20 April 2022

Just about a bike: This old frame

My dad drove me way across town early one Saturday morning at some point in late 1975 or early 1976 so that, for the very first time, I could buy a bike with my own money. I was in the fourth grade and had saved up what was to me then a massive amount of cash doing odd jobs around the house, 40 bucks, so that I could get my very own BMX bike and shred with my buddies up and down the canal banks, and through the shady orchards, and across the vacant desert lots that lay between our Scottsdale neighborhood and the Circle K convenience store and the local Schwinn bicycle shop.

The bike that was to become mine had been advertised for a week in the classified ads in the Phoenix Gazette and fit perfectly into my adolescent price point. As soon as I laid eyes on it, leaning against the front steps of the west Phoenix house that had been its home, it looked really good to me: fully chrome with silver bars and a simple black fork, kitted out otherwise with what looked like cast-off Stingray parts as most BMX bikes were back then.

In the time that I've owned it, the bike has never had any decals on it, not even a headbadge, so I've always been uncertain of its branding. I'm sure it's nothing special or rare, but it also doesn't visually conform to anything that was super common in those days.  Despite it's mysterious origins, we nonetheless had a lot of fun together back in the day... I took it off many sweet jumps! The chrome is solid and has long resisted rust or tarnish, the TIGs, while not perfect are decent and definitely done by hand, the likely high-ten frame has always been perfectly straight, the Mongoose-like gussets at the head tube are made of bomber plate steel, and the serial number, hand-stamped on the left rear dropout (SO1124 or S01124), is oh, so curiously and enticingly low.

One of my pals long ago thought it looked like a Gary Littlejohn, likely due to the U-shaped chain- and seat-stays, but I don't think it's one of his frames, for lots of other reasons. Everyone else I've ever asked has drawn a blank when attempting to ID it. I disassembled it, for reasons I cannot recall, at some point when I was in high school during the early/mid 1980s. Nonetheless, I’ve kept it around as garage wall-art for almost 40 years. 

Now that I'm getting to be an old man I’m thinking I’d like to rebuild it one of these days before I die, and ride it around again, perhaps even source some decals for it if I can figure out what brand it actually is. I've posted it on a few vintage bike forums, such as bmxmuseum.com, hoping to find some answers, and I have also been trolling around Craigslist looking for period correct Stingray parts, so we'll see what happens.

Watch this space!


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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Ed Abbey