Ok, my freshly pimped wheels probably aren’t really London’s most colourful bicycle, but they must be a contender? Decorating my bicycle has been my favourite lockdown hobby. Over the last few months I’ve been working on it on warm evenings, sat outside my flat, transforming what was once an ordinary grey pair of wheels into something that’s much more fabulous and much more me!

This is where I go open water swimming in the Royal Docks, run by Love Open Water. You can see the floating buoys in the background

With the addition of washi tape, a colourful basket decorated with treasures I’ve picked up on my travels, Asian fabric trims, and glitter, I present to you: the Momtazmobile.

I ride with a ‘Chicken in a basket’ to keep me company!’

Want to know how I did it? I’ll be sharing the full process in this blog post, but first, take a closer look at my ride and please join me in thanking Kathy Illingworth (who I met through the Old Spitalfield’s Market Colour Walk) for taking these photos.

Could this be London’s most colourful bicycle? Introducing the Momtazmobile!

I picked up the pompoms and tassels in Thailand last year and the doll in Mexico the year before while on Craft and Travel adventures
Riding around the Royal Docks in Newham is my usual route
The trims and mirrors are from a Pakistani haberdashery stall inside the souk at East Shopping Centre
These butterflies were really easy to attach. There are LED lights from Active Lites all the way around the wheels too but they don’t show up in the daytime
I collect lips themed things so couldn’t resist this seat cover but at some point I’d like a colourful crocheted one
Another of my lips stuff – my fave mobile phone case
Quack! This duck lights up too…and squeaks!
I’ve been to Mexico four times. The first three times I went, I wanted this doll so much and regretted not buying one, so I made sure to get one on my last trip in 2018
The only thing missing at the moment is a colourful bicycle lock
Some people think the Emirates Airline Cable Cars are a white elephant. Personally, I love them and never get bored of riding on, or watching them!
The grass sure is greener around here!
Holiday vibes! Did you know there’s a beach bar in East London…on the beach? You’ll find it at Wake Up Docklands! in the Royal Docks
At Wake Up Docklands! you can try wakeboarding and SUP paddleboarding. It’s very friendly here so you could pop in and have a chat with them if you fancy trying these fun activities out.
I miss this place so much. Good Hotel is a floating boat hotel that has lovely water views, fast wifi and a lovely roof garden that I adore, but it’s not yet re-opened after lockdown for public to hang out there
Heroica Lounge serve yummy pizzas from their double-decker pizza bus, I love their paint job

How I customised my bicycle

I won a £200 voucher to spend on a bicycle shop and I chose this because it was the only one with some pink on it!

Firstly, let me tell you how I acquired the bike. I would never buy a grey bicycle. I won it in a competition. I’ve always wanted to customise it but for a long time I was just focusing on painting it, in a way that’s similar to Bangladeshi rickshaw art or Pakistani truck art. Trouble is, I’m not really an illustrator or painter, my strengths lie in hands-on textured, collagey, surface design. Over lockdown when I had a bit more time, I was able to properly think about what I could realistically do and came up with a solution that was much easier than painting.

Step-by-step: how I made London’s most colourful bicycle

Bicycle transformation underway

1 I started by cleaning the bicycle to ensure I had a smooth surface to work on.

2. Next, I attached the plastic spokey dokeys and butterflies to the wheels. The butterflies have wire endings and they just wrap around the bicycle spokes. The spokey dokeys give my bicycle a gentle tinkling sound that reminds me of boats on the shore.

3. Then I started covering the frame with washi tape by wrapping it around. Some sections are full stripes and in other sections I cut up smaller pieces to create a collaged effect.

4. Some of the edges of the washi tape didn’t fully stick down so I went around the entire frame with pva glue, ensuring there were no bits sticking up.

5. To fix the washi tape and to give it a better finish, I sprayed the entire frame with spray varnish, four coats in total.

6. To add more character, I glued fabric trims around sections of the bike and stuck on some shisha mirrors.

7. I assembled the basket by placing the lining inside, stitched my Mexican doll at the front and then glued on some pompoms and tassels.

8. For the final touches I painted glitter glue on to parts of the frame not covered in washi tape to make them sparkle.

Voila!

The verdict?

The iconic and derelict Millennium Mills which feature in the film Paddington 2!

I’ve been riding around my bicycle in my local area and I can’t stop smiling, it makes me to happy to ride a bike I absolutely love. I’ve had some nice comments from other cyclists riding passed me too like ‘cool bike’ which has been very encouraging.

Can you tell?

I’m a firm believer in individuality, and sharing, and celebrating your own creative ideas, and that’s exactly what my bicycle represents. I decorated it exactly how I wanted it, to make me happy, and I’m so thrilled with the result.

I got the dress I’m wearing in these photos second-hand in a charity shop in Ledbury, where I went camping recently

The main problem now is the sun, it seems to have disappeared. That’s the trouble with finishing it at the end of the summer. The temperatures have plummeted to levels that aren’t so fun for riding around in. But on the days when the sun does show up you can guarantee I’ll be taking Momtazmobile for a spin!

If you’re interested, here’s what I used for my bicycle and what it cost:

  • Assorted washi tapes (£13)
  • Bicycle butterflies & spokey dokeys (£12)
  • Wicker basket (£12)
  • A fabric basket liner (£10 – handmade by a seller on Ebay)
  • Glitter Glue (£2)
  • Active Lites bicycle lights (£20)
  • Marker pens (£4)
  • Spray varnish (£7)
  • PVA glue (£1)
  • Tube of strong glue (£1, UHU)
  • Pakistani trims x 2 types, (£3, £4 from Green Street, London)
  • Shisha mirror (£2 for 12 from Green Street, London)
  • Light-up rubber duck (£3)
  • Waterproof seat cover (£6)
  • Drinks bottle holder (£9)
  • Tassels and pompoms (£6 bought in Thailand)
  • Fabric doll (£6 bought in Mexico)
  • Tassel decorations (£4 from my travels)
    (The bicycle bell, handle bar tassels I already had)
    TOTAL COST: £125

MAIN IMAGES: Kathy Illingworth LOCATION: Royal Docks, London