Most people driving through Statesboro on a regular basis have seen Dennis Perkins. He’s not hard to spot, riding a purple bicycle with a home stereo mounted on the handlebars.
That’s not all Perkins, also known as “Radio,” carries on his custom-designed bike. He has a lava lamp, lights, a DVD player and more. The electronics are powered by a portable generator mounted behind his seat, and he switches the power pack out when the juice gets weak.
“I was going through $13 worth of batteries a day,” he said. “That got kind of expensive. I don’t buy batteries. That’s old school. ”
Perkins calls his purple Raliegh 10-speed “Cadillac,” and enjoys cruising around town, waving at those who honk their horns and yell greetings.
“I started off with a little radio, and it kept growing,” he said. “I put lights on it, and I liked the lights. I rode like that for years.”
The “Cadillac” has changed as time passed. Once green, it brought way too many cracks about St. Patrick’s Day for Perkins’ liking. Since purple is his favorite color, he painted the bike that shade. There are panels woven in between the tire spokes that flash purple and white, and his lava lamp is a lovely shade of pink that compliments the bicycle.
But lights and a radio were not enough. Perkins saw cars with DVD players, and when someone told him he could not put one on his bike, he decided to prove them wrong. Now, as he rides downtown or through the Georgia Southern University campus, he can watch a movie as he pedals.
It’s not hard to ride and watch, he said. “I’ve been doing it so long, it’s easy.”
Why does Perkins ride such a flamboyant bike?
“I wanted to be different from everybody,” he said. The bike gets attention and he ends up meeting all kinds of people. “I meet people from all over the world,” he said. “It’s not me, it’s the bike (that draws their attention.)
People snap shots of the bike with cell phones as he rides past, and he loves it, Perkins said. “I’ve made lots of friends at the university. I do drive, but I just like the bike.”
Perkins has always ridden bicycles, and said it is wonderful exercise. At age 48, he said he feels 30.
Born in Bulloch County, Perkins moved into the city of Statesboro when he was older, and always liked meeting people and drawing attention. As he grew older, he began working in construction and masonry, but he is currently unemployed except for the occasional side job.
One recent gig was helping the Statesboro Kiwanis Club during the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair, working at the Pancake House, he said. Many fair visitors were met with the sight of his flashy bike as they entered the fairgrounds.
The puzzled and curious expressions and comments are what keeps Perkins going. He started with a plain old bike, and ”God gave me the gift to put it together,” he said.
He hopes people who see him riding his bike will stop to speak, and he welcomes questions about his unusual mode of transportation. “Just stop me and holler ‘Radio!’” he said. “I’ll stop and talk to you. I like meeting people. It makes me happy.”
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.