Wednesday, May 24, 2017


I done got me a BMX bike.

It all started last summer when, I can't even remember why or now, I suddenly found myself watching videos by Adam LZ. I think it was due to his affiliation with the car community as well, and I just so happened to discover how extremely interesting and fun it was to watch him and his friends ride BMX. I also have to credit his videography and presentation skills. After thinking about it for the entire summer and completely missing my window of warm weather, I bought this Mongoose Data x2.2 with a free coaster hub in the late fall for $100 and had it shipped to my door. It was the first bike of any kind that I have ever bought brand new. I knew fully well that it was going to be heavy and not very good, but I figured for something that I may or may not stick with, it was an okay choice. I also saw somewhere that the weight of the bike, while important, is not absolutely everything when it comes to getting the hang of basic tricks like manuals or reverse bunny hops.

Unlike many cyclists who have reservations about "other" types of riding, such as roadies who frown upon BMX and mountain biking, or utility cyclists who dislike "fixie hipsters," I seem to find it hard to say bad things about people who enjoy the same hobby a different way, just as long as they're not putting themselves and others in danger, to a certain degree (read: people who blow red lights in traffic). I think that's what made me, as a car guy, so quick to get into bikes four years ago, and now as a utility rider, so willing to try other forms of biking when money allows.

Due to US regulations, the bike came with reflectors front and rear and on the wheels, a kickstand, and a chain guard, which I stripped off immediately and didn't even get photos of. Later on, I gave it a different seat off an old road bike and removed the rear U brake and detangler. However clever it was, the whole braking system really did not do much, and being a vintage Raleigh enthusiast, that really is saying something. I replaced the detangler with some 1" headset spacers left over from the Pake project.

I thought the decals were kind of fashionable, if not good-looking. Minimal but not plain. Maybe a bit cliche, too fashionable. I find it funny that there was a decal that advertised its hi-tensile steel construction, which Raleigh stopped advertising 50 years ago at which point it was already quite far behind. Anyway, I rode it like this for a few months, taking advice from youtube videos and not getting very much better. My friend (on a full-size bike) and I went to the dirt jumps in the park to try to speed the process.

Soon enough, the winter came and school got all the more busy and I stopped trying for a while. However, I noticed that my feet kept slipping off the stock pedals whenever I tried to do anything. I also remembered that most of the pedals I'e used on my commuter bikes, when I didn't use old rubber block pedals, were actually very toothy BMX pedals. Around the time I decided on a color scheme for this bike, I also bought gold VP retro styled BMX pedals. I know they'll get dented up in the future but it's not a huge worry for me since it won't affect traction.

Ever the "more-mechanic-than-rider" kind of person, even though I still ride a crap ton in general, I stripped, repainted, and rebuilt the BMX bike last week before I even got much practice in. I decided on Duplicolor Ford Amazon Green, the same color of my old Sable wagon. I painted it one night in the balcony, in relative darkness because I was tired of waiting any longer. I had managed to get the metallic paint job to look pretty even despite the blind shot. I also added a "damson" decal because the person I ordered from gave me too big of a size and I was determined not to let them go to waste. Lastly, I installed the Retrospec wide urban saddle that came off my friend's totaled Peugeot as well as the swan handlebar grips, removed from my Twenty after its first iteration.

To pay homage to Adam LZ for getting me started, I added his "send it" sticker where a head badge would usually be. I'm still uncomfortable riding without any brakes, so I left the front brake intact, with its cable routed through the steerer. I can't even do bar spins so I don't know why I didn't just route it outside.

Anyway, we'll see where this goes. I'm not too intent on learning any complicated tricks at the moment; I just like the thought of flying off jumps and being in the air. Maybe mountain bikes are more appropriate for me but seeing that it wasn't much of an upfront investment, I'll try this out first.