Two New Plate Shapes for Forty Four 16

We’ve been busy developing new plate shapes of late. Since starting the company last summer with the Original Round plate we’ve added our own Square, Original Square, Wizard and our Micro-Mini/Cruiser plates. Now, we are offering two new plates that fit a little better the larger Pro-size bars that were popular starting in the mid-1980s. The two new plates are based on the popular Haro Type 2/Colored plates and Aero’s Stadium plate. Both are available with modified lightning-bolt graphics.

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The Wizard plates, which, for now come in red, white and blue and black and yellow digitally printed graphics also fit larger bars. These plates are special order only and may take more time to complete.

Our Micro-Mini/Cruiser plates fit modern cruiser bars, as well as vintage mini bars. Like all our plates the width can be trimmed to custom fir smaller handle bars. These, also, come with our popular retro lightning bolt graphics. These are quickly catching on with the today’s racers who are old enough to remember the originals. Soon, we’ll be announcing a team sponsorship with these plates.

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I Started a New Job Today

Since I wrote the entry below and saw Toby’s real plate, I made another. This one is much closer to the original. I’m pretty stoked on it.

My replica plate is on the left. Toby Henderson's original plate is on the right.

I started my new job today as marketing manager at VSI Products, which is the parent company of Intense, Sinz, THE, Speed, EYE, AVE and ITS. Toby Henderson is my boss.

I made a very special one-off number plate for him. It’s a replica of his old plate. He was stoked and said, “Now I have something for you.”
He went into his office and came back with the original of the plate I replicated. He said it’s the only thing he kept from back in the day. It was so cool to see it and how Bob Haro made it. (Toby didn’t give it to me, BTW. Just showed it to me and let me keep it on my desk all day. He took them both to Rockford.)

The plate I made for Toby.

I used the cover shot of Toby and Jeff to make the plate. I couldn't really tell if the original numbers had a red stroke or not. I was 50/50 that it didn't. Still, looks good. VERY cool to see them side by side.

Toby said he watched Bob take a blue and yellow silk screened Factory Plate, cut the blue top out and replace it with a piece of precisely cut red vinyl. If I'd known that. I'd have done it the same way. Next time I make one, I will.

BMX Society Show and Reunion Was Best Ever

Saturday I took part in the 2010 BMX Society Show and Reunion at the Bellflower BMX track. What a super event. This was the third I attended and the second I exhibited in. There is no doubt it was the best yet. The new venue at the Bellflower track, with live BMX racing and the opportunity for  show goers to ride and participate in two vintage races, was stellar. What great luck that Peck Park, the original site, was closed for renovations.

It seems that the new SoCal event may have reached a tipping point. The number and quality of the bikes on display was dazzling. There were so many spectacular bikes that I can’t even remember seeing a single mediocre build. From Denis Dain’s collection of his personal 1970s race bikes to a number of lager freestyle collections and even mid-school bikes the entire history of old-school BMX was covered. More old-school pros and elite racers showed up this year, too. The few I saw (or remember seeing) include Eddy King, Craig Bark, Toby Henderson, Perry Kramer, Harry Leary, David Clinton, Denis Dain, Mike Miranda, Kim Jarboe, Eddie Fiola, Mike Dominguez, Woody Itson, Todd Lyons. . .

Jim Melton, the JM in JMC, was there, too. Steve Brothers, the man behind the BMX Society website and the event, presented Jim with a special lifetime achievement award. It was obvious that he appreciated the recognition almost as much as all of us in attendance, especially we JMC owners, appreciated him making the trip out to SoCal from his home in Missouri. Jim and his staff built some of the most technologically advanced and beautiful BMX frames of the time. He continues to contribute to  the BMX community by sharing his knowledge, memories and production records with anyone who asks for his help. He’s a real treasure.

The freestyle show as, as usual phenomenal and master of ceremonies Dan Hubbard’s non-stop announcing was a perfection. Despite the hot SoCal sun and a lack of food and water consumption, he never stopped his narration of the event. He’s a real pro and I want to thank him for plugging Forty Four 16. I was blown away by Eddie Fiola. His skills are undiminished . And it was fun to see him and the other old-school freestylers juxtaposed with today’s young riders. Fifteen-year-old Daniel Sandoval, who rides for Eye,  blew everyone away with his big air and insanely technical tricks.

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(I’m still trying to track down all the names of the photogs who’s images I used here.)

I want to thank Steve Brothers and the BMX Society staff and the other volunteers (Sorry, I know you were there, but not sure who you all are.) for organizing and managing the show; Tammy Estep for stepping in at the last minute to host the event at the track; Steve Blackey, for his cool trophies and for encouraging me to go through with my idea of making mini number plate trophies; Paul Morton for use of this EZ-Up and for acting as my personal photog; Eric and Max at Garage Graphics for printing the mini number plate stickers; Toby Henderson and the Intense staff for the free food; Craig Bark for the Torker swag and William LaRoque for the killer Torker sticker.

