Friday, January 30, 2009

Dah Shinin'

I'm pretty late to the game on this, but it's pretty awesome that Profile has been posting those "How This Is Made" entries. The newest is on the Gas pedals, which might confuse some people since they're not poured into a mold. ("Wait, you can make pedals out of METAL?") It at least gives you some idea why they're so expensive.

It's good to see how bikes and bike parts are made. FBM has been particularly great at posting photos of the production process. They're proud of what they do, and rightly so. And it just feels better when you can see a frame before its been painted and stickered. Even if you can't see anything specific.

I'd give almost anything for several other brands to post similar blog entries: "Here we are poring over the latest Taiwanese catalog. Here we are picking our next line. Here we are calling the factory to finalize our choices. Here we are vociferously discussing the new hot 'colorways'."


What is this, the '90s? The '80s?

A couple days ago I saw this Nigel Sylvester bike check. Chrome rims, bars, forks. OK. Taking that whole "shinin'" thing a bit too literally, but hey. Why not? After all, Hanson Little already had the full-chrome Mystic setup—which he told me he'd send a photo of a long time ago. Lies!

Then today I saw this:

Yep, that's a fully chromed Kink Farside, complete with skinwall tires.

A long time ago, a chrome bike was as pro as it got. I'm talking back in the mid-'80s. Then after a while it was all a bit too much—for department-store bikes only. Then you couldn't even GET chrome. It was bad for the environment, bad for the metal, bad for the eyes.

Guess we've come full circle.



Thursday, January 29, 2009

Potassium Helium

Depending on how you look at it, the bar has been either raised or lowered yet again. (We can guess which way the toptube went.) KHE is proud to introduce The Spectre, a 3.814 pound frame that's being ridden by Daniel Dhers. It's got a 20.43" toptube presumably because no one else has made that size yet. Either that, or it's a really subtle tribute to Mat Hoffman. 43!

Judging from the one photo on Fat, KHE was able to save weight by using removable brake mounts and cable guides, and by eliminating the headtube entirely. I'm shocked they left the top of the seat tube that tall—they could have easily shaved off that excess .014 pound there. I'd also like to see a properly angled photo of the bottom bracket—it looks like it's just hanging off the bottom of the seat tube. Elevated chainstays?


Snafu, once again rationalizing their very existence and doing a so-so job of it. Look, just say you're putting out sprockets that look like every other sprocket so no one has to deal with the stigma of running a Snafu product in 2009. Honesty is the best policy.


I don't know if the eBay thing will become any sort of regular occurrence, but I will draw attention to auctions now and then if I feel they're in any way interesting or amusing. Like these forks, which have been on eBay as long as eBay has existed. I'm half-tempted to buy a set just out of pity.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I love looking at BMX stuff on eBay. New or old, it doesn't matter.

A simple search for the term "BMX" brought up 8,397 items today. Of course that includes lots of barely BMX stuff like this and this, but there's never any shortage of awesome.

Like this:

ATTN: Tall, weight-weenie, old schoolers.

Ignore the "race" designation (a race frame with a standing platform?) and just think of it as a 4.5 pound Standard Lengthier. For $100, how can you go wrong?


Honestly? It doesn't get more SPRFLS than this. Amazing.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bring the Ruckus

Breaking news? Rob from WTP/éclat e-mailed to let me know that the yet-to-be-named stem is unnamed no more: it's called the Hannibal. There is apparently good reasoning behind this, but I can't figure it out. Feel free to guess, win nothing.

But yes, there's also the seat, the aptly named Gonzo Seat. The nose is a bit pre-dropped (although not as much as that of its namesake), and the base is a totally new design, not yet another gaudily re-appropriated Velo. It's light as hell (6.3 ounces naked, 8.8 clothed), but it also looks pretty little.

Makes you wonder why someone doesn't go all the way and just "design" a Pivotal version of the classic GT Dropnose. Anyway, yeah, nothing terribly SPRFLS to see here. But hey, it's only Tuesday.


If anyone else is looking for a complete, here's a Fit PRK3 for a good cause. I might hold off a little while longer myself, as the weather is showing no signs of getting any better.


Just in case you didn't click on that GT Dropnose link, remember the Robinson Ruckus?

All black trails bike? Stealth race machine? With one-piece cranks? Nope, I don't remember what the point was either. Looked neat, though.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Smilin' is Cheesin'

Hm, I wonder if éclat's still mad at me? I never did hear from Tunney after the Great Cheese Incident (unless he authored the exceptionally petty "comeback" on the éclat site), and we used to e-mail on a semi-regular basis, too. Shame. And to think I was gonna buy his rookie card.

