My Yamaha Moto-Bike, circa 74?

My Yamaha Moto-Bike, circa 74?

Joe Kid on a Moto-Bike

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Never forget your roots, they say… OK, I’m a child of the 70’s, and back then bicycles were as big a part of my life as they are today. We’d always be out riding, building tracks and jumps, and tinkering with our Dragsters, stripping them down to emulate our motocross heroes, with varying results.

All these memories came flooding back on the weekend when I watched Joe Kid on a Stingray, a documentary on the history of BMX. What a great film. It was like looking into my own childhood. The bikes, the riders, the bad hair, it was my life right there on the big screen. Even if you weren’t around in the 70s, or have never ridden a BMX bike, this film is really worth checking out. No hi-tech equipment, no extreme attitudes, just kids riding their bikes and having a blast. Exactly how it should be.

And it seems those guys in the movie weren’t the only ones guilty of shocking 70s fashion crimes, and here’s the awful proof.

bkdragster

Actually, I think I’m lookin’ pretty damn sharp there. Check out those oh-so-tight shorts, matched beautifully with the white and brown floral motif shirt, complemented by the floral motif sissy-bar pad. Look how much bling is adorning my ride though… chrome fenders and chainguard, triple-barrel air horn, 3-speed stick-shift, twin headlights (dunno why I needed those, would never have been riding at night!), chrome front rack, whitewall tyres and white brake and gear cable housing. At one stage I was flying a Jolly Roger flag on the back, too! Then it all got stripped down to nothing, re-sprayed, and thrashed till it died.

Then in about 74 or 75, along came the Yamaha MotoBike. Pimpin, bitchin, stylin! But still I’d tinker with it. I was trying to extract more travel from the twin shocks at the rear by crudely adding those aluminium struts between the top shock mounts and the frame. I think they were probably from some window frames or something, as my dad was in that game at the time. How I never died riding it in that configuration I’ll never know.  The fork ‘boots’ were some old plastic piping I found up at the old dump where we used to ride, and I mustn’t have had enough to make two the right length, judging by the pic. The shock struts weren’t on there for long, as I probably realised that they weren’t adding any travel, only increasing the chances of my premature death. Either that or I couldn’t climb aboard the bloody thing without a ladder.

My mate Scotty had one of these bikes as well, and bought another a few years back apparently, which is sitting rusting in his garage today. He proferred this information via email:

Yammys came out 74-76. I had a type A, standard seat, forged lower front forks, yellow. Type B had banana seat, silver looking fork lowers and a crank with 3 spider arms. Type C had banana seat and one piece bmx style cranks. I have a rusty 1975ish MotoBike in the shed, not my original bike picked it up a few years ago. Not totally original, but what is 30 years on? I thought you’d appreciate that piece of crappy trivia…”

Ok, now I’ve embarrassed myself, it’s your turn… let’s see those seminal machines and fashion crimes from your formative cycling years.

// Nostalgia // Reverence // The Bikes

  1. Here’s me in the classic pose circa 1971.  I needed the driveway bump to get the front wheel up.

    Like the author this bike was modded to a BMX (bars, paint, tires) and ridden until thrashed (head tube split).

    We used to make a jump off the dock at Lake Wilderness and practice table-topping into the water.  Also many variations of flaming gaps were created (ala Evel Knievel).

    Worst crash ever happend when the front wheel ejected mid-air.

  2. I started off with the smallest size Schwinn stingray, bought secondhand. It was dark metallic green, just like our Datsun station wagon. I will never forget learning to ride on it —  a push from dad and I was off into the heat of the Bicentennial summer. As I didnt know how to stop the only thing for it was to keep going.

    The he next day I learned how to pop a wheelie.  I didn’t know how to stop that, either, until i pulled so hard on the bars that I went right over backwards.

  3. Somewhere deep in the bowels of my parents’ house I’m sure there’s a shot of my rocking the 40 pound Huffy, but I don’t have it. This will have to do. Early 80’s  fashion, including looking fantastic on the part of pops. Three wheels (note the width of rear tires for maximum V transfer to the tarmac), sissy bar so I don’t fall off the back with application of torque to the direct drive wheel. Oh yeah.

  4. Great emotive stuff….a great trip down memory lane..I have no photo evidence but I think my ride was one of these

  5. At the time, I remember being pissed off at my Dad for making me get a “proper” bicycle with gears and drop bars when all my friends had BMX bikes or Stingrays, but it worked out for the best.

