BMX ACTION Test / August 1986 (thanks to Matt Steele)

We've been waiting for TWO years for Hutch come out with their aliminum mini frame and fork sets, a.k.a. the Junior and Lil' Hole Shot. They had promised us the exclusive first test on them EIGHT months ago. We'd just about given up on the whole thing when UPS dropped off ther new Junior.
Let us tell ya a little about those last eight months...

In anticipation of doing this test, we started searching for a new semi-

Europian test rider. Right before the '85 NBL Grands indiscreetly disguised in our Wizard staff trenchcoats and Frogskins, we hit the local So. Cal. BMX circuit, keeping a sharp eye out for any lil' roadsters who met our stringent requirements.
After many weeks, we finally spotted a 12-year-old who looked like test trasher material. "The Kid" was sewn on the

butt of his leathers, and he was consistently fast, a virtual unknown at the time, and a total lady killer. He fit the part perfectly!
We cornered "The Kid"  in the pits just after he had crossed the finish line in his main. ANOTHER first place trophy was in one hand, and he had a groupie under each arm. My comrades and I quickly surrounded him and flashed our BMX ACTION business cards. The girls fled in despair; "The Kid" didn't know what to do. He didn't make a run for it--no one had ever escaped BMX ACTION.
I introduced our scouting crew: "I'm Gork, this is Don, he's Andy, that's Lew and SHE'S Windy." We could immediately tell that he had an eye for Windy. We then proceeded to throw questions at him for the next half hour.
His answers were good. VERY good.
But Chad still had to pass Phase Two--a Mighty BMXA photo session.
We needn't have worried. He got crit and pulled off those cool one-footers.
Subsequently, he appeared in the February pictorial section. We knew then that Chad Henderson was the raddest lil' dude since Deric Garcia.
Now all we needed was a bike for him to test.
"It's getting closer." Mr. Hutchins told us. Yeah, right. That was what he'd bee, saying for SIX months. More and more phone calls were made. Bugging Hutch became a daily ritual.

Here they are… and there they go! We highly suggest that you check out a Hutch mini alloy frameset if you can stop whoever's riding one long enough.

Eventually Hutch stopped talking our calls, and the secretary started giving us excuses like, "We're sending our welders to a special school just so they can learn how to weld aluminum properly." And then there was the ol' "It's done, but we're letting one of our riders try out the prototype before we make a batch of production models."
We knew it could only be a matter of days. A couple of weeks at the most.
And then came the day. Mr. Hutchins called us up with glee in his voice, "The aluminums are ready! Well… At least

the Junior is done." Their Lil' Hole Shot was still in the prototype stage. No problem. We wanted to test the Jr. anyways, since that was what would fit our new 90 pound test wonder the best.
A brand spankin' new Junior arrived on our doorstep the very next day. Finally, the test was going to happen.
At the time, the ONLY aluminum Lil' Hole Shot in existence was in the possession of a certain "Rocket Richard" Houseman, so of course, besides having Hutch's newly turned 13-year-old Robert Lee Zahnow and 10-yaer-old Mike Luna guest test the new frameset, we also wanted the "Rocket" to bring his proto for some pics--especially since Hutch decked out his bike in gold trim! But wouldn't you know it--one week before the test, "Rocket" broke his arm practicing for an up

The « Luna-tic. »
That says it all.

coming national.
But the test had to go on! So Hutch flew "Rocket" out to Californy for the interview anyways.
Resident team manager Richie Hitchins Jr. was also present on test day to give us the R&D background on the Junior. The first thing we wanted to know was, why'd take so long?
"The guys we had working in our shop two years ago designed it pretty simular to the chrome-moly framesets.
They weren't quite into aluminum technology. Aluminum was a whole 'nuther technology of its own. We hired two new guys to take a look at the old frames and what was going wrong with them. The way that it was orginally designed, the frame and fork wouldn't last more than three months."
"So the new welders redesigned a whole 'nuther frame and fork, and now it's built to where the Junior can probably hold a 140 pound kid if he's not a trasher."
"Once it passed stress tests on paper and computers, we built the prototype. Zahnow's testing went real well.

