Thursday, October 30, 2008

You're On A Rocket Ride To A Suicide

Thank you, Superstar, for solving one of the biggest mysteries of our time—the difference between a new modern street frame and an ultra modern street frame:

I would have never figured it out otherwise. Darn new terminology. What I gather is this: The ultra modern frame has really short chainstays, an integrated seatpost clamp, fairly standard angles, and weighs less than five pounds. And while they say it's for pegless riders, they don't mean it. On the other hand, the new modern frame has really, really short chainstays, an integrated seatpost clamp, fairly standard angles (with the exception of a slightly lazy seattube), and weighs less than five pounds. And while they say it's "peg-compatible," they don't mean it. (Remember when the Metal Rebel Contender came out as a "pegless" frame and the thought was you could never run pegs on a sub-five frame? Uh-huh. Also, I feel like the Rebel Contender is sub-five pounds like Kevin Garnett is sub-seven feet. Ask someone if you have to.)

In related news, it seems that Superstar's motto of "Innovation, Technique, Simplicity." infringes on Standard's classic "Speed, Power, Technique." Sorry, but "Technique" belongs to Standard since they used it first—especially since it was already in a string of three words separated by commas. Not to mention I find it interesting that a company that installs integrated seatpost clamps in their toptubes has "Simplicity" as an identifying point at all. Maybe just cut it down to "Innovation." Although, hm, Standard has "innovation" in their header, and SE Racing has been using "BMX Innovations" since roughly 1975.

Hell guys, just start over.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fresh FitEd.

Well, according to the Fit site this is a web ad, so I guess I'm just helping spread the virus. Meet the first official mention of the Fited. LT. Lower. Lighter. Stronger. Sigh.

*cue "hey it's a signature frame what are you complaining about" comments*

It's kind of weird, though. The more frames Fit puts out, the more they become like each other. Lower, lighter, etc. Not so sure whether I buy the 'stronger' part. And another "traditional" double-diamond frame bites the big one.

BMX is reaching an intriguing point where the only people who will be able to afford new frames won't want to ride them. I know I'm just a crotchety old man and everything, but I don't think I'm the only person left who wants to be able to sit on their seat without having eight inches of seatpost showing. And with the ever-lowering toptubes and ever shortening-seatposts (see graph), we're kind of running out of options here. Looks like this old guy will be sticking with his old frame for the forseeable future—I suppose I'll have to make do with 5.5 pounds or whatever it is. Look, I'm all for making frames lighter, I'm just not sure whether it's worth changing dimensions to do so.

Eventually, BMX will be entirely overrun with nub seatposts and frames with enough standover height so dudes can successfully ride in skirts (you know it's coming) and seats themselves will pass on out of existence. Many years from now, there will be letters written to the BMXperts asking what the heck those padded butt antenna things were on people's bikes in old videos like Animal and Turbulence. Quite frankly, I'm Tierrafied.

(I really wanna get into this whole trend more, but I gotta run. Sorry!)


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wheel Tired

Blame Nike and their downtown ACG event last night for my tardiness and lack of verbiage today. I'm normally not a fan of Heineken (or any other beer that comes in a green bottle—skunk city), but I'm willing to make exceptions when it's free. Nigel Sylvester was there, so I suppose it was a business event.

Speaking of Nigel, MirraCo seems to have released a couple of wheelsets without anyone noticing. No wonder. Pretty standard stuff—I was hoping for a 32-spoke front, or some kind of proprietary cassette drive, not Rhino Lites and a looseball cassette. Oh well. It's funny, when I look at that front wheel I can't help but think "aw, people still run standard axle front hubs—how cute!" If the G-Sport Ratchet hub ever actually comes out, the same might be true for the back soon too.

Hm. I'm late, I'm incoherent, and I'm distracted by the first night of the NBA on TNT. I should probably just leave well enough alone.


Monday, October 27, 2008


LinkHey, it's my 150th post! Never thought this day would come. Thanks to all the companies out there for keeping me entertained and all of y'all for continuing to read this crap. Hopefully the next 150 posts will be considerably better.

Not today, unfortunately.

