A Guide to Famous Torker Bikes

As I did my research for To the Max, I came across a wide variety of Torker bicycles, some produced and sold by Torker, some individually built to the personal spec of Torker Factory Team riders and others offered by Torker Distributors. What follows is a list of those bikes and their specifications as best as I was able to determine. I plan to add a few others in the near future.

Torker MX in the Oct. 1977 Issue of Bicycle Motocross Action Magazine

  • Frame: Torker 4130 Chromoly, MX
  • Forks: Speedo (bent during test)
  • Headset:
  • Stem: Ashtabula Single-Clamp
  • Handlebars: Box-Type
  • Grips: Unknown
  • Brake Lever: N/A
  • Seat Clamp: Steel Band
  • Seat Post: Unknown
  • Saddle: Elina Super-Pro Padded Saddle
  • BB: Unknown
  • Cranks: Takagi 7-inch
  • Spider: Addicks
  • Chainring: Addicks
  • Pedals: KKT Rat Trap
  • Brake Calipers: N/A
  • Wheels: Araya Steel Rims, Sunshine Black Alloy Front Hub and Bendix Coaster Brake, 105-Gauge Spokes
  • Tires: Cheng Shin
  • Geometry and other facts:
  • Stickers: Red or yellow, Johnson Engineering MX headbadge, lightning-bolt logo down tube stickers and either two “Chrome Moly” stickers or nothing on the seat tube.
  • Retail Price: $210 on the West Coast; $220 on the East Coast.

Torker L.P.G.T. in Mid-1978 Ads

  • Frame:Torker 4130 chromoly, L.P.G.T. with European bottom bracket shell
  • Forks: Torker
  • Headset: Unknown
  • Stem: MCS 6-bolt
  • Handlebars: New Torker Alloy
  • Grips: Unknown
  • Brake Lever: Shimano Pre-Bent
  • Seat Clamp: Steel Band
  • Seat Post: Unknown
  • Saddle: Unknown
  • BB: Unknown
  • Cranks: Shimano Dura-Ace
  • Spider: N/A
  • Chainring: Shimano Dura-Ace
  • Pedals: KKT Rat Trap
  • Brake Calipers: Shimano
  • Wheels: Alloy, but Unknown
  • Tires: Cycle Pro Snake Belly
  • Geometry and other facts: The L.P. had an 18.5-inch top tube, dual head tube gussets, a round brake bridge, a relaxed 64-degree seat tube angle and was available in chrome, red, blue, black and white. The July 1978 Torker Dealer Catalog, which was never distributed, shows a gold option and no white option. No gold Torkers are known to exist. Serial numbers for Torker frames made through 1978 were on the bottom bracket shell. It is assumed the serial numbers ended with “L,” for L.P.
  • Stickers: Red or yellow MX headbadge (unlikely Johnson Engineering version), lightning-bolt logo down tube stickers and two “Chrome Moly” stickers on the seat tube. Forks have lightning-bolt logo. The logo on the new vinyl pads is in the original Torker logo font—the lightning bolt logo—but minus the lightning bolt.
  • Retail Price: Unknown, but the wholesale price was $185.

Maxflyte in Various 1979 Ads and Catalogs

  • Frame: Torker 4130 Chromoly L.P. with American or European BB Options
  • Forks: Torker
  • Headset: Tange
  • Stem: Torker
  • Handlebars: Torker Alloy V-bar
  • Grips: Oakley
  • Brake Lever: Shimano Pre-Bent
  • Seat Clamp: Steel Band
  • Seat Post: Alloy Fluted
  • Saddle: Unknown
  • BB: Tange
  • Cranks: Shimano Dura-Ace or 600
  • Spider: N/A
  • Chainring: Shimano
  • Pedals: KKT Rat Trap
  • Brake Calipers: Shimano Tourney
  • Wheels: Araya alloy 7C rims, Shimano Cassette Hubs
  • Tires: Mitsuboshi Comp II
  • Geometry and other facts:
  • Stickers: Red MX headbadge new non-lightning bolt down tube stickers, one 4130 Chomemoly seat tube sticker. Fork stickers are new non-lightning bolt logo.
  • Retail Price: $288.75, jumped to $318.75 in 1980.

Torkflyte in Various 1979 Ads and Catalogs

  • Frame: Torker 4130 chromoly or mild-steel L.P.
  • Forks: Torker
  • Headset: Tange
  • Stem: Torker
  • Handlebars: Torker Alloy
  • Grips: Unknown
  • Brake Lever: Shimano
  • Seat Clamp: Steel Band
  • Seat Post: Unknown
  • Saddle: Unknown
  • BB: Tanke
  • Cranks: Takagi Chromoly OP
  • Spider: Takaig
  • Chainring: Takagi/Shimano
  • Pedals: KKT Rat Trap
  • Brake Calipers: Shimano Tourney
  • Wheels: Araya 7C, Shimano Cassette Hubs
  • Tires: Unknown
  • Geometry and other facts: Available in all the Torker colors with contrasting anodized parts (gold, blue).
  • Stickers: Red MX headbadge new non-lightning bolt down tube stickers, one 4130 Chomemoly seat tube sticker on chromoly frame and none on mild-steel frame. Fork stickers are new non-lightning bolt logo.
  • Retail Price: $209.75 in mild-steel; $239.75 in chromoly.

Everything Bicycles Special Tork Pro in Jan./Feb. 1979 Issue of Bicycle Motocross Action Magazine

  • Frame: Torker 4130 Chromoly or Mild-Steel L.P. (chrome)
  • Forks: Torker (chrome)
  • Headset: Tange (chrome)
  • Stem: MCS 6-Bolt (silver)
  • Handlebars: Alloy (blue)
  • Grips: Oakley 1 (yellow)
  • Brake Lever: Dia-Compe Pre-Bent band-clamp (silver) with blue rubber sleeve
  • Seat Clamp: PL-1 (silver)
  • Seat Post: Alloy Fluted (blue)
  • Saddle: Unknown Suede (blue?)
  • BB: Unknown
  • Cranks: Suntour VX (blue)
  • Spider: N/A
  • Chainring: Suntour (blue)
  • Pedals: Reedy
  • Brake Calipers: Dia-Compe 890 (blue)
  • Wheels: Araya 7b Rims (silver) Unknown (Bullseye?) Small-Flange Hubs (blue)
  • Tires: Mitsuboshi Comp II (blue 2.125 & 1.75)
  • Geometry and other facts: Yellow Torker pads. Everything Bicycles designed the parts packages for its bike dealers and sold them disassembled and shipped them in two boxes, one for the frame and fork and one for the parts.
  • Stickers: Has standard stickers, but two Chromemoly seat tube stickers
  • Retail Price: $495

Everything Bicycles Special Torkflyte in Jan./Feb. 1979 Issue of Bicycle Motocross Action Magazine