Anyway, éclat—the company with the most iconic logo in BMX—released a couple of new parts last week that are worth taking a closer look at. We'll start with this new biodegradable combination tube sealant and grip installer:

Oh, I'm just kidding. You guys need to relax if you're gonna make it to your first anniversary.

But éclat really did put out a few new products. The first is an unnamed stem. It's crazy, because the plate goes on the FRONT, hence the term "front-load." I know, hard to imagine, right? Maybe you'd get a better idea of what I mean if you looked at a photo:

Does it make more sense now? (Seems sort of strange that éclat would start with a frontload when everything's heading back topload. Frontload stems made a lot more sense when people were running low, narrow bars—anyone who ran Castillos and a DK stem could attest to that. They do have a Sean Burns topload in the works, though.) Note the smaller bolts on the face (is this a better option than hollow 6mm bolts?) and the iconic logo on the side.

The niftiest feature (yes, I'm being serious for a moment) is found on the back, which is cut in an "s" shape:

This allows more threading to catch without having to set the bolt heads a half-inch into the stem. Judging from the text (it's referred to as "the proven snake gap") I take it this has been done before, but I guess I ain't noticed. (Unless "the proven snake gap" is actually just something Jimmy Levan jumped over recently.) As for the pertinent measurements, 49.5 mm, 9.5 ounces. And it's nowhere near as terrifying looking as some sub-10 stems. In fact, it's quite aesthetically pleasing. Of course that's just because they removed material from the bottom instead of the sides. And, in the immortal words of Twisted Sister, "what you don't know sure can hurt you, what you can't see makes you scream."

Meh, the seat can wait 'til tomorrow.


Hey, Tierra V2. I'm amused that the "long" rear end version is 13.65". Don't hurt yourselves.


According to James Foster, his new frame (which was discussed earlier) "completely obliterates every other bike in the universe" and "has the best geometry of any bike I’ve ridden." Well, that's that, then. Guess I can close up shop.


Friday, January 23, 2009

No Control

If this were a Friday quiz, which it isn't, I suppose this would be the essay question:

The primary reasoning I've heard behind people running bigger and bigger bars is this: "It gives you more control." Now personally, I think this is true up to a point. Back in the good old days of 19" Castillo Bars, when men were men and those men slid their grips all the way to the crossbar, wider bars were definitely a step in the right direction. The thing is—to me—things have now gone way too far the other way. If you're an 85-pound kid with shoulders the size of the average house sparrow's, a pair of 30" wide bars is probably going to give you less control than a pair of 25" wide ones.

But that's not even my point.

My point is this. If the reasoning for wider bars is "more control," why do many people with super-wide bars also have a) no brakes, b) super-short rear ends, and c) vestigal seats? Brakes give you more control. Longer rear ends (arguably) give you more control. And a seat raised to a reasonable height absolutely gives you more control.

So my question is this:

If you run super-wide bars because they give you "more control," why do you intentionally set up the rest of your bike to give you less?


I picked up the current copy of Road Bike Action this week to accompany me on a train ride, and less than 20 pages in I found the most amazing bike part in the history of history. You know all that stuff I've said about pointless BMX parts? This takes the cake, eats it, then shits it on my head and eats it again.

I present to you the $1,600 carbon/ti brakeset.

Unbelievable. But hey, at least you get free shipping.



*EDIT* Changed the title to what it should have been in the first place. Sorry, Brett and Greg, it won't happen again. (Why can't I remember what video used this? I remember Hallman riding to Bad Religion in a Standard video, but I think it was a different song. Stupid faulty memory.)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ti, Die

There's isn't much that I don't understand about KHE's prototype titanium flatland frame. Honestly, I only have one question:


Here's KHE's explanation (which can be found by following the link above): "We'll build up a bike with all the lightweight parts we can find in our warehouse to see how far we can push the limits. How light can a serious bike become? You can check out the bike at the next Eurobike for sure."

Interesting. Stupid, but interesting. Look, titanium is a great material to make bike frames from. According to roadies and hardtail MTB types, it has a ride quality that can't be duplicated with steel or aluminum or carbon fiber. It's lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and super resilient. Of course it's also difficult to work with (just ask Eastern) and expensive as hell, which is how you wind up with things like a $3,200 road frame and a $9,000 commuter bike. Companies offer cheaper titanium, but you run the risk of getting a frame made from melted-down MIGs and old Chernobyl core rods.

