Last month we hit another readership record with 11,000 page views for the month of September. It is the first time we have ever hit 11K and we are very happy with the magazines growth. I have been working with our crew to set new goals for 2017 and to find new ways to grow the readership. We have the best custom bicycle magazine and we plan on staying that way for a long time.
A few notes and changes for the Kustomized Bicycle Magazine readers:
We have added several new features to the magazine feature lineup. One is “Industry News”. We keep our ears open and hear the latest news from many sources. We will do our best to keep our readers on the cusp of what is happening. The second isn’t really an addition but more of a change. We have lumped new “Products” and “Product Reviews” together since our first issue. We have decided to let each of those have their own pages because of the huge amount of new products that are hitting the market. The third is a re-vamp of the Contact / Swag page. We have added a simple way for you to contact Kustomized Bicycle Magazine. If you have questions about a feature, product review or just want to tell us how great the magazine is this is the simplest way to get in contact with us.
This month we are bring you two phenomenal bikes. Jeff has taken his pretty simple Westpoint that started out as a simple 20”X20” Muscle bike and turned it into the epitome of what a period correct muscle bike is. Then we have Jiggz and his bike Hexmachina which is a really cool take on a retro/future muscle bike that started out with a 1940s Monark Silver King Hextube.
We also bring you Part 2 of What’s Inside John Brain’s Brain. This episode we as more questions and are told the story as to how John found the true designer of the first muscle bike. Truly and interesting story and this is just another glimpse into Johns huge amount of knowledge about the custom bicycle scene.
We will also give you our review of the Minoura Pro-2 Wheel Truing Stand while giving you the Wheel Truing 101 Tech feature. You may remember last month’s feature where we showed you basic hub replacement and simple wheel lacing. This month’s feature will show you how to get those newly laced wheels straight and true.
Jeff Menz has been a muscle bike aficionado nearly since birth. Growing up in the era of Schwinn Krates he has had many muscle bikes and in the last decade not only has been restoring them but also doing a fair share of customizing. Currently his stable is filled with several Schwinn models, a Huffy Rail among a few other smaller named but equally classic rides.
Jeff picked up this 1970 Westpoint Wedge from a local swap meet. It was in pretty good condition when purchased but was missing a few key parts and needed some love. If you don’t know about the 20” Wedge styled bikes they came both in single speed and multi speed models and featured a high back banana seat, bar tape instead of grips and tri-colored plastic caps within the frame. The Wedge design was a new style that mimicked the long dragster chassis so popular in that era.
Jeff initially rode the Westpoint a few times and worked out any issues with the 3 -Speed Stik and made the machine a real rider. He then disassembled the entire thing and started the full rebuild and customization process.
Luckily the paint was in great condition so it was left alone besides a good polish and waxing. After working through all the mechanicals including all bearings Jeff found a 16” rat trap style front fork that was in pretty desperate shape. He disassembled the fork and painted the legs to match the frame and buffed and polished all the chrome parts. Since this fork had no front brake mount Jeff machined a billet of aluminum to clamp around the chrome springer legs then added a brake mounting hole. It truly is a genius way to add a solid brake to a springer fork that didn’t have on initially.
Jeff decided to dump the standard ape-hanger bars and create a set of butterfly styled set. But cutting up several sets of handles bars he created these cool looking and very comfortable bars before wrapping them in bar tape and adding the original Westpoint grips to finish the ends. He also found a set of matching brake levers to run the rear brake and the newly installed front brake. Jeff added a Huret speedometer that he rebuilt, to the handle bars then added a swan style headlight mount with a fish mouth styled Union headlight the Jeff converted to and LED pod (using the April 2016 Kustomized Bicycle Magazine tech article).
The drivetrain is stock and rebuilt including all bearings, chain, pedals and even the stock chain guard that are usually either destroyed or missing on Wedge style bikes.
The seat was in a pretty sad state so Jeff had some blue Zodiac metal flake vinyl sewn up with pleats before using it for recovering the high backed seat pan with the material. Behind the seat Jeff replaced the standard sissy bar with a chromed longer model as one would have done in the early 70s. It makes for a great place to rest against on those long rides and also a place to hang the vintage stars and stripes helmet. Attached to the sissy bar is the original large round reflector the blocks view of the seat pan when viewing from the rear.
In the rear of the vintage bike Jeff added a slick tire that fits the look of the bike well. Using a couple of sissy bars and miscellaneous parts Jeff fabricated a wheelie bar attached to the lower and upper chain stays only found on the Wedge styled models which fit the frame style perfectly and making it look like a dragster frame even more. Since the original kick stand was missing and nearly impossible to find it was replaced with a NOS Wald axle mount unit that almost disappears under the wheelie bar.
Custom is what you make of it and following the picture in your head to build a super cool machine like this is why these bikes area still so popular. Many miles later Jeff is still riding his custom Westpoint when it gets picked out of the stable.
“Jiggs” Pascua decided to take part in the Rat Rod Bike website (www.ratradbikes.com) Build-Off contest. This is a pretty famous and hefty build-off that masses over 50 competitors from around the world. Some of the best custom bikes and builders are part of this competition. To even is a prestigious award but you really have to bring everything to the table.