Things are slow in this post-Interbike time. Fly has been having a "new products week" that has been nothing but new colors. Ooooh, a flat-black Pantera kit! Never would have thought of that. (If it's true innovation you're looking for, try the brown Campillo. Or better yet, the Karl Poynter Sunday.)

There's also a semi-new custom Standard cruiser over on the Standard blog (October 3). And in other news, RIDE says to drill holes in your bike.

When's spring?


Friday, October 24, 2008

Thin after Thin

Ah, the miracles of modern medicine. Went to bed around 1 last night, and for the first time in a week I wasn't awakened by a fit of coughing and wheezing. (I was awakened by "Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead" around 8, but that's a whole different story.) And I haven't even started my antibiotic cycle yet! By this time next week, I expect to feel like a new man. I'm hoping for LeBron James. Or maybe Dennis Farina in Midnight Run.

Anyway, I don't have much for you today. To tell you the truth, I've spent more time reading about Mike Aitken's condition than I have scouring the interwebs for new products. I've been meaning to post something on the new Hoffman 32-spoke wheels actually, but it's gonna have to wait.

(Something else I've been thinking about, though—with bars getting wider and wider and headtubes getting steeper and steeper, isn't steering getting quicker and quicker? One of those Rich Hirsch Subrosas with Max Gaertig's signature bars must be twitchier than Robin Williams on a coke binge.)

In closing, couldn't Attila have found a better model? I mean, I thought the whole lightweight trend was just for the bikes:

Enjoy the weekend.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dak the Ripper

Out on Long Island today without my computer but with bronchitis. Good times! If I had a scanner, I'd post my plethora o' prescriptions. So I'm keeping this short.

You can check out Dakota Roche's new signature frame here, and maybe someone can explain to me why, if he needs the strength of two gussets up front, he's still endorsing a frame that weighs 4.2 pounds. Is it the magic of Supertherm? (Speaking of Supertherm and gussets, FBM's gussets are bigger than yours. Unless you ride a Sunday. Or a Shaman.)

Ugh. Coughing so much that you throw up isn't something I'd recommend.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rip and Tear

Wow. Yuck.

OdysseyBMX.comDaily WordDirect Link (Larger)

I understand that it's a fashion choice rather than a technological one, and that it doesn't affect performance one iota, but I hated it when Nike was doing it with their shoes and it's no better now that Odyssey's doing it with their seats. Heck, this might be worse than the Rogue Status collabo. Keep streetwear out of BMX! (Or is it seatwear?) At least it's a limited release.

Hey wait. Why not use Japanese selvedge denim?


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

U Can't C Me

(Not that there's anything inherently wrong with it, I suppose, but Terrible One making 11-butted bars makes me feel like the folkies must have felt when Dylan went electric. I suppose it's the right thing to do, but it still feels like the end of an era.)

Sort of lost in the shuffle lately was the Sunday Model-C.
Cruisers have always been the proverbial red-headed stepchild of the BMX world—most people either go 20" or urban MTB—mostly because there's never been a real effort to produce a true street cruiser. There was the Nyquist Backtrail, I suppose, and Standard technically offered a 24" TRLS-250, although I've never seen one. Bontrager offered a pretty tough chromoly cruiser as well. And both Standard and S&M have always made race cruisers that could serve double duty. (If you want deeper cruiser history, try this from 2001.)

But the Sunday is something different. Different angles and what I assume to be a very different feel. Judging from the photos and words on the Sunday site (except this one which is obviously faked), the Model-C is intended to just be a bigger BMX brother. And with Odyssey making 24" Hazard Lites and Sunday making cruiser forks (and taller-than-most cruiser bars), there are finally legit options for the big-but-not-quite-that-big-wheel crowd.

The funny thing is, I recently sold my cruiser. I had an old S&M Widowmaker that was mostly gathering dust—so little time, so many bikes. But it wasn't just that. The geometry was just plain wrong. Switching from the 20" to the 24" meant leaning way further back for manuals and pulling up that much harder to hop. Low bars and a low bottom bracket and long chainstays made for comfortable cruising and stable sprinting, but that was about it. (I won't even get into the shafted stem and crookedly welded rear triangle.)

