1981 Velamos BMX 20
Czechoslovakian Velamos BMX 20 found at 2nd hand shop. Rebuilt & upgraded with better cranks, Sturmey Archer pedals, proper seat & bigger gears to make it actually rideable. Completed april 2011.
Here's czechoslovakian made Velamos BMX simply titled as "BMX 20" i found complete (except for the rear tire) at local 2nd hand. I was walking past a shop selling 2nd hand sporting stuff ranging from bikes, skis to hockey skates the other day and spotted this bike in front with 37â‚¬ price tag on it (about $53). Earlier i had pretty much ignored these because they looked cheap and were very common back in the day. Now, being older and wiser? i had made conscious decision that if i saw one of these that was good condition and cheap i'd grab it. The next reason is that my mind setting has changed since those days with growing interest and hunger for these early style race bikes.
Anyway, the price was right, the condition exceptionally good, and it sat right there in front of me waiting for someone to take it to a good home so i didn't hesitate. The sales lady said "isn't that bike a little small for you?" I replied "no, i am used to these". Waved the lady bye and off i went. I walked the bike home because i was on foot that day and it was set up so that it was impossible for me to ride it. So i walked and walked. And walked, as the shop wasn't exactly "near by". And as i walked proud with my new "score" rolling along on my right i was planning in my mind how i would rebuild it. I knew all along i would definitely upgrade some of the parts to get rid of the cheesy kid's bike appearance.
Again, these bikes were among the most common BMX bike you could spot here in Finland. In fact these are still relatively easy to come by and usually they sell for very cheap because no one knows nor sees their potential. The early ones came in metallic blue, metallic red and silver. The later ones were painted in solid colours and had hand brakes. There is no denying this is a low end bike that came with some very bad quality components and materials. However, it has that nice late 70's vibe going on so if you upgrade some of the stock parts it becomes more rideable and cool.
This was another quick "clean-up-upgrade-and-rebuild" project that took me about week to complete. I took everything apart and evaluated which of the original pats i could, or more likely, would use. The first thing that had to go were the ridiculous 135mm cotter pin cranks with small sprocket, the no good rubber pedals and the chainguard. They were all useless for actual riding. With the museum aspect in mind i stored them though if i should someday need them ..which i doubt.
Next up the wheels which were completely dissembled and the dull gray oxidized spokes were replaced with polished stainless steel spokes. The czech made Favorit coaster brake was also completely overhauled, cleaned, inspected and re-greased. It's an old heavy duty english type roller clutch coaster brake, commonly found on older european and scandinavian commute, road and trekking bikes. This is later generation, so it is not as well made as its ancestors from the 50's 60's and 70's. These days you can also buy a Velosteel coaster brake new which is basicly just a Favorit clone made with same specs and relying on same technique. The front hub was also replaced with better quality steel hub for better chrome. I really like the original steel rims with nice old profile and excellent, durable chroming. They are also heavy duty but not very precisely made, sadly. However in my book the rims, the tires, the coaster brake and the bars are good enough reason to grab this bike if you see one. The rims are bad ass as well as the OG 2.125 Barum MX tires with very cool fat knobby pattern on them. The rubber compound is heavy duty too.
Another feature i like on this bike are the bars. They are "box bar type" with impressive width (unlike the usual foot-wide bars for kids) and have comfortable bends and slight down sweep for good pull. The original grips are motorcycle styled, heavy duty and have good pattern on durable rubbery compound. The stem looks burly but is very cheaply made and has too short reach to my taste, but i am keeping it on for now because its original to the bike. It has 22mm diameter shaft. Same goes with the headset which is same size as found on european road bikes, so the frame's headtube is slightly smaller diameter than the 1" headtube we are normally used to. The real asset to this bike is the Euro bottom bracket which gives plenty of choice with cranks. Like i said the stock 135mm cranks had to go because they were too short for anyone over 5 years old. I replaced them with unknown 170mm square taper steel cranks with affixed 46T steel chain wheel and well, obviously, replaced the whole bottom bracket and spindle too. I figured the unknown cranks were suitable for this level bike, not the cheapest but not too fancy either. But definitely an upgrade to what there used to be. Atleast the chrome plated Sturmey Archer pedals are something of considered as high end. They are probably the highest quality part now found on the whole bike, lol!
The frame has the usual looptail geometry and single front triangle reinforcement plate so there's nothing that exciting or new about it really. There is welded-on chainguard tabs on the bottom bracket and another tab on the loop which i don't like but i wasn't up to removing them either. The chainstays connect to bottom bracket via cheap looking wishbone. Overall the welds are pretty horrible to be honest. One of the true dislikes about the frame is the fixed seat clamp. It is possible to remove and replace it but with this bike i wasn't up to it since it was in such good condition with nice paint. However the most annoying thing about it is, it is welded on krooked, it is not centered, and it bugs the hell out of me, lol! There is standard 22mm seatpost and mine came with red San Marco BMX seat which i thought was cool but not on this bike so i replaced it with padded Viscount diamond pattern seat for better looks and form.
I must address the terrible quality of the stock forks which otherwise look pretty cool. The fork tubes (legs) were welded on krooked and one of the drop outs was lower than the other. And like this wasn't bad enough, the headset crown race seating was also messed up so the bearings and the whole headset got stuck when bars were turned. Not good. These are the uttermost crap forks i have ever experienced, beware. I wanted to keep them though so i machined the race nice and parallel and simply bent the fork legs back to even shape as well as filed the unparallel drop outs. So now the front tire sits on straight and the headset works like it's designed to.
I was very stoked about the full original vinyl padset which was all there and in great condition apart from slight rust on the snap on buttons. The bike even came with an extra stem pad which was cool. The foam they used on the pads back then was now just brittle slabs of foam so i replaced them.
There was also a 24" version of this bike titled as "Cross 24" with twin top tubes and forward bent forks. The early version of the BMX 20 was also known as VMX 20.
After the first ride all i can say is the bike rides and handles great, to my surprise. I thought this would be another small bike for guy my size but i was wrong. I especially like the bars which are wide anough and have that extra pull thanks to the comfortable down sweep on them. With proper size cranks and bigger gears this bike feels and rides great. Don't underestimate it's potential, give it a chance if you ever see one. It's a great low end bike.
Thanks for reading!
Parts & Specs:
- Frame: 1981 Velamos BMX-20, made in former Czechoslovakia
- Serial#: 89U1 69725
- Fork: Velamos BMX-20, threaded
- Headset: 1" steel (road bike size)
- Stem: Velamos, slanted
- Bars: Velamos "box bars" steel
- Grips: Velamos
- Pads: original with "BMX" print, made of fake leather with snap-ons, full OG set
- Cranks: unknown 170mm 3-pc square taper
- Chainwheel: 46T steel, integrated with cranks
- Pedals: Sturmey Archer model# 817 chromed rat traps 9/16", made in England
- Bottom Bracket: standard British threaded bb, assembled with square taper spindle and caged bearings
- Seat: Viscount quilted model# 2272 padded
- Seatpost: steel 22mm, chrome plated
- Seatpost Clamp: welded-on
- Rims: Westwood type finned single wall, steel 36H chrome plated
- Rear hub: Favorit 36H roller clutch coaster brake with 16T Fichtel & Sachs cog and 183mm stainless steel spokes
- Front hub: steel 36H with 185mm stainless steel spokes
- Tires: Barum MX 20 x 2.125 knobby tread (ISO 57-406) made in czechoslovakia
- Top Tube: 19"
Submitted by 2Fresh
- Company: Velamos
- Wheel Size: 20"
- Toptube length: 19
- Headtube size: 1"