1995 Morales Flatland
1995 Morales Flatland
1995 Morales 1st gen. (2nd year with more colours) original purple w/super rare 1st edition Kore Flat Forx. Kimmo Haakana's actual frame, Martti Kuoppa's OG bars & Redneck stem. Completed 04/2010
1995 Morales Flatland bike resto / rebuild project that started about three years ago. This is my view on how a Morales flatland bike deserves to be built. It should look like one that's actually rideable or ridden, not a poser mock-up with everything-Kore on it. The only cool thing from Kore was the flat forx.Oh, and the cogs.
The frame is first generation frame design (open chain/seat stays, thin top tubes) with original dark purple powdercoat from 1995. The frame used to belong to former local flatland pro Kimmo Haakana who rode it about four years starting from 1996. The frame was originally purchased from Dan's comp BMX mailorder. Keep reading...
I don't know exactly how or why, but from Kimmo the bike somehow ended up to Martti's possesion who rebuilt it for his young cousin sometime in late 90's using whatever leftover parts he had. I'm under the impression however, that this cousin in question never quite had the enthusiasm for flatland and so the bike was soon after more less forgotten and locked away in a bike storage room at Martti's uncle's basement.
I used to ride a yellow '96 Morales while Kimmo rode this dark purple '95 and these were the only known two Morales' here in Finland at the time. To me this was a very cool chance to grab a piece of not only finnish flatland history but also restore Kimmo's old personal ride back to its former glory. In early 2008 the dream became reality after thinking about it so many times. I remember how we compared the differences in our frames for curiousity with Kimmo at the local indoor park in early 1997 or so, during one of the oh' so many winter sessions.
One late evening in february 2008 i was on the phone with Martti and we were talking about whatever until, once again, we were pondering "i wonder what ever happened to that dark purple Morales is, you know, the one that Kimmo used to ride??" ..and expressed how cool it would be to try and to locate it and, if possible, build it back up the way it certainly deserved. Martti knew so much that the last time he had seen it at his uncle's but it was years ago. We had been tossing this idea a few times before but this time things started happening..
I asked if there was any way he or i could get in contact with his uncle so we could find out if the bike even exists anymore? Martti said he will focus on it and call up his uncle shortly (who, he hadn't been in contact in a while) and ask about the bike. Before this Martti guessed right, that the bike is most likely still locked away in his uncle's basement, more specificly at a public bike shed -or atleast that's where he last saw it those ten something years ago. The chances were somewhat 50/50 but there was a lot of hope. Obviously i was very excited hearing this and very grateful to say the least that he would actually put his time and effort into locating the bike. I must admit i had been annoying him about it couple times in the past, ha! but it was all in good spirit ofcourse.
Well, Martti called his uncle the next day and during that week he went over to pick it up. According to Martti, the bike was there sitting pretty much in the same exact spot, untouched, since the last time he saw it. Like i said, the bike was built using leftover parts but.. there was also some hardcore quality stuff on it like S&M Stupid Forks with S&M Redneck clamp-on stem used by Kimmo. Other parts included GT 1-pc cranks and alloy platform pedals, ACS860 front brake, Primo pegs, Odyssey Bermuda tires, and a stumpy Haro seat. The true gem on this bike were Martti's old back-chrome Graveyard OG bars that have seen a few contests in the 90's. On top of that, there were these two Graveyard stickers on the sides of the twin top tubes applied by Kimmo all those years ago, still intact, just like i remember.
I then asked how much he'd want for the bike because i was totally prepared to pay for such a cool bike with cool history. He told he will settle for getting back those black-chrome Graveyard bars for sentimental reasons and the rear 990 brake and some money for a day's meal (8.40 €) so we agreed on total 10 Euros which is roughly $12.00 for the whole bike, lol! Martti explained those black-chrome Graveyard bars had great sentimental value cause he rode them at the 1997 Worlds in cologne where he placed 3rd. The bars were also featured in interviews and also on the cover shot on a german BMX magazine called Freedom. Martti also explained and i remember this well too, how much time, effort and money it took for him to get those bars. Like a few months sending payments back and forth until finally the bars arrived.