BMX bikes, though? Not so much. Taj had someone fabricate a titanium Barcode and he hated it because it was so flexy (scroll about 2/3 of the way down). And you don't see those ti Grim Reapers advertised in Dan's anymore.

And I love that KHE asks "how far we can push the limits," like they may find some magical parts in their warehouse that will allow them to build a six-pound complete bike. If the ti frame weighs 2.16 pounds, and their top-of-the-line complete flat bike weighs in at 17.2 pounds (and costs $1,900), a complete built with the ti frame should weigh roughly two pounds less than that. That is, unless they decide to drill a bunch of holes in everything just to show off and make it even less rideable than it is already.

Which leads one to ponder, what exactly constitutes a serious bike? Flatland bikes may not have to stand up to 20-stair drops to flat, but they take a lot of abuse that a "regular" BMX bike never will, being pulled and spun and tweaked in multiple directions at once. Don't believe me? Check out this bike I shot at a jam this summer:

So even if you could build a 15-pound flatland bike (that would retail for roughly $3,000, of course), what's the point if it would just twist up like a pretzel the second a serious rider put it through its paces? Why not try and make a lightweight frame out of aluminum (already been done, I know) or some sort of carbon composite? Titanium? We've been down that road before. It's going to be light. It's going to be expensive. And it's going to suck.


And now for something completely different.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Road and The Damned

Hola, amigos and anonymouses. Been a long time. But I gave Monday to MLK (and roughly 12 hours of NBA basketball) and yesterday to Obama (although I could have done without pretty much everything after his speech. I'm still having trouble believing that Nick freaking Cannon DJed the "Neighborhood Ball." Maybe we're not out of the woods yet.)

Appreciate all the commentary (both good and bad) on Project: Complete. Right now I'm leaning heavily towards the FBM Marauder BL. Basically, I want a complete that's similar to what I'm riding now—brakeless, four pegs, decent standover, black—so I can run it straight out of the box. And the 20.5" frame shouldn't bother me much—I had an old 20.5" Stricker a while back, and other than it's being a tank, I liked it a lot. The only other bike still in the running is the Fit STR-3, but from what I can tell I think the FBM's a little bit taller. As for the other contenders, well:

KINK LIBERTY — Pretty much the same as the Marauder, and when it comes down to it I'd rather try the FBM.

GIANT METHOD TEAM — The original idea was to just get a Giant and make it my main bike. Ride a BMX bike from the biggest manufacturer in the world (it shouldn't make a difference, really—BMX geometry isn't guarded like the KFC secret recipe). But the Method Team comes with so many aftermarket parts that it just didn't seem like it would be that interesting to write about. Plus, I'd have to lose the brake and put on four pegs. Too much like work. I still like the idea of riding a Giant, though. Maybe for the next bike after.

STOLEN SINNER — Too many horror stories from too many people. And I don't have health insurance.

VERDE RADIA — A few things appealed. Like, would a mostly high-tensile steel frame hold up? And would the super-low fixed Pivotal seat drive me completely insane? I figure the answer to the second question was "absolutely," so out went that.

WTP ENVY — Too expensive. And again, too many aftermarket parts. It would more or less be a test of the éclat gruppo, and it seems like all that stuff works just fine. I'm not Sean Burns or Chester Blacksmith.

EASTERN... WHATEVER — I'd rather push a Huffy than ride an Eastern.

KHE — I'm not a 12-year-old girl.

HARO/PREMIUM — Didn't really look into it all that much. Ditto for any other company I'm forgetting.

So that's that. I'll take suggestions for the rest of the week, and maybe the beginning of next week, but then I want to buy something and get this thing off the ground. Hopefully it'll get above freezing.


Hey, wow, Verde's forks have built-in bearing races. Like, um, Odyssey's did a year and a half ago.


I'm saving this for tomorrow.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Immodest Proposal?

So, I've been giving some more thought to this whole Project: Complete I talked about yesterday. And after looking at it in the light of day following a good night's sleep, I'm not sure whether it's even a good idea. For me, at least. And for a number of reasons.

I guess the main one is that I already know the answer to the big question: Of course a complete will be good enough for me. It's like asking whether I could play basketball in a pair of $40 Converse instead of Air Jordans. Of course I could. I'm not a professional. I'm not even a has-been. I'm more like a never-was. I ride for fun. I don't Luc-E kinked ledges, I don't ride Posh, and the next flair I do will be my first. Would it be weird getting used to an entirely new bike? Sure, especially if it was shorter than what I'm used to. But I have no doubt that I would get used to it.