Finally, congratulations to all those who won awards for their bikes. There were sooooo many killer bikes on display, the  judges must have been pulling their hair out trying to pick a single winner in each category.

  • 70’s 20 inch BMX – Donnie Baird with his Webco
  • 80’s 20 inch BMX – Hector Aguilar with his VDC Changa
  • Old School 24″ BMX Cruiser – Tony Hartt  with an RRS 24″
  • Old School 26″ BMX Cruiser – Shawn Duex with a Torker 26″
  • Freestyle BMX – Mark Webster  and his VDC Freestyler
  • Mid School BMX – Steve Arndt  and his Kastan
  • Retro BMX – Brian Garcia with a 2010 L&S 26″ Cruiser
  • Side Hack – Eric King  with his Two Wheelers Hack
  • Pit Bike – John Dunphy with a Redline Square Back Pit

Congrats. You guys deserve to be very proud.

Though barely recovered from the last-minute push to get ready for the 2010 event, I’m already looking forward to next year’s show on June 4.

More Media Coverage; This Time in Japan’s Pedal Speed Magazine.

Funny story: My brother-in-law was in a book store in Tokyo (He’s in the Navy Reserves and was there on maneuvers.) and saw a cool-looking bicycle magazine on the shelf that he thought I might like. He picked it up and started flipping through its pages. The magazine opened up to a familiar face—mine.

In April and May I did the interview and photoshoots for the article with Yasu Tsuchiya, a locally based freelance writer and photographer. I knew it was coming out, but still hadn’t seen it. Not until my brother-in-law gave me a copy today. Yasu said it would be “only six pages long.” I thought that was plenty enough. But the eight I got is killer.

I gave it a quick read this evening—my Japanese is rusty, but good enough to get most of this article—and it’s a cool little piece. I’m super stoked.

Vote for Steve Johnson for BMX Hall of Fame

Last week, the American Bicycle Association (ABA)  started asking for nominees into the BMX Hall of Fame. Each year, the ABA adds the names of those who significantly contributed to the sport. Nominees in the categories BMX Pioneer Racer (1979 or earlier), BMX Racer (1980 to modern day), BMX Industry Member and BMX Freestyler are voted on by the public, a public that has forgotten the contributions of many of those who were at the forefront of the sport when it was still in its infancy.

One of those pioneers is Steve Johnson, Torker’s president from 1976 to 1984. Steve has been on the list of nominees for years, but he and his groundbreaking company and race team apparently are all but forgotten. The role Steve played in the early years of the BMX industry and racing was as revolutionary and vital as those played by other revered industry legends whose names are uttered and written almost daily in conversations and on the Internet by BMX collectors and fans who reminisce about the good old days.

Last year, I voted for Hall of Fame inductees for the first time. As I scanned the list of nominees, I was shocked by the number of people I assumed were already in the Hall. Steve Johnson was among them. He immediately got my vote for BMX Industry Member. I also attended the induction ceremony in San Diego where I ate dinner with Hall of Famers Bobby Encinas and Eddy King. As Eddy and I chatted, he noted that he, too, thought  there  were a lot of people who deserved to be in the Hall who weren’t. Steve Johnson was first on his list. We agreed right there to get him into the Hall of Fame.

And so, my campaign to get Steve in the BMX Hall of Fame begins here, today.

Although I have never met Steve, I have spoken about him with his father, racers who were on the legendary teams he put together in the 1970s and 19980s, as well as others who worked with him back in the day. Everyone I’ve spoken with liked and respected him. Spend a little time reading through old issues of BMX magazines from the 1970s and 1980s and it’s clear that he had a huge impact on the sport. It’s also clear that the industry recognized his impact, even then.

In the November 1980 issue of Bicycle Motocross Action magazine, Bob Osborn wrote the following about Steve Johnson.

One of the neatest things about the Great Lakes National was the way Steve Johnson, the young owner of Torker, handled the sponsorship of this race.

The Torker gang arrived early and hauled buns all week long to assure that the race, as well as their sponsorship, was a success. You might say they were max-imizing their investment as sponsor.

In the past, some sponsors have forked over their fee, stuck up some banners, and suggested that the race announcer give them a mention now and then.

Steve Johnson decided to go full boat. During the week he visited as many local shops as he could, to pump up the race and Torker products.

Borrowing from Grand Prix tradition, he set up a Torker hospitality area where the press, shop owners, and public could meet the Team Torker racers. And sodas and sandwiches were available to cure any rampant munchies among the VIPs.

Steve also prepared assorted promotional blurbs for the race announcer, Merle Mennenga of the ABA.

Torker banners were placed strategically where the pro photobugs would most likely be shooting pics for their publications. Then the blank spots were filled with other banners and posters.

Promotion wasn’t the only thing on Johnson’s mind. Saturday saw him and his Torker lieutenant, Karsten Berg, manning the shovels and working with the race officials to make sure the rain drenched track was prepared as well as humanly possible.

In taking such total and dedicated control of the promotional aspects of the race, Steve Johnson established a guideline, a new standard for sponsors wishing to get their money’s worth out of an event.

