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Top 4 Cruiser news stories of 2016

31 12 2016

Here we are…at the end of 2016.

A bunch of stuff happened this year in the cruiser world and while I was planning on doing a standard “Top Ten”…it seemed like four key items stood out to me the most out of all the possible ones that I could highlight.

So, without further ado, the top four cruiser news stories of 2016:

4.  The 22″/OS20 wheel size gained some serious momentum this year.

More complete bike, frame/fork, wheel and tire choices made this a more viable choice for many riders to try. Yes, 22s are more sized-up 20s than small cruisers…but there’s often quite a bit of crossover in riders that are interested in 22s and 24s.

With that being said, I’ve been posting about the 22″ phenomenon as far back as 2010 but given that Cruiser Revolution is a cruiser-focused site, I launched Big & Tall BMX in June to do a better job covering both the growing 22″ scene and 20s that are set up for tall riders. Expect to see more stuff there (on B&T) on this topic in 2017.

3. Collabs, Retros and 26″ Cruisers…this year these trends collided.

These trends were already starting to show legs…but this year, we saw two to three of these trends showing up on the same bike! This was clearly in evidence at this year’s Interbike, as well as throughout the year. The Shadow Subrosa collab was one, GT’s 26″ Pro Performer, the SE/Public Enemy Big Ripper…the list goes on.

2. The mellow head angle/disc brake-equipped 24.

Combining the mellow handling of a 26″ dirt jumper with the “flickability” (is that a word?) of a 24, we saw versions of this throughout 2016.  Graham Stanley’s custom Curtis was the first one we saw in 2016, followed by Roy Sutton’s custom Invictus. Later we found out that an industry icon, Harold “McGoo” McGruther, had bought into the concept via Commonground Bikes. Then we learned even S&M Bikes had developed a version…which they debuted at Interbike.

sm-mellow-24

1. Yess introduces a belt drive cruiser…and wins a cruiser title with it!

Yess debuted a belt drive cruiser in April and it definitely caught our attention. Belt drives had been attempted in the past…but were quickly discarded (due to middling success) for more conventional drive trains. This time, it seemed a more robust version had been developed. But like most “innovations”, the best way to judge it’s success is out in the field.

Well, Yess did it in the most convincing way possible. Yess-sponsored rider Drew Motley rode a belt drive-equipped cruiser all the way to the USA BMX #1 Cruiser title at The Grands! This was the first time a non-chain bike had taken the title. Hot damn.

 

 

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Something new, something dusty

26 09 2016

Well, here we are.

After a whirlwind trip to Vegas for Interbike, your intrepid reporter is back with highlights from the annual industry shindig.

You might think I had a list of things I wanted to check out ahead of the big show…and you would be right (I am somewhat professional)… this priority list got blown out of the water when I saw Chris Moeller post a picture of a new 24″ that S&M would be showcasing at the Bootleg Canyon outdoor demo and Interbike later in the week.

As I was in Austin during the outdoor demo, I was a little worried that I might not get to try out the new 24.

When I finally waded through the convention show floor and found the S&M/FitbikeCo booth, it was there…still covered in dust from Bootleg Canyon.

sm-slack-24-right

Strongly reminiscent of what Commonground Bikes is doing, this 24″ features a slack 69 degree headtube, lower-than-typical bottom bracket and a disc brake.

According to Moeller,

A buddy of mine asked us for a 24″ that would ride similar to a 26″ DJ hard tail. He wasn’t into the steep HA and tall BB all BMX 24’s have. So we built an extra for us (and you) to ride

sm-slack-24-left

Now, some companies are a little picky about you handling the displays at Interbike so I wasn’t sure if I should ask to try it out…but then I thought again…this is S&M…if anyone had a blatant disregard for the convention rules it would be them.

So asked.

And they said sure.

So I promptly pulled it out of the stand and took it for a spin at the back of the booth.

sm-slack-24-top-left

I didn’t think I would like it…I typically prefer the steeper head angle and higher bottom brackets of new school 24s…but I kinda dug it.

