1998 GT Speed Series Team XL
NOS Pre-recall 1998 GT Speed Series Team XL frame... Anyone else seen one before?
The 1998 GT Speed Series Team was my dream bike as a kid. Even though my local bike shop (Pedal Power Bike & Ski, located in Acton, MA) was an authorized GT dealer, they didn’t carry the more expensive Speed Series bikes. But, they did have several GT BMX catalogs (for free!), so I developed a habit of picking up a new product catalog every time I went to the bike shop. Well one fateful day just before Christmas in 1997, I saw that Pedal Power had the new 1998 GT BMX catalog, so I picked it up, started flipping through it, and this was the catalog (that I took home and still have) that started my obsession with GT Speed Series bikes…
The complete 1998 GT Speed Series Team bike (Fig. 1) had a suggested retail price of $1,117.62 USD (Source: ’98 BMX & Freestyle Buyer’s Guide by the Staff of BMX Plus!, p. 16). However, if you wanted the optional Pro 1.75 Spin BMX Thermoplastic Carbon Fiber wheels (the “lightest, stiffest, [and] smoothest rolling race wheels” at the time; Source: 1998 GT Dyno BMX/Freestyle Catalog, p. 31), you would have to shell out $1,461.46 USD. Additionally, according to BikePedia, an online bicycle and component database, the ’98 GT Speed Series Team bike had a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $9,999.99 USD. BikePedia also says that the 1998 GT Speed Series Team Spin bike had an MSRP of $1,259.00 USD.
Figure 1. 1998 GT Speed Series Team Bikes.
Compared to other BMX bikes from 1998, there was only one other stock production bike that was more expensive than either of the ’98 Speed Series Team bikes. And that was the $1,3000 USD 1998 Mongoose MacFearsome. As far as I can tell, the ’98 GT Speed Series Team Spinwas the most expensive stock BMX bike you could purchase in 1998. Lastly, other than these three bikes, not a single other stock production BMX bike cost more than $1,000.00 USD in 1998. So, as far as buying a stock bike was concerned, the GT Speed Series Team bikes were really the best money could buy in 1998!
If you only wanted a 1998 GT Speed Series Team frame (Fig. 2), they could be purchased most cheaply from Dan’s Competition (Dan’s Comp) for $339.99 USD (Source: September 1998 BMX Plus!, p.16). And if you wanted a chromoly GT fork at the time of frame purchase, the fork was only an additional $25.00 USD. It is also noted that Dan’s Comp sold all three versions of the ’98 GT Speed Series Team frames – XL, XLP, and XXL versions (Fig. 2).
Figure 2. 1998 GT Speed Series Team Frames.
In comparison to other frames from 1998, the ’98 GT Speed Series Teamframe was one of the most expensive. Sure, the Haro Monocoque, Mountain Cycle Aftershock, Mongoose Carbon Fiber, Huffy Catalyst, and Tehcnique frames were more expensive, but those frames either had a monocoque front end (instead of a traditional front triangle) or they were made out of carbon fiber.
What made the ’98 GT Speed Series Team frames unique was their Box Series chainstays. And although the original Box stays were introduced on the 1997 GT Speed Series Team frames, the design was refined for 1998. In addition to the new angle-cut Box stay dropouts (Fig. 3), which added a “cleaner look to the rear of the frame, while providing more room to maneuver a wrench for wheel adjustments (Source: 1998 GT Dyno BMX/Freestyle Catalog, p. 7),” the ’98 GT Speed Series Team frames were tricked out using precision computer numerical control (CNC) technology (Fig. 3). As an example, the ’98 GT Speed Series Team frames had a CNCd head tube, seat stay bridge, seat tube collar, bottom bracket shell, and dropouts! And in addition to giving this frame a “factory look that no other bike on the planet can touch (Source: 1998 GT Dyno BMX/Freestyle Catalog, p. 4)”, the CNC machined tubes and frame pieces allowed the frame to be lighter.
Figure 3. 1998 GT Speed Series Team Frame Highlights.
Other than the physical dimensions of each 1998 GT Speed Series Team frame (e.g., XL, XLP, or XXL frame sizes), the only way to differentiate between two similar looking frames is by way of each frame’s individual serial number. During the manufacturing of each and every stock** ’98 GT Speed Series Team frame (which was performed in Santa Ana, CA), the inside of each frame’s left dropout was stamped with a unique eight (8) digit serial number, followed by a couple of letters to identify the frame size. The first four (4) digits of the serial number represent the month and year that the frame was manufactured in.
**Note: Some factory GT rider's 1998 GT Speed Series Team frames (e.g., Gary Ellis) were not given serial numbers: (http://bmxmuseum.com/forums/viewtopic.php?id=350282).