Then again, maybe that's reason enough to do it? It'll be a good way to see—at least for me—how many choices are just made because there are choices, and whether there are any that are truly important. (I'm not talking about things like hardened steel pegs over slidy aluminum ones—I'm talking minute differences in toptube length and handlebar sweep/width and type of grips and tires). If someone replaced your 20.6" or 20.75" frame with a 20.5" tomorrow, would you even notice? And assuming you did, how long would it take you to get used to the change? How many of the choices that you agonize over are entirely insignificant?

Again, I'm pretty sure I know the answer. The average rider—not referring to skill level here—chooses parts primarily by reputation and image. The questions, in no particular order, are "will this hold up?," "how much does this cost?," and "what will people think when they see me running/rocking this?" That last might be the most important, which is why BMX parts are marketed more like limited-edition sneakers or high-end denim than, you know, bike parts. Somehow I think Lance Armstrong worries more about whether his bars fit than whether they're cool or not (although he did almost break Twitter asking whether he should run black or yellow hoods).

Sometimes I think skateboarding got it right. They picked a size and a shape and ran with it. Only the graphics change. Maybe all the BMX companies should get together, decide on a headtube angle, a seattube angle, a bottom bracket standard (!), a pair of chainstay lengths and three toptube sizes. Pick some tubing, and place a huge order with Giant. All individual companies would have to do is come up with names, pick "colorways" and design sticker sets. One massive order would cut prices, and anyone would be able to ride any company's frame. Simple, right?

I realize this runs counter to lots of things I've said before. That's just how I roll.


As for the purveyance of said bicycle, I've done a lot of thinking on that, too. (Helped along by anonymous, no doubt.) And I think I absolutely have to buy it. That way I'm not beholden to anyone, and there's no chance of getting a ringer: "Wait, why does this $500 Kink complete weigh 22 pounds?" Still, I'm not sure what to get, and suggestions are still welcome. (Verde? FBM? WTP? MirraCo? Giant? Kink?) I'd post a poll, but a) I don't have a clue how to do it, and b) I don't have enough of a readership. Not that I'm not thankful for each and every one of you. Well, except anonymous. You're a dick.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Modest Proposal

BMXfeed was down for a couple of hours today and I almost lost my mind. I don't do RSS feeds—I don't even know how to do RSS feeds—so BMXfeed is my connection to the rest of the BMX internet universe. The umbilical cord that keeps me fed. Wonderful, amazing, exciting news like this. Yes, Ali Whitton is getting a new signature frame from Macneil. No, I don't know why. (Here's what I really don't get: If the market is truly being driven primarily by kids, how many of them are eager to ride the same frame as Alistair Whitton?)

But there was something else I wanted to talk about today, something that has nothing to do with BMXfeed, or any sort of BMX news.

The weather outside is frightful. My faithful BMX bike has been parked for some time. And, as is usually the case when I'm not riding, thoughts have turned to a new bike. I've considered many possibilities—a Sunday, a Barcode, maybe even an STA. But I think I have a better idea than any of those.

What I want is a complete bike. Preferably something 20.75" or 21", but I think I could handle a 20.5". I'm thinking of an FBM Marauder or a Kink Liberty or a Fit STR Signature or—best of all—a Giant Method Team. I would change nothing (well, unless I got a Giant, in which case I would remove the brakes and add four pegs). I wouldn't cut the bars or the steerer tube, wouldn't change the grips or the pedals or the tires. I'd even leave the reflectors in the spokes and the "THIS BIKE IS ONLY BUILT FOR RIDING SLOWLY ON THE SIDEWALK" sticker on the toptube. I would only replace parts when they broke, and would more or less turn it into a long-term test.

You always read in magazine bike tests that "[Rider X] could do everything on [bike Y] that he could do on his regular bike" or that "[Rider Y] liked the [bike X] just as much as his [bike W]." Well, what if said bike became Rider X's regular bike? How good are these completes really? Can a $500 (or $800) complete compare to a $1,500 custom build? And, if so, what's the point of assembling a bike piece-by-piece?

I admit, I may have to go through hardships. Like wider-than-usual bars, a shorter-than-usual toptube, a skinnier-than-usual rear tire, machine-built wheels and even (gulp) Alienation rims. I am willing to endure all of these things in the name of science.