Returning it to the stand, the rep (his name escapes me) said that they went a little too low on the bottom bracket on this prototype and if they do decide to go into production with this particular frame/style they would probably go a smidge higher.

Pretty interesting.

With S&M jumping on the bandwagon of this style of frame (that Commonground is currently championing) we could be…as I mentioned in the writeup of Sutty’s custom Invictus frame (set up in a similar manner)

on the cusp of a bona fide trend in cruisers with slacker head angles for the dirt-jumping crowd

It might seem a little presumptuous to say that now but with a couple of companies experimenting with/selling this style and a handful of customs  adapting this style…it certainly seems like something is in the air.

 

More Interbike coverage, all this week.

Keep it to this Bat channel.

 

 

 

 





Sutty’s custom Invictus, all built up

26 04 2016

Roy “Sutty” Sutton gave us a sneak peek a few weeks back of his custom Invictus Bikes cruiser frame.

It was an eye-catcher with a slack* head angle, long top tube, short rear stays and...to top things off….it was fitted for a disc brake.

I couldn’t wait to see it all built up.

Well, it took a while but we finally have a pic of his bike put together.

It looks pretty trick.

Invictus Sutty build

Now, we just need to convince him to send some riding shots!

*I think we might be on the cusp of a bona fide trend in cruisers with slacker head angles for the dirt-jumping crowd (just look at the Commonground frame for another example) .

 





McGoo reaches for some Commonground

18 04 2016

Seemingly right on the heels of our last post on Commonground Bikes (Finding that Commonground), an industry icon has thrown his support behind the Commonground concept.

Who is this industry icon you ask?

(If the headline didn’t give it away…)

It’s none other than Harold “McGoo” McGruther.

In a pair of Instagram posts today (here and here), McGruther talks a bit about his personal history riding/racing cruisers and what impact a trails-oriented 24 like the Commonground could have on the big-wheeled BMX scene.

Here’s a couple of tidbits from his posts:

…Commonground [‘s] 24″ seeks to bridge the gap between a BMX bike’s diminutive scale and an MTB’s complexity and cost to give grown-ass men a bike they can ride like they may have ridden in their teens and 20s, before wives, kids and desk jobs set in

If Pro BMX racing hadn’t become a clipped-in gym rat’s game at the turn of last century, I’d like to believe guys like Chris Moeller, @brianfoster, @ecmtb1 and Travis @commongroundbikes would have pushed race machinery in a bigger, faster, more bulletproof direction.

I secretly pine for what might have been had guys like Mike Day, Robbie Miranda and Brian [Foster]* gotten aboard the big bike train.

IMHO there is another good argument for grown men riding bigger bikes: fewer feckless members of the peanut gallery would look down on our sport’s greatest athletes as merely “old men on kid’s bikes.” I personally despise that opinion and comparison, but sometimes perception IS reality.

…Fortunately, BMX dirt jumpers and MTB-mounted "freeriders" did accelerate the evolution of terrain, to the point where a 6-year-old expert has a difficult time just walking the course. Bike riding of this nature is a man's game, and it demands real equipment. Enter @commongroundbikes. Travis Engel is a mountain biker who probably cut his all-terrain teeth on a BMX bike in his younger days, but understands the limitations of 20-inch wheel size, coaster-brake derived 110mm dropout spacing, and uber-twitchy 74+ degree head angles at higher speeds. His Commonground 24" seeks to bridge the gap between a BMX bike's diminutive scale and an MTB's complexity and cost to give grown ass men a bike they can ride like they may have ridden in their teens and 20's, before wives, kids and desk jobs set in. Commonground uses established BMX fabricators @fbmbikecompany and @sandmbmx to produce their framesets and handlebars, then picks spec from an eclectic mix of MTB and BMX suppliers to build the whole. While I haven't ridden a Commonground 24 personally, I love Travis's passion and gumption enough to buy one, and will be picking it up when I meet its maker next Wednesday. If Pro BMX racing hadn't become a clipped-in gym rat's game at the turn of last century, I'd like to believe guys like Chris Moeller, @brianfoster, @ecmtb1 and Travis @commongroundbikes would have pushed race machinery in a bigger, faster, more bulletproof direction. I remember the Blue Falcon's podium ride at the 2001 X Games DHBMX like it was 15 years ago, and I still secretly pine for what might have been had guys like @mday365, @robbiemiranda and Brian gotten aboard the big bike train. @ryannyquist has finally jumped on a FSMTB, and I think doing so will add years if not a decade to his illustrious cycling career. IMHO there is another good argument for grown men riding bigger bikes: fewer feckless members of the peanut gallery would look down on our sport's greatest athletes as merely "old men on kid's bikes." I personally despise that opinion and comparison, but sometimes perception IS reality.