  6. A quick search showed that I had a Raleigh Chopper, probably the first model in 1969. It was cool but a little precious with its 3+2 5 speed “console” double gear shift – read ball extractor if you crashed just right. My friends were on more basic stuff and it made me feel not so bad ass but now seeing Brett’s ride I’m back to feeling good about myself!
    We were in the habit of jumping every thing jumpable. The two best spots at school were the circle out front with the flag pole 20 feet from the edge lip that provided the launch. Memorable was Ellis Withington (I kid not) who wound, his large for 13  size, up from a prodigious distance, attained warp speed and almost hit the flag pole as his rear wheel collapsed under him. He walked away we had to shoot the bike…
    The other was the basement door with a sloped grass well of about 6 feet in depth, down one side and up the other to attain launch. The goal was to hit the basket ball court 15 feet away across a paved foot path. Why we never had ANY serious injuries attests to the beauty of those machines and our prodigious skills!
    Thanks for the memories @all, sorry I have no images but Brett you get the macho man of the year for the confidence you show in posting what has to be the best of the 70’s for the pre tween set!

  7. This isn’t mine, but I got a Grifter somewhere around 1979. I was a bit put out. The BMX craze hit my suburb soon after so I felt out of date and left behind from the get go. The Grifter had a 3 speed, grip-shift set up but no suspension so any hucking invariably caused unwanted shifting. Awkward. Fortunately my best bud also had a Grifter and we wallowed in our separateness as the BMX crews flashed their Mongooses, Diamond Backs and DG’s. Tuff wheels were the absolute ducks guts. A couple of years of scrimping and saving later I coaxed my parents into matching my $150 and went all in for a Supermax cromo. Like this, but with a chain…

    Let it be known that 24 after the fact, I still HAVE NOT forgiven my parents for selling it when I was overseas getting wasted on an extended backpacking mission.

  8. @Harminator

    This isn’t mine, but I got a Grifter somewhere around 1979. I was a bit put out. The BMX craze hit my suburb soon after so I felt out of date and left behind from the get go. The Grifter had a 3 speed, grip-shift set up but no suspension so any hucking invariably caused unwanted shifting. Awkward. Fortunately my best bud also had a Grifter and we wallowed in our separateness as the BMX crews flashed their Mongooses, Diamond Backs and DG’s. Tuff wheels were the absolute ducks guts. A couple of years of scrimping and saving later I coaxed my parents into matching my $150 and went all in for a Supermax cromo. Like this, but with a chain…

    Let it be known that 24 after the fact, I still HAVE NOT forgiven my parents for selling it when I was overseas getting wasted on an extended backpacking mission.

    I had a grifter, too, in snot green.  The saddle was enormous, it weighed the same as a chieftain tank, and my best friend’s boxer was quicker.  I never broke it though, which makes it unique among all the bikes I’ve ever owned.

  9. @imakecircles

    At the time, I remember being pissed off at my Dad for making me get a “proper” bicycle with gears and drop bars when all my friends had BMX bikes or Stingrays, but it worked out for the best.

    Same here! Pissed me off riding with mates down to the creek and they were flying over the rocks and potholes on their BMX’s, while I was struggling to steer the 27″ wheel through the dirt track! Worked out for the best though. Thanks Dad!

  10. Grifters and Budgies, ha! Those are some weird names for bikes.

    Except for the trike, I think my first bike was the Schwinn Typhoon, indestructible single speed, big tires,  black with some white pin stripes, heavy as fuck. It was the unmodified Harley-Davidson of bikes. It was no jumper, more for road work and standing on the pedals and skidding to stops. I wrapped it with masking tape and sprayed it with white paint in an early version of Cipo’s zebra bike paint job but very badly done. It really looked like shiet then. At some point I put on huge metal baskets, like I was about to start the mother of all paper routes, which I didn’t.

    Eventually the banana seat and roll bar went on. Maybe even different bars, Sting Ray envy I guess. At least with a banana seat a girl could fit on there too, I guess the obvious reason we all did it.

  11. I had a Malvern Star Dragster, mid 70’s into the 80’s. Mine was a budget model, no t-bar shifter but I could get it round a BMX track just fine. I lusted over a Redline or Diamondback but the old dragster just wouldn’t die no matter what I did to it. Then I went off to boarding school, we moved and the bike disappeared. Shame really. A quick search of the interwebs doesn’t reveal a photo that matches my memory of that bike.

  12. This was my first bike that I got for my 9th birthday. It started life as a purple dragster and later received modifications including low rise handlebars and 28″ forks, with optional 20″ or 28″ front wheel. Poor landing skills off jumps resulted in premature failure of the forks.

    I also had the front wheel fail to stay attached to the bike while riding hands free over speed bumps. There was a lovely double row of divots in the road after that.

    Come the BMX craze the bike got a rattle can respray and BMX forks, Al bars, Cr-Mo seatpost with colour matched components.

  13. @american psycho

    Here’s me in the classic pose circa 1971. I needed the driveway bump to get the front wheel up.

    Like the author this bike was modded to a BMX (bars, paint, tires) and ridden until thrashed (head tube split).

    We used to make a jump off the dock at Lake Wilderness and practice table-topping into the water. Also many variations of flaming gaps were created (ala Evel Knievel).

    Worst crash ever happend when the front wheel ejected mid-air.

    This is so archetypal 70s style!

