When you grow up on a 20″ and BMX is in your blood, over the years you tend to have a lot of really great memories that revolve around your bike. Many of us end up hanging on to old keepsakes and in this week’s Friday Interview we asked Mike Aitken, Ralph Sinisi, Beard, and Anthony Napolitan what items from their past they keep for nostalgic reasons. -Fat
Matt “Beard” Bischoff
It was 1989 and RL Osborne came out with Bully. Street riding was just getting going and I had to get my hands on a Bully. I was super stoked to get one. The two-toned paint job, the graphics, the bashguard…this bike was sick. I went out and learned bashguard grinds, disasters, and any trick that I saw people in the magazines do. My heroes were Vic Murphy, Brad Blanchard, Craig Grasso, Pete Augustin, and the rest of the Dirt Bros. clan. There weren’t hardly any riders in Cincinnati, but there were plenty of skaters, and that is who I rode with. All I did was ride street with the skaters and that’s pretty much all I did every day after school. The Bully frames had a pretty bad problem with breaking. I went through like four of them in like a year. I didn’t care though. I was street thrashing and the Aggroman inside of me must have been too damn gnarly.
Fast forward to 2009. I really wanted to find an old Bully like the one I had in 1989. A friend of mine Marlowe B down in Florida let me know that some guy had one and was willing to trade for a Failure frame. So I gladly sent him a brand new Nate Wessel A Muerte frame and he sent he the Bully. I took some other old parts I had saved such as the Hoffman Super Fork, a Dirt Bros 44 tooth sprocket, red Tuff wheels, and some newer SNAFU parts to put this complete bike together. I will never get rid of it and I hope to film a Web edit riding it sometime this year. BMX rules, and I feel very fortunate to have grown up with the sport and still be heavily involved in BMX today. I would highly suggest kids watch old videos like Dirt Bros. “Hicks in Action”, “Aggroman” (or any Eddie Roman video), old Dave Parrick videos, and all the old Trend videos.
Right when I started competing around 2005 I really became more familiar with a lot of the riders. By the time the next year rolled around I knew who I had the most in common with. With that said TJ Lavin became one of my greatest friends, and throughout the years of going to ride with him and him coming out to ride with me, I had asked probably a million questions about his life and BMX. For some reason this one question always stuck in the back of my mind…”What do you wish you had done different?” I remember it like it was yesterday. We were in his studio making music and he spun around in his office chair and looked at his only bike hanging from the ceiling and said, “I wish I had saved all my bikes.” So from that point on I’ve saved all my bikes as an entirety.
Here are some pictures of my first two real BMX frames.
The chrome frame is a 1984 Hutch Pro Raider. I got this as a brand new complete bike when I was in fourth grade from the Cycle Infirmary on Van Houten Ave. in Clifton, NJ. The complete was $250 and I felt bad at the time having my dad spend so much money on it. I was stylin’ on this thing though. Some of the older kids were raggin’ on me since I had still been riding a banana seat bike (a 1980 Randor Rampar that was my first 20″ bike), so I had to switch it up to a total BMX. Now all the kids on Mongooses were sweatin’ it. We had some local jumps on this abandoned lot and I went right over there as soon as I got the Hutch to start getting some air. This is before we even made doubles and we used to dig pits after the jumps so you had to clear it. I went full speed at the biggest pit jump we had and didn't clear it and got killed right off the bat. I think this took away most of my fear of falling though, which really paid off (or didn't pay off since I am in so much pain now). I loved this frame and rode it for many years. One thing that is real cool is on the downtube toward the bottom bracket is a sticker that says "RDI". This was Rob Dolecki Industries. Rob made some stickers and T-shirts, and you know I was always down to rep anything that he was doing since he was (and still is) the best trail rider and all around rider out there.
The purple bike is a 1986 Hutch Trick Star. This was the bike to have for a freestyle bike. I was in sixth grade and picked up a copy of the Want Ad Press. This is way, way before computers and was like a newspaper version of Craigslist where you could buy anything. Some kid a few towns over was selling this frame and fork, Hutch Mike Dominguez handlebars, MKS graphite pedals, a Tuff Neck, Tioga crazy chain, and a Uni seat and post together as a package deal. He had just bought it all brand new but decided not to build it and get a complete Haro instead. So I got everything for about half the price he paid for it. I brought it to the Clifton Speed Center on Main Ave. in Clifton and they built it out for me real sick. White Redline Flights, ACS 48s with RL hub. This thing was gorgeous. That didn't last too long though as I beat the hell out of it for years until it could take no more. It cracked as so many of them did from the extra bar going into the headtube that was supposed to make it stronger but put extra stress on the top tube instead. You can see it still has some grip tape on the top tube platform since I couldn't be caught slippin’ doing some framestands. Back then you would just stand on any part of the bike and it was a trick as you can see by the spiked platforms that came out from the rear chain stays. As you can see also, Vision Street Wear was the shit and most of the clothing and sneakers I rocked around that time were from them. They were one of the first companies to really market to riders and skaters together and sessioning some street obstacles instead of just racing or freestyle. Oh yeah…There is this home made sticker on the downtube, "Team No Name". I rode with different crews that would make some stickers up to represent. This is hand drawn on a paper sticker that I can't believe survived. My other main crew was the Dirt Nerds and their clothing (marker on a white T-shirt) was called Dread Threads. North Jersey was a great place to grow up riding BMX.
This is my race bike from when I was 11. My grandpa Bernell Aitken took me to Reno, Nevada, for the Gold Cup National where I won these plaques and got them signed by pros. If you look close you can see Brian and Alan Foster’s signatures…the only two I stood in line for. That’s a JMC Andy Patterson series junior frame with blade forks.