A new family started attending our little country church. They had a kid my age named Dewayne, and we started hanging out. He was into surfing, skateboarding, and BMX bikes, and I quickly took an interest. He showed me a few freestyle bicycle tricks, and everything changed. We'd go to the mall, and I would hit the bookstore to get the latest issues of Freestylin' and BMX Plus! magazines. I begged my mom for a stylish haircut and took down all the Bigfoot Monster Truck and Ferrari posters from the walls of my bedroom. They were replaced with pullout posters and page cutouts of freestyle bike riders from the magazines.
Those mind-blowing freestylers were radical! There was Eddie Fiola who rode GT Bikes, Mike Dominguez who rode a Haro, and the greatest of all time and my favorite rider, Ron Wilkerson. Even the way they talked was cool. They used words like stoked, rad, tubular, and bitchin'. My vocabulary changed overnight, and it wasn't uncommon for me to say rad in every sentence. I exhausted these words on a daily basis, except for bitchin' around my parents of course. Even though bitchin' meant “cool” my mom would've had coronary failure, and the preacher would've exiled me like John the Apostle!
Ron Wilkerson's Haro bicycle was that “word” I didn't say around my parents. His fluorescent-colored threads, thrilling tricks, and highly coveted bike were too hip. Wilkerson's ride had high-end gear like a hollow bolt freestyle stem, fork pegs, and Skyway Mag wheels. It was designed to shred hard-core. My ride was the crappy, low-end Huffy bike with a chain guard and reflectors from the local discount store. It was designed to ride around the block and make your mother smile since she knew you were safe. Sometimes I'd look up and see her smiling and waving at me through the kitchen window. I needed to get legit fast!
- Copyrighted Material ©2016 Jim Ed Hardaway
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal.
Gym Ed's Bike Shop is not an actual bike shop... at least, not yet. It's my branding and video set for some retro bike builds I've got up my short sleeves. It's my way of playing a small part in preserving BMX history. The videos are for retro bike junkies, former subscribers to FREESTYLIN’ magazine, and old schoolers like me who still wear checkered VANS. Keep it gnarly!! Oh yea, and tell everyone you know about the site that's peeled the stickers off a Rubik's Cube to solve it!!
When I was younger, I remember pedaling my bicycle as fast as I could. I sat crested on the banana seat of my gold and orange bike, gripping the oversized handlebars for dear life. Underneath me—fastened snug in the heavy-metal frame—was a bright red racing plate with the bold white number 65. My legs pumped up and down on the pedals of that machine like pistons in a V-8 engine, and my excessively round bowl-cut hairdo blew in the wind. I was just a pint-size American kid, and from the moment I lost the training wheels on my first bicycle, I was shredding the back roads of Texas.
Growing up, I had groovy bikes with chopper-style handlebars and race plates, and ones with gas tanks and fenders like a motorcycle. Until 1985, my stunt portfolio consisted of jumping off warped pieces of scrap plywood—propped up on shaky stacks of cinder blocks—like stuntman Evel Knievel. Well, kind of like Knievel. The cars I was jumping over were my Hot Wheels cars lined up side by side on our dirt driveway. Now I was pulling off ramp tricks, gut levers, surfers, endos, and even making up my own tricks—like “The Crane” inspired by The Karate Kid.
With the 1983 Mongoose Californian build in motion, it became apparent that Gym Ed's Bike Shop needed an official logo. The production details around this fourth bike proved to be the best build yet, with it's own name (the "Frankengoose") and logo. So, I grabbed a drawing pen to sketch a design for the shop. I'm all about the 80s so I wanted the logo to have that feel of the greatest decade ever! Also, I was going for a Bob Haro art meets Rat Fink vibe. Why is the number 15 on the plate? Nope,
You might be wondering where the name "Gym Ed" came from... Funny story actually. When I was a kid my nickname was "Jim Ed" ("Jim" from James and "Ed" from Edward). My father's was "Jim Tom" from the same peculiar and very Southern formula. It's a Texas thing I guess. Sometimes kids would tease me in school calling me "Phys Ed." Gotta love those bullies, right? So, the twist on my nickname "Gym" Ed is an ode to the ill-intentioned name calling and my witty sort of last laugh at those jerks. And besides, P.E. was one of my favorite subjects in school.
it's not my favorite number... That would be "7" (on the 1984 Huffy number plate). The first build (1985 Huffy) was in 2015, so "15" was when it all started.