Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mid-school BMX: "Real" Huffy Handlebars

1990s Huffy Chrome BMX Handlebars

In the mid-1990s, Huffy mounted a fairly admirable BMX program, hiring such luminaries as Todd Lyons (current SE retro powerhouse), Jimmy Le Van (Metal Bikes owner and street riding legend) and McGoo (aka "McPoo", RIDE letter answerer). The result was a line of reasonably high-quality "real" BMX bikes, and a much more credible aesthetic on the crappy Huffy BMX bikes at Wal-Mart. As you'd expect, the program was eventually abandoned (because no real BMXer wanted to ride a Huffy), but not before these chrome Huffy BMX handlebars rolled out of the factory in Taiwan. They're not department-store junk; in fact, they're pretty well-made, with nice welds, beefy tubing and useful knurling at the clamp area. I'm not sure if they're chromoly; at two pounds, I doubt it, but then again, the tubing is probably .065 or maybe .083, as was the trend back then. This is a pretty good set of bars, and it's evidence that for one brief blip in the 1990s, Huffy BMX meant a little more than mild-steel junk.

1990s Huffy Chrome BMX Handlebars

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

BMX Video: Dan Southwell TCU Edit

Dan Southwell sent me a Facebook friend request today. I don't know why people do that, honestly I don't use Facebook for anything except confirming friend requests from BMXers. But keep 'em coming, it makes me feel popular. [Update: I've kinda semi-embraced facebook. It's fun. Fuck you.] Anyway, Dan's an old BMX buddy so I decided to look him up on YouTube and see if there were any videos. It turns out there is one, called "Southwell TCU Edit", so here it is. (There are also some others if you look for them but I don't get as stoked on BMX skatepark edits as I do on street riding videos.) For those of you who don't know Dan, he's one of those kids who's amazingly good on a BMX bike. Way better than this video would lead you to believe, and that's not a knock against the video at all. I'm not sure if Dan's a natural or if he secretly rides eight hours a day, but every scene has a local who gets talked about by awestruck BMXers at the skatepark, and around here, Dan's that guy. The video's also fun for me to watch because it has a lot of my local spots in it. On the downside, the song's played like a worn-out copy of Monopoly, and the clips are a little old; Dan hasn't driven a Mini Cooper in years. No big deal though, most of my stuff on Vimeo was taped in 1998! Behind the lens is a guy named Bob, I don't know if I've ever known his last name but he's made his share of great Dan Southwell BMX videos and he's a hell of a guitar player too. I have no idea if anyone cares about any of this information, so just watch the video already, it's Dan Southwell riding BMX in upstate New York and it's good! Via YouTube.

Bonus trivia: Dan used to be scared to ride at half of these spots, but he managed to "ghettover" it. (Get it? They're in the ghetto. Never mind.)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Video: Enjoy The Trick Jam 2010 (flatland BMX)

I lost track of flatland trick names after learning to scuff a gerator in two circles. But we definitely used to have a great time hosting jams in Massachusetts. This Jason Alexnewicus video of the Enjoy the Trick Jam 2010 keeps the spirit alive. The edit could have used a couple brief rider interviews or dork clips to break things up, but beyond that it's a pretty cool watch with great riding by Jesse Puente, Pete Brandt and others. The song works perfectly too. Via Vimeo.

Monday, March 8, 2010

One reason I always wear a helmet while riding BMX

Riding BMX is fun. Crashing and hitting your head isn't. Here's one cautionary tale about why I always wear a helmet:

It was a warm sunny day here in Newburgh. I was riding south on Fullerton Avenue, just past the North Street curve. I decided to bunnyhop from the pavement onto the sidewalk. It was a diagonal hop up a six-inch curb and over a two-foot-wide patch of grass, so easy I could do it in my sleep. I pulled up on the handlebars, and the next thing I knew, I was on my back. I'd made it onto the sidewalk, but somehow I'd caught my rear wheel at an angle and been thrown sideways. At least that's what I think happened. The back of my head had hit the concrete so hard that if I hadn't been wearing my helmet I probably would have woken up in the hospital. I wasn't grinding a big rail or jumping a set of monster doubles; I'd slammed my head into the sidewalk on a simple six-inch bunnyhop that any novice BMXer could do. Luckily I was able to get up, shake it off, and finish my cruise with a half-hour headache and a bit of whiplash. I'm not going to tell anyone to wear a helmet, but this story is just one reason I try to never ride without one.

