Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Jay's Bike Check - An Old Schooler In The Land Of 2017

I'm back into flatland..and I'm riding my first bike that was made in the 21st century. It's taken an entire winter of acquiring parts and tweaking to get it completely dialed in. I have a few more small changes to make before it's finished. I get used to parts and the way a bike rides and I don't like changing things once I've got a bike in "the zone". I won't be touching anything until something needs replacing once it's finished.

Every single part on this bike was picked for a purpose and a reason. Not one single piece was used because it was lying on a shelf in the garage or the only one I had. I need it to be perfect for me. One of the best things about getting back into riding at an older age is that I have the patience to dial-in my bike regardless of the time it takes. When I was 16, I was good at working on my ride..but I wanted to ride and get moving as quickly as possible. So my bike was never dialed all the time like it should have been.

I'm going to use this post as sort of a diary to keep track of what transformations it's gone through since it's creation. When I got the frame, it was powdercoated purple like an '87 era GT Performer. Not my style. So I stripped it down to the metal and hit it with a gray I picked out.

I've been building this bike October 2016. I got the frame and fork just before Halloween. I obsessively picked out everything over the winter months and it sits ride-ready at the end of Fedruary 2017.

The Parts List

























The best advice I can give anyone from my years of riding is to absolutely quit paying attention to what other parts people are riding. Pay zero attention to what parts are cool and buy things strictly based on your riding, the geometry and what you need. Don't try to get used to a part you don't really like because it's the cool part to have at the moment. It will only hurt your riding. Cavemen like to say parts, weight, geometry, etc. doesn't make a difference..and they're kind of right. It doesn't make difference. It makes a HUGE difference. I don't like the looks or aesthetics of some of the stuff I'm riding. I don't like the way my bars pushed forward look. However, my riding has jumped leaps and bounds since I tweaked my bike in a way that allows me to ride best. Following the group of herd mentality riders will just hurt you and your riding in the end.

Ride on.

I have keywords. They are - old school bmx flatland haro master bashguard schwinn yo scooter afa hoffman strowler dyno detour d-tour compe street craig grasso st. martin old man 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

BMX - OLD SCHOOL vs. NEW SCHOOL – The Undeniable Difference

I started out on a Mongoose Californian that had been converted into a freestyle bike. Back in the day, that meant pegs, an ACS rotor, a Potts Mod, a laid back seat post, freestyle friendly tires and ditching the BMX pad set. I rode flatland on my bike like that for 1.5 years. In 1986, I got my first freestyle specific bike – an SE Trickmaster. The SE didn't stay in my life very long. In 87, I got a Haro Master and fell in love with Haros. I rode the 87 Master up until they released the 1989 Haro “Bashguard” Team Master. I ordered one from Trend Bike Source as soon as I could and still own the bike to this day. I rode the 89 Master up until I fell out of riding. And during my brief stints back into BMX during the 90's and early 2000's, I stayed with the Master.

It wasn't until I started riding again in 2013 that I decided I wanted a bike without a bashguard for flatland and general riding. I wanted it old or mid school at the time so I picked up a 1999 Haro Zippo from a guy on Craigslist. I drove a couple hours to get it because of the condition and the price. I scored a $50 Revo from another guy while I was there that was in immaculate shape as well. I ended up selling the Revo and making all my money back. I changed a lot of parts on the Zippo and set up a pretty fun bike. But there were issues. Not only with the Zippo...but with old / mid school bikes in general.

Back in the day, I never understood why freestyle bikes kept such long rear ends. The frames weren't much shorter than racing frames..if at all. 15 and 16 inch chainstays ensured that the bike wanted to stay with its wheels on the ground. It was a lot of work back in the day to yank those 30+ pound bikes around. And with the geometry as it was, it was like adding another 10 virtual pounds to the bike. The 99 Zippo, even lightened up, was around 30 pounds..as was the 89 Master. The Zippo wanted it's front end on the ground even more than the Master and it was really frustrating to me that the industry hadn't figured out that chainstays needed to be shortened...even in 1999 when BMX was exploding. How could they overlook this? The vision I had in my head for freestyle bikes in the late 80's and right up until someone actually started producing them was almost identical to the St. Martin “Ten” and St. Martin “Diamond” frames. Very low top tubes that flow right into the seat stays, very short rear ends and short top tubes. The St. Martin “Ten” frame was so close to the designs I've had in my head since the 80's, it was almost freaky.