Jiggs has 15 years in the bike world with several builds under his build. He planned his build and did the unimaginable. Who would think to take a stock 1940’s Morark Silver King hex tube frame and turning it into a one-off muscle bike? Jiggs did. If you don’t know much about classic bikes the Silver King is a pretty sought after piece with the hex tube being even more collectable. The most interesting thing about the Silver King is that instead of the typical tube welded frame the Monark is built from cast aluminum connection points then the tubes are pressed into the lugs. He purchased the frame back in 2013 from a friend of his who is a classic bike collector and started the build for the 2015 competition.
With the frame in hand Jiggs cleaned all the aluminum up and Installed the stock Monark Springer. He welded up the fork brace studs and for some added rigidity. To insure the fork stayed straight when pushing the bike into a hard turn a fork brake was also added to the front brake mounts. A FUNN adjustable mountain bike stem tops the vintage fork steerer tube. He then added a set of Japanese surplus clubman style bars to finish off the steering assembly. Mity Mike made a set of stainless grips that slide onto the bars and lock in place.
For rolling stock Jiggs acquired a OGK plastic nine spoke mag wheel for an unnamed bicycle he happened to have laying around and picked up a Surly 60mm Marge Lite with rivets for the rear. It’s not like you can actually tell what the rear wheel is because he took a set of stock style plastic wheel covers and applied a custom paint job to resemble the vintage Wacky Wheels mag style.
The drive train is composed of the stock Monark Crank that he painted black then adding a vintage mag style chain ring also painted to resemble the mag style. Jiggs added Odyssey Bear Trap pedals and a chrome plated KMC chain hooks the drivetrain to the rear hub. The combination makes this bike look like it’s running 100 mph while standing steel. To cover the chain is the stock Monark chain guard with modified clamps to fit the hex bar frame. Jiggs also painted it black and airbrushed the HEXMCHINAgraphics.
To turn this machine into the speed racing bike it was meant to be Jiggs took a black painted sissy bar and added a vintage Troxel banana seat pan after he reupholstered and riveting on the custom pad and cover. With some aluminum plate Jiggs made the number plate then sanded it to a satin finish. He then added an LED pod to work as a headlight complete with an anodized frame milled with cooling fins.
The rear finder has fabricated by the owner out of fiberglass and painted silver and candy red. Under the fender is a rear red LED taillight so people can see Jiggs as he shoots paste them.
Jiggs turned a seventy-year-old frame with some parts and lots of design and fabrication skills to create a beautiful piece of work that looks like something from a 70’s sci-fi film about the year 3000. This is proof that you don’t need to start from scratch to make something super cool.
Back Hand Bikes Kayo Stem
Backhand Bike Co. is a full service BMX component design and manufacturing company. We have our own line of exotic components we offer for shops and here on the site, but our specialty is making parts for other companies that want to keep their products American Made with high quality domestic materials.
Kayo Stem - SMACK
Starting from $95.00
Altor, a growing startup company, is making big strides in the biking industry with the all-new 560G.
Altor’s first product is a lightweight high-security bike lock made out of Grade 5 titanium that only weighs a mere 560 grams (1.23 pounds). Although secure locks have been around for a while, the 560G successfully combines advanced materials with an innovative design to create a bike lock that is both lightweight, secure and user-friendly. The lock folds up conveniently to either fit in a bag or easily clip onto a belt or bag strap. With its high-security push button lock mechanism, the 560G’s lightweight stylish design is the future of bicycle security, making locking up your bike as simple as the push of a button.
The average bike lock made out of high carbon steel was originally developed in the 19th century. Altor’s belief in bringing bike locks into the 21st century, however, has led them to design their lock with Grade 5 titanium. Originally developed for use in fighter jets and spacecraft, Grade 5 titanium is one of the strongest super alloys on the market - with twice the strength of conventional steel. With a featured compact size of 1.23 pounds at 9.1 by 2.3 inches, the 560G is one-third the weight of a high security steel U-Lock (of about 4.5 pounds).
The 560G’s innovation is not just in the materials though. The patent pending 3-piece titanium joint is what sets the 560G apart from other folding locks. Solid Grade 5 titanium links can withstand attacks from the strongest of theft tools on the market - even 48-inch bolt cutters, hacksaws, and hammers. The design prevents any leverage point on the rivet and widens the connection enough so that bolt cutters can’t fit around the joint. “Most bike locks with folding designs have strong links and are weakest at the joints. That is why we designed the 560G with our patent pending 3-piece joint,” said Dylan Cato, Co-Founder and CEO. The material’s properties also deflect any heating and freezing attacks from being effective.
Most importantly, the 560G improves rider experience with an incredibly simple lock up. The 560G’s easy push button requires no keys to lock it. This type of locking mechanism makes commuting or working as a courier much easier. “We wanted the arrival process to be as simple as possible,” Luke Sahagian, Altor Marketing Director, said. “I can’t tell you how many times I personally have been late or missed a train because I was fumbling with a U-Lock or chain.”
