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The "Blacklite" Thread


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#1
Texasbmx

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Decided to make a thread for all things Blacklite. Don't own one myself but they were made not far from where I currently live and I've been on the hunt for one down here... Post anything you have.

 

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sept. 1982 advertisement originally posted by dubplatestyle

 

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"lightest mini ever" test from 1984

 

Got some info about Blacklite from a local guy who used to ride for Haro! Eben Krackau. I know he has an account here, hopefully he'll post up his two Blacklites. 

 

Here's the info I got from him. He said there was a little more to come too.

 

"I started racing towards the end of 1981, and my first memory of Blacklite was sometime around early to mid 82. There were a few guys racing them, namely some of the faster, more known younger guys in the area. Scott Rickets, Ricky Davis, and the older Forman brother (James I believe) rode them. At first I remember more aluminum frames with chromoly forks, then chromoly frames came along. Sometime around mid 83 Scott Rickets showed up with the first titanium frameset. Needless to say there was a huge demand right off the bat. Right around that time I somehow ended up riding his hand me down chromoly frame and then a month or so later ended up with the 2nd titanium frameset. At that time I believe that it was Gus and Ken Burleson welding all the blacklite stuff. At that time they had a shop off of old O’conner road, I know the building was still there a year or so back and has somehow survived quite a few floods back in the day. From what I can tell you 90% of Blacklite stuff was built in that shop, up until sometime around late 84/early 85 when Gus decided to move to Portland. I know he built a handful of frames up there, but eventually ended up fabricating something else like race boats or something similar from what I can recall.

 

I want to say that Ken was with Gus until mid to late 83 and there was possibly some sort of disagreement and Ken along with someone else started building Titan frames."



#2
falcon8

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Hey Dubplatestyle, shed some light on this and correct me if I'm wrong. Bike Harbor's first light experiment was with a Blazer mini ('82), followed by this Blacklight build ( after mid '84), and finally the Titan build after that. Wasn't the Titan the lightest of them all?

I have the first reference of a Blacklight rider on video of the '82 Winternationals. Merl Menninga made some comment about someone riding for Blacklight..."Never heard of them". I'll try to post it when I find it again. 

Titan showed up later with the ti frame, and I think that would have been the lightest build. 

Does anybody know if other shops were experimenting with weight like Carl Bartley at Bicycle Harbor? 



#3
Texasbmx

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Hey Dubplatestyle, shed some light on this and correct me if I'm wrong. Bike Harbor's first light experiment was with a Blazer mini ('82), followed by this Blacklight build ( after mid '84), and finally the Titan build after that. Wasn't the Titan the lightest of them all?

I have the first reference of a Blacklight rider on video of the '82 Winternationals. Merl Menninga made some comment about someone riding for Blacklight..."Never heard of them". I'll try to post it when I find it again. 

Titan showed up later with the ti frame, and I think that would have been the lightest build. 

Does anybody know if other shops were experimenting with weight like Carl Bartley at Bicycle Harbor? 

do you have the Titan article? I'm curious if it is a Texas made frame or an Oregon one.

 

interesting that BOTH Blacklite and Titan ended up in Oregon!



#4
falcon8

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A few people get Blacklite and Harbor Lite confused. Which one was more successful, or which frame is more rare?



#5
Texasbmx

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A few people get Blacklite and Harbor Lite confused. Which one was more successful, or which frame is more rare?

Harbor Lite made all size frames and Blacklite made minis only. I have seen more Blacklite frames I think, but then again I do live in San Antonio and I have searched them out way more so that could have something to do with it. I don't think they made anything besides framesets either, and as we all know harbor lite made other stuff. The only reason people know about them is because they had ads in magazines that said they had the lightest bike ever. They were big in Texas.

I don't think they're really all that similar besides the "late" in their name

Oops.. I mean lite.

#6
Texasbmx

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Harbor lite was probably more successful.

#7
falcon8

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After rereading Dub's articles, it looks like Black Lite made the ti frame Carl used for his build. I saw where Bartley's Bicycles advertised a Titan mini under 10 lbs. for around $750.00. Bike Harbor was well over $1000.00 into the Blazer build, not counting the frame. I'm not sure what the arrangement was between Carl and Mike Mayberry. In the article, the price is noted as being over $1000.00 for a Black Lite mini.



#8
Texasbmx

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"I completely forgot to give you an explanation on the little freestyle bike. Basically towards the middle of 83 I started to get burned out on racing and started riding my buddy Dj’s quarter pipe a bit. I really wanted a Haro Freestyler frameset, but I was still a little too small for it. I was actually pretty small for my age back then, but eventually hit a growth spurt around 14. Haha. So my dad had borrowed a Haro Freestyler frameset from Action Bikes and took it to Gus to see if he had any ideas on what could be done to possibly modify it, or just build a completely different frame, just scaled down significantly. In the end Gus decided just to build a completely different frame all together. When he first started toying with it he made two different twin top tube frames, mine and one additional one. The other one the looptail was really tall, almost to the point where it looked flat with a wheel in the frame, it was really bizarre looking and that frame ended up being destroyed. Originally he thought about keeping it, but just thought it was way too weird looking and something that wasn’t really usable. Also, if you see the hole on the seat tube gusset, the original plan was to mount the brake there, but with a regular 20” wheel installed, it wouldn’t reach properly, so he ended up welding a regular brake bridge to compensate for the issue. The fork pegs were actually a set of Suzuki motocross foot pegs from a box at Kent Howertons house that were cut down to make a small fork platform. Overall its one of those bikes that I will probably never let go, also Bob Haro signed the gusset at River City bmx track after a Haro team demo at Cuny’s bike shop back in 84. To both Bob and my knowledge, this may be the first frame that Bob ever signed on the gusset. We had a pretty lengthy discussion about it a few years back, pretty funny that he remembered it after all this time."