This was the first set of Graveyard bars in finland. And indeed, i remember how special they were. I also remember how Graveyard bars were one if not the most expensive bars you could get in the early-mid 90's, so whoever rode them was dead-serious about their riding. I said sure you can have them back whenever you want because i know exactly what it means to get some of your personal stuff back, be it parts, a frame or whatever. Next time we got in touch i asked if he'd like the bars back now, but said something like "naah, i'll probably just end up losing them again so you keep them for now". LOL! So, i still have them on this bike, all polished up waiting for until whenever he wants them back. Martti's awesome, always been. And until then, the bars are in good hands.
Anyway, back to the story..
Then in one dark, cold late february afternoon in 2008 Martti drove over to our place with the bike on the backseat of his car. I was well psyched to say the least!! The bike wasn't exactly like i remembered seeing it last time ten years ago when Kimmo had it but all the same, i was sooo excited! The frame decals were long gone and the strange mix of both quality and generic parts was confusing. The amount of dust, grease and dirt covering the bike was staggering but underneath all that there was an awesome first generation Morales with original paint that would make a great build with some TLC and proper selection of parts that would compliment the bike's character a little better.
My best guess on what activity this bike has seen since its last days of active flatland is probably street or dirt, or both. The frame had numerous scars on the paint that was known to be tough, probably due to harsh storage or something and the there was no way a bike can get this dirty just by riding flatland. Who knows what this bike had seen in the past ten years.
Let the restorations begin with the usual build philosophy, details and the technical stuff for those interested... Obviously i first took everything apart to see what the bike is made of and whether there's anything i could, or would use. Turned out there was plenty of useful great stuff like the Gyro, the cranks, the bottom bracket, the S&M Redneck stem, S&M Stupid forks, Haro seat, Primo pegs, GT pedals and some cables and small parts. The Graveyard bars were sort of ruled out at first, because like i said, they were reserved and going back to Martti at some point, but meanwhile since he didn't seem to want them back anytime soon, i went ahead and used them for this build for the time being. I was puzzled whether to make this bike some kind of a replica or a tribute to someone or something of my own.
A purple '95 Morales would've easily made a great Chase Gouin replica with some Q-Bars. But on a second thought, as cool as that would've been, i ultimately discarded that idea. It would've been too straight forward, i didn't like his setup and wanted to build my own so i compromised. However, i was tremendously inspired by the bikes of the Flatland Fugitives, Edgar & Ivan Plascencia, Jesse Puente's etc. The early Morales build style from 1994 and 1995 with the use of TNT stem and Graveyard bars, chopped GT seat etc. so i ended up with a mix of things and ideas from those riders. Most of all, i wanted to capture the essential looks and spirit of a true hardcore flatland bike of the early-mid 90's. This was the era when people didn't stress about the weight of a bike, when the average weight of a flatland bike could range from anything between 15 to 18, 19 kilos! The frames alone were built like tanks and once you started putting on parts.. there was no turning back.
The frame has got quite a few scars pretty much everywhere on it which are probably caused by careless storage and mistreating. I haven't seen any paint job this badly scarred just by riding flatland so obviously there's more to it. It seems the bike has been locked somewhere and the lock had definitely scarred the paint over time. Fortunately the original powdercoat is really tuff stuff so it has survived thru all the beating in let's say half decent condition. The tone of the colour is interesting to say the least, indoors the frame appears almost black although it is really a mix of intensively dark, half translucent purple powdercoat over light gray base. Once you take the frame outside you can see the true colour, beautiful deep purple.
The rear drop outs were slightly mangled outwards so i had to gently bend them back to parallel to relief any stress that would subject to the rear axle. Everything else was pretty much OK for such heavily used frame so all it really needed was good cleaning, waxing and polishing and some touch up paint on the worst scars and it would look much better already. Then it was finally the time for the decals.