This clever combination of durable material, ergonomic design and user-friendliness is what makes the 560G so innovative.
The 560G is available on Kickstarter (pre-orders will be available on Altor’s website after the campaign) and will ship this Summer. Altor may be starting small, but the company is making a big impact on an integral part of urban riding.
Sting-Rays and Muscle Bikes of the 1960s and 1970s
Muscle bikes were the first really big hit in the custom bicycle world. Parts were marketed to help those customize their bikes and manufacturers just got crazier and crazier through the mid 70’s with their designs. Not many people have the knowledge of all makes and models throughout the years. But Geoff Greene (aka Greenphantom) assembled a book where he states that he has compiled a huge swath of the muscle bikes produced in the 1960s and 1970s. We decided that we would check it out and see if he was right.
The paperback book is heavy and measures 8 ½”x11” and is well over 250 pages. It covers all the brand named muscle bike manufacturers that we could possibly think of. In fact it has everything from AMF all the way to Western Flyer. Does it cover them all? Maybe not but we kept throwing out model names and found them all. There are bicycles shown that we had never even heard of. The book is set up alphabetically by manufacturer and chronologically within each manufacturer. There are over one hundred scans of vintage adds all referenced with years. Now you can tell the difference between a 1966 vs.1967 Huffy Rail.
There is a large and detailed Schwinn section that not only shows the bikes but how to distinguish different years of parts like shifters, tires, seats and chain guards.
Overall we think this book is a really good reference that will help muscle bike fans learn about all the models and help muscle bike buyers know what they are looking at and whether it is in stock form. We paid $42.00 plus shipping for this book and think that if you are a muscle bike type of person it is well worth the price. It is probably holds the most information of all muscle bike books that has been published to date. Of course there are more detailed publications but they are very model specific (mostly Schwinn oriented).
If you are so inclined you should pick one up and tell Greenphantom Kustomized Bicycle Magazine sent you.
Taste: Aluminum and Molded Nylon
Smell: Like plastic packaging
Touch: weighty base and very light legs
Look: Looks pretty high tech and the color combo is very nice.
Normal bike people don’t build a lot of wheels. If you are fairly careful with your bike and the wheel set was built pretty well they should outlast most other parts without a need for adjustment. If you only have to do it once every few years, there really is no harm in taking them to the LBS (local bike shop) for adjustment.
But then there are the readers of Kustomized Bicycle Magazine…hardcore people that live to ride and spend their sleeping hours dreaming of frame designs and custom paint jobs. We will be damned if any hipster bike shop monkey will touch out bike in between sips of the quadruple latte. God forbid they get their moustache wax or beard balm covered fingers on our three layer powder coat job with custom laced polished aluminum 29” x 80mm hoops with anodized nipples and stainless spokes.
But, with the cost of those custom parks makes our bill folds a little skinny…like fitting a 700cc V-rim skinny.
We started looking for a truing stand a few months ago and checked prices and availability. Unfortunately, our wallets were dead set on us not ever owning a Park TS-2 like we dreamed of. The cheapest and most available unit that is from a well know company was the Minoura Pro-2 Truing Stand. So we called one of our distributors and two days later there was a box on the bench in the shop. These stands run around $89.99 but you can get them cheaper if you watch for sales and coupons.
The manufactures propaganda says this stand has:
§ Stand is self centering, no dishing tool necessary
§ Accurate to 0.2mm for trueness and roundness
§ Accommodates all wheel sizes
§ Foldable for easy storage
We pulled the truing stand from its packaging and put it on the workbench. Initial impressions were that it looked like a quality unit. Everything seemed to be tight and clean and with the black steel base, red Nylon components and brushed aluminum legs it definitely wasn’t ugly to look at. The overall size of the stand is pretty thin when folded up and will be easy to store out of the way when not being used.
Let’s Get a Wheel True:
We had a perfect guinea pig of a wheel that needed to be trued. It was the wheel from the October 2016 issue where we laced a 26” wheel after changing a single speed hub to a 3-Speed Nexus hub. The wheel was assembled and tight and probably pretty close to being ready to go so we put the axle in the truing stand and put the nuts back on hand tight. The mounts are nylon so we didn’t want to overtighten the nuts. The stand is pretty solid once of the weight of the wheel is installed and with the 5” steel strap slid pointing forward and tightened down.
The wheel arms are “self centering”. They do not move independently. Once the axle nuts are tightened down the wheel should be centered. There is no way to manually center the wheel in the stand. We did some measurements and the “Accommodates All Wheel Sizes” isn’t really true. Depending on how your wheel is dished you may or may not be able to fir an 80mm hoop inside the calipers. 100mm is defiantly a no go.
There are two caliper gauges…one for each side and one for radial truing. The two caliper gauges really didn’t help in this situation since we dished the wheel to the non-drive side a bit to offer more chain clearance to keep it from rubbing the wider than normal tire. We loosened the arm radius knob and rotated the arms into place then retightened the knob. It held firm so we used the caliper knob to tighten the calipers until the left side lightly rubbed the left side of the hoop.
