American Freestyler Test / Januari 1988
They don't make 'em like they used to

They don't make 'em like they used to. Let's consider that old cliché for a moment. Does it mean that it's better now? Or does it mean that it was graet then,but is not as good now,or what? It probably works both ways. In fact,it does work both ways. Take the Hutch bicycle company,for example.
When freestyle was in its infancy,Hutch made some of the finest,trickest bikes and parts. Manufacturing was done here in the U.S. Hutch had a top team with Mike Dominguez,Woody Itson and eventually Rick Moliterno,and peaple were buying Hutch products like crazy. Everything was huncky dory (another old expression). Then it happened. Hutch fell into hard times. An expensive aluminum race bike project and some other things caused Hutch to quit sponsoring the team,stop advertising and almost drop off the face of the earth. Almost. Enter the new Hutch. Last year,Hutch was reborn,still managed by Richard Hutchins and his family the way it used to be,but with new blood,thanks to Columbus Cycle,which purchased part of Hutch company and helped get it back inti gear--high gear. Now Hutch has three full factory members. There is Gregg MacComber,a rad little squirt from Massachusetts,who rips on ramp and ground. There is Chris Potts from Vista,California--one of the hottest ramp riders on the scene. And finally,there is long-time flatland pro,Rick Allison. Hutch also had a new line of bikes: The Trick Star II,the Wind Styler and the Exel.
Yeah,how about it? Coincidentally,that happens to be a bike we're testing this month. Re

To be honest,we didn't think the Exel would hold up this hard of thrashing--we were wrong,Poor Boy at Wilkerson's.

member thoe near-perfect American made bikes we were talking about? This isn't one of them. Its made in Taiwan,and though it's not the worst-built bike we've seen (not even close),the welds and paint aren't even comparable with those on the Hutch bikes of yesteryear,or the new American-made Trick Star II,for the matter. The frame,forks,cranks and seatpost are all chromoly--a great feature on a $200 bike,but due to the steel 48-spoke wheels and bars,the solid-steel fork pegs and some other not-so-light componentry,you pay the price on the scales--the Exel weighs in at a hefty 31 pounds!
Other components include an ACS Rotor and stem,a Hutch Hi-Caliber padded seat with one of those rubber things under the nose so your fingers don't get hamburered,Lee Chi alloy calipers,a quick-change sprocker/spider setup and a pad set.
The frame of the Exel looks decent. Cool colors and bold graphics liven things up,but the rear platforms are too small and very cheesy looking,and the 72-degree head angle is too kicked out for serious freestyle. Wait a minute! This isn't a serious freestyle bike! It's designed for everyday cruising to school,and some mild-mannered freestyle--not full-on ramp or flatland assaults. Maybe we shouldn't test this bike as a serious freestyle bike--uh,oh! We already did.

The chopperish head tube isn't the hot setup for harsh flatland,but in the air it made for a stable,comfortable ride.Rubber-armed X-down

We had Chris "poor boy" Potts ride the Exel at the Enchanted ramp,and even under Chris' aggression,it held up great. Sure,the Lee Chi brakes didn't work worth beans (do they ever?),and the plastic grips were tatally uncomfortable,but the bike handled everything Chris dished out:lookbacks,X-ups,one-handed one-footers,inverts and cancans. The mellow head angle made the bike stable in the air,but with the rotor and the high handlebars,the bike felt too tall. And the laidback seatpost made it feel even bigger. In other words,this bike will fit some big dudes "as is." With lower

bars and a straight seatpost,it would fit almost anyone.
On the ground the wimpy brakes and small raer platforms didn't offer much help,but the top-tube platforms and dual fork pegs positions were great. The double crossbar handlebars don't do much,but the lower bar gets in the way when you try to tighten the stem. The chopperish ride is stable in a straight line,but it makes front-wheel spinning tricks and getting the rear wheel off the ground more difficult.
Does Hutch make 'em like they used to? Well,the new Trick Star II looks as good as the old bikes,and the exel (even with its weight problem and casual geometry) is perfect for short journeys,street thrashing and some mild flatland and ramp abuse. Heck,it took everything we gave it--and cost only $200!
Maybe Hutch is better than it used to be.
"It looks awfully good for $199."
"It's cool that it's got a chromoly frame."
"These Lee Chi brakes have to go."
"Alloy wheels would be an improvement."
"The graphics are great."
"They should change the rear platforms."
"These fork pegs are kinda skinny."
"It feels as good as my bike."

Chris doesn't consider himself much as a ground rider,but he probably does as many tricks as the average rat.The Exel held up,but the weak brakes made tricks like this decade tough to pull.

Type: Freestyle;age range 12&over.
Frame design: 1-1/8" top tube, 1-1/4" down tube, triangular gussets at head tube.
Frame construction: Chromoly.
Fork construction and design: Chromoly,tubular leading axle design,1-1/4"O.D. fork legs,four holes for screw-in fork pegs.
Wheelbase: 35-3/4" to 37-1/4".
Bottom bracket height: 10-3/8" (center of bottom bracket to ground).
Chain stay length: 14-3/4" (center of bottom bracket to center of rear dropouts).
Steering head angle: 72°
Seat tube angle: 68°
Rims: Hutch 48s,steel.
Spokes: Steel,80-gauge.
Hubs: Low-flange,steel,loose ball.
Tires: Kenda,20"x1.75 front and rear.
Freewheel: SunTour 16T.

Yes,hte rear platforms works as lame ad they look.The steel 48s surprised us by not bending.

Pedals: HTI plastic platforms,chromoly shaft.
Cranks: Chromoly,one-piece,170mm.
Front sprocket: Steel,quick-change,44T.
Spider: Steel,power-disc type.
Botom bracket: Steel,retainered ball.
Chain: KMC,1/2"x1/8"
Grips: Generic,mushroom-type.
Handlebars: Hutch,steel,28" width by 9" rise,with added crossbar.
Stem: ACS,chromoly shaft,alloy clamp,Potts mod bolt with ACS Rotor.
Headset: Steel,retainered ball.
Seat: Hutch Hi-Caliber,nylon with padded section.
Seatpost: Hsin Lung,chromoly,laidback.
Seatpost clamp: Hutch Hi-Caliber,alloy,donut-style.
Calipers: Lee Chi,alloy,front and rear.
Levers: Lee Chi,Tech 5-type.

The Rotor worked okay,but with the bars being as tall as they are AND the stem raised to accommodate the Rotor,it makes the front end too tall for most guys.The quick-adjust headset is a cool feature on such an affordable bike.

Freestyle platforms: Screw-in fork pegs,top tube standing platform,rear frame standers.
31 lbs.