Long story short is, I'm pretty excited about the Model-C. It makes a lot more sense to me than something like the Deuce-Deuce for the height-unchallenged set. Now all Sunday has to do is assemble a mighty team of sky-scraping riders (Neil Harrington? Gary Ellis? Catfish?) to put them through their paces. Or I guess they could just send me one.* I may only be six feet, but I ride much, much taller.**


* Just kidding. Unless you really want to, in which case I won't stop you.

** I don't even know what that's supposed to mean.

Monday, October 20, 2008

No Class

Remember that time you brought your new hubs to school for show and tell?

You were so proud of those Maderas—you saved up all by yourself, earning money by mowing lawns and shoveling driveways and turning the occasional trick.

When the time came though, you reached into your bag and found it empty. You checked everywhere—under your desk, in your coat pockets, even inside your Trapper Keeper. Nothing. That's when you heard the laughter from two rows away.

Timmy Keller.

Of course. He got you again. And all you could do was look at the clock, tears drying on your face, and wonder where Dad kept the paint thinner.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Quiz

I'm overdue, am I not? Think I'll just empty the ol' SPRFLS Future image folder and see what comes up. Ready?

I thought so.

1. Point out the differences between these two stems:

(Answers at very end)

2. These UGP seats are designed in the style of legendary artist Jim Phillips from his Santa Cruz glory days. What are the chances Jim knows about this, um, homage?

a) Slim

b) None

3. These are the dropouts for the new Bulldog Illmatic frames. The first thing you notice are the:

a) Bulldog-shaped cutouts

b) Square stays

c) My First Welds

d) All of the above

4. Josh Stricker would just as soon run pink and/or purple plastic pedals as he would:

a) Spend all day sessioning a ledge at 2 mph

b) Drink O'Douls

c) Wear a dress to church

d) Go back to bleaching his hair and riding a Trek

5. Haro did the market research for this bike's, uh, colorway by asking people:

a) at Forever 21

b) at Kira Plastinina

c) at a Britney Spears concert

d) on Myspace

e) in a reader survey in CosmoGIRL!

6. Is this trick possible?

a) Yes

b) No

7. This is KHE's new brakeless-specific freecoaster wheel:

Oh fuck it, I can't even think of a question.



Answer to question No. 1: The top stem is white.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tank Statement

What you are about to see is classified top secret.

OK, not really.

Roughly two years ago I got it in my head that I wanted to build the heaviest BMX bike possible. Visions of Gack Cannibals danced in my head. My goal was, if possible, to build a 50-pound bike using only production parts.

I didn't make it. The bike you see below weighs in at something like 45 pounds. Maybe a little less. The process of its assembly was more or less liveblogged on BMXboard, but for those of you who missed out, here's the bike check to end all bike checks:

FRAME: Eastern Hercules. The serial number starts with "HT," which seems to imply it's a hi-ten frame from one of their low-end completes. Incidentally, I got frustrated trying to get the sprocket lined up right, and I wound up bashing the hell out of the downtube with a hammer. Did some serious aesthetic damage, but I doubt I actually hurt it.

FORK: G-Sport Prong. This was a donation from the UK (many people contributed to the completion of Project: Tank). Massive steerer tube, massive dropouts (with heart-shaped cutouts for two wheel placements), canti mounts. You've come a long way, baby.

WHEELS: Haro Heffer 2. Haro hubs laced to Alex triple walls. The hubs are bolt-through 14mm, and I'm amazed the bolts don't meet in the middle.

CRANKS: Profile SS. I want to say they're 170mm or something ludicrous.

SPROCKET: Profile SS (um, make that Blackjack. That's what I get for writing this at 5 a.m.). I need to get one of those pork chop guards.

CHAIN: Kink/KMC 415h.

BARS: Hoffman Love Handles. Less than eight-piece would be uncivilized.

GRIPS: Can't remember.

STEM: 2-Hip. I'm sure there are heavier stems out there—the Primo Casket is over a pound—but the 2-Hip is noteable for its utter ugliness.

PEDALS: DK Iron Cross, sealed.

SEAT: Odyssey Business Class. Two full pounds of seat. Amazing.