One cool feature we noticed is that you can remove the metal pices at the end of the calipers to keep from scratching the wheel. So if you have painted, powdered, anodized, or carbon wheels these can be easily removed.
We trued the rim to within a millimeter which is exactly what we wanted to do. We noticed that there is some movement in the wheel legs when spinning the wheel with any amount of side load. We tightened the arm bolts with acorn nuts a little but it made no change. Is it annoying? A little but it definitely didn’t let us true the wheel.
We radially trued the wheel next. We used the caliper knob to open the calipers all the way then rotated the radial gauge up until it almost touched the wheel. The radial gauge wasn’t tight enough to hold its own weight so we had to grab a tri-wrench and tighten it. This could be a pain in the future so if you do a lot of wheels I would either put a longer bolt in with a wing nut or fab up a knob to loosen and tighten the radial arm when needed.
We used the knob on the radial arm to slowly move it towards the hoop while the hoop was slowly spinning. We trued the wheel radially within a millimeter then rechecked the lateral trueness. With everything within the one millimeter spec we officially called the wheel true and took it out of the stand and installed the rim strip, tube and tire. Back on the bike it went.
We then chucked a 29” x 48mm, a 700cc and a 20” x 2.125 wheel into the stand without any issue.
· Wallet friendly price
· Small footprint for easy storage
· Good looks
· Did the job with no problems
· Not the sturdiest on the bench. We will end up drilling two holes in the base and bolting it to the bench permanently.
· Replace the Radial Arm adjustment bolt with something that doesn’t require a tool to tighten.
· About a millimeter of movement in the fork legs with any side pressure like when you are spinning the wheel. No real way to fix it but it doesn’t hurt the overall function.
We rate the Minoura Pro-2 Truing Stand a with 3 out of 4 stars. There are things they could have designed better to make a better truing stand but for the price it works very well. It will defeintly do the job you need it to do and is worth the purchase even for us custom bike people that will use it several times a year. If we were building wheel every day or at least once a week we would have called Park for their $300.00 pro stand.
Peek Cycles and OBC welcome you to the "2017 Fabricators Face Off" which will take place in Las Vegas Nevada at the OBC Bike Show Extravaganza! This “Face Off” is a custom bicycle build off between seven fabricators who will compete head to head.
First off, I would like to send a sincere thank you to everyone who entered their name. It wasn’t easy sorting out this competition and I personally encourage all to throw your name out again next year. I will do my best to keep the event changing, interesting and diverse. So believe me when I say, no one is overlooked. With that said…
Our contestants are:
Danny Hazlewood - the returning Champ
and Mr. Robert Belyea
Start date is today October 1st 2016.
Rules are simple:
Bike must be 100% complete, original, and rideable
No motors of any kind, pedal power only
Frame must be one off and built by entrant
Judging rules also simple;
As a spectator, if you enter a bike into the OBC Bike Show you will receive a ballot to vote for the "Face Off". All fabricators and/or retail shop owners who are not competing in the Face-Off will receive a “weighed” ballot representing a percentage that could sway the outcome if being decided by a close margin. By doing so the winner of the competition is tallied on ALL votes from “experts” and bike builders of every level. Fabricator votes weighing in heavier based on actual fabrication experience and knowledge.
That’s it! Now how ’bout that competitors panel?! Should be fun and we’ll keep it that way!
As for the competitors… on your mark, get set…. GO! May the Best Fabricator Win! \m/ -Jimmy Peek
ruff cycles ruffian
Ruff Cycles has stepped out of their box of custom bike frames and parts with a market changer. The Ruffian has all the style of Ruff Cycles but features an electric drive. Released last month at Intermot 2016 in Cologne, Germany it has been reported to be the hit of the show. That’s right, they are putting an e-bike on the market. Equipped with a mass of Ruff parts and the strongest Bosch drive available this will be a beast of a cruiser. We all know Ruff Cycles and their amazing designed cruiser and chopper frames and their beautifully fabricated parts and accessories. They are well known for their quality and builds.
Highlights of the Ruffian are a Ruff Cycles 7005 Aluminum frame with three-layer powder coating. Currently they are offering three color variations of black, grey and brown. The Ruffian will also feature aluminum triple trees and Cro-moly legs. All this aluminum should keep the weight down and keep battery life up. With a Shimano 8 speed hub and 65mm wheels it will defiantly be a fantastic cruiser. Hiding the battery in the tank area is defiantly an awesome detail. Nothing hurts a bike’s flow more than battery packs and wiring hanging all over.
Frame: Ruff Cycles (Alu 7005) w/ 3-Layer Powder-Coating
Fork: Ruff Cycles Alu 6061 Bridges with CrMo Legs
Handle Bar: Ruff Cycles Z-Dragbar (CrMo)
Drive: Bosch Performance CX 250W (75Nm)
Battery: Bosch Performance PowerPack 500Wh, 13.4Ah, up to 90km reach and only 3.5h charging time.
Max. Speed: 25km/h Pedelec. No license required.