  • Frame: Torker 4130 Chromoly L.P. (white)
  • Forks: Torker (white)
  • Headset: Tange (chrome)
  • Stem: MCS 6-Bolt (red)
  • Handlebars: Alloy (blue)
  • Grips: Oakley 1 (yellow)
  • Brake Lever: Dia-Compe Pre-Bent Band-Clamp (silver) with Rubber Sleeve (blue)
  • Seat Clamp: PL-1 (silver)
  • Seat Post: Alloy Fluted (blue)
  • Saddle: Unknown Nylon (blue)
  • BB: Unknown
  • Cranks: Suntour VX (blue)
  • Spider: N/A
  • Chainring: Suntour (blue)
  • Pedals: Unknown Rat Trap
  • Brake Calipers: Dia-Compe 890 (blue)
  • Wheels: Araya 7C Rims (blue) Unknown Large-Flange Hubs (blue)
  • Tires: Mitsuboshi Comp II (blue 2.125 & 1.75)
  • Geometry and other facts: Blue Torker pads. Everything Bicycles designed the parts packages for its bike dealers and sold them disassembled and shipped them in two boxes, one for the frame and fork and one for the parts.
  • Stickers: Standard
  • Retail Price: $369.95

Eddy King’s Race Bike in June 1980 issue of Bicycle Motocross Action Magazine

  • Frame: E.K. Replica, European BB (chrome)
  • Forks: Torker (chrome)
  • Headset: Tange
  • Stem: Torker (gold)
  • Handlebars: Torker alloy V-bar (gold)
  • Grips: Grab-On (first-gen)
  • Brake Lever: Shimano Pre-Bent (gold) with Rubber Sleeve (black)
  • Seat Clamp: Addicks (black)
  • Seat Post: Chromoly
  • Saddle: Cinelli Unicanitor (black)
  • BB: Phil Wood No. 3
  • Cranks: Campagnolo Gran Sport (G.S.) 170
  • Spider: N/A
  • Chainring: Dia Compe 44T (black)
  • Pedals: KKT Rat Trap (filed)
  • Brake Calipers: Shimano Tourney (gold) with Mathauser Finned Pads
  • Wheels: Araya 7b rims, Phil Wood hubs (36H), 80-60-Gauge Stainless Steel Spokes
  • Tires: Cheng Shin 1.75 Front; Mitsuboshi Competition II 1.75 Rear
  • Freewheel: Suntour 16T
  • Geometry and other facts: The E.K. Replica has the same geometry as the L.P. The only difference is a European bottom bracket shell.
  • Stickers: Eddy’s personal bike had the yellow headbadge and the lightning-bolt Torker logo down tube stickers used on the pre-1979 frames. The red headbadge and non-lightning blot down tube tickers were stock on the Eddy King Replica frames sold by Torker. (Eddy’s personal bike may have been an earlier 1978 frame.)
  • Retail Price: Unknown

Maxflyte in Dec. 1980 Issue of Bicycle Motocross Action Magazine

  • Frame: Torker 4130-chromoly L.P. in Standard, Long or European B.B. (Formerly the E.K. Replica) models in chrome, red, blue, white or black with blue, red or gold components
  • Forks: Torker
  • Headset: Tange
  • Stem: Torker
  • Handlebars: Torker Alloy
  • Grips: Finishline
  • Brake Lever: Shimano Pre-Bent
  • Seat Clamp: Addicks
  • Seat Post: Chromoly
  • Saddle: Kashimax MX
  • BB: Shimano 600
  • Cranks: Shimano 600 (175)
  • Spider: N/A
  • Chainring: Shimano 44T
  • Pedals: KKT Lightning
  • Brake Calipers: Shimano Tourney
  • Wheels: Araya 7X rims, Shimano Cassette Hubs, 80-Guage Spokes
  • Tires: Mitsuboshi Comp III (spec’d, but bike in article had Comp IIs)
  • Geometry and other facts:
  • Stickers: Standard
  • Retail Price:

Clint Miller’s Bike in the Dec. 1980 Issue of Bicycle Motocross Action Magazine

  • Frame: Torker 4130-chromoly L.P. Long
  • Forks: Torker Custom with 1-Degree Steeper Geometry, Painted Black
  • Headset: Tange
  • Stem: Torker
  • Handlebars: Cook Brothers Chromoly
  • Grips: Oakley
  • Brake Lever: Front and Rear Haro Handles
  • Seat Clamp: Addicks
  • Seat Post: Chromoly
  • Saddle: Kashimax MX
  • BB: Redline
  • Cranks: Redline Flight, Non-Pinch
  • Spider: Takagi
  • Chainring: Shimano
  • Pedals: KKT Lightning
  • Brake Calipers: Shimano Tourney
  • Wheels: Araya 7X rims, Campagnolo Large-Flange Hubs
  • Tires: Carlisle Aggressor 2.125 front Mitsuboshi Comp III rear
  • Geometry and other facts:
  • Stickers: Standard
  • Retail Price: Unknown

Torkflyte in Jan. 1981 Issue of BMX Plus! Magazine

  • Frame: Torker 4130-chromoly L.P.
  • Forks: Torker
  • Headset: Tange AW-27
  • Stem: Torker
  • Handlebars: Voris Dixon Alloy V-Bars
  • Grips: Finish Line
  • Brake Lever: Shimano Pre-Bent
  • Seat Clamp: Steel Band
  • Seat Post: Chromoly
  • Saddle: Troxel
  • BB: Tange
  • Cranks: Takagi Chromoly OP (175)
  • Spider: Takagi
  • Chainring: Shimano 44T
  • Pedals: KKT RT-E-MX Rat Trap (Trashed by Greg Hill after 30 mins. of testing.)
  • Brake Calipers: Shimano Tourney
  • Wheels: Araya 7X rims, Shimano Cassette Hubs, 80-Guage Spokes
  • Tires: Mitsuboshi Comp II
  • Geometry and other facts: Test bike came with Suntour hubs because the stock Shimano hubs were back ordered. Bike got positive reviews, but the rear drop out was poorly butted to the seat stay. After the pedals were destroyed, the testers put on KKT Lightnings.
  • Stickers: Standard
  • Retail Price: $300

Jason Jensen’s Bike in the April. 1981 Issue of Bicycle Motocross Action Magazine

  • Frame: New Torker 4130-chromoly mini (black)
  • Forks: Torker Mini(black)
  • Headset: Tange MX-5 (gold)
  • Stem: New Torker Ultra-4, 4-bolt (gold)
  • Handlebars: Laguna Alloy Mini V-Bars (copper lacquered)
  • Grips: Oakley .5 (black)
  • Brake Lever: Team Products (copper lacquered)
  • Seat Clamp: Tange (copper lacquered)
  • Seat Post: N/A
  • Saddle: Uni Seat
  • BB: O.M.A.S. with Alloy Crank Bolts
  • Cranks: Shimano 600 (170) (copper lacquered)
  • Spider: N/A
  • Chainring: Shimano Dura-Ace 44T
  • Pedals: Suntour MP1000 (copper lacquered)
  • Brake Calipers: Shimano Tourney (copper lacquered)
  • Wheels: Araya 7X rims, Shimano Dura-Ace Large-Flange Hubs with Track Axles, 80-60-Guage Stainless Steel Spokes
  • Tires: Raleigh Red Dot 1.75 front Mitsuboshi Comp II 1.75 rear, 16” inner tubes
  • Freewheel: Suntoru 16T
  • Chain: Sedisport 3/32”
  • Geometry and other facts: The new mini frame, like the new cruiser, lacked head tube gussets. It had a 17.5-inch top tube, a 7/8-inch O.D. down tube, a European bottom bracket shell and used 13/16-inch O.D. seatposts.
  • Stickers: Standard
  • Retail Price: Unknown

