BMX Bikes / B / Badd & Company / Badd & Company Info

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Info on company..from this link:

Everyone has an obsession of some sort, whether it be "Japanimation" or gardening. My personal obsession, as my long-time readers know, is design excellence. Those of you who are unlucky enough to be scheduled for a tour of my soon-to-be-completed Casa Boswell will know, first hand, my obsession, as you are forced to pore over various fetish objects ranging from an Isamu Noguchi IN-50 table to the massive, brushed-nickel-and-crystal, five-stage chandelier in the foyer, to my secret stash of 1991-vintage heavy-duty IBM terminal keyboards. I have some kind of mental illness that forces me to seek out and obtain mechanical near-perfection wherever it may be found.

The truly great modern designers and engineers have all been courageous men - the aforementioned Mr. Noguchi, the three generations of Porsche men and their descendant Dr. Piech, Charles Eames, Steve Wozniak, and so on. Not necessarily physically courageous, but rather morally so, with the strength to single-mindedly pursue an idea and render that idea in steel, wood, or other forms. An object designed in this fashion has a life of its own, which is why something like an IN-50 immediately grabs your eye, no matter what it is surrounded by. Naturally, a great design requires careful fabrication - but the result is a rare joy, particularly for someone like me.

Imagine, then, just how delighted I was when I received my new BADD XL 20" frame and discovered that it had perfectly sanded and smoothed welds! Sanded welds, although frequently found on Kleins and Santanas, (it's actually filet brazing on the Santanas) are virtually unheard-of in BMX. After all, it takes a lot of time and effort to remove weld beads, and most riders simply don't care. The end result, however, is magnificent - a frame that appears to be forged from a single ingot of glass-smooth steel. This is, by far, the nicest frame I have ever owned. It's probably the nicest production BMX frame I have ever seen.

If this frame is so great, and it is, dear reader, it really is, why is Terry Clapp closing up shop at BADD? To understand why Terry is quitting, we'll have to take a hard look, both at history and at ourselves. I doubt that we will like the answers, but here goes...

My involvement with BADD reaches back far before Terry's purchase of the BADD name. 'Badd & Company', as it was originally known, was founded by a gentleman named Bruce Goin back in 1989 or so. Bruce was like any number of BMX fathers who have decided to take a crack at entering the business for themselves - Gary Turner and Charles Danishek being two of his more famous predecessors.

Of course, Turner and Danishek built their first products in their own garage and a GM machine shop, respectively, but Goin decided to farm out the work to B&E Fabricators, limiting his own involvement to designing logos, marketing, and some general ideas about geometry. Most of the "garage companies" of the day, including S&M, operated in this fashion. Even today, many companies, including Standard, don't build their own frames, although you will never see anything to that effect in their advertising.

Those first Badd frames were pretty good bikes, and Mr. Goin sold quite a few of them. By 1991, he was confident enough to sponsor a whole field of riders, including Billy Au. Mr. Au and I met many a time in Superclass, and although our custom Badd frames were of equal quality, I have to admit that Bill won... hmm... all of our confrontations, at least in those cases where he stayed on the bike for the whole moto.

Unfortunately for Bruce Goin, the tide was shifting in the sport, and 'rider-owned' companies like S&M were quickly pulling ahead. It was an era where having a brown S&M Holmes was far more respectable than having a chrome Badd, even though the two bikes were built side-by-side in B&E's weld shop. An attempt to create a unique new set of frames ended in failure - those frames, by the way, were sold for $59.00 each by System Cycle under the brand name 'Excalibur' - and Bruce decided to withdraw from the business. He sold his stock of frames to a variety of people. The 2B "10th Frame", if I recall correctly, was a painted Badd XL that saw a lot of action at dirt jumping contests. In any event, 'Badd & Company' was assumed to be gone forever, yet another victim of our sport's fickle tastes.

At this point in our story, Mr. Goin slips beneath the mists of time, never to be heard from again. Enter Terry Clapp. Terry was a young professional who ran, as a hobby, a company called "Bicycles N' Stuff" in the early Nineties. Terry and I had collaborated on the race outfits for the Squidco team, when Squidco stopped being a bike shop and became, instead, a clothing company... but that is a story for another time.

For whatever reason, Terry decided to purchase the "Badd & Company" name, change it to just plain "BADD", and use it for a new line of bikes. (The irony here, that a very traditional "dad-owned" company became a "rider-owned" one, should not be lost on the reader.) Terry's plan was to produce premium Cr-Mo bikes at a price roughly comparable to the high-end aluminum frames that were just becoming widely popular.

This was a risky strategy, to say the least - one that only Rick Moliterno, with his infinite ability to read the minds of young, impressionable children, had managed before. To put some solid quality behind the "premium" claim, Terry had Robby Rupe's Durango Bike Works build the frames.

