In 1997 I read a small piece on a company from Brooklyn, New York in an issue of Dirt Magazine. The company was called Brooklyn Machine Works
. Before BMW was formed, it was just two guys, "Doc" (who gets his nick name from his past profession as a practicing MD) and Joe Avedesian. They were making pedals and rim brakes because they were fed up with breaking the parts they were using. Soon, they found themselves making pedals and brakes as a hobby, and for friends. This was their claim to fame. Alot of people became interested in what they were doing and the demand for their products blossomed, and there it began.
Their fame only grew after the 1997 Interbike show in Las Vegas. The reason being their introduction of a bike called the Super Trucker.
" As you can imagine, this was all a bit of an overload for the people at Interbike. All this on one bike was a bit too
much to handle.”
A 65 lb beast with nine inches in the rear and a Marzocchi Monster T in the front. It was this outlandish combination of frame material, rear travel, front fork and
tires that brought everyones attention to Brooklyn Machine Works. At the time, nobody was riding bikes like that.
The Monster T was a brand new fork like no other on the market. Six inches in the rear was the regular for a DH bike at the time, so nine was unheard of. And to top it all off, it was running the first 3” Nokian. As you can imagine, this was all a bit of an overload for the people at Interbike. All this on one bike was a bit too
much to handle, even for the more experiemental bike companies.
Now, six years on, I find myself strolling down Powers St. in Brooklyn New York looking for building number sixteen. This was my second visit to BMW in as many years, and I was very excited to see what was new there. I’d walked past it twice not noticing the number. All that marked the door to the shop was a small “Brooklyn Machine Works” sticker. Discrete to say the least. I was greeted at the door by Rob, we shake hands and he invites me in. The first time I saw BMW I was a bit shocked to say the least. I had all these grandeurous ideas of what it would be like, and then it was completely different to what I had invisioned. A very narrow shop, with the office in the front and workshop in the back.
Their CNC machine takes up a massive amount of space in the middle of the shop. Doc was working in the back of the shop. I asked him if they’d had the machine from the beginning. “Yeah, we got it in here through there” he points at the wall at the end of the shop, “then we built the wall and closed in the shop, so now that we can’t keep it, we have to take the whole shop apart to get it out!”. Rob mentioned that their lease on the machine was soon over and they had been screwed on it in the beginning so they didn’t have the option to buy out. “It’s a touchy subject actually” and he left it at that. A big problem as you can imagine for a small company when this machine was a big part of what they do. This is the machine that so many pedals and stems and so much more have been made. I wished them the best of luck with their lease issues and we moved on to a different part of the shop.
Rob and I spend about twenty minutes walking around. he’s showing me all the bikes individually and telling me everything about them from their history and conception to the way they ride. All the way along the wall of the shop are bikes. Complete and ready to ride, but for one reason or another, they have found their way back to BMW for servicing. Behind this mass of Brooklyn’s hid one of the now defuncted Spooky Cycles DH bikes, The Project X. The same bike as I had seen years before in the Ad’s for Spooky in Dirt Magazine.
There was so much to see, and so little time. Most of these bikes had limited edition Brooklyn stickers that were made as a one-off thing for some Japanese exports, very cool. All the bikes had various modified bits and pieces that were all very trick. all limited edition, and none for sale.
I could talk about the bikes at BMW forever, but instead I’m just going to tell you about the ones that stuck out in my mind for one reason or another. First, we have the new Link bike, which is taking over for the TMX. I asked Rob why the TMX was getting rubbed out and before I could go on, he told me that “it’s old news, we’re moving on to new stuff like the Link”. The Link is based on the same geometry as Brooklyn’s Urban/Dirt Jumper, the Park Bike. 66 degree head tube, 70 degree seat tube, 22.5 inch top tube, 171/4 inch chain stays with a 46 inch wheel base. This bike has been in utero for about two years, with the original Link bike being slightly different. The first prototype gave 10 inches but weighed 65lbs. It was fitted with an $800.00 rear shock made by Avalanche. The shock itself was a problem because of it’s cost and because it brought the price of the bike up too much for a production model Link.