Saddle: Lepper Lounger - Leather
Brake: Shimano Deore Hydraulic disks
Hub: Shimano Alfine 8-Speed
Wheels: Double-Wall Aluminum 26“ 65mm
Tires: Cruzo Classic 26“ x 3.0“
Weight: 29,5 kg
Dimensions: 208 x 98 x 78 cm
Certification: DIN ISO 4210 - Safety Requirements for Bicycles
The release date for Europe is March 2017 and be sure that the initial run will sell fast. The United States release will be later in the year. At around $6,000 it may be hard on the pocket book but if you are looking for a zero emission vehicle with tons of style the Ruffian may be up your alley. Contact Ruff Cycles for more information and to place your order.
(KBM) What is your favorite bike you have built to date?
(John Brain): That’s actually a tough question, as I have made dozens of bikes over the last 40 years. I have a real devotion to my first show bike, which came together at the very beginning of my bike building endeavours- and which I still have, But I also like the bike I call “Diamante” very much, first because it was a real challenge to get together, and because it showed me that my personal ideas on styling were valid. Conquering a personal challenge is important in biking, and I felt kind of exhilaration when I managed to get the Diamante together.
My bike “Diamante” proved to me that after 40 years I could still get the same kind of joy out of kustom biking as I did when I first got started. Not everyone likes the bike - but that’s ok, it still did a lot for my self-confidence as a designer and orchestrator of a build. Had everyone liked it I would have thought that I played it too safe in the design department.
It seems like every new design you conquer becomes your new favorite, you always build upon the knowledge you have gained from your previous achievements as well as failures. The Diamante also showed me that a really good bike is almost always the work of many skilled hands coming together to make a greater whole. I do what I can, and for what I can’t do (very well) I look for help from craftsmen who have the skills to make things their very best. If I wanted a truly mediocre bike I would have done everything myself.
In the end it’s primarily about the finished project being a personal statement of your own vision, showing that you did what was necessary to make the bike the very best it could be.
(KBM): With the explosion of the custom bike world in the last few years and your knowledge of the earlier bike scene where do you see this scene going? Will it get more popular or stay a mostly underground thing?
(John Brain): I guess by that you mean will the movement become primarily “prefab”, with production-line bikes (and parts) becoming the dominant source material for whatpeople wind up riding - as opposed to people looking to metal artisans and fabricators for their bike building needs. I have to be honest and say that I think the trend we have seen for the last 10 years will continue; in that we will see the larger bike companies continue to keep an eye on the growing alternative kustom bike scene, and gear some of their marketing to take commercial advantage of it. I see this as a given; however, I don’t really see it as a negative either.
About 12 years ago the late Jim Wilson of “Bike Rod and Kustom” fame asked me in an interview whether I thoughtthe commercially made bikes (of that time) like the modern Sting-Rays, Giant “Stilleto’s” , and “American Legend” Choppers were watering down the creative nature of kustom biking. Jim observed that some people resented what the big companies were doing; believing that commercialization diluted the artistic nature of custom biking.
I responded that the heavy resentment was misplaced; my exact words were “The factory bikes are a kustom introduction, a gateway, the beginning to a new type of cycling orientation for the beginner” - and I still feel this way. I also said that the factory bikes being made in 2004 were the raw material for future kustom projects. I went on to say “These cycles are the beginning, not the end, and certainly not competition for the true creative builder. You should never get too upset over something that (just sitting there) possesses only "unrealized" potential. "Factory bikes" should really be a non issue”!
The present trendsetters in our type of biking – the ones we look up to - are the experimenters and the innovators. As well, they are often the ones who seek to perfect older styles for a new generation. While commercialization may become more pronounced we should never see it as something that negatively impacts the true artisans in kustom biking. The unique fabricators are the ones who show us the path forward, they take the chances and we learn from their gains and mistakes. They are the heart of the true underground voice in kustom biking; they create the last true art of the street. Overall growth will come, and the underground core will continue to be the driving force that will challenge others to find their own path to personal creativity.
The interest in Kustom bikes - and the lifestyle - will continue to grow; it will also change and evolve as people bring in their own needs and personalities. Kustom biking has also progressed beyond being a mostly solitary activity, and into the realm of being a true social community. This aspect alone will be one of the key factors that will keep the kustom bike movement going forward. Groups have formed, and friendships have been fostered that will continue strong. Today’s world of kustom biking has all the elements in place to ensure a long and creative experience for everyone involved.
(KBM) You are well known in the muscle bike world because of your countless hours of research and interviews. What is the one most interesting piece of information you have dug up and who was the most interesting person you had a chance to talk to.
(John Brain): I was always interested in knowing the origin story of kustom biking, but I really had no concrete knowledge or evidence of how it all came to be - until I finally took on the task of heavily researching it about 10 years ago. I tried to find out in the mid 70’s, asking some of the older guys I met at kustom motorcycle shops about the early bicycles, but nobody seemed to have any information on the early days. Like most people in the early 2000s I knew about the commercially made “high rise” or “banana seat “ bikes like the Schwinn “Sting-Ray”, Murray “Wildcat”, and Columbia “Playboy” bikes, but not a lot of details.
