November 2007

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Today, we’re saddened by the news that Evel Knievel, the first Daredevil that anyone over 30 knew when we were kids, died today at 69 years old. Knievel had cheated death many times throughout his motorcycle-jumping career, with stunts that went awry, but amazingly he always pulled through. He often joked that he had broken every bone in his body, except his neck. Knievel was most recently in the news for an amicable settlement with Kanye West following a lawsuit against West for using the likeness of Knievel in a music video for West’s song “Touch the Sky“.

He was the reason many of us built our first ramps, launching our bikes over our own version of Knievel’s “Snake River Canyon Jump”. I even had the stunt cycle toy that you would wind up and launch a plastic Knievel over anything in its path. I have a feeling my boys might end up with their own this Christmas.

Mat Hoffman was one also one of the kids under the Knievel influence, and once he finally met Knievel, they struck up a friendship and Hoffman Bikes built a limited run of 500 Evel Knievel signature bikes in 1998 and then followed with a Wembley Stadium edition in 1999. There was also a few Harley-Davidsons built to celebrate the launch of this collaboration.

Hoffman Bikes Evel Knievel Bike

Close-up shot of a 1998 Hoffman Bikes Evel Knievel bike, 1 of only 500 made. From BMXmuseum.com

From EXPN. com: “If you asked Mat to make a list of who the most influential people in his life have been, one name that stands at the top, in regards to his influence on Mat’s riding and determination, is nothing short of pure Evel. Evel Knievel that is, the greatest stuntman to ever dawn a two-wheeled vehicle. Now, in honor of Evel’s lifetime of achievements, Hoffman Bikes has been granted the privilege to manufacture a signature series bicycle worthy of flying the Evel Knievel banner.”

The decals on the bike featured a quote from Knievel, “You’re never a failure in life when you fall, as long as you try & get up.” Truer words have not been spoken. I mean, c’mon, he did these jumps on a freaking 300-pound Harley-Davidson, after all.

Andy Shohara, airing at the Krause Family Skatepark in San Diego

Birthday Boy, Andy Shohara. Photo by John Leonard

As we noted a little over a week ago, a skatepark jam went down in San Diego, celebrating the 40th birthday of longtime rider, Andy Shohara. Sponsored by Black Lighting, about 30 riders plus some of their kids, showed up to the park which was reserved for this event. Andy (on his new Black Lightning bike), Brian Blyther, Dave Voelker, Todd Andersen, Lee Reynolds, Woody Itson, Xavier Mendez, Alvin Mullins and others all ripped up the park for a few hours. Mullins has posted about the event in a couple of places, and has a bunch of images John Leonard shot, on his Photobucket (note that you may need to be a member to see all of them).

Happy Birthday, Andy! Damn, California Dreamin’, indeed.

Mullins’ post on the OS-BMX message board.
Photos on Mullins’ Photobucket.
Quick write-up on the event by Lee Reynolds on Fat-BMX.

Fit, Animal and Mirraco

The past week has been a big one for bmx industry site relaunches. Two of the growing rider-owned bike companies, Mirraco and Fit, and Animal, the east-cost parts and lifestyle brand, all launched new site designs. All three have built what appear to be very flexible sites, meant for easy updates to quickly feed the hunger of the unwashed internet masses.

Much like many of the bmx sites out there, a flexible design means news in a blog-style, right on the homepage, with deep-linking in these news stories, and bigger areas of focus in the main navigation. This immediate access to news is something that is expected today, whether it is new product information, photos, videos or simply whatever has caught the eye of the sites’ editors. Both Animal’s owner, Shane Rossi, and Fit’s Robbie Morales, keep the updates flowing on their sites. Mirraco seems to have a number of contributors posting on the site.

The Fit and Mirraco sites are loaded with product information and technical specifications on their bikes – especially important as both are steadily pushing complete bikes in 2008. Animal sells direct to its customers, with a large online shop featuring a number of its soft and hard goods, including some limited edition products. All feature team links, though both the Mirraco and Animal sites are still in-progress within these sections.

Ride BMX has an interview with Robbie Morales that gets behind the motivation to redesign the Fit site and what you can expect in the way of updates. Robbie mentions a section to come featuring bike checks of the riders who send them in. More than a “send us a photo of your bike and where you ride it”, bike checks give their customers a chance to show their personal setups, which should be extensions of their riding style and personalities (not just rolling representations of the latest fads, though I am a realist, and I’ve been there before, especially as a youth…)

I’ll post here when I see new sections show up across any of the three.

BK Spec Video

With the recent bad news I’ve posted lately, I had been looking for something a bit lighter as we finish this holiday weekend. I was reminded of this gem by Stuart over at DHADM. We worked together on the Burger King interactive advertising account for a few years at VML, and this is some spec work we did for a Whopper promotion. Prior to “The King” and “The Chicken”, created by the venerable Crispin Porter Bogusky, we worked to push Burger King into the viral marketing space online – in 2003. This work never ran, but we had a blast creating it and influencing the thinking of the BK marketing organization.

