August 2008

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Bob Haro Illustration - BMX Action Magazine, January 1985
“Ampin’, Rampin…” illustration by Bob Haro from BMX Action Magazine, January 1985. Click to enlarge 3x.

Way before the X-Games, Bob Haro knew that kids were into all kinds of different fringe sports. BMX, Motocross and Skateboarding are all represented in this illustration from 1985. I love this one – the over-vert 2×4 transition quarterpipe really does it for me…

One more day of Bob Haro week – be sure to check in Friday. In the meantime, check out this interview with Haro during the Olympics on CNBC.

Related:
Bob Haro week, Day 3
Bob Haro week, Day 2
Bob Haro week, Day 1

Bob Haro Illustration - BMX Action Magazine, September 1984
“How to Save Yourself from Going Over a Berm” illustration by Bob Haro from BMX Action Magazine, September 1984. Click to enlarge 3x.

Alright, we’re half-way through the first ever Bob Haro week at BMX Roots, and here’s one that wasn’t a part of “Haro’s Corner”, his semi-monthly feature in BMX Action. Instead, this is a double-page spread for an article called, “How to Save Yourself from Going Over a Berm”. Elbows flying, speed lines and rat-trap pedals. What more do you need?

Also, note that Rider #33, taking the elbow to the head, is running what looks to be a Zeronine plate and Dyno pants – both competitors at the time of Haro Designs soft/hardgoods business, as seen on rider #6. A not-so-subtle shot at the competition? You be the judge.

Related:
Bob Haro week, Day 2
Bob Haro week, Day 1
Freestylin Book Launch

Bob Haro Illustration - BMX Action Magazine, April 1984
“Factoryman and Yoshi” illustration by Bob Haro from BMX Action Magazine, April 1984. Click to enlarge 3x.

It is the second day of Bob Haro Week here at BMX Roots. Yesterday, I posted an introduction to this feature I’m running this week, and the illustration was of a rider popping out of a quarterpipe, doing some “trick riding” as it was known early-on. Today’s illustration is much more about the race scence of the early ’80s, especially the perception of the factory riders.

The tiny details are what count in this one. For example, the DG sticker on the toolbox, the can of 3M Chain Lube and the lifted box truck, which was, in fact, very much in-line with the motocross (motorcycle) rigs of the day. Also, you’ve got “Factoryman” with a cold drink in his hand, and his “ace mechanic”, Yoshi, representing the team. Again, I believe these caricatures were picking up on the moto references of the time.

Technically speaking, the illustration is done in marker and Zipatone, the preferred shading method of cartoonists in the days before the computer.

Related:
Bob Haro week, Day 1
Freestylin Book Launch

Bob Haro feature spread from BMX Aciton
Bob Haro from a feature spread in BMXAction magazine in 1983. Click to see the whole page.

In recognition of the first running of BMX in the Olympics, and all of the build-up and hype that surrounded it, I wanted to share some stuff that is pretty special to me.

One of the best things to come out of this Olympic thing, as I’ve called it, was the re-introduction of sorts of the BMX masses to Bob Haro. Through his contribution to the Olympic efforts by lending a hand to Nike – curating the Lightning Bolts numberplate art show, co-designing the Olympic uniforms and generally being a great ambassador, it has been so good to see some of the spotlight shared with such a major influencer of BMX culture.

On the heels of this, there have been a couple articles about Haro in both RideBMX and DigBMX magazines, and you should take the time to hunt them down. These stories give background on what he’s been up to since selling Haro Bicycles in 1993, and what inspired him to create probably the most successful brand name in BMX. If you don’t know, he’s been running a successful design studio, Haro Design, and launched Axio, a “performance luggage” and “technical pack” company.

What he hadn’t done much was show or talk about his art, which was so inspiring to so many of us BMX kids. That is, until just recently, showing his “cartoons” and photographs in the Bike Curious art show that opened in LA during the 2008 X-Games, as well as a multi-page article in the August 2008 issue of the art magazine Juxtapoz. Seeing those images of his illustrations slapped me back to my 10-year-old self, thumbing through BMX Action magazine, enamored with these black-and-white drawings that showed these exaggerated characters having fun on their bikes. And, true to his roots, Haro didn’t discriminate; he drew guys on tracks and dudes on quarter-pipes, usually with Haro numberplates and pants, JT gloves and the ubiquitous accessory of the 1980s, Oakley goggles.

