Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Devil's Hellion Child

Undoubtedly, when it passes, the year 2009 will have meant a lot of things to a lot of people. Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President. Kobe Bryant finally won a ring without Shaq. It was the International Year of Natural Fibres. And ya boy Askar Aitamov turned 50.

But for those of us who live, breathe and compulsively weigh BMX, perhaps nothing was bigger than Volume Bikes turning 10. And to celebrate such a momentous anniversary, they're re-releasing the Hellion.

Well, not exactly re-releasing as such.

The original Hellion was a monster, what with its massive gussett and proprietary detachable headtube. Among its many, many advantages was that it was cheaper than a Kink or a Standard. Not just any frame could get that endorsement, especially Kinks or Standards.

Now, you may be looking at this new Hellion and wondering what exactly makes it a Hellion. Hater. All you have to do is read the fine print:

"The new Hellion features similar design features as the first: brake bosses on the CS med height ST (no scooters here!) and a double diamond rear end."

Hm. Interesting. Yes, chainstay brakes do seem to be going the way of the massive headtube gussett and toptubes are sinking faster than a mastodon in a tar pit. But much like the Kink Empire Revision C, the new Hellion has virtually nothing in common with its namesake besides the name. Well, OK, and it's a BMX frame. It's like Chevy putting out a front-wheel-drive econobox called the "Chevelle" and stating that it has similar design features as the first: four wheels and an engine.

I suppose the "outtie" headtube badge (as opposed to the "innie" on Rob's Zombie) is there as a reminder of those carefree days when frames were needlessly heavy, rims were triplewall and bikes were ridden until the wheels (or headtubes) fell off.

Oh well. At least Blackie Lawless is psyched.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Yeah, I'm on Twitter. So is everyone else, or so it seems. Whiling our lives away 140 characters at a time. I sometimes amuse myself by trying to use exactly 140 characters without resorting to typing like a teenage girl. I'm sure Hemingway used to do the same exact thing.

Anyway, I don't talk about BMX all the time on Twitter. In fact, I barely talk about BMX at all. Just today some site that "tracks influence across the social web" decreed me the bronze medal influencer about baseball over the past seven days. Even considering that this only takes into account those silly enough to register their accounts in the first place, this is ludicrous. Do I tweet about baseball? Sure, but mostly to bitch about how much the Mets suck and suggest new and creative ways to get rid of manager Jerry Manuel. I highly doubt I'm influencing anyone.

But there are those who do Tweet about BMX, and many of them post photos. Like Brian Kachinsky, who posted these ultra-exciting prototype plastic DK pedals (innovation: they're made by DK and 'soooo light' with four 'o's), and BMXer and cigar aficionado Nick Wiegand whose multiple-butted Macneil bars fell apart like a poorly rolled Dominican. And there's Rich Hirsch, who posted the new Lotek jeans tags. Because you need to know these things.

All in all, I think Twitter is a good thing. It's like an ever-ongoing AIM conversation where people enter and leave randomly. I've talked shit about the Celtics with Ryan Sher and read too many corny jokes to count from Ed Koenning's dog. Also, I posted a picture of my bike leaning against a curb.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dig Dug

Writing rarely comes easy for me. Which sucks, since it's my job and all. Not one I clock in and out of, mind you, but one that takes up a good portion of my days. And whether it's something I'm getting paid for or something I'm doing for free, you can bet that I agonize over each and every word. (Even -------> this <------- one.) It's not ideal, but it's my life. Whether it's a living or not is yet to be determined.

Getting started is usually the hardest part. Once I get going, I'm good. I don't break deadlines, although I do show up to a lot of them out of breath and carrying a bouquet. If a piece is due on a Friday, I generally spend all week long stressing, then bang it out on Thursday night into Friday morning. That's just how I roll. I don't like it much—and it can't be good for me—but it seems unlikely to change.

There are times, however, when writing comes easier. Like, say, when I have inspiration. For example, when a prominent BMX magazine intros a new product by taking shots at me. Not that anything like that would ever happen.

Look, feel free to take shots. I can handle it. When I started this blog, I realized that would probably happen. Although I'm surprised they'd come from DIG. And I'm even more surprised that they failed to do any basic fact checking. To wit:

a) I still ride bikes. Rode today, in fact. And yesterday.

b) I don't have a television in my bedroom.

c) My parents' garage doesn't have a room over it.

Quite frankly, after all those egregious errors, I find it hard to believe anything they wrote, even the stuff about whatever generic squashed and steep frame it is they're pushing now. (Since it's for the "technical street rider," I assume it's either the new Standard Bullitt, or a signature frame for Trent Reznor.)

As for the living at home thing, yep. One hundred percent true. I'm looking at it as a vacation of sorts, only one where I have to mow the lawn and occasionally go to the grocery store. The suburbs are actually a nice break after spending the last 10 years living in midtown Manhattan. Don't know what I'm talking about, DIG guys? That's fine. More likely than not—especially if the media biz keeps heading in the direction it is now—you'll find out for yourselves soon enough.


Steven Hamilton is.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Shawn Bradley

If there's anything you can count on in the world of BMX, it's that everyone's striving to make their frames lighter and their bars taller. Lighter and taller, taller and lighter. Hence the title.

(It's funny, because back when heavy bikes were the thing, taller and wider bars would have been a big help, no? Weight didn't matter, and it would have been a lot easier to get your 45-pound monstrosity off the ground with uncut 8x28s than it was using Castillo bars cut down so narrow that the grips touched the crossbar. Ah, the folly of youth. And stupidity. And Freddy Chulo. I fear the legacy of late-'90s BMX will eventually just be Van Homan and back problems.)

Anyway, just two things:

1) How can I not love Proper? First the "lighter than a roadbike hub" front hub, and now "taller than tall bars because we're making a frontload stem and we want our riders to run them (the stems, that is) even though we actually decided to do a topload too, so this idea is wholly unnecessary." BMX: Making things overly complicated since 1974.

2) Not exactly sure how I wound up on Derek Betcher's site (searching for "shimano dxr" I think) and I definitely had never heard of him before, but I found it funny that his prototype aluminum race frame weighs more than his prototype chromoly trails frame. Now I think the new Garrett's a bad idea because it's obviously far too heavy.


You've probably seen it already (it was posted on Hypebeast, for God's sake), but the new Mutiny video looks terrific:

Mutiny Bikes "Let's Get Mystical" Trailer! from Mutiny Bikes on Vimeo.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Homan Empire

I feel like I'm really late with this—it's probably already been posted on multiple sites and been the top link on BMXfeed—but how can I not post it here?

As you may or may not know, Van placed third in X Games street this weekend, beaten out by two kids who probably grew up with his RIDE covers hanging on their walls and his Little Devil parts playing on their TVs. Van's amongst that last generation of riders who threw down monster bangers on 44/16-equipped tanks and, yes, learned how to bunnyhop before they learned how to tailwhip. Unlike most of his peers, who are either running bike companies or frontloaders these days, he's still beating the little whippersnappers who learned by watching him. Kind of like LL Cool J and Canibus.

Van used to have a signature frame through Fit, but it got discontinued because it was far too awesome for mere mortals to comprehend. Plus, it weighed like six pounds.