In 2005 the Schwinn “Sting-Ray” bike was almost universally recognized as the first production bike of its type – sporting a Persons “Solo Polo” seat, and “high-rise” handlebars. There were vague rumours going around about the possibility of earlier banana seat bikes being made, but the talk about them seemed empty, like passing shadow - nameless and mysterious. I generally discounted the notion that a production banana seat bike might have existed prior to the release of the Sting-Ray, as I felt information about such a thing would have turned up after 40 years of documentation and research by dedicated bike collectors.
I was writing articles for the webzine “Bike Rod and Kustom” at the time. And I told its creator - the late Jim Wilson - that I was going to research the history of kustom biking once and for all. I told him my earlier efforts to find information failed, but that I was going to start the task anew. During my research into kustom biking – which also encompassed the factory made bikes banana seat bikes - I eventually stumbled upon a small article in an obscure bicycle industry trade journal, printed in early 1963; which told of a new 20 inch cantilever framed bike being sold in California bike shops - factory made- that sported a Solo Polo seat and tall high rise handlebars. To my surprise the bike was not a Schwinn “Sting-Ray”, it was called the Huffy “Penguin”, the brainchild of a Glendale man named Pete Mole, whose family own a bike distribution company called “John T. Bill & Co.”.
My article on the Penguin find was not completed for some time. And before its release I would occasionally write messages on some of the old Schwinn forums when people would refer to the Sting-Ray as the first factory “muscle-bike”, designed by Al Fritz. I cautioned that calling the Sting-Ray the first muscle bike was premature; as news of other earlier factory muscle bikes could still be unearthed (I did not give out what I had learned of the earlier bike). Well, my statements were met with some real anger - by a few zealous people who could not accept the idea that a company other than “Schwinn” was responsible for the first factory banana seat bike. They said things like “if there was such a bike we would have heard about it, so go to hell you troublemaker”! I even got some Email threats over it! Some people take bikes very seriously, and some - maybe a bit too seriously. I laughed!
I eventually release an article about how the factory banana seat bikes came to be, which particular bike was first, and which bikes came afterwards. There were a few disgruntled voices, however, the evidence I presented could not be called into question, as it came from verified and dated period media. As well, and after a lot of detective work, I was able to track down Pete Mole, the guy who was responsible for the “Penguin’s” creation and release. He was well into his 80’s, but was still active in the bike industry; he was busy as the General Manager of the North American division of the Dahon Bicycle Corporation. I contacted him to see if he was interested in doing an interview, which he was.
I learned that Pete always felt somewhat cheated - over not being recognized for his role in the creation and release of America’s first factory banana seat bike. I told him that that was about to change, and that his name would forever go down in history, as the man who first offered America one of the greatest marketing sensations of the 20th century - the American “high-riser’’ bicycle.
Pete Mole lived long enough to see his pioneering work finally recognized, and today when someone asks “who was responsible for the first factory banana seat bike in America”. The answer is always “Pete Mole” of California. He was so happy that his achievement was finally recognized, and I feel blessed that I was able to converse with him and make his dream finally come true within his lifetime - a most interesting story of a most interesting man.
(KBM): Diamante hit the scene with tons of praise. From concept to completion how long did the build process take? Was there a specific vision you started with or did it come together as the build progressed?
(John Brain): My Diamante bike came together - the way it did - for a number of reasons. Prior to it being made I had thrown together various bike projects over the previous few years, and then I decided that I needed to really challenge myself and orchestrate a really complex build. Coupled with this I had a bit of a debate with someone around that time who said that curvy bikes were always stylistically superior to bikes that had frames made of straight tubes. I told him that I believed I could design an angular bike that could aesthetically match any curved bike for beauty. He laughed and said he didn’t think I could do it. That’s when things began in earnest.
I went to a drawer of mine that held old bike frame designs I had made, in order to get an idea of where I wanted the project to head. I found one drawing that I thought had potential, and it was one labeled “Diamante” which was actually a fairly old design that I did in about 2003. The frame design was originally envisioned as a real stretch job; but, for the purposes of the build I thought I had better shorten the front frame section, in case I wanted to transport the bike in a crate ( in pieces).
The main thing was to make the finished bike ergonomic; I wanted it to fit my body perfectly – with nothing out of place. I started with a small scale drawing, and took measurements of other bikes I had that had the leg reach I wanted. I then made a full scale blueprint that could be used in fabricating the tubes of the frame.
I went over every angle and every mounting point on the blueprint, to try and avoid anything that would look awkward or screwed up. I needed the rear tire to be visually tight with the solidly mounted rear fender, and to accomplish this I decided to go with an eccentric bottom bracket, this allowed me to fit the rear wheel perfectly to the fender, and adjust the chain tension with the bottom bracket.