SEATPOST: Primo Rod. Um, I think.


TIRES: Primo Wall 2.1 front and rear.

HEADSET: Can't remember.

PEGS: Kink El Guapo. Monstrous. I need two more of them at some point.

BRAKES: None. Although ideally it needs a 990, a Gyro, and multiple Primo Perverts. And a canti of some sort up front.

Project: Tank is currently parked in a friend's basement, waiting for who knows what. Its only public appearance was at a video premiere downtown. Afterwards, Mike Brennan bunnyhopped it 35 inches to win an FBM-sponsored contest. Then it caught a flat, and I realized I'd never fully tightened the stem bolts. Whoops.

I'm still looking to weigh it down more one of these days. The two additional pegs would help, as would brakes. I also have a pair of Odyssey Hammerhead barends to install—they're actually heavier than my Sunday Triumph bars. Then it would be nice to swap out the hi-ten frame for a Cannibal or chromoly Pork. Fifty pounds might never happen, but I can dream.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I guess for starters, I don't believe this for a second. Hopefully Jared is actually riding those, though. Long live 1" grip tubes! (Also, please learn to count, Federal. Those are EIGHT-piece bars.)


But what I really wanted to get into today was rising prices. Not sure whether you've noticed, but it's happening already. MirraCos are $380. FBM's new SuperTherm frames are $400. United's post-weld heat treated frames are $410. And now there's a new leader—Colony, with their $440 post-weld heat treated joints, including the Hell Stallion:

For half that you could—not that I'm suggesting it, mind you—get a Killorado, if you really want a super low-slung ride. And somehow USA-made Terrible Ones are cheaper than any of those frames mentioned above, which seems to imply that T1 is trying to be classified as a non-profit for tax purposes.

Trust me, I'm not saying that higher prices aren't justified. They absolutely are. And it seems to me they should have gone up a long time ago. Road and mountain bike frames made from the same tubesets have long been twice as expensive (at least) as BMX frames, and they certainly don't use twice the materials or twice the labor. The only difference, best I can tell, is the market. High-end steel road and mountain bikes are sold to comparably affluent adults, while BMX frames are marketed to kids. It's a gross generalization, I know, but what else is different? SuperTherm tubing is SuperTherm tubing. Why are (to pick two examples at random) FBMs so much cheaper than Independent Fabrications? Why were Waterford-built Standards so much cheaper than any other frame that came out of that facility? Does a headtube badge and a bunch of cable braze-0ns make that much of a difference? Or is it that BMX framebuilding is supposed to be charity work?

I bought my first R-Model STA from Trend on December 30, 2000. (Yes, I still have the receipt.*) It was $389. And with all the economic disasters that have befallen the country and the world since then, the price for a new 250L has skyrocketed all the way to $400. Something doesn't add up. Someone's getting screwed, and it isn't us.

Costs are just gonna keep going up. Raw materials, transportation, labor. And the big question is (as I see it), is how the BMX market will respond. Will prices go up to reflect costs in order to keep the margins the same? What happens when the average frame is $400 and some exceed $500? Or, will prices stay artificially low at the cost to the companies that make or import them? If that's the case, maybe sales will stay the same but companies will go under anyway.

* I also still have the receipt for the first "real" frameset I ever bought, an oversized S&M Dirt Bike kit. That would be frame (olive green) , Pitchfork (chrome), Redneck (red), Dia-Compe Aheadset and 990 brake, and S&M padset. I bought it on September 13th, 1995, and including shipping it was $237.09.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mag Light

Yes, I took Columbus Day off. Got a problem with that?

Quick, if you were to just glance at the photo below, what year would you think it was from?



No sir, as you can see by the Primo logo, this is a stack of brand-new Primo Balance rims. From this year. The goofy colors don't appear to be in stock anywhere yet, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time.

But I had no intention of getting into colors. If shops want to start stocking products in a dozen different colors again, so be it. Not my problem. What I wanted to touch on today was the upcoming magnesium Balance rim.

Magnesium wheels are nothing new—it's where the term "mag wheel" originally came from. A company called Halibrand started making magnesium wheels for race cars all the way back in the '40s. They're not even new to BMX—Mongoose founder Skip Hess turned out some one-off magnesium Motomags in the '70s. But while magnesium is indeed lighter than aluminum, true mag wheels never became the standard for either industry.