Clint Miller’s Cruiser in the Sept. 1981 Issue of Bicycle Motocross Action Magazine

  • Frame: New Torker 4130-Chromoly 26” Cruiser
  • Forks: Torker Cruiser
  • Headset: Tange
  • Stem: Torker 6-bolt (black)
  • Handlebars: Prodyne Crsuier
  • Grips: Oakley .5 (black)
  • Brake Lever: Shimano DX
  • Seat Clamp: Addicks
  • Seat Post: Chromoly
  • Saddle: Elina Lightning (no bolt)
  • BB: Redline
  • Cranks: Redline Flight
  • Spider: Addicks
  • Chainring: Addicks Graphite 44T
  • Pedals: MKS BM-10 Filed
  • Brake Calipers: Dia Compe MX1000, Mathauser Pads
  • Wheels: Ukain Rims (blue), Shimano Large-Flange Hubs (blue), 80-Guage Stainless Steel Spokes
  • Tires: Mitsuboshi Silver Stars 2.125 Front and 1.75 Rear
  • Freewheel: Shimano 20T
  • Chain: HKK 1/8”
  • Geometry and other facts: Torker vinyl pads. The frame lacked gussets and was built with larger-diameter 5/8-inch tubing (20-inch frames have ½-inch tubing) for the top tube/seat stays and the chain stays. The rest of the tubes were beefed up a ¼ inch to 1¼ inches. The wall thicknesses, were 30 to 40 percent thinner. Miller’s bike weighed 29 pounds, 14 ounces.
  • Stickers: Standard
  • Retail Price: $185 for Frame, $55 for Forks (The 1981 Wes’ BMX mail-order catalog listed the frame and forks for $170.)

Torker 280X in the Sept. 1982 issue of Bicycle Motocross Action Magazine

  • Frame: New Torker 4130-Chromoly 280X
  • Forks: Torker
  • Headset: Tange AW-27
  • Stem: SR MS-240
  • Handlebars: Torker chromoly Pro “T” Bars
  • Grips: A’me Tri
  • Brake Lever: Dia-Compe Tech 2
  • Seat Clamp: Addicks
  • Seat Post: SR Alloy Fluted
  • Saddle: Torker
  • BB: Redline
  • Cranks: Suginoa Chromoly OP (175)
  • Spider: Sugino
  • Chainring: Sugino 44T
  • Pedals: MKS BM-10
  • Brake Calipers: Dia Compe 890
  • Wheels: Araya 7X Rim, Suzue Large-Flange Hubs
  • Tires: IRC Z-1 2.125 Front and 1.75 Rear
  • Freewheel: Suntour 16T
  • Geometry and other facts: Basically a Torker L.P. Long (the 280 is the standard size frame) sold only as a complete bike.
  • Stickers: Standard with the short-lived vertical headbadge.
  • Retail Price: $280 (A 24” cruiser similarly spec’d and called the 340 was available for $340.)

© 2010 Michael Gamstetter

To the Max: The History of Torker (Part 9: The Final Chapter)

The Post-Johnson Years According to McGruther who was there, in November 1984, the owner of Seattle Bike Supply (SBS) bought the bankrupt company at public auction. “Bob Morales bought the Max name for $300. Seattle Bikes bought the Torker name for $3,000. I bought my wooden desk and office chair for $25,” he said.

Johnson said he didn’t remember how much money the auction raised, but it was insignificant. “We didn’t get much out of the bankruptcy. We paid our big creditor, the bank, and that was pretty much it,” he said.

Todd Huffman said he and Morales walked the auction and bought all of Torker’s excess parts inventory. “We got all sorts of components. I remember getting a lot of Torker stems and wheels. We used those to start a distribution company that eventually became Auburn,” he said, adding that all of Southern California’s local builders were there. “They were buying the jigs and tooling. Some of them were just walking around. I think everyone was in shock to see all that being sold.”

Morales said he wanted the Max name just to put it out of business. As the owner of Dyno, one of Max’s main rivals, he got a bit of a thrill buying his competitor for next to nothing and then removing it form the market.

Torker would quickly find its way into the hands of the Marui Brothers, who also own Tioga. At the height of the freestyle movement, Marui reintroduced Torker as Torker 2 with freestyle bike and frames like the 360 Flite and 540 Flite and a newly designed 280X, which were built by Akisu in Japan.Torker operated under Marui until about 1989.

In the mid-1990s and under new ownership, Seattle Bike Supply (SBS) reacquired the brand from Marui, an acquisition that reportedly cost SBS $1, and brought it back to life with a race team anchored by Matt Hayden and Clarence Perry.

“We had a relationship with Tioga because we used their tires. They weren’t doing anything with Torker, so we asked about it and bought it,” said Craig “Gork” Barrette, SBS’s marketing manager.

The high-end ST frames SBS sold under the Torker name in the 1990s were built in California by Mike Devit, who also was building SE frames.

The Torkers were built using 6061 T-6 aluminum with modern features such as 1 1/8-inch head tubes and cantilever brake bosses, but retained the dual-top tube design.

Torker also offered a range of low-end and price-point frames and bicycles, some with the double top tube, some without. The revival, however, was short lived.

Torker is now a beach cruiser and unicycle brand. At the 2008 Interbike Expo, the bicycle industry’s largest U.S. trade show, SBS unveiled the U-District, a single-speed bike for college students. The all-black, flat-bar road bike has the original Torker logo on the down tube and the Torker 2 headbadge.

Now owned by industry giant Accel Group, SBS also owns Redline, which has become the focus of its BMX business.

SBS does, however, offer a re-manufactured sticker packs for early Torker frames. Sticker packs for later models are expected to hit the market in the future.

The Johnsons Now. John, Doris and Steve still live in Anaheim while Doug splits his time between Sitka, Alaska, and Puerto Princessa the Phillipine Islands.

After John, now 86, retired from the FAA, he wrote inventory control programs and operated a billing service for about 10 years. He remains active with computers.

Steve, Torker’s president, went to work at Hughes Aircraft in Fullerton, CA. He retired after 20 years with the company.

Today, he enjoys spending time with his kids. His hobbies include photography and computers.