One of the main problems with this bike was that it was too heavy, and Doc was looking to make a big bike but one that was light, or as light as he felt comfortable making it. So after a few more experimental bikes, and a couple years of work, the lighter more DH friendly bike was conceived. But between the original Link with 10 inches and the production model of today, was one other bike. This bike was conceived by Doc for the testing of geometry, feel and general performance. It is the same bike as the production model, but two inches smaller on all the tubes, a scaled down version of it’s big brother. So far, in about a year of being tested and ridden, Doc has managed to put 7000 miles on it from commuting. And when I say commuting, I mean commuting. He lives about 10 miles from Brooklyn and bikes it twice a day, and takes the long route once in a while becuase he enjoys it more. So you best believe this bike can pedal. He runs a slick in the back with a knobby in the front. The bike is adjustable from 6 to 7 inches in the back, and was running a single crown Marzocchi in the front. There would be a huge market for this bike, but unfortunatly the cost of making it would never be recouped, mostly because the frame itself is basically a dual slalom frame, and as Doc pointed out, “who’s going to pay $3600.00 for a dual bike?”.
The production Link has 8.5 inches in the rear via an Avalanche DH shock. It runs a BMX bottom bracket and weighs in at 11 lbs, frame only of course. The bike is made for 24” wheels front and rear. This is the new TMX, but a much more DH race oriented bike. But of course it’s still going to be a popular bike for freeriders. But now they can race DH and feel confident that they can do well on it, and not feel that they can’t because of their bike slowing them down or for any other equipment related reason. This bike pedals like a dream. I have honestly never ridden a full suspension bike that felt as good as this, and with absolutly no bob or flex I don’t know why this isn’t the only suspension design being used these days. Some people say it’s “too complicated” but if you think about it, it really isn’t. Yes it is intimidating to look at because of it’s design - multi chain drives etc. but trust me, you would get over it if you took it for one test ride. With 8 inches I assumed that the bike would bob a bit, jack shaft or not, that’s a fare bit of travel so there has to be something. There wasn’t. The acceleration of this bike was like no other full suspension bike I have ridden. I thought my Bullit pedalled well, even with it’s bob when climbing out of the saddle, but compared to the Link, well...there is no comparison. I pedalled this bike hard, as hard as I could and there was nothing to speak of. Words can’t really describe to you how impressed I was with this bikes performance. Twenty of these frames have been made and they are already being raced around the country, and there have been an ample amount of podium finishes so far. The future for the BMW Link bike is looking better everyday.
Next we have Rob’s bike. A custom TMX painted baby blue, finished with some very cool Brooklyn kit. The Brooklyn Bar and stem kills me. the bar is a three piece, with a three inch rise and 28” length that can be cut down. But even after it had been modified and painted, the fork on this bike stuck out alot. “Is that the original Super T?” I asked “number 28” he replies, with a grin to show his approval. “It needs a little love right now, but it’s perfect.” I pushed down on the fork only to feel how sticky it really was. “As I said...It needs a little love”, he smiles.
Away from the rest of the bikes stands the original TMX - number one. With it’s chrome frame and Avalanche front end it sits dressed to kill. Joe Avadesian, co-owner of Brooklyn made it for a friend of his back in the day. The bike was made in 1998 and raced threw that years season. But because of the fact that it was still being created during that time, the bike was never painted and was constantly being modified. So, after the season finished, the frame was completly rusted out. Doc explained , “I tried sanding it down so I could paint it, but it wasn’t working, so we made it chrome.” As I’m crouched down inspecting the bike I notice a sticker on the chainstay of the bike next to it. “If you ask me where the motor is I’ll punch you in your f**king face”. ’nuff said.
Leaned up against the wall of the area that houses the CNC machine stand two bikes. Two bikes that I’d heard about from a friend, and seen a few random pictures of. The Master Plan and the Rubber Duckie. Both bikes look like something out of Mad Max, especially the Master Plan. With it’s Moto-style seat that goes right to the handlebars it looks pretty deadly. Finished with Brooklyn kit, random Sram parts and Avalanche suspension front and rear. The bike is basically a TMX with a modified frame - dual top tubes and it’s very obvious seat mast. The whole bike is jacket up about 2 inches to a normal TMX.
