “I asked him what was wrong with it and he responded with ‘I don’t know, I parked it here four years ago.’ Then I said, ‘dang grandpa!’ We ended up fixing the problem. He gave me a wrench we used to fix the tractor a week before I arrived here in Incirlik. I keep it on me when I’m out of uniform.”

This trial-and-error type of teaching is reflected in the way Mann’s grandfather sent him the bike as well.

“He sent two packages that were labeled, which ended up being a huge help because it didn’t come with instructions,” Mann exclaimed. “It was completely disassembled and took a while to put together!”

Mann uses these problem-solving skills in his day-to-day job, and hopes to pass them along to his future children one day.

“I want them to get an appreciation for working with their hands,” said Mann, “It’s something tangible; when you’re finished working on something, there is a difference in the way it looks or functions -- it gives me a sense of pride.”

One of Mann’s co-workers praised his unique skills.

 “Mann is one of the most positive workers I’ve ever come across,” said Tech. Sgt. Jim Araos, 39th ABW Public Affairs photojournalist. “When he really sets his mind to a task, he gets it done. He epitomizes the meaning of ‘completionist.’”