Doug built a home on Maui, Hawaii, and worked a number of years for the Parsons Company, which removes exploded and unexploded ammunition from the island of Kahoolawe.

After the bankruptcy and prior to this article, no member of the family spoke publicly about Torker. “No one ever asked, “ John said. “We thought everyone forgot abut Torker.” —Michael Gamstetter

To the Max: The History of Torker (Part 8)

End of an Era To be honest, it has been difficult from this point on to track the Torker product line. Torker seems to have developed a split personality. It was developing high-end products for its racers, but was pushing its price-point bikes on the general public.

Close inspection of race photos featuring Torker Factory riders Kelly McDougall and Dave Marrietti show them riding the new Pro X frames, but Torker’s advertising was focused on the price-point 280. The ads were again high-production quality, full-color, full-page ads, but they featured arguably cheesy themes.

The Pro X, a longer frame set with a 19.5-inch top tube, made its debut in 1983 and was the frame ridden by racers such as Tommy Brackens, McDougall and Richie Anderson, but it got relatively little media coverage. Torker also rarely, if ever, promoted the frame in advertising, opting instead to put its marketing dollars into promoting the 280.

The frames got a variety  of new features, some of them technological in character, others simply cosmetic. The Pro X, for example had a machined head tube and bottom bracket shell. The design innovation improved strength and helped prevent flaring.

Torker built the Pro X frames with Ishiwata butted tubing and replaced the fish-scale gussets with gussets under the down tube similar to those found on the Haro frames and Redline Prolines as early as 1978. The Pro X serial numbers ended with the letter “P” and looked like this, TLL 0125 P.

In August 1983, the 280 and 280X saw the first change to the fish-scale head tube gussets since 1978. Vertically oriented elliptical cutouts in the two gusset plates replaced the old round holes.

Torker began to alter its frame graphics in late-1982 and introduced a new oval headbadge late in the year. But this was short lived and was replaced by a “T” headbadge that was part of a totally redesigned graphic look used on all Torker frames from 1983 on.

Getting a handle on just what Torker offered in its 1984 line is not easy. Based on what can be seen in photos of racers that year, the line appears to have grown and evolved. But few ads or marketing materials have surfaced that clearly outline what the company offered.

Photos of a small (You might call it a mini.) bike under team racer Jason Foxe show a frame that, like the earlier mini, lacks head tube gussets, but unlike any Torker before it, seems to have a single top tube and an integrated seat clamp.

Another bike recently surfaced in a collection that shares some of the characteristics found on Foxe’s frame, but that definitely has a new style double top tube.

Instead of two tubes diverging from the head tube and connecting to a plate at the seat tube, the frame’s two tubes run parallel to each other until they wrap around the seat tube and become seat stays. No gussets or plates connect the two tubes.

Its serial number, TEE 1260 RP, shows that it was made in June 1984. The ending letters, “RP” are interesting in that they are a combination of the “R” used on minis and the “P” used for the Pro X. The frame shares some characteristics of both, but its size—it has an 18.5-inch top tube—puts it in between both frames.

The frame also has a 7/8-inch OD down tube and fork legs. The head tube is machined and there is an integrated seat clamp.

The sticker set on the frame is the new 1984 version where Torker’s traditional white, black and yellow logo received the addition of a red stroke. Pads and jerseys at this time also got this treatment.

The bike appears to have been sold as a complete. Besides the frame and fork, other Torker parts include Junior T Bars (25 inches wide with a 5 1/2” rise), four-bolt stem and Torker-stamped cable clamps.

The stem is nearly identical to the so-called prototype 4-bolt stems made a few years earlier. (See the “Torker Made Sweet Components” sidebar.)

Some Torker frames made during this time had round brake bridges. And it appears that Torkers were available in chrome or white.

It was at this time that Haro took its production off shore, leaving a hole in Torker’s fabrication business.

“Haro left in 1983 and by early 1984 was importing frames and later complete bikes from Anlun in Taiwan. Our job-shop cash-cow dried up,” said Harold McGruther.

John Johnson, however, diagreed. “We didn’t make a lot of money off Haro. Bob was a big help to us in the beginning. He helped a lot with design work,” Johnson said.

Yet, despite their close relationship and the fact that Bob Haro was a pioneer in the freestyle movement, Torker made little effort to enter the scene when it was starting to boom.

“The Johnson family was extremely slow to embrace the freestyle movement, too, even though their sister company Max leathers sponsored a bunch of freestylers like Mike Buff, Martin Aparijo, Woody Itson, Fred Blood. We built a freestyle prototype for Martin Aparijo in the summer of 1984, but the company filed bankruptcy four months later,” he said.

Aparijo’s  two prototype frames are now in the possession of friend and fellow freestyler Woody Itson.

In the summer of 1984, Steve Johnson put together a top-notch team and went on a media blitz to promote the team and the brand. His push, however, came too late.

Super BMX magazine published an article on the new team in the November 1984 issue, but Torker was already headed for bankruptcy.

Clint Miller left Torker for Kuwahara in 1983, and was replaced shortly afterward by Tommy Brackens.

Mike Miranda joined Team Torker in January 1984, but left in September when the company was unable to pay him. Richie Anderson joined the team in July and left in November when the team was disbanded and Torker filed for bankruptcy.

Johns Johnson said Torker’s bankruptcy was the result of more than 10 years of losing money.

“Torker was always a non-profit organization. By the time you paid everyone off, there wasn’t much profit left for the family. Doris and I  worked for free.

“The big guys were getting into BMX like Murray and Schwinn and we couldn’t compete with them. We couldn’t lower the price. Now, I think we didn’t charge enough for our bikes. We never figured in the overhead. And we had a very expensive team. The ads alone cost a lot of money,”
Johnson said.

He added that he and his family saw the bankruptcy as a necessity.

“It was our planned exit strategy. You might say we were tired. We didn’t hurt a lot of people by going bankrupt. Most of our suppliers shipped to us C.O.D. and we paid our bank in full. We saw it was going to happen, so we bought extra parts for the Haro frames and sold those to Bob.”

To the Max: The History of Torker (Part 7)

Chasing a New Market Nineteen-Eighty-Two was a year of big changes year for Torker, as well as the rest of the BMX bike makers.

As many serious BMX racers were custom building their high-end racing bikes rather than buying complete bikes off bicycle shop showroom floors, retailers were asking for less-expensive bicycles to meet the growing demand from kids who wanted BMX-style bikes, but who had no need for expensive race-quality builds.

For Torker, this meant the introduction of the 280, 280X and 340, three low-price bikes. The 280 and 280X chromoly frame sets are identical to the L.P. and L.P. Long, which no longer appear in Torker marketing materials. The 340 was a 24-inch cruiser.

BMXA tested the 280X in its September issue. According to the article, the name came from the suggested retail price of $280. Unlike their pricier predecessors the Maxflyte and Torkflyte, the 280 and 280X were spec’d with price-point components. In many cases, Shimano and Torker components were replaced with less-expensive Sugino or Sakae Ringyo (SR) parts.