I told one of my bike club buddies (Tom Fraser) about the project, and he insisted that I allow him to do the frame fabrication on his big bike jig. I thought that his idea was very cool, as this was his line of work. Tom is the owner/operator of “Fusion Custom Welding” in Wasaga Beach Ontario, and his specialty is TIG. I took my full size blueprint up to him and watched as he did his magic on it - when I wasn’t sweeping his floor.
The bike was originally supposed to have a homemade “springer” fork, but I decided that a girder design would be more of a challenge, and would be a better visual fit. The problem was I had never made a true girder front end before. The fork on the bike was a bit of a nightmare to design, even though I knew the basic elements of how girders functioned. I learned that all the specifications of a girder needed to be based around the eye to eye distance of its shock mounts. And because the upper and lower pivot links had to be parallel (and the same length) the shock also dictated the size of the head tube – complicated.
Stumbling through the fabrication (of my first classic style girder) I had to spend a lot of time and money on getting special machine work done - something I hope to avoid on future girder builds. The forks alone took ages to get together, because much of the machining I needed done was not on the top of the machine shops priority list. And I found that I often had to get one part machined to figure out the specifications of the next part needed. Months dragged on, and I got very frustrated. But in the end I got the job done.
I felt the handlebars needed to be out of the ordinary - and angular. I remembered a set of one-off handlebars I saw on a chopper motorcycle once (at a custom car show) in the early 70s, they were kind of like Z-bars - squarish - and stepped. I remember that I was really taken by the way they looked. I thought that I should take some visual cues from those old kustom bars, and come up with my own design that would take the idea to the limit. I did about 40 drawings and finally came up with a look I thought was a knockout!
Some of the guys I knew were getting established in handlebar fabrication, and Ron Strantz of the “Bastard Garage” in Florida was the only person who was willing to try and fabricate them. I sent him a full size blueprint and he was eventually able to get them done. I am still most appreciative. If I think someone else can do a better job than I can do, then I think it’s best to have them do it. Every good build is a collaboration of many skilled hands I think.
My friend Mel Harris at “Platingmaster” chrome in London Ontario was kind of intrigued when I originally told him about the project. He looked at me and said “I know exactly what your bike project needs”, I said to him “You do...what’s that”? He said “You need something out of the ordinary; you need bright copper plating on this bike”. I was kind of intrigued, and the more we discussed it the more I had to agree with him. It was decided the bike would get a full treatment of show chrome and copper, with a smattering of gold plating to round everything out. And I think the results speak for themselves.
I’m always asked about the origin of the billet wheels on the bike. They were originally supposed to go on another complex build of mine, but I decided that their design was in keeping with the styling theme of the “Diamante”. They started out as a set of forged 24x65mm blanks –bicycle size, one of about 120 pair that were produced by the Centerline Wheel Corporation around 2003. I obtained a rare set of the blanks from Sam McKay of “Firebikes”. Once they were in my hands I came up with a 5 spoke lightning bolt design that I thought was really great, and then I contacted my friend Eric Hannan of “Hannan Customs” in Montreal - to see if he could arrange for the design to be CNC cut into the blanks. He of course had access to such services, and I sent him the wheels to get worked over. The wheels are show polished and the rear sports a Shimano Nexus 7 internal hub, with a roller brake.
I consider the bike to be an old school design, with virtually every part on the bike being custom made or re-worked. Because machine work, plating, and custom fabrication takes time and money, I considered it as a long term project. I think it took about 3 years to pull all the elements together from the point that the frame design was first finalized on paper.
Wheel truing 101
In Kustomized Bicycle Magazine last month we showed you how to replace the hub by disassembling the wheel assembly and re-lacing the wheel with a new hub. At the end of the tech feature you should have had a wheel assembly back together and almost ready to ride. This month we will show you how to true the wheel so it is ready to be installed back on the bike and to go for a ride.
First let’s answer “What is wheel truing?”
Truing a wheel = Making a wheel into a perfect circle in relationship to the axle centerline. So by controlling the length of the spokes (by loosening or tightening the spoke nipple) you can control to roundness of the wheel. Spokes coming from the right side hub flange pull the rim to the right. Spokes coming from the left side hub flange pull the rim to the left. Spokes attached at the rim are then offset in a left-right-left-right pattern to counter the pull of the other side. Having all the spokes tight with fairly even tension makes the wheel true and strong. Changes to spoke tension will pull on the rim and affect its true.
Helpful Hint: We don’t get into spoke tension within this article. If you followed the wheel lacing article from last month (October 2016) the spokes should be close to the same tension. These are cruiser wheels and measuring the spoke tension though a good idea isn’t necessary. You can tell if all the spoke’s tension is close to each other by placing the wheel in the truing stand and picking each spoke like a guitar string. All the spokes should have roughly the same tune. If one is acoustically deeper that the others than that spoke is loose compared to the others. Isn’t science grand?
· Spoke wrench to fit the nipples
o The SW-0 (black handle) 3.22mm (0.127”)
o The SW-1 (green handle) 3.3mm /80 ga./.130 nipple
o The SW-2 (red handle) 3.45mm /80 ga./.136 nipple
o The SW-3 (blue handle) 3.96mm /105 ga./.156 nipple
· Wheel Truing Stand: We are using the Minoura Pro-2 Truing Stand that was just sent to us and are also reviewing how it works. If you do not have a truing stand there are several DIY videos online showing you how to make one.