In my personal opinion, every Morales frame NEEDS the correct style frame decals. They are the key part of its distinctive looks. Sure, you can identify the frame without them epecially if you rode thru the 90's but it feels as if there's something significant missing although it is just a set of decals. The bold "Morales" is a signature that gives the frame its characteristics and style. Like i said earlier, all the original decals were long gone from this frame. I remember when we used to ride with Kimmo he had the decals on so i don't know when they were removed. Silk screening was out of question because of the high costs so i decided to go the custom route and made my own die-cut reproductions. The earliest first generation Morales in fact, had the "MORALES" die-cut, they were not printed on clear sheet until 2nd (correct this if i am mistaken). I used a scan of original frame decal set i had saved from my '96 and printed the outlines on the back of a white vinyl decal sheet. This was notching fancy or expensive, it was all made right here at home and cut manually. In all it took me alost a day to cut them because i wanted to be ridiculously precise. But it was well worth it and i am very pleased with the result if i may say so for myself. I used professional decal film that is relatively thin, flexible and has a killer adhesive on the back. The process was the same i've gone thru with making numbers for numberplates. I printed a mirror image of the name Morales on the back of the sheet and then simply cut it out by hand using a very sharp blade. Yes it requires patience, quite a bit of time and steady hand but the result was worth it. The head tube and seat tube circle-M logo decals were done on a laser cutter by a friend in UK as those would've been too complex to cut manually. Thank You so much Brian!
The fork was somewhat of an issue. As you well know Bob Morales is responsible for the Morales frames aswell as the Kore Flat Forx so the two will always be associated together. No one says you can't use whatever fork you please with the frame but the two simply belong together. This project was no exception. But it turned almost impossible task to locate the earliest, the very first version of the Kore zero-offset forks or "Flat Forx" like it was titled. They do pop up every now and then but typically the ones we encounter are the second generation type with slightly beefier tubes and better finish. The early ones were made of smaller diameter tubes and the drop outs were slightly more rounded around the edges. You might not notice the difference unless you actually have the two generations side by side for comparison. I used to have the second generation forks myself which i sold off and bought back but that's whole another story and whole another bike.
Shortly after my search for first generation Kore Flat Forx began, POLANCO stepped up with the exact forks i was looking for and i simply couldn't believe it! So far the last time i had seen the first gen Kore Flat Forx was in magazines in 1994. This was going to be soo cool! A while later the forks arrived and i was stoked! Huge thanks again Polanco!
It's a shame these first generation Kore forks weren't very well made and the finish was terrible. The welds were nice but overall they looked nothing like the later Kore forks with laser-precision cut drop outs and flawless chrome finish. Nevertheless, i am very very stoked on these forks because the frame wasn't exactly perfect either so they'd make a perfect match together!
Seeing just about every Morales these days set up with Kore forks as "the norm", is sometimes a bit dull. Morales was sold as a frame only and the Kore forks were sold separately, so if you look back to early-mid 90's articles and pictures, you will notice people used pertty much whatever forks they liked. But there is no denying the fact that the Kore forks look great together and they were considered one the best and the most durable zero-offset forks of the mid 90's. The first genration Kore Flat Forx have no stampings whatsoever on them so there is no way to tell the production period. The second and third generation Flat Forx were manufactured by Spinner and had a clear date and material stamp on the steerer like "Spinner 1995 F-2 CM/CM" etc.
Just like the Kore forks are typically associated with the frame, you can't have a Morales without Graveyard bars or Peregrine Q-Bars. Occasionally you might have seen something other than those two. What would've been better than the set of these black-chrome OG bars! I also managed to get a beautiful NOS set of chrome, zero sweep OG bars that cost more me than i co uld afford, but what the heck, you have to act while you have the chance. Overall I would've prefered "mild sweep" instead of straight across but you can't really choose these days and since these bars are Martti's we're talking about, there isn't anything to complain about. This is my first set of Graveyard bars although i was very close in buying a used pair around 1996 but didn't. What's especially cool about these bars is the fact they have been used by a top pro and they have quite an impressive history. There is also a set of homemade bar ends made by a friend to add to the list of "unique" parts.
The Graveyard bars have low rise so they kinda "need" a standard size stem to compensate height, especially if you're 6'3. Again, just like the Kore forks and Graveyard bars "belong" together with Morales, another part many times associated with it is the TNT stem. But not this time! Instead, i checked my parts boxes and realized i have yet another part that used to belong to Martti, a black anodized S&M Redneck stem, which has been once paired up with Martti's Graveyard bars. They even have the corresponding knurling marks to match and verify. The story with the black Redneck stem goes, i bought it from Martti around 1996 or 1997 and used it on my '96 Morales. Before that, Martti had it on his chrome Big Daddy. The back of the stem is sloped because of harsh ground contacts during Hitchikers with those zero-sweep OG bars.
