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M&L origins finally revealed.


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#1
sodbuster

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I have the mystery of what the initials M&L stand for solved. In my quest to find the meaning of the initials M&L I started bugging people. I put up a few posts here and elsewhere, but mostly here. I would email people or send PM’s making little headway toward the core goal. Not surprisingly I got my best results talking to people face to face or on the phone. When the first of these frames started to surface in the hands of collectors (First one than two, now four) it was established early that these frames were called M&L’s and they were made in the San Fernando Valley Calif. Other than the fact that there were two styles of frames not much else was known about them. Once I had my own M&L example done I started bugging people to find out more about the brand. So I started posting and PM’ing and emailing to no avail. Somebody once even made a rude comment on a very popular thread on this site in reaction to one of my inquiries for info. At least I took it as rude. I got a little miffed about that but I figured even the ignorant are entitled to their opinion. I was patient I bided my time. After all Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Quite a few people I had shown the frame to offered speculation that certain aspects of the frames design resembled one brand or another, but none of them knew for certain its true origins. But through out all of this speculation one name kept bubbling to the top. Because of that all I had was an inkling of what it could possibly be. But my “inkling” was not jiving with conventional wisdom or what was currently found in any written record. But ultimately I was to discover the reason for this.
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Back in 2010 at the BMX society’s international old school BMX reunion and show I was standing in front of my bike display talking with people and checking out the scene when Marvin Church walks up with his son and asks me if it is ok for him to put his old Kawasaki team racer on display along with my bikes. Of course I say yes. Later Marv and David Clinton come back over to where I was and we start “talkin’ it”. At my first opportunity I draw their attention to my M&L tell them what it is and ask for their opinion on it and for any information they might know. Though they liked the bike at that point in the day they had no idea who the M and L in M&L was.

At this time I’d like to pause to explain the method I used when I asked people questions about the M&L. Basically I only gave info that I had satisfied myself to be fact and did not interject what I suspected the bike to be. So I only told people the name of the frame the area where they were made the approximate year give or take and people that I know of that raced them BITD. I did not want to taint their personal memories and recollections on the subject with anything other than established facts. I then would kind hang back and see if the flood gates of past memories opened or not.In retrospect what happened was pretty amazing.

I did not want to put the info I discovered out there until I had confirmation from multiple sources. I just this past Saturday got my last confirmation from a fourth source. My list of sources is as follows.

1. David Clinton.

2. Marvin Church.

3. Scot Breithaupt

4. Danny Garcher.

So here it goes. M&L stands for Murphy & Littlejohn.That’s right kids I said Bill Murphy and Gary Littlejohn. That day at Bellflower when I brought the bike to the attention David Clinton and Marvin Church little did I realize that like me they had become intrigued by the M&L ID mystery. It kind of bugged them as to what this frame was. Sometime after we talked they put their heads together and racked their collective brains. Later in the day David found me and told me what he and Marv came up with and told me a great story that gave solid evidence to back up the info he was telling me. It seems that one day back in 1974 David Clinton was at the Peddlers West bike shop when Murphy and Littlejohn came into the store with a few examples of the M&L frame and gave them to Jim Emerson to pass out to his riders for testing and evaluation David’s cousin ended up with one as well as Joe Franklin and possibly a few others as well.
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Joe Franklin on his M&L

Needless to say I was stoked to hear this recollection of David’s. An eyewitness account from what I consider a very reliable source,David Clinton. And Backed up by Marvin Church to boot! Now this all by itself may have been enough for most for people to come to the community and say that this is what it is, but not me. I wanted to cross check these facts by getting confirmation from other sources. Besides you know how people on the “interwebs” can be when it comes to this stuff. I wanted to be sure.

Sometime in the fall of 2010 I was contacted by Scot Breithaupt about putting some of my bikes on display for his 40th anniversary of BMX show. During one of our phone conversations I brought up the subject of the M&L and asked his opinion on it. The conversation did not yield anything at that time. Yet like David and Marvin the subject of this bike must have intrigued Scot and jogged his memory because five minutes later the phone rang. It was Scot calling back. He seemed to think this frame had something to do with Gary Littlejohn and the person I really should try to get a hold of was Jim Emerson. By this point I had already thought it was a good idea to try and make contact with Gary Littlejohn himself but contacting Jim Emerson would do just fine.

So I started putting out feelers to see if could get in touch with either of these guys, to no avail. In the meantime other things and priorities occupied me and my time and the search fell to the back burner. Then by chance last week I was at a get together with a few old school racers one of them was Danny Garcher. While talking about the bike and my attempts to contact Jim Emerson with Doug Adams he suggested I talk to Danny. It turns out that as a teenager Danny Garcher used to work after school part time at the Littlejohn Murphy shop. Not only does he remember the frames very well but he also raced one himself. And according to him M&L indeed stood for Murphy & Littlejohn. That was it as far as I was concerned. I was satisfied enough and knew it was time to put this news out to the community. Danny Garcher had told me that The M&L frames were essentially made by Bill Murphy to test designs as well as the market. Exact production numbers are not known on these frames but from what Danny told me there were not very many. He also told me that Bill Murphy passed out a few of these frames to some of the kids working part time at his shop that raced BMX. That’s how Danny got the frame he raced.

