Forty Four 16 is the brainchild of me, Michael Gamstetter, an artist, designer and journalist. A lifelong cyclist and longtime bicycle industry veteran, in 1995, I began longing for the days when I rode bikes with my friends all day and night, jumping, racing and just hanging out. Bicycles brought me together with my friends, gave us purpose and our lives meaning. That nostalgic longing, led me to seek out and acquire a bike just like the one I had in 1980, a Torker L.P. During my search, I discovered a community of guys (mostly) much like me who were collectors of vintage BMX bikes, parts and ephemera. I soon identified a number of unfulfilled product needs in the market.
Off and on for several years, I put pencil, pen and marker to paper and spent countless hours in front of a computer conceptualizing various graphic and product designs to fill those voids. In 2009, it was time to put my ideas into production, starting with a line of unique T-shirt images.
Forty Four 16’s designs not only commemorate, but celebrate iconic bicycle components of the 1970s and 1980s in a graphic style that is fresh yet retro, painterly yet tight, rigid yet free. My unsympathetically nostalgic representations rejoice in simpler times when friends, paper routes, weekend racing and acquiring the latest bike parts were top priorities.
Forty Four 16 uses only the highest quality silkscreen printing and softgoods for all its products. I use soft and comfy 100-percent cotton, T-shirts for smaller size (Small, Medium and Large) shirts for those whose figures suit a more-fitted silhouette and looser-fitting Gildan®, 100-percent cotton solid and Ringer Tees for all the Xtra-sized shirts.
I also hand make custom number plates in the same fashion as BMX legend, artist and designer Bob Haro did in 1978. My number plates pay homage to Haro through the replication of plates he made for pro racers in the late-1970s, as well as by continuing offering modern racers and collectors the opportunity to create their own custom plates. Or, if they prefer, I will design a plate for them.
In the near future, I plan to expand the Forty Four 16 line to include other softgoods styles and add graphics that celebrate other cycling genres as well as enter the hardgoods market with a variety of products. In addition, I research, collect and disseminate information on a variety of vintage BMX subjects I’m into. For example, I have done extensive research on Torker, one of the earliest and most successful BMX brands when the sport was in its infancy. That information will be posted here, on my web site and on other BMX-related web sites. http://www.fortyfour16design.com/Pages/TorkerPage1.html
The name Forty Four 16 comes from the “standard” gearing used on BMX bikes in the 1970s and 1980s. For many, it remains the ideal neutral set-up. Forty Four 16 is based in Costa Mesa, California, and can be found on line at http://www.fortyfour16design.com