At this point it was becoming clear this bike was starting to take the shape of a weird tribute to Martti and Kimmo since majority of the "vital parts" originated from their rides anyway. So just like the bars and the frame, the stem has also seen a lot in its time and has been ridden hard. I spent a while deciding should i go for the "usual" polished TNT stem or the black Redneck and to my eye the balance in this case looked much better with the Redneck.
The seat and seatpost is another story. Morales is an extremely short frame by any standards, therefore if you were using full uncut bars, say 27" or 28" Graveyards or Q-bars you were bound to run into trouble with the seat vs. handlebar clearance unless you ran your seat VERY low. You would see images of chopped down seats set ridiculously low, and yes, these were flatland bikes we are talking about, not street or park bikes of today with slammed seats. I remember when i rode my '96 Morales i had the same kind of set up with the seat in very upright tilted position and oveall set down very low.
On the Morales you had the option to run oversized seatpost or you could just use the shim that was provided with the frame that would reduce the seat tube diameter to 22mm. I never really liked the idea of having a mountain bike style fat post and the very limited adjusting angle of the built-in guts either so i went with the shim option on this.
Sprocket, cranks and pedals. What can i say, there seems to be a pattern again when choosing the parts for a Morales. Some things simply belong together and the Graveyard sprocket is no exception. Just when i was about to give up on finding one i managed to find a few in relatively short amount of time. Different sizes and in different colours. Early ones, later ones, big ones and small ones, fat and thin. The one i chose is 43 toother which had once been a chrome-like polished alloy but was now all scarred and dull. It was easy to restore back to its old shine by sanding it down and gradually moving to finer and finer grit paper and ultimately polish the heck out of it. As for cranks and pedals, the common Odyssey Excalibur one piece cranks was obvious, proven and period correct choice and so was the KHE Stimulatorz pedals. And you can add the Odyssey Dynatron bottom bracket to the list.
The rest of the parts are pretty much common so i won't go too deep into them. There is Dia Compe 990's ACS 860's, Dia Compe brake pads, ODI grips, Tech-77's and the usual. Wheels are Araya Super 7X 48H chrome rims laced up with Peregrine Super Pro 48 front hub and a rare first generation Nankai freecoaster on the back. It took me a day to set up the brakes because i want them to be very dialed and smooth. This bike has without a doubt been an interesting project due to the amazing history of the the frame and some of the parts. I built it up to be a daily rider, more or less. A beefy flatland machine such as the Morales simply deserves to be ridden aswell, and not just stared at. But to each their own ofcourse.
FLASHBACKS...The first thing i realized, i had forgotten how heavy the bikes of this era were! Even though this weighs "just" 14,6 kilos, it is still very heavy. Once you get used to it it's fine but it would definitely make the bike much better handling if i could cut down a kilo or two. Either way, the rear end is just as quick as i remember for spins and scuffing. This thing has the zero rake forks but you still have to throw in a little effort the get the rear end off the ground on front wheel tricks.
The Graveyard bars felt really weird because they are straight across and much lower than a regular set of bars. I didn't like zero sweep bars then and i don't like them now, as cool as they might look. They are for those who actually do a lot of flip & switch tricks, which i don't, so i might aswell go back to Q-Bars or something more normal. And the zero sweep is currently killing my wrists so they have to go sooner or later if i intend to ride this. Everything else came out and feels as expected, the appearance came out just like i had envisioned in mind. Low and trick. The brakes took a while to set up but once they were done they are smooooooth and grippy. The seat is set low only for the looks, to be honest. The mid 90's "darkside" style tricks started it, and there really is no point for me to run my seat THAT low in real life, well except that it helps on Cliffhangers. But it looks right to my eye and enhances the era and style correct looks so there it is. Vintage GT seat, chopped out.