The big question, however, is which bike? I welcome your suggestions, either via comment or e-mail. The Kink and the FBM are tempting simply because they're legit "street" bikes similar to my own for the low, low cost of $500 (more or less the cost of my frame and fork). On the other hand, I like the idea of the Method Team because it's the top-of-the-line BMX bike from the biggest bike manufacturer in the world. More or less the polar opposite of a frame-up build from a rider-owned company. The Anti-Christ of bikes, as it were. Maybe I'd even leave the brake on. Either way, I'd be down to ride the bike for a year, keeping track of things the whole way through, from assembly to [possible] destruction. (We're talking weekly updates. Possibly with video and the occasional guest tester.)

Which leads to the final part of all this—I'd rather not pay retail if at all possible. I mean, I will if I have to (PayPal is at the ready), but if someone out there from a bike company or distributor or shop/mailorder is reading this and wants to help out, it would be appreciated. Just e-mail me at I promise to settle on just one bike.

And look on the bright side. If this works out, I'll have no shortage of material. BMXfeed being down won't leave me high and dry.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Four Pounds (To) Flat

You may or may not remember this. A few months ago, James "Triple Whip" Foster shattered his ankle jumping over a house in Germany for some TV show. The details about that can be found here. Obviously the problem was that his frame was too heavy.

So KHE lightened things up on his "Triple Threat" signature frame by butting everything (butted chainstays? Yikes.), milling out everything else, and heat-treating the whole mess. It's now four pounds even, so he should be able to float over houses from here on out. That's a relief.

Only there's this: Didn't FIVE-pound Sanko frames (think the Fit Hawk) have a nasty habit of breaking? What's going to happen to a FOUR-pound Sanko frame? I, for one, don't plan on finding out firsthand.


So much here that I don't understand and/or don't want to accept.

a) Brian Tunney is working for ESPN now? Say what? Along with blogging for Dig, TMing éclat, doing Assblasters, and, you know, riding his bike? How does one fit all this in? I suppose I could e-mail him and ask, but after the last éclat cheap shot, I don't really feel like it. Besides, I don't even look at ESPN anymore since their video-heavy redesign appears to be incompatible with my not-up-to-the-minute operating system. So I doubt I'll be reading much. Especially if it's just going to be re-hashed press releases.

b) Metal is making frames in Taiwan? OK, I knew that. And I even understand it. Got nothing against overseas-made frames. Everyone's doing it anyway. So, yeah. Skip to c.

c) Chris Wilson got a signature frame? From Metal? After his Dead Bang part was more or less universally panned, I thought he'd be on Fit by now. He was the guy who did all the tailwhips, wasn't he?

d) Metal is making a frame that is described with phrases such as "low standover height," has a 75-degree headtube angle, and comes in a two-tone finish that isn't zebra-striped. This is like Slayer coming out with an album that is described with phrases such as "heartfelt and soulful." I find it funny that Metal splits from S&M, THEN puts out a frame, um, fit for Chase DeHart. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the whole point of there being different companies that companies be different? Guess not.

Fuck, now I'm depressed.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Finally, a new product I can wholeheartedly endorse:

For starters, it's exceedingly practical. This isn't a tiny driver that will save you six grams at the cost of a new chain a month, or a titanium-shelled plastic peg that will serve no purpose whatsoever. This is something that will save you from the embarassments of skunk stripe and wet pants, plus protect the bolts in your seatpost clamp and Primo Rod.

Secondly, it's a product that actually requires a bit of seatpost. You're not going to run that with the Macneil Nub.

Thirdly, just look at that bike! There's someone who doesn't care much about fashion—or someone who's been in a coma since 2001. Note the giant Kink sprocket, the sprayed DK Iron Cross pedals, the torn Hemmorhoid (ouch), the dinged-up 48-spoke rear wheel. Other than the tires, there's a bike that hasn't been upgraded since Trend was still around. (Although that was a "limited" sprocket when it was new, so obviously our rider wasn't completely immune to the bite of the hypebeast. Well, either that or he really wanted a gold sprocket.) Anyone want to venture a guess as to what kind of frame that is? Metal Kizz? Old Barcode? It's hard to tell without being able to see that seatstay junction.

All I could think of when I first saw this was the end of Taj's section in Forward, when he blasted through that wet drainage ditch and threw that downside whip. If only he had the Matt Wakefield Signature Mud Guard. Of course, if he did, one suspects it wouldn't be a Matt Wakefield signature product.


Wait, am I thinking of a different video?

Monday, January 12, 2009


I continue to find it difficult to identify with certain BMX bikes these days. Take this Tierra for example:

No, seriously, take it.

