I've covered this subject in the past and in fact have a whole page/section that is about nothing but bmx - http://axiompiercing.com/bmx. It covers the past, my interests and who was involved but it really doesn't go into my love affair I had with it or what is going on now. In a recent conversation with my friend Stacie, she commented that I tend to always be obsessed with something. Not really in a negative way but in a passionate way. Well, BMX was my really first love and obsession and the first real sub-culture that I was involved with. Sure there was music and there was skating but the hold that those 20 inch "kids" bikes had on me was much earlier.
Like most males growing up in the 1970s, it started with Evil Kenevil. Without living through the period it's hard to understand what power that man held over us. In fact the first bike that was not a hand me down, was an AMC Evil Kenevil that my parents bought me in 75 or 76 from Sears. It was basically a stingray with a bunch of plastic over it to make it look like the Harley Division that Kenevil rode. I even had customized it with the plastic grip that made motorcycle noises. It wasn't long before this lead to a 2x8 propped up by a milk cartoon and my first jump followed quickly by my first crash. From then on anything that looked like a ramp from a curb to a dirt mound was attacked with the goal of becoming air born and all the fame and fortune.
The problem was there would be very little air, fame or fortune on the 50 or 60 pound bike no matter how cool it looked. I engaged the scientific method and decided that even though I may have lack the skill to produced said air time, the weight of the bike was causing a increased handicap. So I set about lightening the bike. Removing the plastic body, chain guard and just about everything I could with a screw driver and pair of vice grips. The only two tools that I knew how to uses and could be easily hidden in the leg of my tough skin jeans. This would land me in trouble when my parents noticed that I had "Destroyed" the bike even if it still rode just fine. However before I would be forced to put every single part of the bike back on, there was a test run. Though the bike still sunk like a stone, there was that 1 second of free fall that can only be known as air time. I was hooked.
Thus began the building and customizing of bikes. When I really got into BMX and racing in 81 and 82, it was all about making the bike as light as possible and upgrading part after after part. Then when I caught the Freestyle bug in 83, it was adding platforms and adapting the bike to increase your ability to do tricks. At first this was adding parts when not racing to my kuwahara and then later it was having a second bike set up for just freestyling. Then the race bike became the ramp bike. This was so I could have two completely different set ups. For example, my flatland bike was first a 84 Kuwahara FS Exhibitionist frame with Skyway Mags coaster brake mags, pots mod stem bolt and customized front brake, an extra long back break cable, adjust seat camp and front and back axle threaded pegs and back add on platforms. Most of the custom parts and features were used for one of two tricks and each added weight and made the bike less responsive when ride vert. So I kept my race bike set up just as it was for racing for just ramp.
Something about the simplicity of the bicycle has always appealed to me. While my friends moved on to Motorcycles and cars, I continued to work on and rebuild bikes. In a lot of ways the bike is the purest of machines and there is something about that is lost in larger machines.
This went through a number of changes over the years as the sport expanded and tricks went in and out of style. Some of the features were pure junk while others like the Freecoaster, the rotor. pegs and pots mod are standard on bmx bikes today.
I pretty much hung up my Vans in favor of Punk Rock, women and booze around 87 or 88. I think the last real summer that I rode at any serious level was 87. Even by then, I was out of high school, had a full time job and had sort of joined the real world. The idea of spending a whole day or night on my bike were replaced with other things and I struggling with this for a while.
Over the years, I've kept most of my parts and my last bike a 86 green and crome Haro Master. Though I've added some parts like new wheels in the mid 90s and a seat or post here and there. In 97 or 98 I sold it to a friend with the understanding that I could get it back when I wished and a few years back, I was given the bike back. It is currently the bike I ride. Before that I had bought a Mongoose around 2002 or 2003 at Walmart to ride with the kid. Last summer I gave the Mongoose to Quinn and the bike was stolen but we got it back with a lot of the stock parts missing. Like the Wheels, Handlebars and brakes. The interesting thing is that I had replaced the forks with some Odyssey forks and paid more for the forks then the bike. Those weren't striped with the other parts. Lucky I guess.
Though Grandma and I bought him a used Haro Revo. I had this other bike sitting around that was not safe and needed work. Oh and Quinn still needed a bike at he's mom's house. So, after a few trips to my old friend Par's mail order Flatland business http://flatfuel.com
and raiding the old parts box, I replaced the handle bars with my old CW bars I raced with over 25 years ago. Fixed the back U-Brake and added a new one to the front. Bought a pair of wheels for his Haro and transfered the ones on his Haro to the Mongoose(this was after filing the 14mm axles down with a hand file). The whole time I had Quinn Help me and he is very proud of being able to do some basic bike repairs like changing a tube, tightening a chain, dialing in brakes, etc...
Over the winter I've decided that we are going to trade the Mongoose frame for an 85 Haro FST frame that I had laying around. It will be a mixture of old school and modern parts. I plan on having a blog of the build.
The biggest thing that has come out of this is that I have been finding myself having the urge to ride. Maybe not so much in the range of tricks but the pure joy of simply getting on the bike and riding. Lately about 3 or 4 times a week, in the middle of the night, I'll get on the Haro, turn on the MP3 player and ride about 2 miles. Sure this still leads to a few wheelies, bunny hops and tail whips here and there but I'm still a little worried about my back. About 8 years ago, I tried to doing a trick that was very standard to me and was one of the first I ever learned, the Rock Walk. I'm unsure if it was the length of the Mongoose frame or being out of practice but the bike rolled out from under me and I messed up my back. So I'm a little scared of trying it again. Maybe it's for the best but that kid that first influenced by Evil Kenevil still lives inside me.