Well, there's the little matter of magnesium being highly flammable. Obviously it's not a matter of spontaneous combustion, or even friction causing it—people do pedal grinds on magnesium pedals and they still have feet. Magnesium needs to be heated to over 800 degrees before it ignites, so leaving your bike in the sun should be fine. (If it does catch for some reason, though, forget it—magnesium burns at 4,000 degrees.) But it does make welding it a bit of a challenge.

Also, magnesium oxidizes like crazy. The atmosphere likes magnesium, and it wants it back. And it has a tendency to weaken over time in certain load-bearing applications. Um, like wheels. And apparently they go out of true faster than aluminum—you might want to read this thread on magnesium road bike wheels. Obviously the magnesium Balance rims will be coated, but how long does it take to put the first couple of scratches and scrapes in a rim? (Or wear the stuff off if you use brakes.) You gonna want to touch them up every day? Mongoose figured out 30 years ago that a magnesium production wheel didn't make sense. Halibrand moved on to aluminum as well—you'll only find true "mag" wheels on vintage race cars. Is it lighter? Yes. Is it worth the trouble? Doesn't seem like it.


Friday, October 10, 2008

All-Time Low

We're getting closer and closer to the FBM Uranus Plug becoming a reality.

Macneil posted this on their blog yesterday—the aptly named Nub Post. The Pivotal wedge post taken to the extreme, it's a 50-gram trinket that allows you to only run your seat slammed and only after you cut off the top of your seattube.

Aw, isn't it cute? Sort of the little brother to the Stolen SIC post (will royalties have to flow both ways?) the Nub Post is roughly 30 grams—an ounce—lighter than the shortest available Pivotal post and a slim seatpost clamp. But that's not all! "Once you factor in the weight of steel mast and seat post clamp you have just removed….it actually does weigh….nothing." It weighs nothing! Sweet! And all you have to do is...wait, what?

Yes! Just decapitate your seattube! Don't mind the fact that it'll most likely void your warranty, or that you could easily cut into the weld. Let's ignore the fact that a lot of people don't even run brakes because it's too much of a hassle to install and adjust them or that most kids can't even cut the flanges off their grips properly. Just cut off the top of your frame! And hey, if you decide later that you want to run your seat higher, or that the wedge design doesn't hold well enough, well, just buy a new one. What's another $400?

Tell you what, Macneil: How about have people send their frames in, YOU cut off the tops of their seattubes, and if something cracks due to overtightening or compromised welds, YOU replace their frames, no matter who made them. How does that sound?

Look, I understand that it looks a hell of a lot better than zip-tying or hose-clamping a seat to the toptube. And if you're willing to cut the top off your seattube just to be able to run your seat a tiny bit lower and save a whole two ounces, I'm not gonna try and stop you. But it begs the question: What is light enough? We'd already gone from this to this to this. What's next? Are we not men?

Also, it seems to me that seat tubes are designed to take pressure one way (an external clamp tightened down around a solid seatpost) and now you're asking them to accept it another way (an internal wedge pressing outwards) right where a bunch of welds meet. Throw in thin-gauge tubing and kids with hacksaws, and you've got a recipe for disaster. And I can't wait for the rash of cracked and split seat tubes when people inevitably run this thing without cutting anything at all.

Oh yes, and from what I heard (and read in the comments), there was initially a shot at this blog in the writeup. What did it say?


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Uno Ocho Siete

Greetings and salutations. Let us join a product design already in progress—the Fly Uno seat/post combo:

Sure looks like a finished product, doesn't it? And except for the fact that it doesn't allow for much height adjustment—um, or angle adjustment, or front-to-back adjustment—it looks normal enough. It's clearly a bike seat and not just a placeholder.

That said, it's still not quite finished. Or it wasn't, anyway. Through testing, Fly recently discovered that the composite post was too pliant. Tightening the seatpost clamp just squished it. So, back to the drawing board, where they came up with this:

Ingenious! A slim aluminum core to stiffen everything up. Uno Cialis. In their words, "this tube increases the strength and also prevents the post from ovalizing when you tighten the seat clamp. It only ads 20 grs / 0.7 oz. to the seat but makes it much stronger."