I wanted to ride a new school bike so bad but I couldn't afford it. It just wasn't in the cards. My old friend John had moved to San Diego and was riding new school bikes and progressing. He still is. I think it's awesome that people are riding and moving forward rather than just collecting old shit. We talked a lot via text and in October of 2016, he changed my world by sending me an Odyssey zero offset Flatware fork, a St. Martin X26 stem and arranging for me to pick up a 2011 Hoffman Strowler frame that he had scored cheap from a friend / local rider here in Detroit. Within a week, I was building a bike that actually had the geometry I had always thought about. After sourcing all the small parts I needed and spending almost a week building and dialing the bike in, I finally got to ride a bike that should have existed in 1989 or 1990. Not only was the bike 8 or more pounds lighter than my previous bikes, the real difference is that you are actually in control of a new school flatland bike. The feel, the snap, the ability to pull the front end straight up with little effort is exactly like I envisioned it. Even if these new bikes were 30 pounds, they would feel much lighter due to the geometry. It took until October of 2016 for me to be riding a bike from the 21st Century and I won't go back. I still love working on and cruising on my old Haros..but trying to progress, especially in flatland, is strictly ghetto on an old / mid school bike.

Geometry aside, integrated headsets are extremely smooth. Having sealed bearings everywhere is unreal. Hell, I even have sealed bearings in my Demolition brakes. Gearing is better and can actually be customized instead of every single company making a 43 or 44 tooth chainring. This is a great time for someone who likes to try different shit. I'm running a 33 tooth chainring on a typical freewheel and it's fun as hell for flatland. I'm sure I'll go to full-on micro gearing at some point..but I'm having fun trying all kinds of shit. Freestyle means you're suppose to do whatever you want. Not just how you ride, but how you setup your bike.

Odyssey has not only survived since I was a kid, they're still revolutionizing shit to this day. My flatware fork is a work of art. And the zero offset reminds me of my Mongoose Californian forks from way back in the day. In fact, it took me forever to get used to forks with offset when I switched to a “freestyle” bike. It feels great to be running zero offset again..and it's the same geometry I originally learned on.Compression bolts that allow you to work on the headset without removing the front brake cable. Odyssey has and always will understand simplicity as well. Look at the ridiculously simple Springfield Brake. I don't run them but it goes to show where they are coming from.

The Hoffman Strowler frame is almost perfect. From what I came from, I'm in awe of the design. It's a light, simple, flatland frame with style in a world full of generic looking frames..and the geometry is magical. I'm hoping to score a St. Martin Diamond 'Ten' or other 12” chainstay frame in the future. But the Strowler is so awesome, I can't see me getting rid of it. Ever.

If you're an old school rider getting back into it, don't bother messing with old / midschool setups. It might take some time to get used to the aesthetics and the feel of new school bikes..but it's well worth it. Once you adapt, trying tricks on your old school bike will feel like you're trying to ride flatland on a Schwinn Stingray. The front ends are much stiffer, you don't have parts like headsets coming loose all the time and the main thing that this blog focuses on - Geometry, geometry geometry.

Thanks to John Rodriquez for expanding my horizons.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

HARO ZIPPO - conFUSION and Disinformation

I've read a lot of things about Haro Zippos...from people, from bike spec sites and from Haro themselves. Turns out a lot of it isn't true. Some facts that might make you dig your Zippo a little more.
Spec sites claim Zippos are Chromoly main triangle with hi-ten rear stays. Impossible. The twin top tube design turns into the seat stay...making it 4130 chromo...just like the sticker on the seat tube says. I really don't believe the Zippo frame has a piece of hi-ten on it. If someone can prove they tried to save money by using hi-ten chainstays, I'm all ears. It just seems ridiculous that they would cut corners for two pieces of steel. When you think about it, it almost seems like more of a production hassle.

My '99 Zippo has fork stickers that state, "hi-ten straight shooter fork"..but when I disassembled my bike earlier this morning, I came across "98 04" and "cr-mo"..Haro possibly ran out of hi-ten forks and started using straight shooters from another model..but the forks are chromoly. Either way, I switched to a Haro fork with 990 mounts...but if your considering switching to a chromoly fork, check your forks first. Pics to boot.