It isn't BMX, but it is the best thing I've ever seen (this week anyway)

I spotted this while doing some "research" on YouTube for another blog project. I don't know what it is, where it came from, who's the guy, what's the song, or why he looks like a homicidal maniac. And it has nothing to do with BMX, so it really doesn't belong on a BMX blog. But it is fucking awesome.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

How to Pack a Bike for Shipping

how to pack a bike for shipping

I wrote an eBay guide a while ago to show people how to pack bikes for shipping. It's had 35,000 views, so it dawned on me that I might want to host the guide myself and make some AdSense money. So here it is: how to pack a bike for shipping. Enjoy.

Mid-School BMX: S+M Next Generation Dirt Bike

s+m next generation dirt bike

After breaking every frame he rode in the 1980s, Chris Moeller decided enough was enough and designed the first true dirt-jumping frame, which became the Dirt Bike. It had beefier tubing and thicker dropouts than other bikes of its era, and Chris's company, S&M, used its underground image to develop a loyal following.

Rooftop Demolition Video

In the early 1990s, there was a 16-year-old kid helping to redefine street riding. That kid's name was Rooftop (née Mike Escamilla) and he put tricks like fence stalls, roof drops and rails to barspins on the map. He also backflipped over the spinning blades of a helicopter for MTV, did the world's first (and probably only) rail to backflip, and appeared on LA Ink pouting on a date with a hot chick. Rooftop is a legend, and I've always been a fan. This Demolition edit shows that he's back and riding as hard as ever, and he's one of the few guys still using front brakes. For some reason though, my favorite part of the video is at the beginning when he pops up from behind the old guy. Via TCU.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

One reason I kinda miss Massachusetts...Bone Deth premiere at Dick Maul's Bike Shop

I love living near the banks of the mighty Hudson, but stuff like this makes me want to head east on I-84: the Bone Deth premiere at Dick Maul's Bike Shop. I missed that, I'm gonna miss Maul's Brawl tomorrow, will 2010 be the year I take a road trip and do a feeble at Copley? We'll see. Via TCU.

FBM Video: The Flying Ginch Bros.

I'm not sure which Ginch Brother is which, but there are some awesome turndowns and a gorgeous slow-mo turndown-three in here, plus a guy jumping over a bush. What more can you ask for? This edit of Adam and Garrett Guilliams (and Kenny Horton) makes BMX look the way it should: fun as fuck. Via FBM.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Vintage BMX: 1991 Redline 720

1991 redline 720 bmx bike - full view

This was probably Redline's top-of-the-line BMX bike in 1991. And it has plenty of great features. 100% chromoly frame and fork, Forklifter handlebars (with mounting tabs for a Forklifter number plate), Flight 401 cranks with Flight chainwheel, and Odyssey Pitbull brakes and lever. I bought this on eBay a couple years ago so I could part it out and make a few bucks. But it was such a nice bike that it took me until now to get out the wrenches.

1991 redline 720 bmx bike - front view

1991 redline 720 bmx bike - frame detail

1991 redline 720 bmx bike - redline flight cranks, flight chainwheel and odyssey triple-trap pedals

Early Jim Cielencki Wallride Footage

When I taped this footage at Tony Zanni's ramp complex in 1996 (or was it 1995?) there were two things going through my mind: "who's this weird-looking old guy doing wallrides?" and "wow, this weird-looking old guy is really good at wallrides!" Today, Jim's a legendary pro and company owner, and I want to buy one of his frames. Still, no matter how well time has treated Jim, some things never change: street riding on a cruiser is as gay in 2010 as it was fifteen years ago. Sorry man.

Bonus info: the band in the background is Moment of Truth, fronted by Greg Walsh of Coalition.

Vintage BMX: Redline 320

1991 redline 320 bmx bike - full side view

This Redline 320 isn't exactly the cream of the crop of vintage BMX. It's in rough shape, I got it for free, and since it dates to 1991, it could be argued that it's not "vintage" at all. But it's definitely a good example of the way bikes were built in the good ol' days. Thin tubes, nice welds, quill stem, threaded one-inch headset, no 990 or V-brake mounts. And in 1991, a kid would have been just as excited to get this Redline as a kid today would be to get the latest Fit complete.

1991 redline 320 bmx bike - full front angle view

1991 redline 320 bmx bike - frame detail

1991 redline 320 bmx bike - front view of handlebars and stem

1991 redline 320 bmx bike - stem detail view

1991 redline 320 bmx bike - seat post clamp detail

1991 redline 320 bmx bike - rear hub, freewheel and dropout

1991 redline 320 bmx bike - front end, stem, headtube and gusset

1991 redline 320 bmx bike - rear dropout

1991 redline 320 bmx bike - seatpost clamp detail from left

1991 redline 320 bmx bike - front hub, dropouts and axle pegs

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ralph Sinisi - BMX makes it to "World's Dumbest Daredevils"?