As I said in my first post ever on this site, guys like Andy Jenkins and influenced me to explore art, photography, and ultimately my career in advertising/graphic design/digital media. How I left Haro off of this list of influences, I have no idea. I’ll be correcting that throughout this week, with Haro’s illustrations scanned from my archive of BMXA magazines. I left them pretty much un-retouched (thus yellowed, torn and faded – look, I flipped through these pages SO many times…), and if you click, you’ll get them at a larger size.

Enjoy the first of these illustrations, from March of 1984. Mr. Haro, this week is for you.

Bob Haro Illustration - BMX Action Magazine, March 1984
(Click to enlarge)

Related:
Freestylin’ Magazine Book Launch
Interview from Ride in 2004.

Download Donny Robinson, US Olympian and Silver Medal Winner

Well, even after the semi-finals were rained out, and thus, not televised as planned, the BMX events in the Olympics put on a solid 45-second (per race) show. Jill Kintner, Mike Day and Donny Robinson all medaled for the United States with bronze, silver, bronze, respectively. Maris Strombergs of Latvia won the men’s gold, and two French riders, Anne-Caroline Chausson and Laetitia le Corguille took the gold and silver.

Stuart over at DHADM sent me a couple of videos in the build-up to the BMX racing events in the Olympics. One from the Seattle program, Evening Magazine, and another from MSNBC. The video from MSNBC, above, features some more behind-the-scenes of the track, and an interview with racer, Donny Robinson.

Interesting that the host on Evening Magazine, John Curley, mentions that if you haven’t heard of “BMX Motocross” before, you’re not alone. Strange, because I know that BMX has always had a good footprint in the Pacific Northwest, and, well, it has been around for what, 30-plus years? Public perception of BMX never surprises.

Download Evening Magazine BMX Feature, featuring some solid Washington racers

If you didn’t get a chance to see the Olympic medal rounds on tv, you can check them out here

Oh, and George over on Kranky found some great photos (via We Mine Deeper) of the Olympic BMX races, shot by a non-bmx photographer. Cool stuff.

On the heels of this, I’ve dug through my archives, and I have something pretty special planned starting Monday – it will be Bob Haro week at BMXRoots. Check back for some stuff many of you may have never seen.

Minnesota Faction BMX Olympic Watch Party

The BMX competition in the Olympics is only three days away, and with that, there are some lively discussions popping up all over. Since most of my time has been on the freestyle/non-racing side of BMX, I’m focusing on this side of the fence. There are plenty of other places to get the BMX racing contingent’s thoughts on the Olympics, and a quick search will get you there pretty quickly.

First, Phil at Super Rat Machine is giving you a shot at winning a set of Super Rat Prototype pedals as one of his Friday Freebies, for answering these questions in the comments of his site:
Since this is the first year of bmx in the olympics and since it will essentially expose millions of people to bmx racing what are the pros and cons of the event as you see it? and do you think it will affect your daily interaction with joe public? and to go along with that do you think any other form of bmx will make it into the olympics?
Post your answer here by Friday, August 22nd, for a chance to win a set of sweet not-even-yet-released pedals.

Over on the RideBMX site, there’s an interesting bunch of quotes from BMX-industry folks and riders. Mat Hofman’s response and comments (taken from another interview in a German newspaper), have sparked quite a bit of discussion. Rad to see the infamous McGoo throwing some thoughts, as well.

(Note that I’m not the Jeremy commenting on the Ride site, it is me on the Super Rat site, however, for what its worth…)

On a lighter note, I encourage you to take a cue from the Minnesota Faction BMX crew, and get some other riders together and watch the racing. If you’re in Minneapolis, join them. What better reason to ride, drink and eat – in whatever order you prefer? Thanks to Paul Smith for the heads-up.

Super Rat Pedals
Corked pedals…not pedals made from cork. A Super Rat Friday Freebie.