DANNYG1.jpg
Pic previously misidentified as Walter Clinton. Now positively identified as Danny Garcher on his M&L.

These M&L frames predate the more well-known Littlejohn Murphy BMX frames by a few months. When I started doing the research on these frames everything I was finding in the printed record was pointing to 1975 as the year these frames hit the scene. Oddly that record only reflected photographs of riders racing the M&L frames. With none showing up in any print advertising. Yet the same record shows examples of the well-known Littlejohn Murphy frame mostly in print ads of the day. In my opinion if these frames were a serious effort on the part of Murphy & Littlejohn to market these frames they would have shown up in advertising of some form. But according to Mr. Garcher these frames were made in 1974. I think if I were to personally speculate as to when in 1974these frames were produced I could only guess it to be sometime in the last four or five months of that year. This info confirmed another suspicion I had about the frame. I had a very strong feeling the proper year was 1974 for this frame and not ’75. But since everything I had discovered so far pointed to 1975 I went with it.
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Ted Guilmette with his M&L.

ML-43.jpg
I thought it was a '75 But it turns out to be a '74. Cool!!


There you have it, mystery solved. I have been intrigued by

these frames ever since the first example surfaced back in 2006 three years before I acquired my example. I would like thank everyone I pestered over the last few years in my quest to discover the origins of M&L BMX racing frames. I hope you all found this fun and informative. On a personal level I am more than stoked that I can finally bring this long forgotten foot note in BMX history here to you all. Class dismissed.




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#2
Spur

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That is some fine detective work. Serious knowledge coming out of Sodbuster Labs, again. Had to have been frustrating being on the cusp of the answer for so long but never quite being for sure. The closure must be somewhat of a relief. Now find something else perplexing so we can learn from it as well.Posted Image

#3
Larock

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Too cool for school Brian!!!! Thanks for all of your hard work!
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#4
I am the owl...

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Cool post! Great bike AND info!

#5
wagonguy

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Awesome! Now get to work on info on my DT Racing bike.

:ROTFLMAO:


Doug

#6
1966bmx

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again sod is once again laying down the knowledge ! i love the the fact that an old bicycle can make a grown man smile like a little kid . like sod was when he talked to danny on saturday . i swear we have the coolest mid life crisis ever !
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#7
Monster-Robot

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Outstanding!!!

Nice work as always! The entire story makes a really cool bike just that much cooler.
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#8
Richard Vogt - bmxmountainbiker

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This place is freakin' amazing! :OSThumbsUpPeace[1]:

Richard Vogt
bmxmountainbiker

P.S. Now I have to go back and re-read The Mel Thread (in its entirety) to see where Sod was slighted... :whistling:

#9
reilley1

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Sweet info. Danny did say that was him in that picture a few years back but when DC said it was Walter, I went with it.

Great detective work Sod

#10
big fire

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good work sod!!!. i think this is the same guy you have a picture of on the m&l. check it out.

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#11
sodbuster

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good work sod!!!. i think this is the same guy you have a picture of on the m&l. check it out.


Dang Steve it looks like the same kid to me too! Is that Joe? Or is he bringing up the rear? And look at that date. Good eye my friend, but then again you've been looking at those pics from your youth for a long long time. Who says the eyes are the first to go. Posted Image
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#12
big fire

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good work sod!!!. i think this is the same guy you have a picture of on the m&l. check it out.


Dang Steve it looks like the same kid to me too! Is that Joe? Or is he bringing up the rear? And look at that date. Good eye my friend, but then again you've been looking at those pics from your youth for a long long time. Who says the eyes are the first to go. Posted Image

no brian, joe is my friend #152 these photo's belong to him.
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#13
psycho

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thanks sod. Great work. Thats why this site kicks ass!

#14
nycet3

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really cool read. great work. i smell a PhD in old school bmx.

#15
big fire

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here's some more fore you brian.

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#16
Joe Buffardi

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Beautiful bike, good research. I can now kick myself in my ass for giving an exact frame in the first pic, away 3 years ago to my neighbors friend who is now in Wyoming. Damn. I also gave him nos redline forks. That were on the frame. Damn again.

#17
Joe Buffardi

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Im going to track the frame and forks down and try and get them back. This is going to be a journey.

#18
sodbuster

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Im going to track the frame and forks down and try and get them back. This is going to be a journey.


Go get it Joe! And by all means post it up when you do.
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#19
SoWhat.

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wow, great read, amazing knowledge, thanks.

#20
TrulyOdd

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great job sod....cool to be able to lock down the facts! Posted Image




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