ralph sinisi - bmx on world's dumbest daredevils

Even if you've been living under a rock for the past ten years, you've probably still seen Dave Parrick's epic BMX video Nowhere Fast, in which Ralph Sinisi breaks his leg, and (according to Greg Walsh) keeps on riding because he's so stoked to be taping for the video. Somehow, the footage ended up on World's Dumbest Daredevils 9. It's pretty ridiculous to hear a C-list celebrity try to make Ralph sound like a boob on national TV, but hey...seeing BMX on TV is always cool. I hope someone got paid though. And for the record, Ralph is not dumb, he is awesome.

ralph sinisi - bmx on world's dumbest daredevils

ralph sinisi - bmx on world's dumbest daredevils

ralph sinisi - bmx on world's dumbest daredevils

ralph sinisi - bmx on world's dumbest daredevils

ralph sinisi - bmx on world's dumbest daredevils

ralph sinisi - bmx on world's dumbest daredevils

Randy Taylor Tailwhip, Kareem Williams 360

This is old as hell, but writing about Walter Pieringer got me thinking about his cover phot of Randy's tailwhip, so I looked it up on YouTube. It's still amazing. Has anyone gone bigger yet? I'm not sure what's scarier, Kareem's 360 or Randy's whip. I'll say the 360, he looks like hes going super fast. Check out the clip.

OMG, I'm on ESPN (or "The Demise of Turtles: Boston's Best BMX Spot")

larry bakke tailtap at legendary bmx spot turtles, photo by jared souney
(Larry Bakke tube-tap. Photo credit: Jared Souney)

No, I'm not nearly self-serving enough to use a photo of myself for this post. So check out this awesome Jared Souney shot of Larry Bakke tail-tapping the tube at the legendary (and long-since-destroyed) BMX spot called "Turtles". This is significant because a) it's a great photo and b) it took Larry quite a while to get this trick dialed, and he was pretty pumped when he pulled it. Now if only I can convince him to sell me his vintage Redline RL-20II. The point of all this is that Jared wrote a piece for ESPN about Turtles, and Turtles was the best BMX spot on earth before it got plowed, and the story includes a killer photo of Sean Rudzinsky boosting and tucking. And oh yeah, I'm in there somethere too. So go check out the story already!

Some of my favorite BMX photographers

an 'artistic' rearrangement of the dig bmx photo issue cover

Dig BMX Mag recently released their annual Photo Issue. And by "recently" I mean "two months ago" (what can I say, it's from the UK and I buy it at the newsstand). The issue has some fantastic shots. Standouts for me were Ricky Adam's photos of Jim Bauer jumping over a Lamborghini Countach and Rich Wilson airing the roof of the Little Chef restaurant; Jeff Allen's piece about his Polaroid Land Camera (I'm an eBay guy so I like valuable old stuff); Dolecki's shot of Shad Johnson next to a General scooter in front of a vintage BMX magazine collection (!); and Joe Rich's photo of Tom Dugan stylishly tucking over a big rail. In the spirit of Dig's celebration of BMX's lensmen, I decided to post a rundown here of some of my favorite photographers.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

BMX in the Snow - Part 1

Last week, New York got walloped with more than a foot of snow. I don't know what was worse: two days without electricity, or four days without cable and internet. At least let me read TCU by candlelight, right? But the crisis is over, my creature comforts are restored and the five-foot-tall drifts are melting fast. Winter weather doesn't really stick the way it used to.

But when I was a kid in New England, the snow started falling in November and the last piles didn't disappear until April. We had a big shed in the back of our yard, with an eight-foot roof. In front of that was a mountain of snow, the result of several snowstorms worth of driveway-plowing. There really wasn't enough room on top of the shed to pedal a bike, so I did the next best thing: grabbed a spare set of handlebars, pretended I was riding, and jumped off the roof into the snow. It was goofy. It was fun. And as a kid, it seemed like a huge leap.

25 years later, I only go on the roof to clean the gutters. It's therapeutic and necessary, and it's kind of cool being able to walk on my own roof whenever I want, but it's just not the same as doing a gnarly handlebar-air and ending up waist-deep in snow.