A post shared by Harold McGruther (@haroldmcgruther) on

This isn’t the first time that McGruther has commented on “progressive 24s.”

You might recall a post from some years back, An army of giants take over the trails, where McGruther (using a Mirraco 24 as a jumping off point) talked about the number of core companies jumping into the 24 market (this was back in ’09).

At the time, he summed the situation up quite aptly by saying,

All we know for sure is this: 24-inch BMX bikes are fun to ride, and that’s good enough for us.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Postscript:

This just in…Brian Foster has jumped aboard the “big bike train“…to a degree, at least…in a surprise announcement — via Instagram — BF dropped the bomb that he was experimenting with an 22″ S&M ATF…and FIT would be releasing a 22″ Brian Foster complete in the new year.

Yowza!





Finding that Commonground

14 04 2016

Back in December, we had a look at Commonground Bikesuncommon approach to the 24.

As you might recall, rather than taking the well-trodden path of many other companies…that is, scaling up a bigger version of 20″ geometry…Commonground took a different approach.

Commonground borrowed elements of 26″ dirtjumpers (slack headtubes, low bottom brackets) and scaled it down to a 24″ version (while still retaining many familiar “BMX-y” elements).

Have a look at that previous post if you want to see how the Commonground setup compares, side-by-side, to a typical BMX cruiser.

Commonground still

Of course, words and images are great but it’s always nice to see how a bike works “in the field”…or in this case, at the trails.

As luck would have it, Commonground dropped a video edit today that explains a bit more about the Commonground concept along with some good riding action.

Check it out.

Bonus section: the filmer seemed to really, really like the Commonground frame.

Shot some stuff for @commongroundbikes but I could only stay serious for so long… #traillife #actorlife #comedy

A post shared by Taylor Calmus (@dudedadvlog) on

 





An uncommon approach to the 24

30 12 2015

Commonground Bikes has taken a decidedly uncommon approach to spec’ing their flagship 24″ bike.

While many companies have followed the path (made famous by Sunday with the Model C) of building scaled up versions of their popular 20″ bikes.

Commonground opted to take the dimensions of a 26″ dirtjumper frame and scale it down to a 24″ package.

commonground

Along with that thinking comes a quite different handling bike.

Instead of a steep head angle and a high bottom bracket, you’ll find a slack head angle and a low bottom bracket.

24 cruiser vs commonground comparison

We’re talking a 69 degree head angle here…which is very slack by cruiser standards. Even race cruisers stay above the 72 degree threshold (Mike Wong’s Dialled cruiser excepted).

commonground 26-24

With spec’s like this, it seems like this would be right at home in the dirt (which is what PlusSizeBMX seems to have found when they took it for a spin).

Heck, I can see how these might gain some traction (pardon the pun) in some of the older cruiser classes…given its more predictable steering and lower, more stable stance.

Not sure how it would fare for more technical street/park type riding though.

An interesting concept for sure…and with FBM manufacturing the frames and S&M helping out with the bars and forks you know these babies are built to last.

What do you think?

(All pics/images: Commonground)