Which makes one wonder, will further changes and refinements happen before release? Because I was just thinking, if you separated the seat from the post, and developed some sort of splined interface, you could actually make it possible to adjust the seat's angle. And it wouldn't add much weight at all—you could just thread that aluminum insert and use a hollow bolt to tighten everything down.

Whoa, I think I'm onto something. I'm going to go try and sketch this out. Anyone got the number to the patent office?


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Ultimate Mail

Let's go to the mailbag for today's topic. I've been meaning to run this e-mail for a while now, and better late than never:

"You seem to have not noticed..

There are VERY few BMX hubs in 48h anymore..

On top of that, if they do, they either suck, or don't come in LHD, or 9t..

Now, all three are pretty wide areas of the market I would think.. yet nobody is making this shit anymore?

Damn all these companies that are using strong ass bushing, or Q-Lite systems to allow larger driver bearings, because it still doesn't mean shit to me untill I can get A. 48h (SERIOUSLY, NO 48H?!) 9t (A must so I can run my RNC fullguard sprocket..) and LHD would be a fucking nice touch too..

Christ, I can't believe with companies coming out with two hubs a month they can't drill some extra holes in the flanges, reverse thread the ratchet rings and screw em in so the damn driver goes on the left side, and order 9t drivers..."
It's true that I did not notice this, perhaps because I don't run 48s or a 9t driver. But it's a somewhat reasonable point (remember when G-Sport was totally against 36-hole rear wheels?) despite the fact that it adds even more options to an already crowded market (and one would presume that the 48/LHD/9t segment is a fairly small one). That said, 48-hole, LHD cassettes are a more legit option than yet another recovered Velo. I'm just saying.

I skimmed through the product offerings of Wal*Mart BMX, and found just three cassette hubs that are offered in LHD and 48: the Demolition Anorexia, the Odyssey V3 and the Shadow Rant V2. Two of those, the Anorexia and the Rant, have a 9t option. And one could question whether the Anorexia and the Rant will even remain in production, seeing that both companies offer a more recent model (although the new Shadow cassette will still be available in 48/LHD/9t).

That said, I see where our e-mailer is coming from. Profile no longer offers a 48-hole cassette hub, nor does Primo. And whilst the majority of BMXers are indeed skinny waifs in Krews, there are still those who either are big or just ride that way who could use the 12 extra spokes.

Oh well. Best appreciate the options you DO have before those go away, too.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Half and Half

Remember UnKnown Bike Co.? We last talked about them three months ago when they introduced the three-and-a-half pound Revolution frame. Well, they're ba-ack!

This time they're introducing their two-piece cranks, which you can see on messageboards in Germany and the UK but not their own website.

Rather than attach the spindle to one arm or the other, they chose to split their (19mm) spindle right down the middle. Just like Campagnolo did with their road cranks in '06. Then again, Campy's design uses a lot more teeth, something known as a Hirth joint, which looks a lot more stable and sturdy than the UK's connection point. Let your cranks get just a little loose with these babies and you'll be banging your knee into something or throwing yourself over your bars. Fun! Well, unless they fit super-tight, in which case good luck putting them together in the first place.

The arms look conventional enough, although I'm sure they use UK's super-secret heat-treating process. Some kind of bolt will lock the whole thing together. Of course this means if you break EITHER arm, the replacement cost will be fairly high. They weigh 736 grams, which must be light. (Who weighs their cranks in grams? Oh. These guys, apparently.) No mention of price, either.

According to the info provided, they have developed an even lighter set of cranks at 712 grams that either haven't been or can't be photographed. Perhaps they're adversely affected by light?


Mike Aitken took it hard the other day at Posh, and is in the hospital recovering. Like many riders in the wonderful US of A, he doesn't have health insurance. You can donate—or just leave a message for him—on the 50/50 site.

Here's a sequence of him I took at the Banks during the Fox tour a while back:

Get well soon, Mikey.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Frosty Freeze Cold Chillin'

Have you heard the one about the frozen frames?

