Roots

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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

Knight Spider for Profile Racing Cranks

Hot on the heels of their other recent retro/vintage releases, Knight has come out with a vintage-inspired chainwheel spider for Profile Racing Cranks. Made from 6061-T6 alloy, with a 19mm hole, this retro spider keeps it simple and classic. Order it directly from Knight.

Knight Bike Co Retro Stems
Oh, man, I’m drooling over this eye candy…

Knight Bike Co have released their vintage Pro-Neck style stems for all of you who want something truly different for your threadless headset bikes. Featuring an etched Curb Dogs Bulldog logo (courtesy of Maurice Meyer) in place of the old Tuf Neck tiger, and a nice array of classic colors, these would be perfect for a retro-fied modern bike, or even better, on a Knight Squareback – their 24″ throwback frame.

Get on over to Knight and check out their array of vintage-influenced parts, as well as their modern work. Note that George at Knight knows his BMX history – they were one of the primary sponsors of the Tuff Love art show last year.

DVD Cover of Standard Video - Stronger Than AllMayhem and Metal from SBC. Photo by Jeremy Schutte.

As planned, I got the Standard Stronger Than All video in the mail this week from Goodtimes, and I’ve watched it three times since. That’s three times through both DVDs. See, the first one is all about the Standard Army, section after section of their riders, both US and European, tearing it up both on their bikes and off. The footage is cut with archival military footage and some home-grown destruction. The second DVD has separate riding sections from 13 of the guys in the videos. Street, parks and mini-ramps are well-represented here, with a small bit of trail action.

The footage spans a number of years, and you see it in the various styles of riding throughout. Front brake tricks, no brakes, boosts, foot-jams, lip-tricks, rail grinds, giant gaps, flairs, ledge grinds, whips, manuals; they all come fast and with abandon. Guys like John Rodgers, Drew York and Bommel throw down the latest tricks, with massive lines and flow. Vets like Rob Ridge, Jaimy Spreitzer and Rick Moliterno show just how they’ve been getting it done for years. None of the riders featured here currently have podium spots on the X-Dew-Action Tours, nor are they necessarily the riders blogged about or with multi-page magazine interviews. They rip anyway, period. And, there are a number who will be the riders generating the chat on a message board near you, soon.

In these times of HD and exquisitely shot bmx videos, with the bar being raised everyday, there is a certain beauty in the rawness that Standard has delivered with Stronger Than All. Some of the night riding is lit with flares, a couple of the edits appear to be self-shot, and the DVD menu, or lack therof, makes me crazy. Yet what matters to me is that STA makes me want to put on my headphones, crank the Dead Kennedys, and ride like hell. This video is purely about riding and pushing what can be done on a 20-inch bmx. Make notes when watching it – this video will remind you of how much fun you should be having on your bike.

Get it for $19.95 plus shipping from Goodtimes, now, though I’m sure it will be available other places soon. Check out the following promo videos that Standard put out in 2006-07 teasing the release of STA.




Dennis McCoy, 1988 AFA Flatland Finals
Dennis McCoy grabbed from a video by krtschmidt.

Kurt Schmidt has a great site with a bunch of vintage freestyle info, and a ton of videos that he has put on YouTube. His most recent videos feature Eddie Fiola, Woody Itson, Dennis McCoy and Rick Moliterno at the 1988 AFA Finals in Wichita, KS. I wasn’t at this contest, though it was only a few hours away from my home in Kansas City, but some of my friends went, and I remember how stoked they were when they got back. You can hear the crowd just LOSING it over the tricks being pulled, something you don’t hear as much on the televised spectacles of today, even as guys are pulling triple-tailwhips – perhaps because the tricks are just SO big today…

Interesting to see the different styles between the four riders. Moliterno and DMC just fly through so many of the rolling tricks that were becoming popular at that time, whereas Woody and Fiola pull more of the power-moves that helped progress freestyle past the balance tricks and hopping of the early-80s.

I believe Schmidt filmed these videos, as he was deep in the freestyle scene of the mid-80s and 90s, and has the knowledge, history and footage to prove it. In 1991, he formed Standard Industries with Rick Moliterno and Bill Nitschke.

Check out krtschmidt.com, and then jump over to his YouTube collection. Make sure you have some spare time available. You’ll be there a while.