1 2
David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
7/31/22 3:13 p.m.

The ’80s were fun. I was there.

We had MTV, AFX and, hugely for me, BMX. (Okay, lots of bad stuff also happened during the ’80s, but for now let’s concentrate on the good times, okay?)

As I remember–and, I admit, this was a long, long time ago–BMX rolled into our town around 1980. Maybe it was even earlier.

Anyway, the local hobby shop, a tiny storefront crammed full of model cars, model rockets and model airplanes, suddenly had a bike rack in the back corner full of BMX bikes. And not just any BMX bikes, but the latest from Mongoose.

Swoon.

And, no, I didn’t get one.

My first BMX bike was a cheap, all-steel affair from a company called Saint Tropez. I bought it used. I’m sure it weighed more than me.

But fast-forward just a few years to about 1983, and I was buying my first real BMX bike.

I think, by this time, I was working in a bike shop but, oddly, shopped elsewhere. Our local BMX specialty shop, Bike-A-Lot, had a deal, kinda: For $299 (as I remember) you could spec out a real, pro-grade frame with decent parts. You didn’t get a bike quite ready for an A Pro main, but it would be plenty respected at the local junior/senior high school.

Most of the kids at my school went with the usual suspects: GT, Hutch, maybe something from S.E. Racing.

For some reason, I picked something different: MCS Magnum 2000. It was light, simple and just had a business-like attitude that caught my eye. (I’d later learn that MCS was huge in its home state for Florida; where I grew up on Long Island, not so much.)

In addition to that MCS frame, I got a good mix of parts:

Suzue unsealed hubs laced with Sumo rims–basically Araya 7X clones–along with knock-off Comp III tires.

One-piece, 180mm Takagi chromoly cranks with an unsealed bottom bracket.

Pete’s Precision Products chain ring paired with a no-name power disc.

Real Dia-Compe MX1000 rear brake worked by a Shimano DX lever. (No idea why the shop mixed brands like that.)

GT-like bars clamped by an ACS stem. Grips were A’ME.

Kashimax Aero seat, no-name seat post, Laser clamp.

Shimano SX pedals–the smaller version of the brand’s iconic DX.

BMX was evolving quickly through the ’80s, though. Freestyle suddenly became huge so, of course, we had to adapt. I had to adapt. Plus things got colorful.

Add in my employee discount to bike parts plus some disposable income, and my bike was ever-changing. Somewhere in there, I updated the frame stickers so my bike looked like MCS’s latest offering.

By the time I broke my arm racing late in 1986–basically ending Chapter 1 of my BMX life–my MCS had evolved. It looked more freestyle than race bike: more colors, more mag wheels, more front brakes.

Where a lot of people pine for their old bikes, mine never went away. It’s been here with us ever since, making a few show appearances but, more or less, just hanging out, frozen in its 1986 guise.

Now enter Radwood, the celebration of all things from the ’80s and ’90s.

Earlier this year, I displayed my 1984 Porsche 911 Carrera at Radwood’s show at The Amelia and worked to fully get the car back into period: period IMSA stickers, period New York license plates, even a period radar detector. Since then, I have even added period registration and inspection stickers.

And the perfect period accessory for this showing? A BMX bike.

But I left the MCS at home that day, instead perching my retro Skyway T/A atop the 911’s roof.

A few years ago, using new/retro parts, I built this bike to emulate a skatepark bike from 1983. I figured it was the perfect presentation. (Plus I think the Skyway T/A is one of the prettiest bikes ever.)

People totally dug the pairing of BMX and Porsche.

But someone–there’s always that one guy–called me out: That’s not really an ’80s BMX bike.

Okay, fine, you win. Just did you have to be so snippy?

But I couldn’t just break out the MCS. It now looked 1986, not 1984. In the world of BMX, there was a difference.

So, the current plan: Get the MCS ready for Radwood in Lake Mirror, Florida, this coming October 15 by taking the bike alllll the way from 1986 to 1984.

Two years sounds trivial but, trust me, there’s work to be done.

GCrites80s
GCrites80s Dork
7/31/22 9:41 p.m.