The fork is isn't too heavy for a mid-school, beefy ass fork. 2 LBS 11.4 OZ. ...Light forks being advertised these days range from 32 OZ. (2 LB) to 34 OZ. For as big as this fork is with it's mega-dropouts, it still only has 6-8 more meat on it than "light" forks. If you watch your other parts, it isn't an issue at all. If someone has another hi-ten Straight shooter fork and has a digital scale, it would be cool if you could weigh it to compare a fork not stamped cr-mo with an actual hi-ten fork.
April 1998 - 4130 Chromoly
Lots of bike spec sites claim the Zippo came with Araya HP-7X or Araya 707x wheels. I have yet to see one. Only the 97 models came with Araya wheels. The 98/ 99 Zippo came with Haro RC3 48 hole wheels with either standard hubs or Haro Fat / Mega hubs. It's possible that Araya wheels were the intended wheels when the spec sheets were made and this changed during actual production. It's also possible that this information was inaccurately typed into a database and then circulated from there. Either way, Haro RC3 wheels were the 48 spoke wheels that came on both the 1999 Zippo and 98/99 Revo twin top tube bikes.

we have keywords. they are - Bmx freestyle old school flatland twin top tube double master sport zippo revo haro fusion bashguard street riding riders rider freestylin specs tech chainstays

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Haro - Midschool Zippo and Revo Differences

Last October, I picked up a '99 Haro Zippo and a '98 Revo...both from Cleveland. Before I sold the Revo, I went through both bikes and noted every difference possible for academic and educational purposes.


ZIPPO – ZI-L9D2676 (blue) 1999
REVO - KH8B1281 (red) 1998

Both have Haro logo cut out (the one between top tubes)
Revo has brake guide under top tube.
Zippo has 990 mounts and cable guides on downtube.
Zippo is 4130 Chromoly
Revo is HiTen
Zippo Has sharp angles on twin top tube.
Zippo rear dropouts are different than Revo.  Zippo has rounded / teardrop bottom that follows a peg.
Revo dropouts are less obvious and more conservative. Sharp angles below chain stays.
Emblem behind bottom bracket is welded on top of the chainstays on the Revo and in the middle of the chainstays on the Zippo.
Revo has two moisture holes on the twin top tubes directly behind the head tube.

1999 ZIPPO

4130 Chromoly.
Haro logo is cut out between top tubes.
Has 990 mounts on chainstays.
Brake cable guides on downtube.
Haro emblem between chainstays sits in the middle of chain stay tubes rather than welded on top.
Twin top tube bends are sharper than Revo.
Rear dropouts have rounded teardrop on bottom end.

1998 REVO

1024 Steel
Brake cable guide on top tube
No 990 mounts.
Haro logo is cut out between top tubes.
top tube bends are smoother on Revo. Zippo bends are sharper.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Schwinn Yo Scooter - Things You Might Not Know

I've been riding them since the 80's. Having a few in my possession, I decided to examine the difference that exists between base models. Excluding the 14" "Yo Deluxe" that I never rode, there are some big differences between years on even these "base" models. In frame measurements, geometry and more. No offense to the 14" Deluxe but I just never saw the need for a 14" front wheel. I've also noticed that the head tube angle on the Deluxe looks much steeper than the standard Yo. I'd like to see one in person again to verify. Either way, I never had much use for the Deluxe. 

Test subjects -
Schwinn Yo with standard deck / kickplate. serial number - GT719002

My original Schwinn Yo with standard frame. Serial number - G6003746

Schwinn Yo with wider, reinforced deck and kickplate. Serial number - GV711374

I've been beating on the black Yo for years. The other two were purchased online from a bmx forum back in 2000 from a guy in Pennsylvania (I think). They were bought complete but are tore down right now. 

Giant made them for Schwinn. Under the scooters frame, Giant put their own stickers on them with sub serial numbers written in pen. The actual serial numbers stamped into the frames start with "G" that represents Giant. In the pic to the left, the numbers written in pen are still visible. But barely. 

Here are two 12" Yo Scooters. The left is the standard Yo before the wider, reinforced kickplate. The right is the wider kickplate Yo. Both 12" scooters. However, the fork is significantly longer on the "updated" Yo. 

Not only is the fork on the updated Yo longer but the fork width is wider. The older Yo's inner width is 3", where the updated Yo's width is 3 3/16" wide. 