So, when asked “What would you do for a 99cent Whopper?”, we answered with a bunch of Jackass-style clips, surrendering our bodies to a beat-down. In the first part of the clip, it is yours-truly, jumping a 12″ bmx bike, belonging to Stuart’s kids – listen for their laughter when I bail. Didn’t make the run-up the first time, but stuck it the second, with an almost-pulled 180 at the end. The second part of the clip features Stuart dragging a snowboard-type thing with our copywriter, Rick, behind a lawnmower. Ryan from The Jalopy Journal lays him out with a solid tackle that would make any college football recruiter proud.

Jimmy LeVan Table

Jimmy LeVan. Photo courtesy of Odyssey.

Recently, Pro rider and Metal Bikes main man, Jimmy LeVan took a hard spill on a skateboard, simply bombing down a hill after the Red Bull Down and Dirty contest. He incurred a head injury and has been hospitalized since November 3rd. Though he is out of the drug induced coma, he is still in the hospital, recovering.

With this, of course, come the pile of bills from the hospital stay and especially for the rehabilitation he will need. In another instance of the BMX community coming together to support one of its own, there are a couple of ways you can help Jimmy. Empire BMX shop in Austin, Texas and Odyssey (one of Jimmy’s sponsors) are making it easy to give, and Jim Bauer of Odyssey is offering his personal bike up on Ebay.

Empire BMX and Odyssey teamed up so that you can easily give to Jimmy on the Empire site. When you donate, your contribution will be matched by Empire and then the sum will be matched again by Odyssey, so your contribution will essentially be quadrupled. Here’s where to go to donate at Empire.

Also, Odyssey’s Jim Bauer is auctioning off his own bike, which is basically the test mule for all new Odyssey parts and features a bunch of pre-production or unreleased parts, and especially cool are the clear twisted pedals. Bid at ebay here, and see a larger photo here.

In this season of giving, let’s help out a fellow rider.

Flyer for Andy Shohara’s Birthday Jam

Just received this bit of news from Kevin at Black Lightning, a new BMX lifestyle/apparel/frame(?) brand, featured in the Cool Kids video I posted last month:

Black Lightning presents the Flyin’ Hawaiian Andy Shohara’s 40th Birthday Jam.
Where: Krause Family Skatepark, San Diego, CA. 8:45-10:45 sat. nov 24th
Riders attending: Eddie Fiola, Woody Itson, Brian Blyther, Dave Voelker, Lee Reynolds, Tony Murray, and more. Show up and have a blast with riders from the past.

Shohara competed in a number of the King of Skatepark contests in the mid-’80s and continues riding today. If any of you in San Diego go, send me pics and I’ll post them here.


Innovators…

RL Osborn and Mike Buff drove around the country countless summers in the early 80s, driving from shop to shop and mall t0 mall putting up their 8ft. wide quartepipe (maybe only 6ft?) and putting on shows, introducing the country to this thing called freestyle. They were a team in the loosest sense – nobody gave signals, or passed a ball, but they were part of a wider-reaching brotherhood that so many of us kids in the time grabbed a hold of. It is all about individual style and how riding made you feel.

My introduction came when the Haro team put on a similar show at Metro North mall in Kansas City. I got a front brake, put away my racing gear and started learning to do kicturns on a ramp my dad and I built from plans in BMX Action magazine. The magazine and these teams influenced how we rode, dressed and spoke.

This 8mm footage from Crabtree Valley mall shows the giant crowds these guys would pull, even as people questioned these growing men riding around on kids’ bikes.

Thanks to Kevin for the link.

I would usually say that Poison’s “Nothing But a Good Time” should only be used in a commercial if looking for a “retro” vibe. However, I will give this spot a pass because of the fact that it is being sung by a children’s choir, and because I actually stopped and watched all :60 of it when I saw it on television the other night.

So, why post about this on a BMX site? Well, first because I think this ad is so well-done, and it is rare that I’m inspired by television commercials these days. XBOX is working to win some of the family-play that Nintendo has so successfully built with the Wii. The look of bewilderment from all of the actors is perfect as the games drop from the balloons and the guerilla-style team of balloonists setup the living room in the parking lot. I’m hoping that XBOX and their agency have plans to act this out in malls across the land this holiday season.

Second, I have to wonder if we’ll begin to see more BMX bikes used as props in commercials and videos, much as skateboards have been for so long – check around the :52 mark – I was waiting for the dude to bust a whopper (bunnyhop tailwhip) or something. I’ve been guilty of boards as props – ironically for XBOX – though it didn’t make the final cut in the videos.

Third, because Rikki Rockett rocked the Vision Street Wear t-shirt in the original video (check it around the 1:57 mark) – one of the only reasons my Dead Kennedys-adorned 15-year-old self would watch it back in 1988. It was so rare to see skate/bmx anywhere outside of the magazines or videos (yes, VHS) back then.

Thanks to Stuart over at DHADM for a link to the Poison video and the :30 second version of the ad.