Saw this on Fat today—the new Quamen LoCal frame, which is "the first frame in the BMX industry to use Cryogenic Engineering."

Apparently it's a process that can be used in tandem with heat treating, although it also works as a stand-alone process.

The frame itself isn't anything to write home about—low top tube, standard angles and dimensions (74.5/13.75/11.5), even a more or less standard weight, four and a quarter pounds. No word of how much it's gonna cost.

Looks like they should have taken the frame off the lawn before initiating the cryogenic process, huh? Hey man, if it's good enough for Walt Disney and Ted Williams's head, I suppose it could be good enough for a street frame. It's a tried and tested process in other disciplines. Heat treat first, then rather than just cool to room temp, cool it WAY down. To below -200 degrees Fahrenheit.

(Of course, if this catches on, companies will start having to come up with cool (haha, get it?) names for their own freezing processes: "Iced Out." "Mr. Frosty." "Otter Pop Tubing." You know, that sort of thing.)

But hey, if you get to actually observe the process, just one word of advice: No matter how good your frame looks, for God's sake don't lick it.


Friday, October 3, 2008

The Final Countdown

I'm not sure whether you've heard, but the American economy is in pretty bad shape right now. We're down to like three national banks, a sandwich in London would cost you roughly $47, and even Canadians are laughing at our currency. Our bills are green because they're jealous.

We had it coming, I guess. But I'm not gonna get into all the politics here, because a) that's not the point of this blog, and b) I'd just be doing a lot of re-hashing of things that were written by the media elite. And by golly, the elite have no place telling normal people like you and me what we can and cannot do! Why can't we have a normal person in the White House who does normal things—like carrying out personal vendettas while serving in a public office, marrying off their pregnant teenagers while fighting comprehensive sex ed, and shooting moose from helicopters? Drill baby, drill!

(Wait, did Sarah Palin design the Rob Wise frame?)

Anyway, the real question is, for me—or, rather, us—is how will this financial crunch affect BMX? Well, a lot of us are gonna have less money to play with. And the costs of everything, from raw materials to shipping, are rising. Ouch. It's hard to justify spending $400-plus on a frame when you're spending $60 a week to fill your gas tank. I found it very interesting (and cool) that Ryan Sher said at Interbike that Subrosa will be offering an aftermarket frame for right around $200 that just skips all the neat (but expensive) little details. Assuming there's any profit to be made at that price point at all, every company would be smart to offer a bare-bones frame. If I had a frame company, mine would be called "The Bailout".

But there's another side to this sordid story, and that's on the other side of the Atlantic. With the Euro kicking the dollar's ass from sea to shining sea, it's a lot cheaper for our Old World brethren to order parts from the US of A, even with international shipping factored in. Gone are the days when a French guy would have to pay $800 or whatever for a Terrible One frame. Crossing the ocean the other way, it's sort of surprising that Eurocompanies like Federal, United, Simple, Mankind, We The People, KHE, etc., even bother selling their products in America. I suppose volume (not Volume) makes up for the lousy dollar and the overcrowded market. For now. So we get things like $410 United frames, while the exchange rate renders other products too expensive for American mailorders to carry. Thank God G-Sport stuff isn't actually made in the UK anymore or a Marmoset/Ribcage front wheel would cost $27,000.

What next? Who knows? Maybe the focus switches back from weight to strength. Imagine that. With money tight, would you rather have a 35-ounce pair of bars that'll last you six years, or a 25-ounce pair that'll last you six months? Maybe 48-spoke wheels will make a comeback. And titanium might disappear from BMX entirely. (Which reminds me, what the hell is KHE thinking making titanium cranks NOW? Oh that's right, the Euro is still worth something.) It's gonna be interesting—and frightening—to watch.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Reign of Tierra

I meant to post this before Interbike, but hey, I mean to do a lot of things.

These are shots of the new Fly Tierra.

More specifically, shots of the Tierra's new one-piece dropouts. And I quote: "They now are one piece, they become flush with the stays."

Wow, neat.

Except I don't get it. Weren't the dropouts one piece before? Aren't dropouts usually one piece?

Maybe something got lost in translation.