The frames are very similar but have some differences. Clearly, the longer fork on the wide-deck Yo is going to slacken the steering a bit. My theory is that is may possibly make it loopier as well. The wide-deck Yo is significantly heavier than the standard deck. I have yet to weight them but I'll report my findings soon for you handful or misfits that still dig these things. 

The standard deck Yo has a brake cable "in" on the right frame "up" tube and then an "out" near the rear of the deck that would lead to a typical, old school BMX brake. The wide deck Yo has the brake cable "in" at the same spot but the "out" is placed underneath the front of the deck that leads to a cable route accommodating the center pull brake they added. However, I've always rode brakeless on these like new school BMX riders so it had zero affect on me. 

The rear brake mounts are completely different and put in completely different spots on the frame. Most likely to accommodate the short-arm, center pull brakes that came with it. You can also see the wide-deck reinforcement..which doesn't account for the mysterious weight issue. Again, the wide-deck Yo is noticeably heavier just by picking up each frame. They are both 4130 Chromoly so steel isn't the issue. Notice that both the dropouts on the frame and fork are zero offset. Also, the two blocks that are part of the frame which the decks bolt to (you can see the rear one on each in this pic) hide the deck bolts from being trashed unlike most of the 80's scooters made.  

The frame's "donut" design were one of the only ones out there that allowed a scooter to last more than a month or two. Those with the typical 80's design like the Mongoose Miniscoot would continually bend from hardcore riding to the point where the bottom of the frame would be dragging on the ground. It would start out by hearing and feeling the frame hitting cement or wood on landings and then eventually dragging to the point where it was un-ridable. In fact, the Yo's design had such little give that the main, rear downtube will always crack off the bottom of the frame if you're riding hard. Also note that I'm not a big guy. A simple re-weld will fix it for a year or so
. You really didn't even need to do anything. I rode one with a cracked frame for a few years until I got tired of the noise the frame made on landings and decided to weld it. It's the black one I have now and is completely trust worthy to this day. 

After a while of riding, the bottom of the frames will flatten out. The tubing will
actually go flat without cracking...and astonishingly, making it easier to rail slide, grind or do whatever. I've considered modifying underneath the frame but have yet to do so. I've done a lot of experimentation with these things. I rode street and ramp with them mainly so I've cut down aluminum pegs for the front, fabricated steel decks, fabricated kick plates and just about anything else. I have a few plans now that I've eliminated the kick plate completely. I plan to cover about half of the back wheel and design an integrated aluminum deck. Which is one of the reasons I don't ride the wide-deck with the kick reinforcement. I would actually have to cut the reinforcement off the frame to use it..which would just kinda' be sacrilege. 

The frames are practically indestructable and bulletproof. The wheels aren't. I've broken more mags than I can count. Seriously. The mag spokes tend to snap off right at the rim. I solved this by snagging some 12.5" Skyway Tuff Wheels. Haven't had an issue since. I have literally beat the shit out of them and nothing. They still even look new. While we're on the subject of parts, the stem and bars are strange. The stem puts the bars in a weird position and the bars are awkward with uncomfortable sweep. As far as BMX bikes go, I always rode a Haro Master. I solved this by throwing on a Dyno stem that brought the bar height down a little and throwing on a pair of cut Haro Kneesaver bars. Simple and to the point. It's completely comfortable for someone 5 8" - 5' 9" to ride. You can raise the stem without the weirdness of the Yo's original tall stem height paired with the Schwinn's low bar height. It was just a weird combination and doesn't feel right to me. 

The indestructible Skyway 12.5" mags. Get them. They're cheap. I picked mine up a long time ago..but only paid about 25 bucks for them new. The wheels roll forever..and contrary to things I've read, you can throw them right on. You don't need to buy mags made for a Schwinn scooter (I've read this somewhere and it simply isn't true). The 14" Yo may have this issue but again, someone else will have to chime in on this. 

The current setup goes like this - 

87 Schwinn Yo Frame/Fork

Dyno stem

Haro Kneesavers (cut to 25")

87 Haro headset / cups

Primo grips

Skyway Tuff Wheels

Some tires I hadn't used off other scoots. 

Kickplate delete by fabricating plastic / lightweight deck and covered in grip tape. This gives bigger than kid size riders a lot more room. You get used to it very quickly. Besides, any hardcore riding will snap the kick right off the deck anyway and someone could use it. 

I'll keep adding to this as time goes on. Have fun. Build bikes. Build scooters.