Reality Hit ‘Orange County Big Wheels’ Sticks To Successful Formula

(Photo by John Morgan)

After almost a decade of high ratings and commercial success, the popular reality series Orange County Big Wheels won’t be changing its formula any time soon, the series creators say.

“We’re going to keep doing what we do best: making the most radical plastic tricycles in the business,” says Rodney Schofield, owner of the Anaheim, California based custom trike shop from which the show gets its name. “Nothing’s going to stop that.”

The show launched the Schofield family to stardom after its debut on the Discovery Channel in 2003.

TV critics say that the show’s simple design has been a recipe for success:

Each episode begins with Rodney, the 300-pound former weightlifter and long-time Big Wheels rider,  leaving his office with fire in his eyes and curses on his lips as he searches for his two sons, who are supposed to be working.

Instead, however, the two sons are engaged in some good-natured hijinks in the garage, like putting the large “Big Wheels” decal on the front plastic handlebar, instead of in its usual position on the large red plastic rear axle.

“Sometimes we even put the large plastic flower decal on the sides of the big wheel, even when it’s not a girl’s big wheel,” said eldest son Paul Schofield.

“Luckily, dad only yells at Paul when we get caught doing something like that,” said younger son Andrew. “Dad favors me for no discernible reason whatsoever.”

The middle portion of each show usually features a shot of the plastic frame of one of the big wheels sitting high atop one of the many huge steel lifts on the factory floor.

It’s this floor that serves as the background for the continuing drama between father and sons that millions of viewers have found so riveting.

In each show, Rodney complains that there are too many plastic wheels lying around the work area, leading both sons to grumble under their breath before they return to the work of putting together the next custom trike.

“Sometimes Dad tries to put one of the little back wheels on the front axle and then becomes frustrated when they don’t fit,” Paul Schofield said. “Then we have to calm him down and show him that the much larger plastic wheel goes on the front.”

“When he’s satisfied that we’re right, he settles down and goes back into his office. Then we can work in peace.”

But there’s usually no time to enjoy that peace; there’s always a deadline coming up.

“Our last build was a custom Santa Claus big wheel that was ordered only six months before Christmas,” Andrew Schofield said. “It was touch and go to get it done on time, but we finally snapped all the wheels on and put on the decals between 11:30 p.m. and 11:45 pm on Christmas Eve.

“Just in time for the Christmas morning reveal at a local children’s home.”

While dramatic reveals are part of the show’s winning formula, they don’t always go as planned.

“The huge Mr. Schofield tried to ride onto the playground on that little big wheel, but he couldn’t even sit on the seat,” said William Hendricks, headmaster at the Fairfield Children’s Home.  “He had to sit on the back of the seat and his weight flattened the wheels on the back of the bike so that he could only move forward by pushing the trike along with his feet, like Fred Flintstone.”

“The fact that they had the ‘Flight of the Valkyries’ blaring from some giant speakers on a flatbed truck they had brought along seemed odd, to say the least,” Hendricks added.

“It made me sad to see the big man ruin that little toy trike,” said Trevor Chesterton, a four-year-old student at the school. “They told me that I was getting a special big wheel for Christmas, but all I got was a squashed pile of plastic with a flower sticker on it.”

“And I’m not even a girl!” Trevor said.

“Just another successful episode of Orange County Tricycles,” Rodney Schofield said after leaving the children’s home.

“And that’s why we’re not changing,” Schofield added. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”