The BMXA test bike looked like this: Torker 4130-chromly frame and forks; Torker chromoly Pro “T” handlebars; SR MS-240 stem; A’me Tri grips; Tange AW-27 headset; Araya 7X rims with Suzue large-flange hubs; IRC Z-1 tires; Dia-Compe 890 rear brake; Dia-Compe Tech 2 lever; MKS BM-10 pedals; 175 Sugino one-piece cranks with Sugino 44T chainring and spider; Suntour 16T freewheel; Torker saddle and SR fluted alloy seatpost.

Torker, however, didn’t forget about the high-end. Prior to the release of the 280 and 280X, Torker replaced its 26-inch cruiser with a professional-level, 24-inch frame set—now the standard size cruiser for racing. Many pros had started racing the new cruiser class the previous year and the smaller bikes were gaining popularity with amateurs and the general public. Like the 26-inch cruisers, they were available in chrome and black.

Torker also organized its growing component line under a new name—Ultra Series. All the components were machined by sub-contractors and assembled in-house, sometimes by Torker Factory Team members.

“Every time I flew into town, we were at the Torker Factory discussing racing strategy, and we sometimes would help assemble the Torker goose necks. It was great every time we got to visit the Factory. We always got to pick out any kind of part we needed for our bikes,” Mike Aguilera remembered.

Ultra Series components included the Ultra-6 and new Ultra-4 stems, sealed European and American bottom brackets and sealed bearing hubs. The hubs, which closely resemble Sunshine’s three-piece hubs, appear to have been sold in very small numbers. Only one set is known to exist.

The new, four-bolt Ultra-4 stem was similar to Jason Jensen’s custom-modified stem and made its appearance in the summer of 1982. They had the same dimensions of the Ultra-6 stems, but featured a split cap, 1-inch hole in the base and a shorter quill. Several non-split, four-bolt, stems also are known to exist. These are often considered to be prototypes, but this has not been confirmed.

According to Torker ads, the stems, American bottom brackets and hubs were available in red, blue, black, gold and silver, while the European bottom brackets came in black, gold and silver.

Rarely seen and virtually unknown, Torker also dabbled in the new sport of mountain biking, building four Summit bikes. The location of one bike and one frame are known, while the remaining bikes belonged to the Johnsons until they gave them to friends several years ago.

“We had them on our motor home for years. I gave one to a friend for his kid to ride and the other to another friend on extended loan,” John Johnson said.

The known bike appears to be stock with the exception of the grips, saddle, tires and pedals. The bike features a Torker-made frame with an American bottom bracket shell, cable braze-ons, cantilever brake bosses and forks with standard Torker BMX dropouts. Among the components are a Torker Ultra-6 stem, Torker sealed bottom bracket, Torker chromoly mountain bike handlebars, Ambrossio rims, Galli hubs, Mafac cantilever brakes and a Suntour drivetrain.

“We made a handful of these things [mountain bikes] and I remember at that time I thought they were really ugly,” Doug Olson said.

Johnson said the reason they never made more was because mountain bikes at the time had silver brazed frames.

“We were welding our frames and we didn’t want to get into silver brazing. We didn’t think a welded frame would sell,” he said.

The Torker team was still finding success with Clint Miller in 24-inch cruiser and new addition Kelly McDougall, while Eddy Fiola was winning freestyle competitions on a Torker.

Torker’s marketing also consisted of ads in BMXA and BMX Plus promoting the component line. They were less-expensive, 1/4-page, black and white ads.

Torker started promoting the 280 with the infamous full-color, full-page Torker the Barbarian ad. It featured a shirtless Clint Miller covered in war paint a la Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1982 film Conan the Barbarian.

Starting in September 1982, all serial numbers start with three letters as opposed to two and look like this: TYY 244 SC (24-inch cruiser) and TWW 2339 0 (280X). The serial numbers, perhaps for the first time, easily identify the frame model and the month and year it was built. Frames made in September 1982 have serial numbers that start with TZZ. The last frames made by Torker in Fullerton in September 1984 have serial numbers that start with TBB. To decipher a three-letter serial number, start with TZZ and go backward consecutively toward TBB. (TYY = October 1982, TXX = November 1982, etc.)

The new 24-inch cruisers have serial numbers that end with “SC,” which may stand for small cruiser. Torker stopped using the “L” at the end of serial numbers on its standard 20-inch frames (Now the 280.), but the 280X frame serial numbers still end with a “0” just like the L.P. Long. Torker-built Haro frames had serial numbers such as TNN 2185 F, with the “F” presumably representing “freestyle.”

Frame and fork stickers remained unchanged at the beginning of the year, but by the end of 1982, some frames had a new oval headbadge as seen in the September 1982 issue of BMXA. The following year, the 280 and 280X got totally new graphics. Frames were available only in chrome.

The Effect of One Number Plate

From the first time I saw one in the Jan./Feb. 1979 issue of Bicycle Motocross Action magazine, I wanted a Bob Haro number plate. Not only did they look cool and give every rider who used one an air of  invincibility, they represented the pinnacle of  California BMX chic.  By July that year, photos in the BMX magazines showed three types of Haro plates in two shapes. There were Haro’s original hand-made plates in round and square, the interim Bob Haro’s Factory Plates, also in round and square, and the best-known Haro Pro Plates—the one with the lightning bolts. My fave, the square Factory Plate.

This was one of the first photos I ever saw of a square Factory Plate. I wanted one so badly. To this day, I've never seen one in real life.

I wanted a square Haro plate so badly, but BMX stuff like that was impossible to find in Dayton, Ohio, at the time. By the time I saw one in the July issue of BMXA, Haro had long since stopped making them and had switched to the Pro Plate graphics. Of course, I didn’t know this. I just assumed my local bike shops were too lame to order and stock them. By the time Haro plates made their way to Ohio, all you could get was the Pro Plates. (I got my only Haro ProPlate or my birthday in 1980. It was red and black.) After doing a fair amount of research (I still haven’t asked Bob Haro.), as far as I can tell, Haro made one run of the Factory Plates. Maybe he only made 100 or so. However many and for however long he made them, it wasn’t a lot and it wasn’t for long. To this day, I still haven’t seen a real Factory Plate, either round or square, in real life. I’ve only heard of one rumored to be for sale. It was round, well-used and in SE colors. The price—$800.

Three people have sent me this photo asking if I could replicate it.

When I started making my replica plates, I did so only for myself. I borrowed an old plate from a friend and used it to make a template. I used my computer to design the graphics and to make patterns I used to hand cut colored vinyl. When I tried to build my first prototype plate with my patterns, I discovered a problem. The graphics didn’t fit. I had traced a Type 2 Plate and designed Pro Plate graphics. Until then, I had no idea there was even a difference between the Pro Plate and the later Type 2. So, I set out to find an Pro Plate. As luck would have it, I found a hand-made Haro plate to trace. A hand-made plate was what I wanted to use, but I assumed I’d never see one.