· Liquid Lubricant
There are two basic aspects to wheel truing:
· Lateral True: Making the wheel flat to the perpendicularity of the axle centerline….otherwise known as taking the side to side wobble out.
· Radial True: Making the wheel dimension measured from the axle centerline to the end on the hoop. Otherwise known as taking the up and down
Note: There are two other aspects to wheel truing that are meant for more racing wheels and not so much cruiser wheels that will not be covered. Dish: refers to centering the rim in the frame. Tension: Simply the tightness of the spokes.
Lateral True Procedure
We are going to use the wheel we built for last month’s wheel lacing tech feature (October 2016) and start with getting the wheel Laterally True:
1. Remove the tire, tube and rim strip from the wheel. You do NOT need to do this if you are ONLY going to laterally true the wheel. We are going too laterally and radially true the wheel so we removed these items.
2. Mount the wheel into the truing stand with the right side of the wheel to the right side of the truing stand per the truing stand’s instructions.
3. Lubricate the spoke threads and where the nipple is seated against the frame.
4. Move the truing stand calipers to the mid-point of the hoop’s sidewall.
5. Rotate the wheel slowly and tighten the caliper slightly after each full wheel rotation until it lightly scrapes the rim. This would be the high spot of your wheels wobble.
6. Rotate the wheel back and forth until you find the center of the wobble.
7. If the rim wobble is moving toward the indicator, this section of rim needs to move away from caliper.
· If rim touches left side caliper, find closest nipple to center of the wobble coming from right side of hub flange.
· If rim touches right side caliper, find closest nipple to center of the wobble coming from left side of hub flange.
8. Tighten this nipple 1/2 turn.
9. Move wheel back and forth in this area and check the rim vs caliper distance again.
10. Repeat Step 5 again until the truing stand calipers are less than 1.0mm (1/16”) from the hoop surface. At this point the wheel is adequately trued.
Radially True Procedure
Now that the wheel is laterally true we will make sure it is radially true. We always true a wheel laterally before radially. Truing a wheel radially has much less effect on the lateral trueness.
Note: Any rotation of the nipples will change the trueness of the wheel. Check for trueness of the other after completing trueness for one. The key is to get both of them as close to true as possible.
1. Remove the wheel from bike (with tire, tube and rim strip removed) and mount it in a truing stand.
2. Adjust calipers as shown slowly while the wheel is spinning until there is a very light rub. This is the high spot.
3. Move rim back and forth through the rub and locate center of high spot. This section of rim is further from the hub than the rest of the rim (high spot). It needs to move closer to hub.
4. Tighten the two spokes (left and right) in the middle of the high spot ½ turn.
5. Move the rim back and forth through the high spot again. Repeat tightening if necessary.
6. Spin the rim and move the calipers slightly closer to the rim. Correct rub by tightening a left-right pair at the center of the rub.
7. After making three radial corrections, stop and double check lateral true. Correct lateral true as needed.
Note: After making several radial high spot corrections by tightening nipples, the rim may show small low spots. We usually say that if a majority of the wheel is radially true after steps 1 through 7 the remaining will be trued by loosening these area to make the rim rounder.
8. Spin the rim and move caliper for a light continuous scrape. The area not scraping are low spots and need to move away from the hub to be corrected. Find the center of the low spot. Loosen two spoke, left and right, on either side of the center of the low spot ½ turn.
9. Repeat procedure on other low spots. A wheel is adequately trued for round when the deviation from the low spot to the highest spot is about 1/32 of an inch (about 0.5mm).
After adjusting any nipples on a wheel assembly it is wise to give all the offset spokes a squeeze to remove tension from the wheel. It flexes the spoke and allows them to reseat where they are most comfortable. You should hear small pings and squeaks when you do it.
Outlaw Bicycle Club 2017 Release Date
The moment many have been waiting for hit in the early evening hours last weekend. The show runners of OBC, North America’s largest custom bicycle party. This year’s event will be from April 19th through the 24th and located once again at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Nugget is located in downtown Las Vegas and is the hub of all OBC events. call: 800-331-5731. Please state you are booking with the OBC Early Bird 2017 code GSEBOBC to receive the group rate.
You can direct link to book the Golden Nugget or give them a call at 1-800-331-5731. Tell them that you are booking with the OBC Early Bird 2017 code “GSEBOBC” to receive the group rate. Early Bird Rates are Valid through December 23, 2016. Taxes, Resort Fees etc. are not included.
You might want to purchase that reservation bag early as well. Go to www.rideobc.ocm to do that.
We have covered this party for the last two years and now that the dates are out there you might want to buy plane tickets and tell your boss you need the time off. Kustomized Bicycle Magazine will see you there. Early Bird Rates Valid through December 23, 2016! Taxes, resort fess, etc. not included
April 18, 19, 20 $47 per night
April 21, 22 $97 per night
April 23, 24 $47