Oh I can see you were using white brake pads on the rear of the MCS from the stripes on the rims. They really did stop better and you need all the help you can get with brakes on mags.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
7/31/22 9:51 p.m.

So, how about some current pictures and a plan?

Not much has changed since the above photos, but I took some fresh ones this evening. Welcome to my outdoor/rooftop studio. 

The biggest change: The bike is now wearing its original MCS pad set. 

Genuine 1986 dirt.

Legit Comp III tires.

At some point, I bought some genuine GT bars.

The old aqua A'ME Tri grips were turning to goo, so a few years back I replaced them with some black ones.

That model is still in production, although A'ME no longer offers aqua–but you can find NOS ones out there. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
7/31/22 10:01 p.m.

The plan: Bring the bike back from 1986 to 1984. It's close, but a few things on the to-do list.

While white parts were starting to enter the scene in 1984, we weren't that cool. (Okay, my friend Matt, may he Rest in Peace, was that cool, but I wasn't.)

So that means replacing the white Skyway seat and Odyssey clamp with something black. I still have one of my earlier black seats, while I have the right clamp on the way. 

The bike originally wore a black no-name power disc, so the white Tuff Neck piece is on the chopping block. Ditto the green chain. The real Shimano DX pedals will stay, while this bike has always worn the same set of cranks. 

I moved to these brakes later, so we need to backdate to the original setup. 

Likewise, the bike didn't originally feature the Potts Mod. 

Most of the parts that I need are in the garage. I did have to chase down a few small items, but that's what makes this fun, right? 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
7/31/22 10:04 p.m.
GCrites80s said:

Oh I can see you were using white brake pads on the rear of the MCS from the stripes on the rims. They really did stop better and you need all the help you can get with brakes on mags.

I noticed that, too. The bike is now wearing black Tuff Pads all around, but at one point I ran aqua ACS Z-Rims. I think I ran white pads with the Z-Rims since I couldn't find aqua pads. So maybe I didn't initially swap pads when moving to the Tuff Wheels? I might have once had white Tuff Wheels on the bike, too. I seem to remember borrowing a set at one point. I think. I have always had a thing for wheels. :) 

GCrites80s
GCrites80s Dork
7/31/22 10:24 p.m.

As you mentioned, '84 and '86 really are very different years in BMX aesthetics so the white does have to go if you want to be period correct.

I've got some A'ME Tri grips that were produced around Y2K on a Redline that started to goo out around 2015 so I'm surprised those NOS ones haven't done it. Maybe it's exposure to skin oils that do it? The very skin oils that for some people can decimate a set of guitar strings in a month. Of course Aqua would be way more '86 than '84 as well. Those would look extra rad (sorry) on a teal/black '87-'88 Haro Sport or Master.

And I bet the brakes weren't much better on the Z-Rims than they were on mags.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
7/31/22 10:44 p.m.

Very true, BMX changed a lot during those two years. I'm not buying those aqua grips but, for those who need them, they're out there. 

Not sure what turned mine into goo, although I don't remember the grips feeling soft until just a few years ago. Although the bike sat untouched for so many years, so who knows. 

I have a set of A'ME Tris on my Floval Flyer as well. They might be close to 10 years old. I rode that bike recently, and the grips still feel good. 

I'll keep the black ones on the MCS. Classic. Timeless.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/2/22 5:30 p.m.

Small update: parts have been found, parts have been purchased, parts have been shipped. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/7/22 9:37 p.m.

Update: All of the parts have arrived! (At least, I think they're all here.)

Real update to come. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/7/22 9:30 p.m.

Radwood is a week out, so time to cut bait. 

My bike originally had a black seat clamp from a company called Laser–nothing special, but I wanted to return the bike to 1984.

I found a NOS Laser clamp for sale, complete with the prism sticker, online.

But it was blue.

Enter JG and his powder-coating services.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/7/22 9:33 p.m.

Today I got the bike on the work stand. (I know, I need to tidy up.)

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/7/22 9:34 p.m.

The bike originally had a no-name black power disc. At some point, I swapped in a white one from Tuf-Neck. (Worth some serious coin today.)

The black one is gone, but I found a suitable stand-in online. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/7/22 9:38 p.m.