As before, I made a template, cut out a couple of blanks and then decorated them with colored vinyl I cut from some old scraps I had. I also used two vintage Haro Panel Covers I had been saving for the day when I figured out how to make a decent number plate. The plates looked pretty good. I was stoked. I got some flack from the diehard anti-reproduction crowd, but that was expected. Others asked me to make a plate for them. I wasn’t ready. Then, I bought more vinyl and made a couple of plates based on the handmade plates Clint Miller and Eddy King ran in 1978. They looked great. I was ready to make a few for sale. That’s when I first saw the $800 Factory Plate.

My first Pro Plate-style prototype.

Over the past six months, three of my customers have sent me the same photo of that plate along with their requests for me to reproduce it. My first-ever customer was the first of the three. He wanted an SE-colored plate for his OM Flyer and that was the plate he had in mind. (It was him, by the way, who told me it was for sale. He had considered buying it, but couldn’t see paying more than $500 for it.) At the time, I was still building plates using a mix of  hand-cut and computer-cut vinyl. I had no way to do details like the black outline and the “Factory Plates” logo. He was cool with that. I built him a plate in brown and light blue. It was nice.

The first SE plate

Months later, another guy sent me the same pic of the same plate, asking if I could make it. By then, my skills had been honed and I was using a computer-controlled vinyl cutter and the black outline and logos were within my ability. His plate was brown and blue and had a couple of small SE logos and a black outline around the center oval like the original in the photo. I also added a number 7 and the word Expert like had had on his old race bike.

SE plate number 2.

About a week later, I got my third request for the same plate. I made him a plate similar to the one  the last guy got, but decided to try something new, too. I had been experimenting with digitally printed graphics. Printing meant I could do more complicated graphics and, I had hoped, would reduce production time and complexity. But I had reservations about the process. Sure, it was a little more convenient, but would the quality stand up?

The first printed plate I made was for a guy who wanted a Wizard plate. He sent me a photo and  two dimensions (width and height) and asked me to recreate one for his JMC 3.1 XL. I did. It turned out nice, I thought.  The buyer loved it and said he’d be buying another when his next bike build was completed. I made a similar plate in black and yellow for my Torker rider/race bike. I wanted to test the durability of the process and material. Not long afterward, a second JMC owner asked for one. Since the plate on my Torker was holding up well, I decided to make one for him. He loved it, too. I took their approval as an indication that the quality was good.

I used this photo to design and make a custom plate for a customer.

I made this plate to test the durability of printed graphics.

When the third SE-colored Factory Plate request came in, I thought I’d try making one digitally, not for the customer, but as a test. I also made a few ovals printed with the black outline and the Factory Plates logo and a bunch of two-color numbers. Everything turned out pretty cool. I made a second Factory Plates sticker, in Torker colors of course, that I have yet to mount. It also looks good.

A Factory Plate prototype based on the plate above.

I showed the “SE” plate and numbers to a couple of my best customers and their feedback was super positive. One guy wants me to use the digital process to recreate his holy-grail of number plates—an Aero Stadium Plate. “I’ve been chasing this plate since my childhood,” he said. I think it’s going to happen. Like the Wizard plate, I’ll be designing it using photographs.

So, I’ve reached a place where I must decide how far I want to go with this number plate project. What stared out as a simple question that I asked myself, “I wonder if I can figure out how to make a number plate exactly like the ones Haro made?” and the desire to put number plates on all my bikes, has turned into a tidy little business, with the emphasis on little. It’s a business that takes loads of my time, however, and one that has yet to provide me with enough of an income to quit my “day job.” (My day job, by the way, is applying for jobs.)

I now offer six different hand-cut and molded shapes—Pro Round, Original Square, 44-16 Square, 44-16 Mini/New-School Cruiser, Wizard Large and Type 2—with cut vinyl or for the Wizard plate only, digital graphics. And all are custom made-to-order. It’s a complex and slow process, but one that ensures high quality and, so far, perfect customer satisfaction. (Almost all of my customers have come back for more plates.) It was this process, however, that led me to announce last fall that I’d make 100 plates, then stop. I assumed by the time I made 80, I’d be ready to shoot myself and 100 would be my limit. But, the truth is, at just over 60 plates made, I really like making them. That said, I have yet to make any serious capital investments (I could sure use a nice vinyl cutter and a quad-core iMac.), so it’s not too late to stop at 100.

The Forty Four 16 number plate catalog has grown to include six shapes and a variety of graphics options.

For now, while I remain unemployed and with plenty of free time on my hands, I’ll keep making them “the old fashioned way.” But keep an eye on this blog for news and announcements regarding new products an changes here at Forty Four 16 Design World HQ.

The History of BMX Number Plates—The Early Days

Custom BMX Number Plate Timeline*

1972: First organized BMX races take place in Southern California. Pie plates and motorcycle motocross plates and numbers are the standard.

1977: Bob Haro, Dennis Dain and many other young racers start customizing their own plates. Haro begins selling custom-made numbers to local Southern California racers. Later, he starts making custom number plates, using his hand-cut vinyl numbers and Preston Petty number plates.

August 1978: Bicycle Motocross Action magazine features Haro’s Factory Plates in the “Products” section. The write-up says, “Each Factory Plate is unique and original. Haro hand cuts the numbers from several colors of glossy adhesive vinyl, sticks ‘em on a genuine Preston Petty unbreakable number plate, pre-drills and rivets the mounting holes and even includes four tie downs.” Price was $6, which included shipping and handling. ($6 in 1978 is equal to $20 today.)

According to Bob, many of his early plates, including the Pro Plates that would come later, were decorated with Contact paper, which he said, “didn’t stick very well and would get dirty right away and peel off.”

October 1978: Bicycle Motocross Action magazine runs a pictorial titled “Number Plates. . .an Art From.” It features a variety of customized plates. Most are standard oval and square plates with a variety of custom and homemade numbers and lost of stickers. One plate is made from clear acrylic.

December 1978: First contoured Haro plate (Pro Plate-type) appears on the cover of Bicycle Motocross Action magazine. Brent Patterson is using a blue, orange and yellow hand-cut vinyl plate. Instead of darts or lightning bolts to cover the seam between the two main colors, Haro used a simple rectangle. This is one of Haro’s earliest hand-molded plates and was like made using Contact paper.

January 1979: DG pro rider Clint Miller is on the cover of Bicycle Motocross Action magazine with a custom-made Haro Pro Plate. It’s done in yellow with blue darts. The issue shows that many racers were now running Haro’s plates, among them, Jeff Bottema, Eddy King, David Clinton, Jeff Ruminer, John Crews and Brent Patterson. At this time, Haro was making the plates in his kitchen (and or bedroom).

March 1979: Haro runs his first ad in Bicycle Motocross Action magazine. The ad features the Pro Plate Round and Pro Plate Square models. Both are made from hand-molded LDPE with hand-cut vinyl and have lightning bolts. Many of Haro’s lightning bolts at this time were made with chrome vinyl. Each plate had a signature and date on the back. 