Super-steep, super-low, super-short rear end. It's probably the twitchiest, loopy-outiest bike ever (non-Killorado division). I remain somewhat convinced that Fly's entire research library consists of a GT catalog from the late '80s that has the Ricochet Trials in it:

I mean, they even copied the bashguard! Perhaps the layback is next. Or the tall forks/low bars combo. Although that could make footjam whips exceedingly hazardous.

Then again, the trials connection isn't that outlandish a suggestion. Fly is from Spain, and so is Montesa (or Monty), one of the companies that's been doing trials bike for the longest. So maybe Flys will eventually evolve to look something like this:

You'll note the fat tires, the colored (and drilled-out) rims and the plastic pedals. Also the complete lack of seat (the next logical step). Throw a topload and a set of Slams on there, and you're good to go. Well, maybe bump up the gearing a bit unless you like pedalling really, really, really fast. And just think of the things you could do with disc brakes!

I don't like where this is heading. Not one bit.


Is trials cooler than fixed-gear freestyling? Only you can decide.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Photo Finish

I love this photo that FBM posted the other day:

To some, I'm sure it's just trash (what do you even do with old AODs and Old Boys—melt one down and make two Tierras?), to others it's treasure, but mostly it reminded me of something like this:

Just some vintage American muscle put out to pasture, waiting for the right person to come along. (If anyone from FBM is reading this and wants to send me a 21" AOD, I promise to build it. Doesn't matter how rusty it is.)

Speaking of photos, I was also amused by this one from Kink that shows the contents of Marsellus Wallace's briefcase:

I guess they're just regular ol' Badger Bars, which means they're 27x8 (unless the dimensions have changed), but don't they look really tall? If I remember correctly, GT made 10" rise bars back in the day, so why not? 30x10? Although I still can't think about tall bars and slammed seats without thinking of this photo:

That might possibly be the best photo (non-porn division) in the history of the internet (original is here). Dude's gotta do a Kris Bennett nothing just to hold on. Hit a big enough bump and you'd tear your arms off. I also love that the next exit is the Missouri Department of Transportation District Office. Here's hoping he was on his way to turn himself in for crimes against transportation.

Actually, scratch that first bit. This is the best photo in the history of the internet.

In actual product news, Éclat is making their new brake pads from a proprietary (and tasty) mix of cheddar, mozzarella, and Monterey Jack:

Brake hard enough on a steep downhill and they slow you down and melt simultaneously. And Sean Burns loves nachos.

I'm not even sure what to say about this. Maybe "blech." A 700c fixed BMX bike? Seriously? Brian Castillo done lost his mind. I can't wait until BikesnobNYC gets ahold of this. (For the record, Giselle has much better legs than that.) Then again hopefully he makes millions of dollars from the fixed-gear crowd and uses some of the profits to design a new Hellion that doesn't break.


Finally, a little shameless self-promotion (what the hell, it's Friday). Nuno from Defgrip kindly asked me to contribute to their "Best of 2008" section, and I just made it into the last part with something that had nothing to do with BMX. Thanks, Nuno! (And Harrison, and everyone else over there.)

And in an epic, wide-ranging interview on BMXUnion, Taj mentioned this blog. Gulp. Thank you, Taj (and Kurt, the hardest-working man in BMX journalism right now). While I'll probably just re-read that quote a couple hundred times, you should read the other 10,000 or so words if you haven't already. A quick excerpt, regarding his much-maligned switch to Giant:
"I feel like BMX is a long way away from the dire state it was in in the early 90's and supporting rider owned companies was so important to me because they were the only companies making decent bikes. Nowadays most BMX bikes are more or less the same, and Giant probably makes half of them anyway. Also, having been in the "industry" for a while I'm sort of disillusioned by the idea of rider owned companies. BMXers can suck just as much as anyone else."
Yowza. It's a great read all the way through.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Memories of STAs Past


This is going to be kind of like Taj's blog post about all his old bikes except for the fact that a) these are only my STAs (and not even all of them), and b) I'm not Taj. Other than that, exactly the same. But hey, that new STA got me reminiscing, and I figured I'd give a brief rundown of my STA past.

Oddly enough, I don't have any photos of my first STA. I'm pretty sure it was a '95—it had the dimples in the chainstay for tire and sprocket clearance and only the one gussett up front. When I got it, it was covered in some sort of industrial-strength reflective tape, which, when I pulled it off, took the paint with it. So the frame wound up mostly finished in that odd aqua primer Standard (or Waterford, I guess) used. Eventually the rear end bent (a fairly common problem with those, I think—the first time I met Ralph Sinisi he was riding a badly bent chrome STA), and I sent it back to Standard. They not only welded on a new back end, they re-painted and re-stickered it at no charge. I wound up selling it for $100 or something, as I'd already bought a new one. This was the time when Glenn Milligan was doing their videos, so it was possible to get a new Standard at cost. I jumped on that, and got a navy triple-gussett 21" STA:

This is the oldest photo I have of it, I believe. Note the monstrous Serfas gel seat, the cleverly re-arranged Standard sticker, and the ever-popular Dirt/V-Monster combo. And brakes! Those wouldn't last long.