To replace the inner power disc, I needed to pull the bottom bracket–complete with 1986 grease. I didn't have the wrench for the inner race, but our local bike shop (called The Bike Shop) was happy to do it. Slip jaw pliers might have worked, but I didn't want to chew up anything. 

A little degreaser helped. 

I kept the original bottom bracket–just cleaned and re-greased it as I'm keeping the patina. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/7/22 9:42 p.m.

At some point, I installed a green chain. Hey, it was the '80s.

It bugged me (now, not then). The bike originally had a black and chrome chain, so I got a new one that was period-appropriate. I probably would have run this brand, too. 

1/8- or 3/32-inch chain? I probably ran the narrower chain, but I noticed how the chain ring (oddly, never changed) teeth were looking a bit worn. I figured the 1/8-inch chain might give me a little more wiggle room.

As I would have done back then, I used a chain breaker to make a continuous chain–no master link here.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/7/22 9:43 p.m.

I also centered the rear wheel in some existing dropout marks. Perviously it was too far forward. No idea why I did that. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/7/22 9:44 p.m.

New/old drivetrain. This is how the bike originally looked. This makes me happy. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/7/22 9:46 p.m.

I still had my old Elina UL seat, so that went back on, too. 

Here's where we are now. It's getting more and more towards 1984.

I need to swap out the Dia-Compe 883 brakes (circa 1986) for the original chrome MX1000 rear brake (original and date-coded to 1983, too.) Just waiting on my cable cutters. They should arrive this weekend. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/8/22 6:41 p.m.

This evening I replaced a missing screw so I can reinstall my brake lever. It's the bike's original Shimano DX lever that's been sitting in a box since the mid '80s. 

2GRX7
2GRX7 Reader
10/9/22 11:28 p.m.

Ah nice, fellow L.I. (W. Hempstead) racer! Newbridge Rd Park and Shoreham were our spots back in the day along with countless trails! I remember Miami Vice causing the whites, turquoise, and pinks to start popping up around me-about late 85. I remember that because I'd gotten my Hutch, "Da Judge" with Pro-class 20x1 3/8 rims back in 86' on my birthday. I loved that bike! Wish I'd kept it.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/10/22 1:56 p.m.

Hello, Long Island.

I still need to do the brakes. Hopefully tonight's project.

Also, I'm not cleaning the bike. That's legit 1980s dirt on there. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/11/22 10:49 a.m.

Made some progress on the brakes last night. 

My bike originally had just a rear brake–standard issue back in 1983.

At some point, I added front and rear brakes. (Blame freestyle.) I want to go back to how it was. 

Fortunately I still had my original, date-coded Dia-Compe MX1000 rear caliper and Shimano DX lever.

Why the mixing of brands? No idea. 

I had converted that brake to work up front with Potts Mod. I realize like two people here know/care what that's about, but the TL;DR is that I had ground off the rivet that secured the quick release.

I got a replacement, factory rivet from Porkchop BMX, but it needs to be pressed into place–and you only get one shot. Since the weekend's coming up, I pulled an audible last night and got a button head fastener for it. 

Here's what I had to do.

Back in the '80s, I had relocated the adjuster to the lower arm. I need to put it up top, back where it belongs. Also, note the period-correct dirt and grime. 

This rivet needs to be pressed into place. 

But, for this weekend, a button-head bolt will have to suffice. 

More to come. 

GCrites80s
GCrites80s Dork
10/11/22 11:30 a.m.

Now that you have undone the Pott's mod, do you have the stem bolt with no hole in it to go back in?

 

already used up one of the two people who care what that is wink

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/11/22 11:51 a.m.

In reply to GCrites80s :

Sadly, I no longer have the solid stem bolt. Hopefully the judges don't ding me for that. :) 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/11/22 11:56 a.m.

And a little chatter about the Potts Mod

Later I'll have to dig out that issue of BMXA. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/11/22 6:51 p.m.

Time to wrap up the brakes.

First, look at that patina. And, yes, I'm leaving it. 

1 2
Our Preferred Partners
lRxMu9xDlMioRWXg0YwcWLLTTsroZBpHNpWlW2SSVZxBCGGpZtjlIiRIWo340F1A