A sampling of number plates made by Bob Haro in 1978.

One of Haro's first ads. It shows round and square handmade plates.

May 1979: Cover of Bicycle Motocross Action magazine shows six pro racers. Of those, five are using Haro Pro Plates. The sixth, Dennis Dain, is running one of his own custom-made plates. Mongoose racer Brain Curnell’s plate is a Pro Plate Square. Also note the DG rider with the 2072 plate. it’s the same plate hat appears in the above ad. The yellow is missing from the top. It was likely made with Contact paper and peeled off soon after the rider started using it. Many photos of riders at this time show them missing one, both or all the colored panels. Stu Thomsen raced with a plain plate for a long time. In the same issue, BMXA featured the Factory Plates in “The Hots” column. The article says Haro was in the process of moving away from making “one-off original. . .individual works of arts” to production plates. He also was discussing distribution deals. An Oakley ad shows Bobby Encinas, Stu Thomsen and Jeff Bottema with custom Haro Factory Plates. Haro also was making custom plates for DG’s new limited-edition California Pro bikes. Haro’s Factory Plate ad in the issue introduced the Werks numbers. It’s around this time that Haro begins renting space in the BMXA building.

July 1979: Another cover shot for Haro, this time on Harry Leary’s JMC. Bicycle Motocross Action-branded Haro Pro Plates are available for the first time for $9.95 (Approximately $32 when adjusted for inflation.). They are still made with hand-molded LDPE but the graphics are silk-screened on vinyl instead of hand-cut vinyl. They came in one color—yellow and blue with lightning bolts and the Bicycle Motocross Action logo. Haro Werks numbers are 6 inches tall, solid black and cost 50¢ each. The Haro Factory Plate ad shows a hand-made plate, but the accompanying Haro illustration shows the “Factory Plate” logo for the first time. Cook Brothers plates appear in the magazine for the first time.

October 1979: Thruster’s Timmy Judge gets the cover of Bicycle Motocross Action magazine with a custom-made Haro plate. Round and Square silk-screened Factory Plates appear throughout the issue, as well as numerous handmade plates. One Haro illustration shows a Pro Plate with the “Haro” logo on it. Up to this point, Haro was using the Factory Plates logo in his illustrations. The Haro ad is bigger and shows the Round Pro Plate with lightning bolts and the “Haro” logo. Available team colors included Redline, DG, Mongoose and Torker. Werks numbers are available in solid black or white. The original one-piece Haro Handle also appears for the first time. Company is now referred to as Haro Designs instead of Factory Plates. Square Pro Plates are no longer available.

November 1979: Bicycle Motocross Action magazine’s annual Buyer’s Guide features BMXA-branded Haro Pro Plates as well as Haro’s Factory Plates with the out-dated Factory Plate logo.

December 1979: JT offers JT/Haro Replica Plates in three colors and two-color JT Dirt Digit numbers. Jeff Ruminer is pictured with a solid black plastic Haro-style plate. (Manufacturer unknown.) 

March 1980: Neal Enterprise’s Proto Plates appear in Bicycle Motocross Action magazine. They were available in flat, colored plastic with silk-screened graphics. The handlebar “wings” were not formed like Pro Plates. All varieties of Haro-made plates appear in various photos. 

April 1980: Haro runs half-page black and white ad in Bicycle Motocross Action magazine.

June 1980: Curiously, BMXA SE Quadangle test bike has a Proto Plate on it. Until now, all test bikes were equipped with Haro BMXA plates.

July 1980: BMXA CYC Panther test bike has a JT Plate.

August 1980: MCS Hot Plates appear in ad in Bicycle Motocross Action magazine. Like Pro Plates, the Hot Plates were made from contoured LDPE. BMXA Kuwahara test bike has an MCS Hot Plate on it. 

November 1980: Haro runs full-page black and white ad. Ad features Pro Plate, two-color Werks numbers and Haro Panel Covers in green and black. BMXA Scorpion test bike has an MCS Hot Plate.

February 1981: Haro runs full-color, full-page ad in Bicycle Motocross Action magazine. Zeronine advertises number plates and numbers. They are flat and have multi-colored fire-themed graphics.

April 1981: Most of Diamondback Team runs modified Haro plates. The lower color (yellow?) is removed so plates are black and “white” with lightning bolts.
 Jason Jensen’s bike has custom, one-off, black Haro plate. 

June 1981: Haro Series One and Wizard plates start showing up in magazines. Both are made from contoured LDPE. Hot Inc. drops “MCS” from Hot Plate logo. RL Osborn is running a yellow and blue Haro Pro Plate with black Haro Panel Cover and his name and BMXA logo in white.

July 1981: Uni Plates appear in Bicycle Motocross Action ad. BMXA Trick Team switches from Haro to Wizard Plates. Some pros pictured using Haro Type 2 plates.

September 1981: Type 2 and Series One plates now the norm with Pros. Both are made from contoured LDPE and have Velcro fasteners. Coincides with the trend to use wider, flatter-bend handlebars. Max starts selling Max/Haro Pro Plate-style number plates for $10.95. Pro Neck Cam (flat) and Saber (flat but folded to create aerodynamic profile) plates advertised. BMXA-branded plates available in all Haro Pro Plate color combos for $9.95. Neal Enterprises offers Werks Oval stickers and Pro Line numbers. No Haro ad in BMXA.

November 1981: Haro runs full-color, full-page ad for Type 2 plate and Haro Handle in Super BMX magazine. Vera’s unveils number plates.

December 1981: Aero introduces contoured LDPE Stadium Plates. Zeronine introduces three sizes of Airflow plates with colored Velcro. The plates are made from perforated colored plastic. Neal Enterprises replaces Proto Plate with contoured LDPE Type 2-style plate. BMXA now selling BMXA-branded Neal plates in four colors. JT now sells flat plastic plates. (Manufacturer unknown.)

January 1983: Haro advertises colored Series One and Color plates and Stadium numbers in Bicycle Motocross Action magazine. Haro Flow Panel Plates also appear in magazines. These are no longer made from LDPE, but rather injection molded plastic. Aero, JT and others introduce number plates with “open” faces for better air flow-through.

April 1983: BMXA closes out BMXA-branded Neal plates at the discount price of $8.95. They are no longer advertised by June.

May 1983: Steve Veltman pictured in Bicycle Motocross Action magazine with a black and silver Hutch plate. Robinson ad shows Haro Series One Mini plates.

Summer 1983: Haro introduces injection-molded Tech Plate and injection-molded plastic numbers. 

*All info was gathered from a variety of BMX publications between 1978 and 1983, though the collection of magazine was in no way comprehensive. Introduction dates are based on the cover dates of the magazines, which may have been three to four (maybe more) months behind the date of actual introduction. Info is regarding U.S.-based number plate market only.

