Introduction: Relive Your Childhood With Your First Bicycle

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.

Comments

author
eashanw (author)2014-11-13

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

author
muhammadc2000 (author)2014-08-12

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!

author
Kakihara (author)muhammadc20002014-08-12

"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.

author
caarntedd (author)2014-08-12

Nice Instructable. Love the back story.

author
lostwhits (author)2014-08-08

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

author
LunaEros (author)2014-08-03

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.

author
Mr. Noack (author)LunaEros2014-08-08

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
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Mr. Noack (author)LunaEros2014-08-04

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

author
mikeasaurus (author)2014-08-04

Sick ride.

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

author
Mr. Noack (author)mikeasaurus2014-08-08

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)

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jdefontes (author)2014-08-07

Great story! Thanks for sharing.

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Mr. Noack (author)jdefontes2014-08-08

Thanks for reading!

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Mr Chutney (author)2014-08-07

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.

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Mr. Noack (author)Mr Chutney2014-08-08

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.

author
tilt0matic (author)2014-08-08

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
author
Mr. Noack (author)tilt0matic2014-08-08

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.

author
sleeepy2 (author)2014-08-08

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.

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Mr. Noack (author)sleeepy22014-08-08

I'm glad to hear that so many people still have their childhood bikes.

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thequara (author)2014-08-08

Very cool project! Now... I weld... I'm thinking, recreate the bike from my childhood, but in a larger size that actually fits me so I can actually ride it without killing myself!!!

author
makendo (author)2014-08-08

Great story and build. I had a Piranha... I can't remember what happened to it, but given the beating it took it probably fell to bits. No photos that I know of though, sadly.

author
boocat (author)2014-08-07

I see grown men on similar bikes - though not as grand - in Oregon.

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minimumwage! (author)2014-08-07

Awesome! Great work on the bike, it looks Sears showroom new!

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BigBadgers2001 (author)2014-08-01

Epic build project mate. I love this. I wish I still had both my original Purple Raliegh Chopper and Silver Raliegh Grifter. Oh the miles I traveled in those long hot summers. Brilliant. Your build has given me back some of my own childhood memories.

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Mr. Noack (author)BigBadgers20012014-08-04

I wish I had those 2 bikes!

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maestromarkallen (author)2014-08-02

Listen to your mom! I bet you'll look mighty fine in some short shorts.

author

I'm keeping my eye peeled for any items that will match that outfit.

author
ekiessling (author)2014-08-02

DUDE!!! Way to friggin' go!!!
I am so in awe of you looking for your childhood bike!! I can so relate to you in this area. For me it was Johnny Gruell's Raggedy Ann and Andy books!! I loved them and found some..
I loved reading this, you rock.

author
Mr. Noack (author)ekiessling2014-08-04

Thanks man!

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Mr. Noack (author)2014-08-04

Thanks mate!

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brmarcum (author)2014-08-02

Really nice build. Truly a labor of love, and a great story to go with it. Thanks for sharing!

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Mr. Noack (author)brmarcum2014-08-04

I'm glad you enjoyed the story! I'm having a blast riding this bike again.

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bstatic (author)2014-08-04

Amazing job. Headed back home to hopefully find mine in dad's garage soon.

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Mr. Noack (author)bstatic2014-08-04

Good Luck! I hope you find it in great shape. What kind of bike?

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alanhoggard (author)2014-08-03

Great job! Is there any way you can send me that snake graphic file?

Thanks

author
hotfarts (author)2014-08-02

A great story. Thank you!

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LynxSys (author)2014-08-02

That's great; it's fun that someone still makes those red tires! With your impressive level of dedication to detailed restoration, you're just lucky that you fell in love with your first bike, and not your first car.

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Flash67 (author)2014-08-02

Maestromarkallen is right lol!

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Quanah (author)2014-08-02

Cool Story and project, you get my thumbs up!

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MsSweetSatisfaction (author)2014-08-01

You are an awesome story teller. Congratulations on the recreation of childhood!

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scottlander (author)2014-08-01

check out bmxmuseum.com

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kbc2 (author)2014-08-01

even as basic as the tools are for those BMX... even truing stands have be come obtainable. gotta keep them rims straight! knowing dand well you will try to jump you bike like you used to.... its bound to happen.

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