#9
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more info on Blacklite and related companies can be found here: http://www.bmxsociet...ltracraft-gunn/



#10
Texasbmx

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relevant part:

 

There were also Forman frames that were built for a bit, basically a larger Blacklite frame that the Forman boys dad financed. I think all of them were titanium except for the original sample frame which was chromoly. The look was exactly the same, just a taller standover and slightly longer frames to accommodate a larger rider. There were also a few large ti Blacklite frames which, Ricky and Scott both ended up riding as well as a few others (I believe that Keith Smith was one of them). I’d say less than ten were made.



#11
TrulyOdd

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relevant part:

There were also Forman frames that were built for a bit, basically a larger Blacklite frame that the Forman boys dad financed. I think all of them were titanium except for the original sample frame which was chromoly. The look was exactly the same, just a taller standover and slightly longer frames to accommodate a larger rider. There were also a few large ti Blacklite frames which, Ricky and Scott both ended up riding as well as a few others (I believe that Keith Smith was one of them). I’d say less than ten were made.

Please state your references. Pics, etc?

#12
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relevant part:

There were also Forman frames that were built for a bit, basically a larger Blacklite frame that the Forman boys dad financed. I think all of them were titanium except for the original sample frame which was chromoly. The look was exactly the same, just a taller standover and slightly longer frames to accommodate a larger rider. There were also a few large ti Blacklite frames which, Ricky and Scott both ended up riding as well as a few others (I believe that Keith Smith was one of them). I’d say less than ten were made.

Please state your references. Pics, etc?

 

I don't think Eben has any pictures he is just sharing what he remembers. I'll have to ask.



#13
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I started email chatting with James Foreman the guy who's father initially started Titan. Doesn't have any more of his stuff but he's a good connection. Going to get some info on Titan as well as the "Foreman frame" Eben mentions that are like bigger versions of Blacklites.



#14
dlambertjr

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I had a one off titan freestyle bike built by Ken Burleson in 83. My family and his were very close at the time. Man I wish I still had it.

Off topic

Also, there was one rebel factory mini built by Ken that Brock Bruce still has. (his dad owned rebel) It was built to specs on the rebel factory mini frame I was racing at the time. In fact contrary to popular belief, rebel did not even have a mini frame until 83. I rode for the factory team from 81-83 and running a gt frame with rebel decals. Interesting history



#15
falcon8

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I just found some video of the first mention of Blacklite at the '82 Winternationals. Merle Menninga was announcing, mentioned Blacklite in a couple of races, and says something like," I've never heard of them."

I tried posting on here, but it doesn't work. It works ok on the FB Society page. Funny thing about it is one of the riders is on a mini Blazer and has what looks like a GT jersey on.

 

More than a few factory riders were riding different decals on their other brand frames. The manufacturers had to keep their brand out on the track until the new models or modifications were made.



#16
dubplatestyle

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Bob, Besides the photos you shared, I never seen any articles or 'pics' from the Blazer build-up Carl worked on. The first lightest mini article featured in Bicycles And Dirt was with the titanium Black-Lite frame & fork. Well, actually it was the second article, the first blurb was only a half page 'tease' or introduction to the 'series' featuring Carl Bartley. The Titan was featured in the last of the publicized articles, right before the magazine folded in late '84. (So, to answer your question Noah, it's a Texas made Titan) If anyone has a physical copy of that issue, please hit me up! It's one of the only issues of Bicycles and Dirt I'm missing.
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#17
falcon8

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If I remember correctly, The Blazer build was already in the hands of my 4 yr old daughter when Bicycles and Dirt first showed up. I'll check my info at home when I get there next week. I also have a message to the Bartley boys to see if they have any old Bicycle Harbor pics. I know we took one of the Blazer hanging on the scales, showing it was under 10 1/2 pounds. 



#18
dubplatestyle

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If I remember correctly, The Blazer build was already in the hands of my 4 yr old daughter when Bicycles and Dirt first showed up.

 

 

That sounds correct, the premiere issue of Bicycles & Dirt was September '82. 


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#19
dubplatestyle

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Here's a 'pic' of a Black-Lite in action, sourced from the '84 ABA Photo Archive.

 

 

Blacklite '84.JPG

 

 

 

Bob, is that a Finney number plate?


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#20
Mikku

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I don't have any recollection of these brands bitd but absolutely love reading about all this stuff now! Keep it coming!






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