I remember Johnny Carbonaro's Schwinn Phantom, very well. It was black and ruby red, with big-ass whitewall tires, a springer front end, chrome fenders, and a damned SIREN, ifyacanbelievethat. He would be riding it, cruising down Oakley Avenue under the disused El tracks, and he'd pull the chain on the handlebars, and he would sound like one of the '57 Ford cop cars from the police station on the corner of Oakley and North Avenue.

I had a Monark Lancer back then. A VERY COOL bike but no match for the Schwinn. Truth be told, it weighed more than Johnny, even when he had his usual pound and a half of pomade on his plebian ducktail. He developed legs like Popeye's arms.

OK, there's lots of old farts who are "into" the old bike hobby, and most of them worship horn tanks, springers, and authentic shiny paint and proper pinstriping patterns. Then there's the Whizzer subculture, devoted to those cruisers from the '40s and '50s which were powered by the legendary 148cc valve-in-head motor conversion of that name.

This bicycle--based on found junk and an April 15, 1955 Schwinn cantilever frame fronted by a JCHiggins double springer fork, is intended to be deranged--why else expend creativity and effort? To build a copycat or clone? Not here on Snob Hill, home of NoCal wallet-open creative constipation!

Ok, so we've got this old frame (Ebay find, sandblasted and rust-patinaed before we acquired it) and the oddball Cthulhu front end. Pop some new tires and rims on it for some cholo contrast. Fellow instructables denizen, Winged Fist, likened the seat to a medieval torture device, but it's comfortable as long as you're wearing pants.

The dashboard was also an Ebay find--some small-town Indiana MacGiver wannabee whipped it up from some old aluminum sheet, green reflectors, a lamp switch, his dad's mantlepiece Weather Station (brass clock, barometer, and thermometer) and then damascened it like the engine block of a Bugatti T57.

It is a work-in-progress; the headlight and taillight are both placeholders. We'll probably plasma-cut and TIG a new chainguard to match the Whizzer motor's recess. I know the crank set needs widening. We have to build a gas tank, and I want it to fit where the stock horn tank once resided--I think those Whizzer peanut tanks look silly straddling the frame top bar.

Progress reports as things move along. Right now the Toolcribbers are taking a rest while Andy creates CNC files to plasma-cut the engine mount brackets from steel bar stock.

Bicycle Contest

Participated in the
Bicycle Contest