Relive Your Childhood With Your First Bicycle

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Introduction: Relive Your Childhood With Your First Bicycle

About: I'm a High School Technology teacher with self-diagnosed Creativitis, a disease that doesn't let my brain sleep. I spend my days trying to infect my student's minds with a desire to learn. I lead by exampl...

There's nothing more special than your first new bicycle. I had many bikes as a kid. It seemed my dad was bringing a different one home every week from the dump. To this day I love riding bicycles and have a passion for anything cool looking and unique. I also love trying out different models and I appreciate the depth of experience that two wheels can bring.

My first real love was my 1983 Sears Constrictor BMX. Everything was red on it and I rode the hell out of that thing. My parents bought it for me brand new from sears for $99. They gave me the choice of opting out of a family trip to Australia. I was five. I took the bike.... a decision I never regretted.

I remember taking trips to Canadian tire and dreaming about all the accessories I could add, if I only had the money.

I remember the painfully sad day of grade one when all the other kids on the playground brought to my attention the fact that someone had stolen my red v-bar crash pad.

I remember loaning my ride to Lisa for two full excruciatingly long days in exchange for a pocket knife that was promptly confiscated by my baby-sitter.

What I don't remember..... is what ever happened to that bike? I have often wished that I could walk into a store and buy that bike all over again. I have way more disposable income now and it would be easy. Unfortunately for me, my childhood bike is a fairly obscure model which no one would recognize let alone reproduce. So 30 years later, I had my work cut out for me. This is my story....

Step 1: Pound the Pavement

Where to find your old BMX?? The obvious place to start is online. I scoured Kijiji and Craiglist for years. There are tons of old bmx bikes kicking around but nothing like the one I had. Ebay turned up nothing and I was never lucky enough to stumble upon a mint one at a yard sale.

About six years ago I found a similar bike at Value Village for $35. I almost didn't buy it because it just wasn't the same. It was a no-name Skyline, which I guess is an amalgamation of the more popular Skyway and Redline brands of 80's bmx bikes. I found no info on it and so it sat.

Recently however, my passion to find my bicycle was re-ignited. I started scouring Kijiji again and found a Sears Constrictor for $65. It wasn't in great shape and it wasn't the exact model. But it was a start.

When I started looking at both bikes together in my garage, I realized that the Skyline bicycle actually had the exact frame as my original Constrictor. The bike I picked up on Kijiji was an excellent resource for duplicating decals as my online searches turned up very few usable pictures. I was on the road to childhood bicycle recovery.

Step 2: Break It Down

The nice thing about a lot of older bikes, particularly BMX bikes is that they don't require any special tools for dismantling. The chrome frame was actually in spectacular shape. It seemed a shame to paint it. I found a guy locally so I decided to have it powder coated. I peeled back the original decals on the constrictor frame so that we could get an idea of the exact colour. Candy Apple Red it is!!! While I waited for the frame to be painted, I got to work on Ebay finding the following key parts.

A lot of old bmx parts are quite easy to find on Ebay and the hunt is all part of the fun!

While I waited for the frame to be painted and the parts to arrive, I got working on the decals.

Step 3: Decals

The most time consuming part of the process is re-creating the artwork for the decals. If your childhood bicycle was a popular model like a Schwinn Krate or a common BMX brand name, you'll probably be able to find your decals on Ebay or elsewhere on-line. I had to draw mine from scratch using Adobe Illustrator.

I spent a lot of time on-line looking for a reputable company that would print my decals. I just got frustrated and starting looking at local graphics shops. I found a guy locally at Tryst Customs that did all my decals for $15 and the quality is awesome. I'm seriously paying him more for his time on my next project.

The hardest task was drawing the constrictor. I imported the picture I took of the decal and created a new layer to basically draw right over the original. A lot of control points and a lot of patience is required for this step.

The other decals were pretty straight forward, but rather than draw the letters individually I try to find out the correct font. The easiest way to do this rather than cycle through hundreds of fonts is to go to a site called Myfonts.com

It lets you paste a sample of your font and then compares that sample to thousands of fonts and gives you a list of possible results.

I was able to find the exact font for the Constrictor portion of my decal!

Step 4: Put It Together

When I finally got the frame back from painting, I was so excited to put it all together. I decided to assemble first and apply decals second. There are a few things to consider:

  • Be careful if you've had your frame powder coated. If any of the powder coat has gone inside the head tube, bottom bracket, or seat tube, you may have some difficulty installing your bearing cups and seat post. This can be unnerving as you smash away at your powder coat with a block of wood and a hammer

Get in there with a piece of sand paper, or make sure that your painter puts rubber stops in those openings. My guy did this, but some still got through.

I mentioned earlier that you won't need any special tools for dismantling. It is handy if you have a chain break though. Some chains won't have a master link and will be difficult to remove or install. If you're going to buy one, make sure it says Park Tools on it. A cheap one will break before your chain does. I learned this the hard way years ago.

