Suppose you went out tomorrow and bought a brand new car, suppose for some crazy reason you bought a Ford. On the front and back it would say “Ford” and even the middle of the wheels would probably proclaim their Fordiness. If you looked under the bonnet you would probably see a big “Ford” cast into the rocker cover, and if you took the air filter out you might see some long ass product code and the word Ford. With the possible exception of the tyres every part of the car would have been specified and designed by Ford for that car and as a result it will all fit nicely together first go.
Gearing (again). Well it’s been nearly a year since the first article I wrote on gearing and a lot has happened since then. Everything that the previous article covered still holds true and I wont be going over the same ground again. “Thank fuck.” I hear you cry, “That previous gearing article was dull as ditch water that a tramp has pissed in”. Well don’t get too excited because this one will probably push the tedium to new levels. It’s hard to say till I write it so lets wait and see what happens eh?
A BMX, like any other bicycle, has two wheels. You sit in-between them and point the front one the way you want to go. All the time that you are sitting (or standing) on it you are pressing down between the two wheels trying to snap it in half. As BMX’ers we then try that little bit harder to snap it in half by dropping on it from a height, crashing it into things and falling off it. Quite often somebody manages it and the front end tears away from the rest. Maybe the down-tube slowly cracks through at the bottom and then tears clean through in one go. If strength was the only consideration maybe we would think about fixing the wheels together more directly, run a big beam from the front wheel to the back and call it a day? Unfortunately we need to be able to point the front wheel the way we want to go so that isn’t practical.
Instead we have two big bits of bike: the front wheel, forks bars and stem; which we can point wherever we like; and the back end which follows along. Joining these two bits together is one of those bike parts that people never seem to give much thought to; the headset.
Well it seems winter is here. It hasn’t dried up properly in weeks, and with only 25 minutes of daylight a day its unlikely to dry up anytime soon.
Indoor parks are one of the best refuges from the weather but they come with strings attached. With shady lawyers salivating over the cash they can make from suing anyone and everyone for the slightest injury, lots of parks have been forced to bring in rules about brakes. Brakes can be a pain in the arse. They add a couple of pounds to the weight of your bike and can give you more trouble than any other part. So to ease the pain I thought I would try to write down a few hard learned tricks to perfecting them.
Over the years there have been some pretty wacky frame designs. Hutch, for example, used to make a frame called the Trickstar. This was loved by a lot of riders of the day, especially flatlanders, for its super steep head angle and abundance of scuffing room. The scuffing room came at the expense of strength at the weird head tube junction. Hutch obviously decided that it was still way too strong and went on to produce the Trickstar II, which had a specially weakened rear triangle to match. The rear triangle also helped to make the Mk 2 look like a wheel barrow (not just any wheel barrow mind, an UGLY wheel barrow) and that was that for Hutch.
I seriously thought people would be sick of this technical column by now, but it seems not. I always aimed for it to have a little useful information in each, presented in a reasonably entertaining way. Unfortunately they were tedious beyond measure and I am genuinely surprised that no one has told me to shut up yet. Since nobody has, this months will break new ground with its tedium. If anyone has any requests for future ones (assuming this one doesn’t finish the whole idea off) then I would be interested to hear from you…
Gearing used to be simple, “back in the day” (don’t you just love cliches?) it was 44-16, 43-16 or NOWT. These days we have a whole load more to choose from and yet there is very little information available to help you choose the right set-up. The following is intended to help guide you through the options but fairly obviously this is going to make it very very dull. There isn’t really a lot I can do to soften the tedium I am afraid, so I can only suggest that you stop reading right now and save this bit for your next bout of insomnia. If you really need to know what the deal is right now then by all means read on, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Throughout this deluge of tedious odure I will make use of imperial measurements, feet and inches. You may think that we are metricated, but go for a quick ride on your 20” with its ½” (half inch) pitch chain and 2.1” wide tyres for a few miles and then come back and shut up.So, lets dive straight in with the very very basic principals so we all start from the same place.
BMX is a great big multi headed hydra of a beast. Rearing up on ugly great legs with lots of heads to snap at you and lots of tails to whack you round the face as you try to retrieve the golden fleece of freestyle…
OK, maybe not, I never was very good with metaphors; what I was working up to in my very laboured way, is that there are many, many strands to BMX these days. We have magazines, videos and websites; street, dirt, park, ramps and flat; there are multi-million dollar training camps and skateparks; shoes and clothes. Most of these get their fair share of coverage but what about the actual bike you ride? It has never been very “cool” to spend too much time thinking about your bike but surely it is crucial to your daily ride? None of us would like to go back to the bikes of the ‘80s, at least not for serious riding. Can you see Stephen Murray doing a double back-flip on a super-burner? Technology has come on a fair bit in 20 years but we had to dodge some bullets in there too. Answer suspension forks anyone? As long as BMX is big, and lets face it, it IS big now, there will be a businessman seeing a profit to be made. Just because a businessman is also a rider doesn’t mean that everything they say should be taken as gospel. The aim of this column is to discuss some new and coming innovations that may be on your next bike, and to see if they are genuine improvement or a marketing gimmick. I say discuss because there are two sides to every argument, as far as possible I will try to present the case for and against with balance. But bear in mind that I am just another rider trying to screw a few quid out of the kids…..