He rode it all the way up 'til yesterday when we finally gave him a production black one."
"With the way it's designed now, the Junior's a lot quicker out of the gate and has NO flex at all. There are no problems with the frame at all. It'll hold under stress, no problem."
HA! That was for us to decide. We turned Chad loose on the Junior and he thoroughly abused it, raced it, jumped it, and ever tried to get his mom to run over it in her car (but she wouldn't do it), and it held up great!
The frame looks beefy, but is mega light, weighs in at 2 pounds and 3 ounces, and has ZERO flex. All together, it's one radical design!
Now, what about the forks, Richie?
"They're all aluminum. Even the shaft. This is the way the forks will look.
This thing right here (he points to the bulky looking middle piece)--we call this the crown--is milled down by computer and the fork legs are pressed up in there."
That's cool. When you look at the Junior forks, a Sherman tank comes to mind, but then you pick up all 1 pound and 14 1/2 ounces of them, and you freak out. Looks are deceiving! And once again--ZERO flex. Try handbending them inward--it's impossible.
Chad couldn't tweak 'em any way.

« Robert E. Lee », the « Luna-tic » on the fringe, and some other « Kis » who couldn't just cross it up like the rest of 'em--he had to go and pull of a micro-one-footer! What'd ya expect from a BMXA test rider? Cooperation?

Richie also gave us the poop on the aluminum welding methods. "The way that most aluminum frames are welded right now is not as clean looking as what we're doing. To perfect these welds on the Junior, we hooked up with someone who was into Cannondale's type of welding. The way that the Cannondales are welded and the way that we're doing it is THE prpper way of welding aluminum. It's actually fusing the aluminum instead of welding it."
"Our aluminum frames are first welded with a rod, and then fused. The welds aren't sanded. Also, the stress points have been moved from the front of the frame to the bottom bracket.
There's no stress on the front end at all."
If you aren't up on the adult bike scene, you probably don't know that cannondale is a maker of aluminum 10-speed and mountain bike frames.
And they do a darn good job of it, too.
Cannondales hold up to lots of abuse, so you know that they must be doing something right. When you compare them with the Junior, you can see the simularities in the construction techniques.
The reason the tubing is so big on the Junior is because it's thinner walled than chrome-moly. Hutch went to a larger

diameter tubing to save weight.
Both of these frames are HOT!
There're only two differences between the Lil' Hole Shot and the Junior: The L.H.S. is lower profile from the seattube to the bottom bracket, and the Junior is 3/4 of an inch longer in the front end.
Both frames' rear ends, forks, and bottom brackets are the same.
Both frame and forks come stock with the bottom bracket bearings.
Hutch will sell replacement bearings for them. Also, as an accessory, Hutch will have

When we asked everyone what first came to their minds when looking at this picture, they said, « E.T. » Look at that finger! « OUCH. »

titanium spindles available for about 40 bucks.
Our test bike's bottom bracket didn't spin the smoothest. Possible during the heat treating process, the B.B. ovalized just a hair, which could've made the bearings rough. Hutch told us that since the frame was in the first batch, they did have that problem, but since then they've solved it.
We inquired as to why the aluminum wasn't heat threaded for Omas bearings, to which Hutch said that they didn't want to mess with doing that. We thought it would've been easier, and hope they don't run into problems with seized bearings.
There was one more minor difficulty with Chad's bike. The Profile hubs he was using had aluminum axles, and as we took the bike apart after the test, to our surprise, both axles were broken.
There were two explanations: 1) Aluminum axles are known to break and will do so on the spur of the moment, and 2) The dropouts on the Hutch frame and forks are THICK, and in order to run aluminum axles, you might want a longer

shaft to fit the wider gap.
Hutch's solution to this problem was, "You SHOULDN'T run aluminum with aluminum. I'd expect that to happen.
That's why all of our team uses our Hutch magnesium hubs with titanium axles."
Mr. Zahnow summed it up pretty well: "In the older age groups, like 12 and 13 year olds, kids want the lightness, but they're getting a little bit bigger so they need the strenght of titanium axles. They can't use aluminum axles because they keep breaking them. The weight difference is only grams. The strenght of titanium is justy a lot more."
And so's the price. But don't say we didn't warn you aluminum axle lovers!
Oh, and speaking of price, the Hutch Junior frameset can be yours fro $250.
The L.H.S. is about the same.

