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Scooterdude's 40/41 DX "La Salle" Bomber

After scouring Alan's website for an in-depth review of what the original Mt. Tam riders experimented with when building their Repack bikes, and consulting with AB directly, I finally decided the style of bike I wanted - a Larkspur Canyon coaster brake bomber. I updated it with modern tires, chain, and a few other bits to round out the build for the current times. My intent is/was to race it in some number of Super-D style Nor Cal DH races this year.

Many parts are vintage NOS. I searched the longest for a suitable frame for the build, as I didn't want to absorb the expense of a fresh paint job, and would never be happy with a rattle can or powder coat job. So, after months of searching, I finally picked up this frame from "The Headman" of San Anselmo - Jer, one of AB's best buds. It's a repaint with classic spearhead details. AB kept insisting I should pay Jer a visit for a frame, and finally I did. Jer was stoked that an "old" guy would want to build such a bike, and then race on it. He was a big help, as was AB all along.

I like the look of this bike, as it reminds me of the pair of Norton Commandos I owned during the 70's and 80's. They also shared the classic gold detail over black paint. Just flashy enough to suit me, w/o being too ghetto (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Here's the initial build breakdown:

'40/41 Schwinn DX badged "La Salle"
Old school Tange TX1200 BMX fork
Vintage TA touring cranks, 180 mm
Vintage TA 50t road ring
Vintage Brooks B-72 saddle
Seatpost made of turned down 6101 alloy rod
Suntour XC-II beartraps (cruise)/ Shimano DX (race)
NOS old school Ashtabula stem (21.1)
NOS Tioga conv. bottom bracket
NOS 1937 Morrow coaster hub (in the box!), with 20t 1/2" pitch cog
NOS Suzue old school high-flange BMX hub
NOS old school Ukai 2.125 x 26" alloy BMX rims
Wheel build - 14/15 db, 3x, black brass nips
2.55 WTB Weirwolf LT / 2.35 Kenda Small Block 8 race tires
KMC 1/2 x 3/16" BMX chain
Summit 1" BMX headset
Modern 29" Euro MX bars
Lizard skin grips

I raced this bike in early March, taking a 4th place in the Single-Speed class. But the lack of braking was a true hindrance on the courses raced, as they are a mix of wide open fire road, and tight, twisty single track. I found it very very difficult to quickly scrub 45 mph speeds to negotiate the tight turns that followed. I needed some brakes, front and back.

So I picked up a modern set of Sturmey Archer drum brakes, XFD and XRD, with 70mm brakes and sealed cartridge bearings. I had to respace the axle locknut-locknut spread of the rear hub, and cold set the frame to make it all fit fairly plumb in the frame. The rear hub takes a spin-on BMX free hub, so I chose a 20t Shimano piece to maintion the 67 gear inch ratio of the original build. This allowed me to drop down to a 1/8" BMX chain (from the monster 3/16" used before), saving considerable weight in the process. I also found a pair of NOS 1984 vintage DiaCompe MC levers with bellowed hoods in my parts bin to mate with the new brakes. I was all set, now, to refine my klunker, experiencing the same sort of technology evolution the fellas did back in the day, but at an accelerated rate and using modern analogs to the vintage drum brakes available to them at the time.

The master wheel builder at Cycle Path, Hayward - Jeff Moore - built up the new wheels, again using 14/15 db spokes and black brass nips, laced to NOS Ukai alloy rims freshly anodized blue. After set up, a quick run down a local fireroad gave me a sense of how they'd perform. The power and modulation were/are great, but short lived, as fade follows once they get a bit warm. Going from 45 to 15 mph on a 20% slope heats them pretty quickly, I found.

I raced this set up a few weeks after the first race, and the resulting increase in control was just as I expected - AWESOME! I was able to charge much deeper into corner approaches with the confidence that a pair of strong brakes provides. No matter a full rigid bike, as the mild steel frame and long wheelbase, coupled with fat modern rubber, made for a stable, and pretty comfortable ride. Sure, a suspended bike is more tractable and controllable, is easier to preload for jumps, not so much a handful in the chop, but believe me when I say many a racer was humbled by my race time and finish.

I managed a 3rd place finish against disc braked and suspended competitors. This bike rails!

Contact Alan at: RepackPioneer

Contact me at: scooterdude