From Ride October, 1998

Steve Buddendeck

Imagine receiving a bike in the mail with instructions to put it to the test. Choose any rider, find any terrain, and document it on film. Who would you choose? If you saw the Props “Road Fools” video, then it’s likely you’d pick Jimmy LeVan. That was our pick, and the Eastern Hercules was our bike.

THE RIDE: One look at the Hercules and it’s easy to tell that it’s tough. Double-pierced head tube, oversized thick-walled tubing, beefy dropouts… the works. The Hercules is similar to Eastern’s Commando frame, but it has a shorter rear-end, no standing platform, and a few new angles. Street, ramps, dirt, whatever¿this bike is a well rounded, heavy duty piece of bicycle stunt machinery.

THE RIDER: As envisioned, Jimmy had agreed to test the Eastern, but unfortunately his body didn’t agree. A few big gaps gone wrong had caught up with him, but he promised he’d still deliver. What he delivered was fellow Louisville slugger Mike Lausman. Jimmy said that Mike was willing, and able, and that we wouldn’t be let down. We weren’t¿just look at the gap he tried.

DIRT: Our first stop with the Hercules was at the trails. The Hercules is a bit heavier than the choice of most trail-blazers, but after some time, and a quick mud bath, Mike got the hang of it. “It’s stiff, solid, and pretty heavy,” is how Lausman described it. Local hero Adam Volk also jumped it, crashed it, and finally got into the swing of things. The Eastern also proved to be very strong. At one point, Adam sent the bike sailing fifteen feet into the air. The bike landed front wheel first on impact, but the forks didn’t budge.

STREET: Our next stop was the street. Mud was removed, and so was Mike’s skin as he went for a huge gap right off the bat. Mike pedaled as fast as possible, launched himself down some steps, over a brick wall, and onto a sidewalk where he exploded into pieces. The Hercules hung tough, and even after a thirty-foot tumble into a brick wall everything Eastern-built was fine. The back wheel was tweaked, so Mike washed his cuts, the wheel was replaced, and then Volk rode it around¿down stairs, over rails, and across any other obstacles that we encountered. Adam agreed with Mike that the Eastern felt more at home on concrete than on dirt.

RAMPS: Our final stop was the local skatepark. Mike pulled himself together, and within a moment’s time he was back in action. Manuals, grinds, jumps, transfers, and airs¿the Hercules withstood everything he threw at it. Mike commented that the bike felt most at home while riding ramps, and it showed. Its laid back 70° seat tube angle was a dead giveaway that this was a ramp bike. One look at Eastern’s team roster and you’re reminded of their on-ramp experience.

THE VERDICT: As expected, Eastern has constructed an incredibly tough frame and fork. This bike was dropped, crashed, and abused more in one day than some bikes get in a lifetime. Eastern’s frame, fork, and handlebars are strong, heavy, and all emerged unscathed and ready for more abuse. If you’re tough on bikes, you might want to look into an Eastern.

oHead tube angle: 74.5°
oSeat tube angle: 71°
oTop tube length: 20″ or 21″
oChainstay length: 14-1/2″
oTop tube O.D.: 1-3/4″
oDown tube O.D.: 1-3/4″
oColors: Black, white, brown, aqua
oWeight: 7 pounds, 4 ounces (20″ top tube frame)
oPrice: $335 frame only; $155 for the fork
oWarranty: 90 days on workmanship and defects
oContact: (919) 772-1907;