Redline Proline Expert BMX Race Bike - Black
Good afternoon! Or good morning!, if you live on the West Coast, where it's still morning. I am about to start my dissertation on this black Redline Proline Expert BMX race bike, including a brief history of Redline BMX, an account of the circumstances under which I acquired the Proline Expert, a summary of its parts and specifications, and some information on its current whereabouts. Won't you join me?
A brief history of Redline BMX
In the early 1980s, BMX was the latest craze, as popular as driving a Ford Pinto or carrying a comb in your back pocket to keep your hair perfectly feathered all day.
And Bob Redline had a problem. His son, Bob Redline Jr., couldn't wait to enter his first BMX race. But the only bike he had was an old Univega ten-speed. The Univega was great for delivering newspapers, but it had no place on a BMX track. Its narrow tires would put ruts in the berms.
Unfortunately, the Redlines had just spent the entire family budget on wall-to-wall mustard yellow shag carpeting for their basement recreation room. There wasn't anything left for a new BMX bike.
It looked like Bob Jr. would have to give up his BMX dreams and start an amateur road bike racing career, until one Sunday night in 1981 when the Redline family pulled up their beanbag chairs and sat down to watch "CHiPs". It was the famous episode where Ponch breaks his motorcycle in half jumping over a school bus, and Harlan welds it back together just in time for the big chase scene and rollerskating date.
Inspired, Bob Redline borrowed some welding equipment, a frame-building fixture, a mitering machine, and an assortment of chromoly tubing, and locked himself in the garage. Forty-five minutes later, he emerged with a lightweight double-diamond BMX frame that he named "The Ponch".
By the time The Ponch was finished, Bob Jr., who had a tendency to be flighty, had lost interest in BMX. So Bob ran a classified ad in BMX Daily, a daily BMX newspaper: for sale, chromoly BMX frame, "The Ponch", $50 or best offer. He got two calls, one from the producers of "CHiPs" threatening legal action if he didn't change the name of the frame, and one from a local racer who had just broken his Puch Magnum. The racer bought The Ponch and life at the Redline house went back to normal.
But within a month, The Ponch had won six major races. Everyone wanted a Ponch of their own. Orders poured in, Bob Redline quit his day job, and Redline BMX was born.
Finding the Redline Proline Expert
It isn't hard to find vintage bicycles. They're everywhere. Basements, attics, garages. Those are the three places where you can find old bikes: basements, attics and garages. Knock on anyone's door in any town in the United States, and ask "may I search for bicycles in your basement, attic and garage?" You'll certainly hear "of course you may!" Unless the house is built on a concrete slab, or has a cathedral ceiling, or doesn't have a garage. Then you might want to ask if they have a shed.
I didn't find the Redline Proline Expert in a basement, an attic or a garage. It was in a "barn". I put "barn" in quotations, because the barn in question isn't a barn, it's an old brick garage. The Proline wasn't even in the garage, it was on the driveway. What does all this mean? It means that a) some guy calls his garage a "barn" when it's just a garage, and b) I don't want to tell you how I find old bikes, because I have enough competitors already. Sorry.
Whatever my top-secret or any-idiot-could-figure-it-out methods may be, I was surprised to find this Redline. Usually I find old ten-speeds, and cheap mountain bikes, and kids' bikes from Walmart. It's unusual to find a relatively modern aluminum BMX race bike like the Redline Proline Expert.
It's also unusual for a fairly expensive BMX racing bike to have a rusty chain and sprocket bolts, and a generally weathered appearance. Don't kids take care of their BMX bikes? I guess not, because this Redline's chain looks like it was soaked in the Atlantic for a month.
Redline Proline Expert - Parts and Specifications
The Redline Proline Expert suffers from what I'll call "branding-itis". Too many of the parts are by Redline. The frame, fork, handlebars, stem, seat, seatpost, seatpost clamp, and even the alloy hubs all bear Redline or "RL" logos. The grips are a sticky mess, wrapped in electrical tape, but they probably had Redline logos on them too.
What happened to the days when a bike would come with Dia-Compe brakes, Suzue hubs, an SR stem, Ukai rims and Sugino cranks? When did bike companies start stamping their logos on a bunch of generic parts instead of outsourcing? That's a rhetorical question; I don't care what the exact date was. So let's call it June 8th, 2004. That's when bikes went from being equipped with cool stuff, to being one big ugly logo parade. After 6/8/2004, every part on every bike on earth was made by the same company that made the bike. Know your history.
The Proline Expert does have Promax brakes and a set of decent single-speed cranks. But the only interesting non-Redline branded parts are the Tioga Competition 3 tires. They're blackwalls with big TIOGA logos on the sidewalls, which look very good on this modern black Redline. But when is Tioga going to start producing some old-school skinwall Comp 3s? There's an insane demand for them, because nobody makes tires that look good on vintage BMX race bikes. How hard would it be for Tioga to pull out the old molds and make some legitimate tires for BMX collectors?
Branding and tires aside, the Redline Proline Expert rides on a 6061-T6 aluminum frame, with probably a chromoly fork, 20-inch alloy wheels, chrome handlebars, an alloy seatpost and mostly alloy parts. The color scheme is black with red and white graphics. Get out the heat gun, take off a few of the decals, especially the "top tube canoe", and this would be a fine-looking Redline.
What happened to the Redline Proline Expert?
One day I was griping about the rusty chain, and the next day I was leaving the Redline in my backyard, exposed to the elements, for months.
Every once in a while I'd see it leaning there, and think "I should take those cranks and use them on a single-speed bike," and then I'd forget all about it until the next time I mowed the lawn.
The problem with BMX bikes is that the kids who want them don't have any money. So they'll call and say "um, I'm, um, calling about the, um, Redline bike," but their dad, who is in the background, is getting more annoyed by the second and do I really want to deal with some twelve-year-old's annoyed dad? Of course not.
Or the kid will send a text message, which is always "do u still have the redline", and I never respond, because who cares.
So finally, some woman was at my house, and she races BMX, and she saw the Redline, and took it home with her. It may still be racing in Long Island to this day.
And that's the story of the Redline Proline Expert BMX bike. Thanks for watching, and have a good night.