It has been a little more than a week since I had the idea of building a budget old school style BMX bike. I am one of those guys that when I start a project (that I care about, damn AAD), I get super ambitious and run with it.
Here is the progress I have made up to today:
This is how she sits today! Just waiting on the tires and cranks to show up and I am in the money. I am keeping the cassette with a chain tensioner. It was a cheaper option then a new wheel with a free wheel.
What do you think?
It is either a curse or a blessing, but when I get started with a cool project I kind of go full speed ahead.
Welcome to day two of my ‘build a fun BMX bike like I did in 1979’, cool, cheap and modified to my taste.
Yesterday I presented to you a piece of shit, cheap GT bike I found at a local secondhand shop. The grand total price of the bike was a whopping 40 bucks! Honestly, a bit much, but it was complete and had good bones. The first rule to remember when you are taking on a task like this is to make sure you really have something to work with. Now the bike is back at my shop and let the dismantling begin.
What you want to do is have a clean bench and all the tools you need. ( I also buy a bunch of baggies of different sizes just to keep the parts in order). As you can see, I went full on, this is 40 minutes into it:
Secondly, I went to my local bike shop where it is important to know people that work there. I went in smiling and asking for used and discarded BMX parts. Remember, the goal is to do this on the cheap, like a rat kid would do. So I went looking for bars, forks and a gooseneck. The boys hooked me up. Most (all) bicycle shops have a room or shed that they keep a inventory of old bikes, some they want to keep and some to cannibalize. My shop has a great selection, piles and piles of every part imaginable, sweet.
So with a bit of digging, I found the bars and a neck (plus another set of bars and some Cook Brothers forks that will make it on a later project), but the best part was the price. I got all of this for the total price of $5 dollars. I am sooo right on budget. Here is a pic;
Next thing was to get the cranks taken off the bike. I think this bike was left outside so the bottom bracket was a bit rusty and the bolts were seized, here goes another trip to the bike shop. With the frame in hand, I walk into a shop right down the road from my shop and asked if they “could help me out?” As most bike guys I know, most shops guys are decent and some are total dicks, these guys were awesome! It took some effort to get the crank off but with the help off a breaker bar, the arm came right off all for the price of $5 dollars again! That’s the good news…Bad news is, the bottom bracket is there to stay. It turns well but is locked in with a broken lockset, it’s in the bottom bracket for good. But thats ok, I can make it work and it also stops me from going to deep into restoration and keep it a fun project.
Now i’m back at the shop, I first separate the keeper parts form the junk. Here is the junk:
Then I get to work.
I grind off all the cable tabs that were for the shifters, remember, keeping it basic. I sand and prep everything for paint. Speaking of paint, I had extra primer, great automotive paint and clear coat leftover from another art project i did earlier this month, so that means no extra cost! a couple of hours of grinding and sanding, I get things primed;
It amazes me how fast things can go when you enjoy the work, it is very reminiscent of my working habits as a kid in my makeshift workshop in the basement and I only spent $10 dollars!
I wrap things up and head home and let the primer dry.
Next up is wheel restoration and or switch out.
In 1976, I was the ripe age 13. I was a punk, I knew everything and I loved my bike more than live itself. it is a fact that 6 hours a day, i would spend constructing and jumping off of homemade ramps, building dirt berms and whoopdee-do’s in the field across the street from my house. I’m not including the hours spent taking apart my prized possession, my bike, lubing the headset, changing the sprockets always looking for any advantage i could get out of the gate at the races. I raced every Sunday, I was a BMX racer. The fact is, I wasn’t the best but I was far from the worse. I was ranked, had lots of trophies, I loved those days. A raced semi-pro, meaning that i raced for a local shop and had small perks with bicycle companies. It was the best.
What was also the best, it was cheap. You took whatever bike you had and you made it a BMX bike. You upgraded when you could and invented tech at will. Remember, this is the days of Shimano kick-back hub brakes and banana seats. Fantastic.
I’m not writing this post as a history lesson of vintage BMX or a “those were the days” remembrances…I writing this as a visual project; a project I am very excited to do…
I am going to build a homage to the bikes I loved from back in the day, but the twist is, I’m not going to build a bike from carefully sourced, NOS parts from a diehard collectors, I going to build a bike from cheap found parts and home mods that made the BMX bikes that I loved. They weren’t $1500 engineered ultra light bikes made with titanium, we made our bikes lighter by drilling holes in things, that is what I intend to do with this project.
The foundation of this project is what appears to be a low to mid-range GT that i bought at a second/third/twelfth hand store for $40 bucks. I know that isn’t the cheapest but i figured that with inflation it was equal to $15 bucks give and take in 1978. Here is the victim below:
As you can see, it is a piece o’ shit (the picture really did do it justice), this thing is rough. It is beat to hell, flat tires, rusty everything, great frame and good wheels, perfect for this project. It is just like a bike a eager 13 year old would picked up.
Here is another take of this ratty sweetness.
My God! Look at that gooseneck! Ridiculous.
Also take note of the color of the chainrings and hubs…Rustilicious. I am also considering if I need to keep the adorable reflector? We will see.
So, Dear readers of this ‘to be continued’ blog, I hope you are as interested in this project as I am. I will be making step by step entries with the end result being a “totally gnarly”, “I want to ride that bitch” retro tribute to my first love and girlfriend, BMX.
I just returned from The Underground Music Showcase in Denver, Colorado, and what a treat it was. What seemed to feel like a million band choices in this three day event turned out to be pretty easy to navigate. All the music was great.
While wandering around with just the right amount of beer in us, we walked into a basic storefront of the typical hipster “curiosity” shop selling whatever feels or looks ironic. Much to my surprise, something really cool was taking place; a pop up “make your own record” studio was set up in a little room in the back of the shop. It became the one off, must do thing for the musicians at UMS.
When we were there, a young girl was getting ready to make her vinyl. She sat in a little room, more like a broom closet, with vintage microphones and headphone ready to croon her song with her haunting voice, and she did just that. We were hanging out with the tech guy and the artist friends. It had such a great ‘Oh Brother,Where Art Thou’ feel, I got super excited.
Here are a couple of photos (photos by Glenn Smith) of the guy, the machine and vibe of the day…
I hope you enjoy these photos!