Torker Frame Serial Number Guide

One of my goals with this Blog is to pass on information I’ve collected. Since day-one of my entry into vintage BMX collecting, I’ve been frustrated by the lack of accurate information on the various bikes, frames, parts, etc. that are attractive to the collecting community. When I had questions, most of the answers I got were based on guesses, gossip, 30-year-old foggy memories and hearsay. As a reporter and a 20-year member of the bike industry, I knew the answers I sought were out there. So, I began researching and reporting—I actually talked to the people who made and sold the stuff I was collecting. Two of my first goals were to decipher the serial numbers Torker put on its frames and to better understand Torker’s corporate and product histories.

What follows is the serial number guide I’ve complied based on the accumulation of scores of Torker serial numbers over a 3 year period.

A few months into collecting serial numbers (SN), I had a theory on how Torker’s system worked month-by-month. At the time, however, I overlooked a few details and couldn’t make all the number fit my theory. I also had a few odd-ball numbers (still do) that exist due to: 1. Misread/inaccurately reported SN; 2. Poorly stamped SN; 3. Factory Mislabeling; 4. Unreadable SN; 5. All of the above.

As it turns out, my first theory was dead-on. Those few odd-balls not withstanding, I’m 90+% sure I’ve cracked the code from May 1978 when the Low Profile and Big Bike production began to October 1984 when the original U.S.-based company went bankrupt.

Prior to May 1978, Torker seems to have used the “standard” BMX SN system that many companies used. I have only two SNs from that time, but I am pretty confident of how they work.  The two I have are  T877188 and T977270. My best guess: “T” for Torker, month (August and September), year (1977), frame production number (188 and 270).

Starting in May 1978, Torker went with two letters (T? or ?T)—a “T” for Torker and a second letter corresponding to the month of production. The first letter in the series is “A” for May. Next is the production number of the model. The final letter represents the frame model. For example: TJ 3344 L = February 1979; the 3,344th frame in the model series; “L” for Low Profile (L.P.) or, The 3344th L.P. was made in February 1979. One caveat to this is if Torker used a letter to identify the model through 1978. I only have two SNs from 1978 and neither has a final letter.

The first series starts with “TA” in May 1978 and ends 26 months later in June 1980. In July 1980, a new series starts with “AT” and runs 26 months to August 1982. The model production numbers continue sequentially through both systems.

In September 1982, Torker switched to a new system starting with three letters TZZ to TAA. Around this time, Torker also changed its product line, dropping or changing all previous models and/or names. For example, the L.P. was renamed the 280 and all mild steel models were eliminated. The SN system, however, remained the same, with the exception of the three first letters and that it started at the end of the alphabet rather than the beginning. For example: TRR 8122 = May 1983; the 8,122 frame in the model series; no letter for 280. Frame production numbers started over from “1” with “TZZ.”

Most SNs end with a letter. The letter identifies the model. Those SNs that lack a final letter are either L.P.s or 280s, depending on when the frame was made. Torker dropped the “L” when it discontinued the Big Bike (B). At the same time, Mild steel L.P.s went from LM to M.

Previously, I wrote that a frame with the SN on the BB was made prior to 1980. As I collected more SNs, I began to question this theory. I now believe this is incorrect. Indeed, Torker used the SN on the BB early on, but it used it until mid-1980. From about that time, depending on the model (but there is no obvious solid date) the SN was put on the right, rear dropout. Using the SN location to date your frame should be avoided. The best way to ID your frame is to use the SN code that follows. These codes also can be found on my web site: http://www.fortyfour16design.com.

This serial number on the right rear dropout says the frame was a mild steel L.P. Long and it was made in October 1981. It's the 100th mild steel L.P. Long made by Torker.

My research is only on the frames made by Torker in its own factory in Fullerton, CA, USA. I do not have any research on frames made in Asia after the Oct. 1984 bankruptcy.

I must thank the guys who put together the Haro frame registry. Their work made this job much easier.

Here are the date codes followed by the model ID codes:

TA=May 1978

TB=June 1978

TC=July 1978

TD=Aug. 1978

TE=Sept. 1978

TF=Oct. 1978

TG=Nov. 1978

TH=Dec. 1978

TI=Jan. 1979

TJ=Feb. 1979

TK=March 1979

TL=April 1979

TM=May 1979

TN=June 1979

TO=July 1979

TP=Aug. 1979

TQ=Sept. 1979

TR=Oct. 1979

TS=Nov. 1979

TT=Dec. 1979

TU=Jan. 1980

TV=Feb. 1980

TW=March 1980

TX=April 1980

TY=May 1980

TZ=June 1980

AT=July 1980

BT=Aug. 1980

CT=Sept. 1980

DT=Oct. 1980

ET=Nov. 1980

FT=Dec. 1980

GT=Jan. 1981

HT=Feb. 1981

IT=March 1981

JT=April 1981

KT=May 1981

LT=June 1981

MT=July 1981

NT=Aug. 1981

OT=Sept. 1981

PT=Oct. 1981

QT=Nov. 1981

RT=Dec. 1981

ST=Jan. 1982

TT=Feb. 1982

UT=March 1982

VT=April 1982

WT=May 1982

XT=June 1982

YT=July 1982

ZT=Aug. 1982

TZZ=Sept. 1982

TYY=Oct. 1982

TXX=Nov. 1982


TVV=Jan. 1983

TUU=Feb. 1983

TTT=March 1983

TSS=April 1983

TRR=May 1983

TQQ=June 1983

TPP=July 1983

TOO=Aug. 1983

TNN=Sept. 1983

TMM=Oct. 1983

TLL=Nov. 1983

TKK=Dec. 1983

TJJ=Jan. 1984

TII=Feb. 1984

THH-March 1984

TGG=April 1984

TFF=May 1984

TEE=June 1984

TDD=July 1984

TCC=Aug. 1984

TBB=Sept. 1984

TAA=Oct. 1984

Model Codes:

B = Big Bike (from May 1978; had rear-facing dropouts; previously the MX)

BM = Mild Steel Big Bike

E = Eddy King Replica (European BB)

L = L.P. (Low Profile)

No Letter = Standard L.P.

LM = Mild Steel L.P. (1978-1979)

M = Mild Steel L.P., 1980+

0 (or O) = Long L.P. (has longer top tube (19”)

0M (or OM) = Long Mild Steel L.P. (has longer top tube (19”)

No Letter = Standard 280 (from Sept. 1982)

0 (or O) = 280 Long, (has longer top tube (19”) (from Sept. 1982)

0X (or OX) = 280 Long (has oval-hole gusset and 19” top tube) (from some time in 1983)

P = Pro XL, late-1983, (has longer top tube (19.5”), Haro/Redline-style gusset, butted tubing and 1 1/8” down tube)

SC = 24” cruiser (Small/Short Cruiser)

C = 26” cruiser (Cruiser)

R = Mini

RP = 1984 Mini Pro (Only known frame belonged to Factory Torker rider Craig Bark)

F = Haro fremaes (F = Freestyle?)