SBC Fork Designs

Standard Byke Company Shank and Race Fork graphics by 57 Even.

Well, since I’ve been on a Standard kick, with the build of my 250 over the past few weeks, I thought I’d fill you in on some very cool stuff that I’ve dug up about what’s coming up with Rick, Jess and the crew as we head into 2008.

First up is the news that the new shop that they’re building in Davenport is coming together quite well. I was in Davenport visiting family last week and visited the Goodtimes store, where I heard from Ryan that they’ve built a couple forks and are moving quickly to getting frames into production. Hopefully, I’ll be doing a feature on here about the shop in December.

Hot on the heels of this are some new graphics and apparel that 57 Even has worked up for Standard, and it all looks rad. 57 Even has been making a name for themselves in the bmx/skate/street culture. I’ve been watching their work since I started seeing it on the Standard site – they’ve done the graphics for the parts, apparel and site for the past few years – and it has been great to see them pickup other clients and adapt to their brands, while remaining true to their style, which is based in a hand-crafted collage approach. Have a look, and enjoy. You can see all of their work (I swear they don’t sleep – I think that is part of their mantra, actually) at: 57even.com

Standard Byke Co. Skull T-Shirt Design 2008

Standard Byke Company Skull t-shirt and poster by 57 Even. Check the details with the Standard logos and the textures that build the depth of the image.

2007 Standard 250L Frame

I’m running these on my 250, even though my frame is a couple years old – 2007 Standard Byke Company 250L frame graphics by 57 Even.

FBM Header

FBM is having a sale at their online store right now, so if you were thinking of getting into a FBM frame and fork, now’s the time. Choose from any one of their six 2007 frames, like the Autopilot, Bitchin Camaro, or The Joint, for example, and get a free Chopper fork. I’m one Kansas City boy especially tempted by the Phil Wasson signature reissue, the PWMoto, with only 24 of them made, in a rad-looking pearl grey. There are some great deals here, but once they’re gone, the sale is over – so hurry up! The site even gives you a handy updater so you know how many are available.

Also of note on the FBM site are Steve Crandall and team’s constant updates, and their cool behind-the-scenes photos and videos of the manufacturing process. This one is from Props #64, and gives you an idea of what goes into building the pieces of welded art we go out and beat-up.

My new build - Standard 250

So, my posts have been really lacking lately, and I think it has been with good reason – at least to other riders – maybe not so much to my wife. ;-)

I’ve been building a new bike, and I’m really happy with how it has turned out. It is my first non-complete new(er) school ride, and I’m getting ready to take it out on its shakedown ride as soon as I finish this post.

The frame was raw, but the clearcoat was in rough shape. I sanded it down and sprayed a number of coats of clear, so it has protection and a light shine. I dig how the color combination turned out very hand-made looking overall – dare I say almost traditional hot-rod style.

Frame: Standard 250 (American BB)
Fork: S&M Pitchfork with brake bosses (Yeah, I’m a part of the front-brake revolution – heh)
Bars: S&M Slam XLT
Grips: Odyssey Team
Stem: FBM Protect Ya Neck
Wheels: Haro 48s and Haro Directional Tires (From my Retro Sport – will be switching to some Odyssey Hazards, I think)
Seat, Post, Clamp: Haro (I’ve got a Primo Seat and a Shadow Conspiracy Post on the way), Kink Clamp
Brakes: Dia-Tech Hombre Brake, Odyssey Monolever, Odyssey GTX Gyro
Cranks: Primo Hollowbites
Sprocket: Tree
Chain: KMC
Pedals: S&M one o one

I sold my FST and some other vintage parts to fund this build, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. Not to worry, though (I’m talking to you old schoolers), I’ve got a bunch of other builds planned now that old man winter has arrived. Thanks to those over at bmxmuseum.com who sold me parts, and bought other ones, and thanks to eBay for being like a bad addiction…

More photos to come…

Stephen Murray Props Auctions

Props Stephen Murray Bike Auctions. Video from Props.

Just saw this over on Fat BMX Magazine, and felt compelled to put it up as soon as I read it. Stephen Murray’s mom, Cynthia gives an excellent update on his progress. Just awesome to hear about.

“I would just like to share my happiness with you that after 130 days Stephen is vent free, oxygen free and trach free! Last night they took out his trach and so now all we have to wait for his the wound in his throat to heal. The relief of him not being dependant upon the ventilator is unimaginable. It’s better than winning the lottery!

Next step…………movement. If I say so myself I have a remarkable son who will defy all odds and amaze us all.

Thank you to all for your support
Cynthia”

Also, today is the first day of the auctions Props Visual has put together to continue to help raise money for the Stephen Murray Family Fund. Stephen’s accident occurred just as they were going out to film their latest video and they got 11 riders to donate their bikes. Mat Hoffman’s Condor is the first one up, and available today on Ebay. Bid high, and bid often!

As Mat’s signature on his bike says – “Give to the strength of our community”. Much respect to Stew Johnson from Props and all those who have donated. You can see the complete list at the link to Props, above.