Sundays with Davey 3

Just saw this on Vimeo: a cool edit featuring Ryan Paulson, Davey Watson, Austin Gilmore, Darin Reid, Genarro Nappo, Kevin Toth, Auzzy Chris, Ryan Majetski, and Travis Lyons. The vibe is friends-having-a-good-time, with some interesting manuals (yes, I love manuals!) and trails that look really fun. Standout clips for me were the 180 to reverse manual to 180 over the ledge, even if he dabbed his foot; the curved ledge manual to quick drop to 180; and the quick manual to wooden rail ride.

screen grab from 'sundays with davey' bmx video

screen grab from 'sundays with davey' bmx video

screen grab from 'sundays with davey' bmx video

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Timeless - Gone Before I Ever Got There!

the bad news - timeless bmx closed

For years, I thought that Jody Stoddard was just a 1980s-BMX-racer-turned-downhill-mountain-biker who worked at a bike shop. I figured he probably had a pink Judge in his closet, a pile of trophies in his parents' basement, and full suspension on every bike he'd ridden since the late 1980s. I'd bumped into him street riding once, but didn't think much about it. So it was quite a surprise a couple years ago when I found out that he's just as hardcore about BMX as I am, and in fact he'd opened Boston's (well, Cambridge's, but it's basically the same thing) first and only BMX shop. Since then, I've wanted to check out the shop, but I'm only in Boston a few times a year, always late at night. So it never happened. And now, according to the Timeless website (which seems to have disappeared), the shop's closed for good. Bummer. Best of luck to Jody with whatever he does next, and stay tuned for an interesting and funny Jody story...

Dick Maul's Bike Shop Hosts Maul's Brawl March 7th at Skater's Edge

dick maul's bike shop maul's brawl bmx contest flyer

Tony Long doing icepicks on a four-foot mini with too much vert? Probably not. But this year's version of the legendary Maul's Brawl BMX contest should be almost as sweet as when they used to have it behind Dick Maul's Bike Shop. No, I won't be there, but say "hi" for me, thanks. Check the Skaters Edge website or Dick Maul's for more details.

FBM "My Shop Kicks Ass" Contest

fbm bmx my shop kicks ass contest

Just saw this over on It's totally true: a kick-ass BMX shop is a great thing to have. What would we have done in the 1990s without Dick Maul's Bike Shop? I love Albe's just as much as the next guy, but nothing compared to the experience of walking into Maul's garage and seeing a dozen S&M frames next to a dozen Standards. In fact, I'm still riding the S.T.A. that I bought at Maul's back in 1999. So if you have a great local shop, check out the contest at FBM.

Kevin Valentine and the Pig Pen Jumps

In the mid-1980s, I was listening to the radio when I heard the creepiest, most depressing song ever: "D.O.A." by Bloodrock. I was amazed. Since the internet didn't exist, and I could never find (or never wanted to spend the money for) the LP, I only heard the song a few times before I got the record for Christmas years later.

In the early 1990s, a dirt-jumping spot in Natick, Massachusetts called "Pig Pen" was legendary with New England BMXers. The scene was tight back then. Nobody knew what "trails" were and there was no such thing as a "trail Nazi." If you wrecked a jump, that meant you were trying hard, which was all that counted. Pig Pen had a few small tabletop jumps, a fly-out, a big set of doubles, and a roller-rhythm section in the back.

In the late 1990s, the Pig Pen scene was a memory but the jumps remained. The roller-rhythm, made of eight rollers, was deceptively small. Rolling it was easy; jumping it like an eight-pack was not. I'd ridden some small rhythm sections, so I made it through. Kevin Valentine, unfortunately, was not so lucky, and a mid-pack crash left him with broken glasses and a bloody lip, wondering where he was.

After the crash, I shot this footage of Kevin getting his lip repaired. A few years later, when I decided to make a long, slow, self-indulgent edit, I knew exactly what song I would use.

And as the Spaceball says, "prepare to fast-forward."

Neck-tattooed bloggers and fat old men

adam22 and mcgoo having a bmx feud
(The Q/A above is from Adam22's page.)

Adam22's disdain for fixed-gear freestyle might make me a hypocrite. Because I agree with him totally: doing tricks on a fixie is fruity as a banana boat. But I sell a shitload of vintage road bikes, most of them end up in New York City, and I can neither confirm nor deny that any of my old Fujis are being used for barspins and pedal slides. I can only hope not.

On the other side of the fixie fence is BMX industry legend McGoo, whose company SNAFU not only produces parts aimed at the fixed-gear market, but also has its feet firmly planted in MTB freestyle, another thorn in A22's side.

Personally, I like SNAFU for three reasons. First, they were one of the first companies to produce a tire with reinforced sidewalls that didn't blow out after two feeble grinds. And for that I'm eternally grateful; I'm loyal to SNAFU tires to this day. Second, McGoo is an interesting, outspoken guy with a long history in BMX and a lot of tales to tell. And third, because I'm too out-of-touch to know that apparently SNAFU is the "gayest company." I used to care about BMX politics; now, not so much.

When you put it all together, you can understand why the A22/McGoo/SNAFU/fixie/MTB "debate" fascinates me. So while I'm not entirely sure what to think about A22's take on SNAFU's recent team changes, I was definitely amused by McGoo's obvious yet non-specific response.