Knight Performer 24? Retro Cruiser Standing Platform

Seat stay/framestand and bologna-cut top tube detail. Photo: George Yang

Looks like there’s already quite a bit of chatter about the Knight Performer – I’ve seen it pop up on a number of the vintage BMX sites over the past couple of days. One thing that’s been discussed is the geometry of the ride, and how it compares, considering it is overall, a pretty modern ride. I hit George at Knight up for some more information, and he sent over pretty much all you might want to know:

Material: 4130 Chromoly
FRAME
Top tube length: 21.5″
BB height: 12″
Chainstay length: 15.25″
Head angle: 73 degree
Seat tube angle: 70.5 degree
Headtube: Integrated
Bottom Bracket: Mid type
Brakes: 990 mounts
Seat post: 25.4mm
Dropouts: 3/16″ thick
Axle type: 3/8 axles
Extras: Coaster Brake plate like the 20″ version

So, there you have it – the top tube length should keep it roomy, yet quick for a cruiser. With the 3/8″ axles, you might need to hookup a set of the Skyway Graphite TuffWheels to go with the frame. Keep a lookout here for shots of the prototype as it gets built-up.

Related: Knight Retro Performer Prototype

Knight Performer 24? Prototype Frame
Raw and fresh out of the jig. Photo: George Yang

The 24″ Retro Squareback Knight released last year was very well received by those looking for a cruiser with vintage styling. Modeled after the Redline squarebacks of yore, it was a fairly traditional cruiser frame, with some really nice detailing.

I think that the new 24″ jam from Knight will up the retro BMX game – other manufacturers should take note. In fact, it is only retro in styling, as it features all of the modern features of today’s BMX bikes – integrated headset, mid-bottom bracket and 990 brake mounts. However, look closer at the photos of the prototype – a coaster brake tab and a standing platform. Yeah, I said it – a standing platform, just like the GTs of yore – on a 24″ cruiser. Knight is calling it the Knight “Performer”, but I don’t know if they’ll stick with that name. They say it is a tribute to one of the most recognizable early freestyle frames, the GT Performer/World Tour, and Eddie Fiola – who helped make GT so prolific early in the freestyle game. Be sure to hit the link on Eddie’s name – there’s a great story on lifelounge.com, with some of Eddie’s personal photos.

If you want one, get a hold of Knight quickly. They’re going to be made in limited numbers, and available very soon. Damn, just like yesterday’s post – did I find yet ANOTHER bike/frame to obsess over? Check more photos over on the Knight blog.

Swobo Del Norte

Alright, I’ll admit it, I’ve got a thing for a new bike. Not just a new bike, but a new kind of bike. See, part of the reason I started this site was because I wanted to not only explore BMX in all of its facets, but also bicycling in general. As I’ve said, I never really felt comfortable on my mountain bike that I had for a few years. Grip-shifters, derailleurs and an oversized frame just didn’t do it for me. I need simplicity. So, that led me to the purchase of my 24″ BMX, then to rebuilding my old 20″ bikes, and to the current-day, with a couple of modern-day 20s at my disposal.

So, about four months ago, I bought my first road bike, ever. Seriously, throughout my life, I had the aforementioned mountain bike, one 26″ beach cruiser, and an AMF pseudo-motocross bicycle when I was really young (a very strange beast), but everything else has been BMX. I picked-up a refurbished and semi-modernized early-80s Trek 710. 700c wheels, a bunch of gears and a leather saddle. Very cool, as it is easy-to-ride and nice and tall, so it fits me quite well. I bought it because I wanted something comfortable to ride long distances, as I find myself hopping on the bike to get around town, as many folks are these days. However, that whole “simplicity” thing keeps interrupting my brain while I’m riding – “Do I NEED all of these gears?” “Man, vintage roadbikes can sure flex” “Hmm, how well will it handle this drop off of this curb?”. On and on I go.

