Hooniverse Asks- How Trick Was Your First Bike?

There was a time, before we all could drive, when the intrinsic need to spread one’s wings was satisfied not by being chauffeured to the mall by mom, but by the freedom and personal expression that our bicycles, skate boards and – to a much lesser extent – Marks-a-lotted Vans shoes afforded. Disregarding the last two, as they lack the purity of mechanized speed which makes cars so intoxicating, bikes were frequently our first mobile canvases for that individualistic expression. Did you have a really sweet bike when you were growing up? Still have it? It is Two Wheel Tuesday, and that typically means motorcycles, however before you could even get a motorcycle license, you could ride a bike where you were the motor. For many, that first one meant coaster brakes, sissy bars and banana seats. For others, that first bike was something made from large-section tubing, and typically with BMX written on it somewhere. Those bikes most likely had tractor saddles and short handlebars with a padded crossbar on top. Typical of any bike, once you were able to wobble it around sans-training wheels, you started to customize it. My first bike was a hand-me-down coaster brake Schwinn (who made like 90% of all kids’ bikes back then) with a wide slick in back and some modest ape-hangers for handle bars. Like a soldier in boot camp, I became adept at disassembling and reassembling the bike for various paint jobs, new saddles and flat repairs. Like the bike in the lead photo, mine  had a banana seat, and I can still smell its petrochemical aroma from the drive home from purchasing it at Gemco. The long, curved saddle attached in front by a standard clamp mount, and in back by two bolts throw the sissy bar. If you don’t know, a sissy bar is a backrest on either a bike or motorcycle that helps keep passengers from becoming ex-passengers. In my neighborhood they ranged in size from anywhere around seat height to more than four feet above that, and they all had a little bend at the top where it curved over. I went through I don’t know how many bars because a common practice with our bikes was to jump them off the driveway aprons and curbs. That snapped the thin chrome posts like toothpicks. Usually a summer’s abuse rendered my bike unfit for school transportation duty, so a right of the Fall was a trip to the aforementioned Gemco for new bars, tires, seats and handlebar grips. And no, I never had the kind of grips with streamers on them, but some of the girls did. I often repainted it then too, and back in those days kids could buy spray paint at the hardware store without somebody calling the cops. One time, when I was ten or eleven, and was playing with the neighborhood kids in a yard down the block, an older kid – he must have been all of fourteen, but looked as big as a house to me – came riding by on his bike. Wanting to impress the little kids, he popped a wheelie, and standing on the pedals and pumping his legs to keep the spinning front wheel in the air as long as possible. Unfortunately for him, he had neglected to check the tightness of his front axle nuts that day and the wheel dropped to the asphalt and bounced to the curb. So shocked was he that he immediately stopped pedaling, the result of which was the front forks dropping down onto that same asphalt, immediately halting the bike’s forward progress, but not the kid’s. Sparks flew, and so did he, ending up bloodied and bruised and telling us to all stop laughing at him. That was an unplanned modification to his bike, but the coolest ones are always planned, whether they be cards in the spokes, or a Who album’s worth of mirrors on the handle bars. Whatever it was, how tricked out  did you make your bike? Image sources: [TheGearPage.net, Theselvedgeyard]

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