And the sticker population continues to grow. The Sun-Ringlé ZuZu's Pedals broke and were replaced with an NOS set of Shimano DXs, and somewhere along the line Animal started making sprockets. Note also the Kink double clamp, and the dual chain tensioners. The bars were an old pair of PrimoPros that Grimaldo Duran bent and bent back. I never had a problem with them. (I feel like I've posted this bike before. Oh well.) Hüsker Du, the Misfits AND Sick of It All?

That frame served me well, and is currently residing in my parents basement sans most of the stickers. The only reason I bought a new frame was because the R-Model came out:

The initial build was easy enough—I just transferred everything over (and got a new seatpost). The R was 14mm, though, so I actually used those Kink step-down chain tensioners. It's reasons such as that why I have roughly 10 sets of chain tensioners in my parts box. Apparently I went back to Sun-Ringlé pedals, too—probably because they were black. Sigh.

My first cassette wheels! 36-hole Profiles laced to Hula Hoops...with a 16-tooth 3/16" cog. This is what we called being dragged kicking and screaming into the future. Note the first generation Skavenger sticker on the toptube. It's the one next to the Venom sticker.

Hey, it's almost modern! Apparently Standard/Waterford didn't see fit to primer the R-Models (litewait!), so the paint came off with the stickers. The Profiles broke somewhere along the line, so I went to the indestructible welded/CNCed GT cranks. And the pink DXs were just the right touch. This was probably my favorite Standard setup. (The Pixies and Celtic Frost. Yet another interesting mash-up.)

But then I found out you could get a custom frame built without mounts. So I placed a call to Pat Schoolen at Flatland Fuel and waited:

Hm, this could almost pass for a current bike. Somewhere along the line I'd been contacted by Chris Cotsonas at Odyssey, who'd started to provide me with some parts. (Another STA I have no photographic evidence of was an old black triple-gussett 21" with roughly milled 14mm drops and ground-down stays that was built with more or less the entire original Odyssey "group"—14mm Hazard 48s, a chrome Dirt Fork, Milk Bars, rear brake, Gyro, etc. That thing was a monster.) That's 28/10, NOS gold DXs (I had a pretty decent stash at one time), a Solid stem I bought at Ramp Rats in STL, and Bullitt Bars cut down to 23".

I'm not sure whether this was the last build on that frame before I got my first Edwin, but it's definitely the latest photo I have. This is right when the Jim Cs first came out. The white fork is a Dirt Fork because I wasn't sure whether the Race Fork would be strong enough. ("For what???" you may correctly ask.) That frame's in the basement now too, along with a chrome '96 and a raw '95 that's never been assembled. I didn't include those in the timeline because I never actually rode them—thanks, eBay!

Here's the one shot I have of the chrome one—I had just put the 1.5" wheels on it to roll it home.

At one point I actually had a brand-new chrome one that I bought from Dan's when they were still auctioning off obsolete product, but that's long since sold.

Man, it's gonna be awfully tempting to get a new one.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Stranger Than All

The time has finally come to talk of the new Standard STA:

In theory, this is fantastic news—the return of an old favorite that's been tweaked for the modern market. The problem with that concept is you wind up getting a lot of stuff like this.

It's hard to judge whether the new STA works based on just one photo (especially with that navy blue distraction in the background), especially when it's just a bare frame. But after looking at it for a long while over the past several days, I think it does.

At first I couldn't deal with the toptube/seattube junction. It looked way too burly compared to the slim dropouts and chainstays—like the frame was half 2000 and half 2009 (which it is, kind of). But it's growing on me. Then again, it's going to look particularly weird with a tiny little plastic seat sitting right on top of it.

I obviously love the gussett.

I obviously hate the built-in seatpost clamp (and I'm glad to see it's optional).