For example, since this frame’s serial number begins with “0897” (see 4th attached image), this frame was manufactured in August (Note: August is the eighth month) of 1997. At this point, it should also be mentioned that even though this frame was manufactured in 1997, it is still a 1998 model-year frame. This is because many frame and bike manufacturers want their new products to be available for the coming Christmas. As a general rule of thumb, it is commonly believed that GT began production on the next years frames in October of the previous year, and the manufacturing process continued into September of the next year (Note: This is not a hard fact). Following this logic, all 1998 GT Speed Series Team frames should have been manufactured between October 1997 and September 1998 (i.e., having a serial number between “1097” and “0998”). Clearly, this is a rule of thumb since this frame is a 1998 GT Speed Series Team XL frame, and it was manufactured in August 1997. The most likely reason for this (i.e., why this 1998 model-year frame was made in August 1997) is that this is just when GT manufactured many of these 1998 model-year Speed Series frames - simple as that.
The next four (4) digits in the ’98 GT Speed Series Team’s serial number essentially tell you how many of these frames were manufactured before the frame in question was manufactured. For example, since the last four digits of this frame’s serial number are “1513”, 1,512 of these frames were manufactured before this frame, and this frame was the 1,513th 1998 (model-year) GT Speed Series Team XL frame that was manufactured. The last couple of letters in the serial number represent the size of the frame. For example, since the end of this frame’s serial number is “XL”, this is a 1998 GT Speed Series Team XL frame, which has a 20.25 in. top tube (Fig. 2, above).
Now it gets interesting… After GT had manufactured several thousand ’98 GT Speed Series Team frames, on March 12, 1998, GT issued a world-wide recall of all of their Speed Series frames because they had received reports that the head tubes on these frames were cracking prematurely (Fig. 4). After the recall, anyone who owned a ’95, ’96, ’97, or pre-March ’98 model-year Speed Series frame could take their frame back to an authorized GT dealer to get a post-February ’98 Speed Series Team replacement frame, which was stronger than the previous Speed Series frames since it had been redesigned using thicker frame tubing (Source: CPSC). With that said, I don’t know exactly how many Speed Series frames from each model-year were sent back to GT and then destroyed, but it’s safe to say that more 1998 model-year frames were returned than any other model-year frame for the simple fact that the recall occurred in ’98 (i.e., many of the ’98 frames had either not been sold yet, or they had been recently sold, which allowed the GT dealers to more easily track down those frames).
Figure 4. 1998 GT Speed Series Recall Press Release.
So since GT recalled all of the 20” Speed Series frames that had been manufactured through February 1998 and replaced those frames with ’98 GT Speed Series Team frames, ’98 GT Speed Series Team frames that were manufactured after February 1998 are now extremely common. On the flip side, if you had bought an early 1998 model-year Speed Series frame (that had been manufactured before March 1998) and decided not to return it to GT after hearing of the recall, that frame is now relatively rare, even though it looks nearly identical to any other ’98 model-year Speed Series frame.
Now back to this frame – since this frame is a brand new and unused 1998 GT Speed Series Team frame that was manufactured before GT began manufacturing the redesigned (and improved) ’98 GT Speed Series Team frames, this frame is very rare (in my opinion). I have seen several unused post-recall ’98 GT Speed Series Team frames over the years (my guess is that the original owners of these frames first owned an older Speed Series frame that they had stopped using, so they gave GT their old used frame, and in return got a brand new ’98 GT Speed Series Team frame - what a deal, right?), but this frame is the first pre-recall ’98 GT Speed Series Team frame that I’ve seen that’s still in perfect unused condition!
After examining this frame and comparing it to several post-recall ’98 GT Speed Series Team XL frames (I own a few of these), I noticed that this pre-recall frame has a hole punched through the center of its brake bridge (see 3rd attached image), which my post-recall frames don’t have. Also, Gary Ellis's pre-recall 1998 GT Speed Series Team XXL frame has a hole punched through the center of its brake bridge (Fig. 5), so I could be onto something here... But even with that said, I haven’t seen enough pre-recall ’98 GT Speed Series Team frames to say that, aside from the serial number, this is a way to tell the difference between the two frame designs - I thought that it was interesting, none the less.
Figure 5. Brake Bridge on Gary Ellis's Pre-Recall 1998 GT Speed Series Team XXL Frame.
If any information provided above is incorrect, please send me a PM and I'll make appropriate corrections. If you are not tired of reading yet, check out some of my other nice GT bikes too!
- 1997 GT Speed Series Team XXL (http://bmxmuseum.com/bikes/gt_bicycles/50075)
- 1999 GT Speed Series Team XL (http://bmxmuseum.com/bikes/gt_bicycles/56676)
- 2000 GT Speed Series UltraBox XL (http://bmxmuseum.com/bikes/gt_bicycles/63186)
So, can you now tell I like GT Speed Series bikes?!?!?!
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