  14. @Owen

    And this… well, let’s just say dad has got it goin on fashion wise, he’s mixed about five different looks into one and somehow pulls it off. Kinda ‘casual deliberate accountant hiker ‘.

  15. @Rob

    My friends were on more basic stuff and it made me feel not so bad ass but now seeing Brett’s ride I’m back to feeling good about myself!

    Thanks for the memories @all, sorry I have no images but Brett you get the macho man of the year for the confidence you show in posting what has to be the best of the 70″²s for the pre tween set!

    Thanks”½

  16. Thanks brett for the long trip back down memory lane!

    I thought ‘sissy bars’ were for your sister to hang on to!  pic ~1977

    Those front guards ended up touching the downtube via the forks copping gutter stops.

    I thought my bike was cool until one kid in the court got a Dragster with 3-speed T shift and his was fitted with a speedo! Only got to ride it once thanks to my Dad giving the kid a talk on sharing. I was a awesome ride. Still recall the tic-tic-tic sound when shifted in 3rd.

    Funny though, earlier this year I acquired a dragster frame with some rusted chrome bits. One day I’ll get around to restoring it.

  17. @Harminator

     A couple of years of scrimping and saving later I coaxed my parents into matching my $150 and went all in for a Supermax cromo. Like this, but with a chain…

    Or brakes? Man, that is a sweet looking machine. Kashimax seat, Oakley grips… Tuffs! I had a green Cobra BMX with yellow Tuff IIs, but always lusted after a PK Ripper, OM Flyer or Quad Angle (in team baby blue/brown, naturally). The SE Racing riders always were a bit edgy, even to a 14yo. Watching the movie, I now see that they were more than a bit fucked up (well, the OM anyway).

  18. Also not mine, but the first bike I remember was the classic Schwinn Scrambler with the awesome yellow mag wheels. Heavy as all get out, but pretty indestructible. I rode that bike everywhere, jumped it off anything, and crashed it all over the place when I was a kid.

    There really isn’t much that beats the freedom of a kid on a bike.

  19. @brett Well, he was a GC at the time, and my mother assures me he was very hip, so maybe that had something to do with it. General Contractor, don’t get your hopes up. I believe I still have that vest. He still dresses casually deliberate, with holey sweaters, old t-shirts, and unkempt hair.

  20. @KW

    There really isn’t much that beats the freedom of a kid on a bike.

    Or an adult, for that matter. Maybe if more got on a bike every now and then, they’d be less stressed and not trying to run us over in their cars.

  21. @sthilzy

    Thanks brett for the long trip back down memory lane!

    I thought ‘sissy bars’ were for your sister to hang on to! pic ~1977

    So much win. It seems parents dressed kids better in the 70s… c heck out those flares and leather shoes! And your sister with her bobby socks and pleated skirt…

    I can’t believe the size of the chainrings on kids’ bikes back then too. This one, and my bike in the lead photo are sporting dinner plates! Don’t know how we ever turned a crank, looking at those!

    Ape hanger bars mustn’t have been easy to hold onto at the grips, every photo featuring them has the pilot hanging on around the bend in the bar, in front of the grips…

  22. @imakecircles

    At the time, I remember being pissed off at my Dad for making me get a “proper” bicycle with gears and drop bars when all my friends had BMX bikes or Stingrays, but it worked out for the best.

    Dude, you win. I want hose pants!

    I had a similar experience with road bikes, although I actually wanted one. Must have been pre-BMX, but a kid down the street got a 10-speed, all decked out in chrome everything, racks, lights, the lot. Me and my mate ‘Eagle’ decided we needed these bikes as well. They saw more dirt than tarmac, I’m sure.

    My 10-speed was a Bennett Montreal, so named after the Montreal Olympics in 76, so I must’ve got it around then. It was green and gold (the Australian sporting colours) and had a ‘FFS': Front Freewheel System by Shimano… basically, you could change gears while coasting. Pretty trick for the time, but obviously never caught on.

  23. @Brett, my first 10 speeder (well 12 speed by then) was the Malvern Star Moscow 80 named after the Olympics half the world didn’t turn up to. This was the start of my proper cycling phase and I road this boat anchor with panniers from Perth to Kalgoorlie (over 600 km) as a 15 year old.

  24. @brett

    @KW

    There really isn’t much that beats the freedom of a kid on a bike.

    Or an adult, for that matter. Maybe if more got on a bike every now and then, they’d be less stressed and not trying to run us over in their cars.

    This!

  25. Never got into the full BMX craze. A child of the 80’s, with protective parents, and far from any cool spot on this globe I missed out mostly except for this awesomeness: Rad – Trailer (1986).avi: http://youtu.be/3bu6haxJbdk

  26. Roughly 1980 on my first proper bike – Schuck’s BMX. It must have been early in its life, because reflectors have never lasted long with me. I rode the paint off this bike.

  27. Oh, and don’t forget one of the best films ever made, which I just happened to watch the other night…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdewAg5HC3Y

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