Anyway, yeah, photos:

I kind of wish Fly had posted a photo of the frame before paint, just so I could see where the welds are. Unless they're held together by magic.

Still, it looks neat. Smooth. Something you'd be more likely to see on a high-end road or mountain bike.

The hollowed-out dropout back seems to be the in-thing for '09. Fancy stuff. Maybe next year someone will produce a one-piece, investment-cast frame. Just like the ancient Egyptians used to do it.

I suppose I could have just e-mailed someone at Fly and asked them what the deal was, but it's more fun to see whether someone who knows reads this and either comments or e-mails. If an answer is forthcoming, I'll post it in here.

I'm so vain.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Eat It, Julie Andrews

I have often been accused of being a hater. Not just in the world of BMX, but in other venues as well. I object to these accusations—not because they're untrue, because they absolutely are—because it's foolish to try and categorize someone so narrowly. Am I a hater? Probably. But I'm also a lot of other things that I won't get into right now. "Hater" is so incomplete.

You see, there are lots of things I love, even in the gram-obsessed world of BMX. And in the interest of offsetting my obviously misguided all-consuming hate, I thought I'd lay out a list of six products (or product categories, I guess) that I really like. Some of them I don't even ride. So there.

• Animal Bob Bars: I'm kind of bummed Animal is producing a butted version. I'd heard a rumor that they weren't going to be released, and that made me happy. Bob Bars are what you think they are—no-nonsense four-piecers that aren't super wide or super tall or super light. They're not gonna make you the belle of the bike-check ball, but they're not gonna bend if you look at 'em funny, either. (They might, however, bend if you throw your bike in frustration after—well, that's not important right now.) They look good, feel right, and are suited (uncut) for anyone who doesn't have a night job as a power forward or light-bulb changer.

• Steel pegs: Brand doesn't matter. I guess it's cool that various companies are experimenting with various materials—plastic, lexan, 7075 aluminum, titanium, depleted uranium. Variety is, as they say, the spice of life. And if having a never-ending supply of plastic pegs allows you to fulfill your lifetime dream of grinding the entire Great Wall of China, well, good for you. But like Floyd Gondolli, I like simple pleasures. Call me a traditionalist. I like my hamburgers made from beef, my magazines printed on paper and my pegs made from hardened steel.

• Seatpost clamps: Brand immaterial, but a 6mm bolt would be nice. I've written enough on this subject for the time being.

• S&M Slam bars: Like the Bob bars, they were a copy (more or less) of an older product. GT bars, Hutch Woody bars, whatever. And at a time when everyone and their uncle was running four-piecers, S&M produced a two-piece tough enough for street or trails or anything else you wanted to throw at them, and big enough for Sasquatch. Pros who weren't on S&M or Standard ran either Slams or Strips anyway. Now there are 37,000 choices when it comes to 8x28" (or bigger) two-piece bars, but why settle for an imitation when you can still get the original? (Oh noes, they're not 13-butted. Sorry. Do a pushup.)

• The KMC Z-510hx: Half-link chains look cool, I guess. But I never really understood the need to run a chain made up of all half-links when all you really ever need is one. Am I wrong? It's like running a chain made up entirely of master links. And why are they so much more expensive than regular chains? The Z-510hx is plenty strong, and costs all of $13. Sure, it doesn't have those sexy drilled-out plates and pins, but it's also less likely to turn your disaster into a complete disaster. Sometimes simple is better, you know?

• Complete bikes for under a G: I saw somewhere recently that you can get a decent complete for $499 from a rider-owned company. That's crazy. It's reached the point now where you can actually buy a complete FBM in a mall* while you're on your way from Hot Topic ("vintage" Stones shirt) to Lidz (custom New Era). Probably 80 percent** of the riders in the world (including yours truly) could get away with riding a $500 complete, no problem. That number would jump even higher if you could buy more completes with 21" toptubes. Which begs the question of why the aftermarket market is so big, and whether it will STAY so big, but that's for another day.

* I know I saw a link about this on the FBM site, but today I couldn't find it. Must be the senile dementia.

** Generous underestimation. I originally had 95 percent, which is probably closer to the truth.