What Torker did in Lansing was demonstrate just how much goodwill and publicity for a sponsor’s products can be realized by jumping in feet first and doing a super job that benefits not only themselves, but everyone attending or participating in a national.

Steve Johnson (Left) with BMX Hall of Famers Eddy King and Sandy Finkleman. Steve co-sponsored Eddy with Sandy, owner of Wheels-N-Things, before he launched the Torker Factory Team in 1978.

Between 1976 and 1984, Steve took Torker out of the family garage and built it into one of the BMX’s best-known and best-selling brands during the sport’s first big boom.

He had a knack for identifying and signing some of BMX’s all-time best riders, allowing him to build and manage one of the BMX’s most dominant and successful race teams. Torker’s First Factory Team earned the rank of National Number One in 1979.

The list BMX Hall of Fame members who flew the Torker colors at one time during their careers is impressive. It includes Eddy King, Clint Miller, Tommy Brackens, Kevin McNeal, Bob Haro, Mike Miranda, Richie Anderson and Mike King. Other notable Torker Team members include Doug Davis, Jason Jensen, Doug Olson, Kathy Hannah, Kelly McDougal, Willie Huebner, Dave Marietti, Craig Bark, Jennie Zeuner and Todd Corbitt.

Steve was a talented promoter. Besides using racer and event sponsorship, he developed strong relationships with the media. Between 1977 and 1984, the Torker logo appeared on hundreds of magazine pages. In addition to his role as brand builder, Steve, with his mother Doris, father John and brother Doug, ran Torker and Max while overseeing the Torker factory in Fullerton, CA. He also had a hand in designing Torker’s celebrated frames and components.

Here’s a timeline of Steve Johnson’s tenure at the helm of Torker

  • 1976: Steve takes control of his father’s small, contract, MX frame production company, Texon. He renames it Johnson Engineering and buys the company’s first production tooling. Johnson Engineering builds early frames for Peddlepower (later Powerlite) as well as the first Torker frames.
  • 1977: Steve renames the company Torker, using the word torque as his inspiration. He introduces the first  Torker frame, an all-4130-chromoly, air-craft-quality, heli-arc welded and stress-relived frame that was designed with the aid of structural engineers, metallurgists and aircraft welders. The technologically advanced frame was met with rave reviews from the media and was an instant success. He shows an eye for picking talented riders and signs Kevin McNeal to ride for Torker.
  • 1978: Torker redesigns its frame to better meet market demands and adds a variety of new models as well as a fork. All are well regarded in the media as well as among racers. He signs Eddy King and introduces an Eddy King Replica frame, one of the first racer replicas. King, one of the fastest amateur racers in the world at the time had been cosponsored by Torker and Wheels-N-Things. Torker sponsors numerous local, regional and national races.
  • 1979: Steve builds one of the all-time great teams in BMX history. Among the racers  of the team were Eddy King, Jason Jensen, Mike Aguilera, Doug Davis and Doug Olson. Clint Miller joined Torker later in the year. The Torker Factory Team hits the road in an RV on a national tour. The team earns the National Number One title. Torker continues to heavily sponsor races as well as bike shop teams and local amateur racers. Torker introduces two bike models. Sales boom.

    Steve Johnson (Right) with the 1979/1980 Torker Factory Team

  • 1980: Torker riders continue to dominate their respective classes while Steve continues to promote and build the company, adding products and getting press for Torker racers, products and sponsorship of national race events. (See BMXA article above.) He sponsors freestyle pioneer Bob Haro. Max clothing and accessories is added to the Torker family.
  • 1981: Despite losing Eddy King and Doug Davis to Diamondback, Steve continues to garner huge amounts of press with Torker products and the racing success of Jason Jensen and Clint Miller.
  • 1982: Steve adds Kelly McDougal and Dave Marietti to the Torker Team. The company, its racers and products continue to get massive exposure and positive reviews in the magazines. Responding to market demands, Steve takes the company in a new directions with lower-cost complete bikes. New products continue to hit the market. Clint Miller dominates the Pro Cruiser Class on Torker’s new 24” cruiser. Torker begins producing frames and forks for Bob Haro’s Haro Bikes.
  • 1984: Steve attempts to bring new glory to Torker by building another team of star racers. The team has impressive results and brings new attention to Torker. Steve compares the team to the original Factory Torker Team of 1979. The team includes Mike Miranda, Tommy Brackens, Richie Anderson, Craig Bark, Willie Huebner, Jason Foxe, Jennie Zeuner, Todd Corbitt and Jason Theodore. Sadly, after years of losing money and despite Steve’s effort to save Torker, the Johnson Family decides to close the company’s doors. Torker and its assets are sold at auction. Steve quietly retires from BMX racing and the bike industry. He takes a job at Hughes Aircraft in Fullerton, CA, where he works for 20 years until his retirement. He also was a volunteer for various organizations.

Today, Steve enjoys spending time with his kids. His hobbies include photography and computers. He remains a deeply private person. —Michael Gamstetter

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