Let's stop for a minute to second-guess Terry on a couple of issues. The first was his purchase of the "BADD" name - a name that, by the time he bought it, either meant nothing (to the young riders) or had slightly negative connotations (to the trail-jumping crowd). Had he named his company Clapp Racing, would he have done better? Hard to tell.

Terry's second hindsight-mistake was to be too honest with his customers. He stated outright who was building the bikes for him. To the old guys out there, that meant something - but for young riders, it sabotaged his attempts at brand-building, and they had never heard of Robby Rupe to begin with.

SNAP! tested the Revolution 20" in 1997, (to read the review, click here) and the rest is more or less modern history. When Rupe was unable to provide more frames, Terry went to Kastan, who produced an infamous SNAP! test-winning batch of cruisers for him. More recently, he has been working with Fabweld, the company behind a great majority of the current "garage company" bikes.

I have always admired Terry and his company. Those of you who have written to me for advice know that I have been recommending him, in print and in person, for five years now. However, I had never actually purchased a BADD for myself, simply because I prefer the 'dump-truck' size and geometry of my Redlines to the sleek, quick-turning BADD cruiser - and I have been riding the same 20" for eleven years now. Purchasing a new 20" frame has been on my 'to-do' list for a long time - but Terry's recent decision to close BADD forced my hand, and I purchased one of the original Robby Rupe bikes the day after Terry made his announcement.

As of today (22 Feb 2001) Terry has a few of the Rupe bikes left. If you can, I recommend that you purchase one without delay. There may never be another 20" of this quality available again, and to pass up this chance and buy something like a Powerlite P61 or MOSH would be an action bordering on the insane.

Nevertheless, that decision is one that a lot of people have made in the past five years. Why? Why are companies that attempt to provide real quality to riders so consistently unsuccessful? The answer is a sad one, and it is one that people do not like to hear - simply put, we're idiots.

BMX racers, by and large, tend to be very easily-led people. This doesn't apply to most of my readers - my reader base, judging by my e-mail and personal contacts, tends to be both intelligent and skeptical - but it does apply to the bulk of the NBL and ABA circus-followers. We can be sold just about anything, if the advertising is good enough. Plastic sprockets, two-piece frames, aluminum frames that weigh six pounds, break after one season, and cost four hundred bucks - do I have to go on?

If that were not enough, there's the gimmick-centric nature of many older riders. I recently read a message-board posting by an older rider complaining that his forks were too heavy. IDIOT! Does anyone in the world really think that an extra six ounces of fork weight is keeping this guy out of the Pro ranks, or even costing him a place in the local cruiser main? Dear readers, believe me - you cannot buy victory in this sport. If you could, I would have already done it... Nevertheless, this is the mentality that has sold thousands of Auburns, Hawks, Powerlites, carbon fiber forks, and who knows what else, while more than twenty of the finest Cr-Mo frames ever produced sat idle in Terry Clapp's basement.

The truth is that nobody will ever lose money by assuming that BMX riders are dopes. I'm not criticizing today's riders in particular - gimmick-think has been around as long as the sport itself, and quality manufacturers have been victims of this mindset since before today's 15 Experts were born.

The problem, such as it is, is that never before has the sport been so firmly in the grip of the major manufacturers. Ten years ago, a 16X main would have contained six or seven different frames. Today, the diversity is frighteningly absent, and companies like GT/Schwinn are force-feeding their particular brand of low-cost, high-price garbage (in my opinion) down our throat because we have very few alternatives to their Taiwanese, big-tube, alumino-scoots.

We have one less alternative now. This is good news for Terry - he can concentrate on riding, which he really loves to do. For the rest of us, it's not good news at all. It's another victory for the corporate mentality, for the unthinking idiots who buy whatever appears on television, for the sanctions who are dependent on big-company sponsorship money, for plain and simple mediocrity. Naturally, most of the people responsible won't feel the loss - I'm sure there's a new generation of freaky-looking carboluminum frames on the drawing boards, just waiting to satisfy their desire for the Newest Thing, and to fill the pockets of the people who play along.

I don't mean to imply that Terry has been completely unsuccessful. Quite the contrary - his cruisers, no matter who makes them, have been very popular, and I suspect a lot of pro riders who ride their sponsor's bikes at the races ride the first generation of Rupe-built Revolution frames when they think nobody's looking. In the end, though, the sales volume simply hasn't been enough to justify Terry's time and effort.

It would be worth

your

time and effort to acquire one, however. It is a fine bike - a courageous design, brilliantly executed. Don't expect your friends to appreciate it for what it is, any more than I expect my visitors to know the difference between an Eames surfboard table and something from the local furniture shop - these frames are for the owner's private enjoyment, quietly satisfying in the same way that, say, a properly handmade suit is a private enjoyment, when the world is dressed in off-the-rack Brioni. Instead of acquiring a private tailor, all you need to do is contact Terry. Today. Although the frame may last you a lifetime, I doubt Terry's supply will last long at all. Tell 'em Boswell sent you.

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