Reviewed - .243 Racing's 2004 product line up

Aug 4, 2004
by Mike Johnson  
There are no words to sum up how much I love my .243 frame. After receiving it sometime around February I soon figured out that we were in for one hell of a roller coaster winter, but that didn't stop me from riding. I had to get my fix, it was like a drug, the bike just made me want to go bigger, longer, faster. It wanted to do it all. So if it wanted it, there was only one thing to do............give it just what it wanted. But before I start this is a review of the frame, the BMX stem, and the BMX saddle. The rest of the parts and their specifications and reviews can be read here and here.

The frame this year as in past years come with some options as to what style of frame you want, only this year those options have improved all the more. You can go with a MTB bottom bracket with vertical or horizontal dropouts or a BMX bottom bracket with horizontal dropouts. Many different options to satisfy both riding style and your budget, especially when all these options come in at a slim $599.99. I personally chose the MTB bottom bracket with horizontal dropouts to fit both my current bike spec and my riding style. I am a street/dirt/park rider who occasionally makes it out to the mountains to enjoy what they have to offer, and in that is my dilema. I needed a bike that would perform as well at the skate park as it would in the mountains (which the local skaters seem far too eager to point us towards on many an occasion) with a minimal amount of part changeovers. After a lot of debate and offers I couldn't turn down I went the way of the .243. To me it had everything that I needed, adjustable chainstay length thanks to the horizontal dropouts, good ground clearance from the BB, big tire clearance, and anything else you could possibly ask for, it just seemed to be there.

I currently own two setups for the bike, they may not be a big change to most people but it's amazing what a few simple little things can do to the way a bike handles and performs. My bike is permanently setup single speed with a Manitou Sherman Flick fork up front and a 24/26 wheel combo it seems to do the trick. When it's time to hit the blacktop I switch the tires over to some street slicks and remove the front brake for extra trick possibilities and then when the call of the highway hits and it's time to hit the mountains all I have to do is switch out the tires to some nice treads and throw that front brake back on and all is good to go.

Over the last few months of owning this bike, I've bashed it good and she shows the damage with a few mighty dents all over her otherwise sleek frame, but yet even with continued bashing and pounding after receiving the dents, the frame is still perfect. It's still straight, it still runs fine, and there have yet to be any problems from the 2 inch long dent that I left in the downtube learning sprocket stalls.

As many Calgarians know I spend a vast majority of my time riding down at Millenium skate park and that's where I've tested this bike out the most. With the very adjustable rear chainstay length thanks to my horizontal dropouts I was able to set the bike up perfectly to be fully capable of doing it all. Wether it's carving the full pipe, pulling a large abubaca, or my feeble attempts at learning 360's, the bike is perfectly at home for all of them.

Out on the trails the bike is equally agile, with a simple swap of parts and pulling the wheel back a bit further for a longer wheelbase, the bike rails all corners and has helped me to keep up to most of my buddies on big bikes wherever we've been. She's equally at home on the big trails as she is at home on the dirt jumps and streets, which is beginning to prove a very worthy thing with the way some trails are moving towards the incorporation of bigger jumps and potentially street related stunts.

The frame is in one word, amazing. It is incredibly versatile and everyone who has gotten to chance to ride my bike has had nothing but good things to say, and for the most part I have to pry it out of their hands to get my beloved bike back.

Now I'm sure you've all heard more then enough about the frame to keep you satisfied for a little while. So let's move onto the BMX seat and stem. I rode both of last years models for most/all of last season and while they both survived everything that I could dish out, I had my gripes with them. I personally after months of riding started to realize that maybe it wasn't the most perfect fit for what I wanted. I found with the seat that I could not comfortably pinch it for the no handed variety of tricks, and the stem proved to be a bit tall for my liking as well as the fact that it could have used a few trips to weight watchers. (Yes I do know that in last years review I loved both items, but people and opinions change).

This is why when Eric Fox revealed the 2004 line up I was very excited with what I saw, the stem had been chopped and dropped to loose some serious weight as well as about an inch of height off of last years stem, and there were now two seats offered, a BMX styled one and the more mountain bike oriented seat that we had all seen the year before. Needless to say I was all over this stuff and wanted to get my hands on it all ASAP.

I was very impressed with the seat, it still had that .243 charm with the sparkles and the .243 logo incorporated into the seat itself, as well as the fact that it was much more padded and the overall shape of the seat made for easy pinching with much less pain. Many people have come up to me and critisized the fabric used on the seat, telling me that it would rip and when it did the entire thing would be destroyed, well needless to say I am not one that is scared to ditch my bike when things get hairy, and the seat has yet to get ripped, let alone destroyed. Sure it's got some scrapes from all the falls, but nothing that even comes close to threating it's existence.

As for the stem I must say it's a definate improvement over last year. By loosing the inch of height it has also lost a good portion of it's weight, but with all this loss comes gain, and I have found that it definatly helps with the overall feeling of the bike. It has lowered my front end nicely giving me a better feel over the bike and looks pretty damned sleek to boot. Other then that, it's a stem, there's not much else you can say.

This is what I've thought and felt about the parts after about 6 months of riding and beating on them. Everything still runs perfectly and with zero problems. When you are looking at purchasing you're next bike, I would push you to take a look at the .243 lineup very seriously because of the bikes incredible versatility you are very likely to be able to do just about anything you want with the bike.

I am sad to report though that for the next 6-8 weeks she's not going to see much for abuse, let alone movement. I have managed to break my ankle and tibia so I can no longer ride her in quite the same way for the next little while, but rest assured that I will be back riding harder then ever when this is all fixed up, so to all of you people out there who can still ride their bikes, go out and do just that, ride as much as you can and have a good summer. See you all in October.....



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