Uh, oh, you’re thinking, here comes the old BMX guy with tales of fixed gear fondness. Not quite. See, I cannot give-in to pedaling all of the time, I’m just not comfortable with it, (at least not yet), and frankly, I love bombing the rather large hills of my town, and hearing the buzz of a freewheel behind my ear. So, I think the single-speed roadbike is where I’m headed. And I’ve got one picked out – the Swobo Del Norte. One gear, two brakes, flip-flop hub (freewheel or fixed), loose bmxish-styling and modern parts/geometry. Yes, I am smitten. There’s a new shop in town that carries the Swobo brand, and I think I might just have to go have a look.

I know that to some, this all may seem a bit random as the site is called BMX Roots. However, as with a ton of riders who ride many different kinds of bikes, my personal roots are in BMX. Yet as long as we’re talking about bikes with wheels that are FUN to ride at their core, then why shouldn’t all types of riding be respected?

Oh, and, just as I was working on this today, I hit the Volume bikes site, where they have photos of both their Creedence fixed-gear bike, and the new Sledgehammer. Maybe I have three bike crushes right now.

Related:
My Standard 250S
My Standard 250L
My 1987 Haro Master on the BMXMuseum


BMX Starting hill at the USA Olympics practice facility in California
THAT, my friends is a starting hill… Photo Credit: Casey Gibson/USACycling.org

As I type this, the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics are underway. Controversy aside, it is pretty amazing to see BMX recognized as an Olympic sport. Thanks to the good folks at the OS-BMX Forums, here are the broadcast schedules for the Olympic BMX coverage on NBC, here in the United States. If you’re a night-owl, you can watch some of this live online at nbcolympics.com

August 20, 2008 – 12:30am – 2:00am EST
Late night (LIVE) BMX cycling, featuring men’s quarterfinal races.

August 20, 2008 – 8:00pm – 12:00am EST
Prime time (LIVE) cycling’s BMX finals.

August 21, 2008 – 2:00am – 5:00am EST
Prime time Replay BMX finals.

Wanna know more about the bmx athletes? Check these links:
jillkintner.com – Personal site of the sole female USA rider and all-around badass cyclist
USA Olympics Cycling Team
Redline’s Global Olympic Team Page
Mike Day (Olympic rider) on EXPN.com

Uhh…

Related:
Nike USA Olympic Uniforms

Dan’s Comp has 3 of the 2,500 limited edition Freestylin’ Books from the Nike Collaboration to give away. These are much sought-after in certain circles, and I gotta say that I’d love to get my hands on one as well. You can enter once a day, and there’s no purchase necessary. Check out the details here.

BMX at the Kansas Action Sports Contest

Double foot-jam tailwhip at the Kansas Action Sports Contest – rider’s name coming. Photo: Jeremy Schutte

Alright, I’ll get the obvious out of the way first – August in Kansas is HOT. Not quite Texas hot, but we can get damn close. Heat and humidity combine to make some sweaty, exhausting times. So, first, props to the 12-15 riders who rode through the heat yesterday in the state capital of Topeka, for the bmx portion of the Kansas Action Sports contest – which also had skateboarding on Saturday and Inline skating on Sunday as well. It was pushing 100 degrees yesterday at the end of the contest, with 90+ % humidity. Ugh.

Ty from Topeka organized and announced the bmx contest, held at the Rip On Skatepark at Shunga Glen Park. Rip On is a small park with some big features – definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area. Seeing that I had my almost-4 and 6-year-old boys with me, I didn’t get to meet many of the riders, but I gotta say that, as always, the midwest guys easily throw-down with any rider out there. A nice mix of new and old tricks, with footjams, whips, big boosts, grinds and wall-rides all represented.

Rumor has it that they are considering moving the contest to earlier in the summer, and I gotta say that this, along with wider promotion of the entire contest, across all disciplines, would boost the contestant and spectator turn-out. Again, especially with BMX, we gotta evangelize it, and I was glad to see the amateur group available to the younger/less-experienced riders.

The contest was sponsored by Capps Bike Shop, Midwest Skateboarding, Topeka Parks & Rec, the City of Topeka and Pepsi of Topeka. Nearly every rider walked away with something in-hand from the sponsors – always a nice touch.

I’m planning on shooting some photos with some of the riders, in the upcoming months, so look for those here, soon.