Speedway racing has nothing on BMX.

To finish this test up, we'd like to announce that Hutch is in the final stages of finishing up their aluminum two-pounder pro frame and 2 1/2 pound aluminum cruiser frame.
Sounds cool, huh? The big guy in Maryland, Mr. Hutch himself, told us over the phone that, "I think this will  revolutionize the BMX industry. And you can quote me on it."
Okay, we did.

Complete frameset: $250.00
Finishes availabla: Black.
Complete frameset weight (with bottom bracket bearings): 4 pounds, 1 1/2 ounces.
Frame weight: 2 pounds, 3 ounces.
Top tube O.D.: 1 1/4 inches.
Downtube O.D.: 1 3/8 inches.
Fork leg O.D.: 1 3/8 inches.

We like to get test riders with the last name of Henderson. This here is Chad--  « The Action Kid. » He's a full factory Kuwahara racer who's faster than greased moose poop and is able to leap tall buildings if they're inbetween a set of doubles.

Head tube angle: 69 degrees.
Seat tube angle: 69 degrees.
Bottom bracket height: 11 inches.
Wheelbase: 34 to 35 inches.

PURPOSE: Race! Pure 100 percent BMX racing material.
WEIGHT RANGE: The Junior will hold up to 140 pounders. Lil' Hole Shot will hold up to about 90 pound dudes.

QUALITY OF FINISH: Great. And for once, the stickers don't look that bad!
QUALITY OF WELDING: HOT! Ever seen a Cannondale 10-speed? It's 'xactly the same--nice and smooth!
QUALITY OF COMPONENTRY: Okay. Actually, since the Junior is sold as a frame and fork ONLY, the only componentry to judge is the bottom bracket set. It does come with replaceable bearings. Our stockers got smoother the more we rode it, and they have 40 percent lithium grease in there to keep you spinning.

The Hutch mini stems come in three sizes--a 1 inch reach, a 1 1/2 inch reach, and this one here--the 2 inch reach. Also shown is the magnesium headset, which has a teflon ring instead of ball bearings. Not quite the smoothest thing we've ever used.

OVERALL APPEARANCE: EXCELLENT! It's way sharp lookin'; It took me a half hour to get 50 feet when I was carrying it throught the pits at the NBL Azusa national. EVERYONE was stopping me and checkin' it out.
GEOMETRY: Great. Not to steep. It's made to race. A good holeshot bike.
HANDLING: Cool, but a little slow. Chad raced the bike for about two weeks straight, and was hanging with the comp

easlly. But he sait it drifted up in the turns more then his Kuwie.
MISCELLANEOUS COMMENTS: "it's handles good."… "That stuff was fine (Chad refering to seat and bottom bracket positioning)."… "Looks pretty cool."... "I like the forks, but they're deceptive. You see beef, but then you pick them up and feel how light they are."... "The spindle was easy to install. One spindle and two locks on each side--like the old Cook Bros. Bottom bracket."... "It'd be a lot smoother if they'd threaded it for an Omas bearing."... "On an aluminum bike, I don't feel the bumps as much. I can ride realy nice over them."... "It comes out of the gate nice."… "The Hutch magnesium headset is cool, Teflon rings instead of bearings."…  "It rides good on the track. It's fast."... "Bucks are up there, but if you want your kid go fast, it's worth it."
TEST AREAS: NBL's USBMX track in Azusa, and ABA's Orange YMCA track.
TEST INPUT: Chad Henderson, Robert Zahnow, Mikey Luna, "Rocket Richard" Houseman, Richie Hutchins, Charles Townsend, Gibey, Danny Henderson, Winy, and gork.
MANUFACTURER: Hutch Hi-Performance

Hutch hubs--magnesium with titanium axles. The set weighed in at mere 11 1/2 ounces. Smoothness is one way to describe their performance. From what we've seen at the races, most of the little kids are riding Hutch hubs.

(interview after the test) SIDEBAR WITH THE LIL' HUTCH SQUAD