Now for the Rubber Duckie. This bike weighs in at around 76 lbs. With it’s fork off the front end of a CR80 dirt bike, and it’s 13 inches of rear suspension via a Works shock, it is obvious that this bike is nothing short of experimental. One of a kind. I pulled it away from the wall and sat down on it. I’d never felt anything quite like it. It was unbelievable. Rob assured me that it would never be put into production. The bike itself is so specific it puts most anything but pure downhill out of the question. but once you’ve reached the top and wrestled it off the chair lift, that bike takes on a life of it’s own, and it goes downhill fast. I took it out onto the street, not sure what to expect after the pedalling suprise which I got from the Link bike. Sure enough, I slammed on the gas to a 13 inch DH bike, and there was no bob to speak of. This was a little more shocking than the Link bike though. Even though this bike accelerated with ease, I still couldn’t hop up onto the sidewalk from the road, or even begin to lift the front end up. You just have to point it in the direction you want, and let it go. This bike is “the biggest and baddest” as Doc would tell you.
These are the main players at BMW, but then there are all the “one off” bikes and the experiments, and the endless prototypes. Half of these bikes I couldn’t tell the difference in from one to the other, but they each differed just slightly to the other. Different generations of the TMX, all slightly modified in one way or another. My personal favorite of these random bikes was the full suspension BMX. It doesn’t really look any different to a normal BMX if you glance, but it gives 4 inches in the back via a Fox shock, it has a suspension fork that was modified by BMW that give around 3 inches. Just another one of those random experiments that are all over this shop.
Brooklyn didn’t always make full suspension bikes. Doc came from a BMX background, and only started experimenting with full suspension at the end of ‘97. The BMX was the first with the Super Trucker to follow. In fact, the Super Trucker was basically a modified version of the full suspension BMX. same style frame, just much bigger. But before all this came the BMX, Park Bike and Cruiser. The Park Bike is a Dirt Jumping/Urban specific hardtail with horizontal dropouts and a BMX bottom bracket. The frame size is 11 inches, and costs around $650.00 to buy. The cruiser, just as it sound is not far off from the Park Bike but suited more to riding in a city. Both of these frames are still available from Brooklyn.
One thing, above all that sticks out in my mind in the bikes at BMW is the incredible attention to detail. Half of this you wouldn’t even notice, or maybe understand until you either notice it from experiencing it while riding or had it explained to you. Take for example the floating disc on the Link bike. I noticed different places to bolt the float to the front end of the bike but didn’t understand why, so Doc explained it to me. “A floating rear brake has to be a parrellelagram to work properly as a fully floating brake. So what I did was expierement for a while with these different positions of attaching the float to the main frame. I learned from this that by attaching it to the higher spots the dive effect of the front end under heavy braking was eliminated, and instead, the rear end would drop, while still maintaining the working suspension. Unfortunatly for me, I never had anyone to explain to me about the floating disc in ‘98 when I started experimenting, so I had to figure it out for myself.” Some other random things that I thought were great to see on a production bike were mounts for the seperate resevoir of a shock on the downtube, fork stops and the detail in the machining on the small parts in the linkage.
Brooklyn Machine Works has alot of fortitude. The three people that work there stand behind what they make with a certain strength that is not seen very often under any circumstance. They know that their products are strong, and of a certain quality, and they are enthused with passion when it comes to what they do. I asked both Doc and Rob to tell me in one sentence why you should ride their bikes instead of the competitions. “Because it was made by Rob and me!” says Doc. But then he gets serious about it and says there isn’t anyone thing about their bikes that can be pin pointed as a reason. There are so many, and put together, they create a bike that performs like none other. “It can’t really be said in once sentence” adds Rob. At $160.00 U.S.D. for a set of pedals, Brooklyn parts do not come cheaply. But if you ever took the time to see the effort that goes into what they make, or the quality of the product itself, you wouldn’t question the price they ask.
The Urban/Dirt Jumping hardtail is $650.00 U.S.D. and comes in a variety of colours, with international disc tabs or brake mounts. It runs a 22.5” top tube and an 11” frame. Like most of the bikes at BMW it too is geared for 24” wheels. The New Link Bike, that is now taking over for the TMX will cost the same as the TMX did - in and around $3600.00 for the frame and rear shock. Twenty of these frames have been made so far, and twenty of them aresold. They went to the Avalanche DH team, all over America and Canada and the rest to the U.K. with a few to Europe.
The only problem for me is that I can’t afford a frame from the only company I really care about riding for. For Canadians the price is pretty tough, but I’ve been saving for while now and I’m not swayed. Soon enough I too will be riding a Brooklyn, and then I’ll be in heaven.
for more info or call 718 387-3307
All prices quoted in U.S. Dollars
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letting them know how much you appreciate their work, style, and innovative ideas.