I absolutely don't understand the idea behind having two different STA frames, a "light" version and a "strong" version. If you want a light Standard, wouldn't you buy a 250L? What's the point of making a 4.5 pound frame with that monster toptube/seattube junction? Isn't that counterproductive? And how the heck can TWO frames be Stronger Than ALL? The STA should be THE strongest frame. And if 4.9 pounds or whatever is too heavy for some, let them ride something else. Think of your roots, Standard!:

(That isn't my bike, but it's a great example of an early STA. I love the way the rear triangle looks tweaked downward (although the whole grinding on the stays thing wasn't much fun), and how they just looked unbreakable. One of my favorite bikes ever was the shit brown one that Rick Moliterno rode for most of "Domination.")

It'll be interesting to see whether the new STA catches on. Back around 2000, damn near every rider in New York had a Standard. Well, everyone everywhere (except for maybe California) had a Standard. Now I couldn't tell you the last time I saw one. In fact, I don't think I've seen an in-house built one yet. Everyone's too caught up in trying to be Chase DeHart (whose frame has also undergone some changes) or Chase Hawk or Chasey Lain these days. It's hard to keep them all straight.

I don't see it happening. I'm sorry. The seattube piercing the toptube is just another gimmick at this point, and just because it's an old one instead of a new one doesn't make it any better. The people checking for the old STA style probably won't be looking for a 4.5 pound frame, and the people looking for 4.5 pound frames probably won't be looking for STAs. All in all, it would have been better to bring back the Trail Boss. Or, given today's economic climate, the Cashius.


Um, Metal Bikes aren't made by S&M anymore? When did this happen?


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Quick Releases


*deep breath*

The weather tomorrow is supposed to be Godawful, so I have no excuse when it comes to posting something of substance. I WILL post something on the new STA tomorrow—heck, I've been thinking about it long enough now. Perhaps I'll also post a retrospective of some of the STAs I've owned and loved (think flagpole seatposts and dinnerplate sprockets and no brakes). Or maybe that can be a follow-up post.

As for tonight, I'd like you to compare and contrast the following:

A) Fly's post about their new integrated dropouts.

B) Odyssey's post about their new G-Sport Rollcage rims.

Notice any differences?

I'll save you the trouble of figuring it out for yourself and just tell you. The Odyssey post tells you virtually everything about the Rollcages, from material, to weight, to the thickness of the damn sidewalls. Read it carefully enough and magnify the photos and you could probably make your own. (Yes Alienation, I'm sure you already are.) As for the Fly "update"? It doesn't tell you ANYTHING. I'm still not entirely sure what an "integrated dropout" is supposed to be and why it's supposed to be better. Maybe the language barrier is part of it, but damn.

In other news, this photo really depressed me:

That's a new FitEdLT built up. Hard to believe it's even an Edwin (I'm actually surprised it didn't spit that seat/post combo out). The s3ification of BMX is nearly complete. Between this and the imminent discontinuation of the Barcode, it's been a tough start to '09.

Oh, and if you run 11-, 13- or 37-butted bars, you might want to check this shot out (borrowed from BMXboard):

Best protect ya neck.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Free Admission

Hm. If I keep this up, I can avoid writing about the new STA almost indefinitely. Friday came and went, and I thought it just better to ignore it entirely than come up with another half-baked excuse. Then I had things to do this weekend, and all of a sudden it was Monday again. And here I am at quarter of 10 planning on just posting yet another last-minute, catch-all sort of post. Dammit. I hate it when I do that. So just two quick things today:

• Props to Fly for openly admitting their Spanish BB2 was a failure. One would imagine, given the ease of installation and the cache of yet another new bottom bracket standard, they could have cobbled something together that would have at least sort of worked, then blamed failures on riders. (Most of them would have wound up on/in unridden Bikeguide bikes anyway.) Now, if they'd just admit the whole Spanish BB concept is the equivalent of Betamax or HD DVD, maybe we'd have something.

*Please do not stuff your headset in your bottom bracket shell.*

• When I think "Snafu," I think "cheap." So the idea of an $70 (approximated due to the 4x more expensive than a plastic pedal figure) aluminum pedal just doesn't set right. As it is, there are plenty of options when it comes to expensive pedals, and yet another Wellgo product doesn't seem to be terribly necessary. Not to mention Demolition already ran wild with the "Anorexia" name. Eating disorders are so 2001 anyway.

My favorite part about this release, though, are the smaller versions allegedly designed specifically for track bikes. This is fine, I suppose, if your goal is to die a horrible death. Riding a fixed gear in traffic (or anywhere else, for that matter) with platforms is about as smart as surfing on a 2x4. I could be wrong—there could be provisions for clips and straps—but I doubt it. Good work, fellas.


I'll get back to the proper song vids when I write a proper post. You should also watch this.