I'm not going to go into great detail at this point. If you were able to tear your bike apart, you'll have no problem putting it back together. One of the best ways to learn about bikes is to get in there and get your hands greasy. Oh, make sure you have some grease on hand to lube up all those bearings. I cleaned mine with some wd-40 first and they were all in decent shape for such an old bike.

Step 5: Enjoy

I gotta say, I got quite emotional when I rolled this out of the garage and sat on it for the first time. This is as close to my original bike as I'll ever get. It's not exactly the same but it is pretty darn close. I love it and this is instantly my favourite bike in my collection. All that's left to do is get a picture with me on it. My mom wants me to find the same outfit that I was wearing as a five year old and recreate the original picture. That's pretty unoriginal, but it would be pretty funny. I'll keep you posted.

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    44 Comments

    Hi everyone, im Paul aged 56. I'm looking to buy a 1970's Puch chopper style bicycle which was bought for me as Xmas present around 1974 it was metallic green, 5 gears (SImplex) plain long black seat with low chrome grab rail also had chrome mudguards. I wanted one of these bikes because everybody had Raliegh Choppers at the time and I wanted to be different. I loved this bike and had it for many years and would like one back to keep and pass on to my kids. Hope somebody can help me or point me in right direction. Thanks Paul.

    2 replies

    Your best chance at finding your childhood bike is to join Facebook if you're not already a member, and then join specific bicycle groups and ask for the same help. There are thousands of member that may have your bike for sale or trade. Here are some suggestions of groups to join. Raleigh Chopper Fan Group, Muscle Bike Forum, Vintage,antique bicycles, parts and accessories. Good luck with your search.

    Thanks for your quick reply. I will reactivite my Facebook account and take it from there.

    Regards Paul.

    Get a group of your friends to join you on a journey back into childhood and relive the memories @

    http://www.collegeokplease.com/rofl/ways-to-relive-your-childhood-this-childrens-day/328

    Just some advice for your future projects when rre-assembling the bike don't use WD-40 use actual bike grease I use GT-85 I got advice from a specialist he said that WD-40 is thick and wears your parts down and can even destroy them from further use...So just a little heads up there

    Also nice job try a matte version of that colour in future...Good Luck!

    1 reply

    "One of the best ways to learn about bikes is to get in there and get
    your hands greasy. Oh, make sure you have some grease on hand to lube up
    all those bearings. I cleaned mine with some wd-40 first and they were
    all in decent shape for such an old bike."

    WD was only used as a cleaning agent, bearing grease used during final assembly.

    Nice Instructable. Love the back story.

    Are they brake cables I see? They must have been faded in the photo of your original. :) Great job on the rebuild.

    Great restoration!

    But you are a little big for it now, though. :)

    Maybe for your next project you could make a custom that is identical but bigger in size. That would REALLY cool.

    I can't believe how close you got it though. Good work.

    2 replies

    Just bought this 24" BMX for $100. Stay tuned to see what happens to it. Probably won't get the same treatment though, my wife has some ideas for this one.

    image.jpeg

    That's a great idea. I'm going to look for a frame with 24" wheels.

    Sick ride.

    As a kid, Canadian Tire was a magical place; I think five year old you made a good choice.

    1 reply

    Five year old me was a pretty smart kid. Now if only I was smart enough to hold onto all of my Transformers, G.I. Joe, and He-Man. I actually have a copy of the 1983 Canadian Tire Catalogue, back when they sold Commodores and $800 VCRs. (beta and vhs)

    Thanks for reading!

    Wow! What a fantastic build! Very very cool. I see the original had a coaster brake, it's amazing that they used to stick those on kids bikes.

    Great story.

    1 reply

    Yes indeed. There are some key differences. My original bike was a coaster model. Mine also had chrome hubs, not red annodized ones, and didn't have yellow annodized rims. I'm in the process of ordering some red calipers and levers which I think will be a nice upgrade.

    I love this site but this project really struck a chord! I raced BMX in the 80's (the golden years!) and have restored two of my childhood bikes. The Redline 500A I even replicated the NBL GA State plate I won in 85 (the plate was long gone, I found a pic and went from there, ultimately paying serious $$$ for a NOS Zeronine plate to finish the job).

    Awesome job! Enjoy!

    redline.jpg546020_10151523589507272_422448498_n.jpgga plate3.jpgga_nbl_plate_art-1.jpg
    1 reply

    Thanks for sharing! My cousin in Australia was a champion BMXer as well. I have a picture of him in all his gear on his Redline. He still has it and I rode it about 15 years ago when I visited Down Under. I got pulled over by the police for not wearing a helmet. They made me walk it home and the track was pretty far from home.

    Still have my Raleigh 4500FS BMX bike I got in July 1985. That bike was my best friend for many years. A few more years, I'll give it to my son.