Fat 1.80-1.90 tires was the norm of the 90's. Seemed like everyone had V-monsters don't you think? If you didn't you probably felt like you were left out of something. Well let me tell you, you weren't. They have great tread but personally once i got back to 1.75's i haven't missed these fat tires, not once. The problem with fat V-monsters was when you rode them with 100psi they would wear out quickly in the middle and would turn to square profile which effected your riding and turning nuances during tricks.
The bike really requires a few, maybe couple dozen good riding sessions to get used to again after all these years most of all due to its weight. It's been some 12 or 13 years since i last rode my own Morales and it shows. In fact i was slightly disapponted because i guess i was expecting some grand hardcore flashback experience but instead i found myself very annoyed by the bike's weight and the weirdness of zero sweep bars. The most bizarre thing is, we actually rode and were happy on these bikes which of some were even heavier than this! But in those days in flatland the weight didn't matter so much. Fi you rode during that time period you know exactly what i mean. Maybe i have just gotten weaker and/or lazier with age or have less testosterone to push the so called "hardcore" aggression. Who knows.
Anyway, Thanks for reading and congrats if you made it this far! ha!
Parts:* Frame: 1995 Morales flatland frame, first generation (Kimmo Haakana's personal old frame) with original purple powdercoat
* Serial number: 3362
* Toptube length: 18.25"
* Construction: 100% ChroMoly
* Fork: Kore Flat Forx 1st generation, 1" threaded (thanks Polanco!)
* Headset: Tioga Beartrap 2 (black and chrome mixed)
* Detangler: Odyssey Gyro 1" original
* Bars: Martti's personal set of REAL Graveyard OG zero sweep bars in black chrome, thus faded since. REAL Graveyard OG bars, not the FAKE ones. Original retail price for these bars in 1995 was whopping $120! These bars have seen many competitions and they also appeared in various videos and magazine articles of Martti in the 90's
* Bar ends: home made by a friend with integrated Handlebar Extension System
* Grips: ODI Longneck w/flanges cut off
* Levers: japanese made (not taiwanese like the new ones) original Dia-Compe Tech-77 w/locking buttons
* Stem: S&M Redneck, black
* Upper Gyro cable: Gyro 2, shortened with G-Sport Nipple clamp at lever
* Lower Gyro cable: dual cables
* Front brake & pads: ACS 860 Tangent sidepull caliper, white Dia Compe pads
* Rear brake & pads: Dia-Compe AD990 U-brake (stamped '87), white Dia Compe U-brake pads
* Bottom Bracket: Odyssey Dynatron "sealed tech" 24T caged bearings for one-piece cranks
* Sprocket: Graveyard 43T "Made in Graveyard"
* Cranks: Odyssey Excalibur one piece 175mm 24T ChroMoly
* Pedals: KHE Stimulators, modified.
* Rims: Araya Super 7X 48H Chrome plated
* Rear Hub: Nankai freecoaster, rare 1st generation!
* Front Hub: Peregrine Super Pro 48 sealed bearing
* Tires: Primo V-Monster 20 x 1.95 black/skinwall
* Tubes: 20 x 1.75-2.125 schrader valve
* Seat: GT by Viscount with obviously half of the nose cut off for handlebars clearance and out of the way, upside down seat guts.
* Seatpost: 22.2mm chromoly using the stock seatpost reducing shim provided with each frame.
* Seatpost clamp: generic
* Pegs: custom aluminum grip tape pegs size 34mm by 108mm
* Original Retail Price (frame only): $195 for the '94 model
* Price paid: more less $12 when converted into dollars
* Weight: 14,6 kg total with above components
Let's break down the Morales Flatland frames in generations as a bonus. Please correct if you have additional knowledge or, if some of this info is completely wrong. I am not trying to be cocky know it all here, i just want to set this straight once and for all, for eveyrone to check, based on my personal experience on all generations except 4th. Again, if you know better or have PROVEN FIRST HAND INFO, please get in touch and i will correct it here. Memorize these specs and it will be very easy to determine the correct year of your Morales flatland frame.
* 1994 and 1995 should be identified as FIRST GENERATION.
Both years are IDENTICAL in design but the difference is in the colours. The '94 came out in black and chrome ONLY whereas '95 model came in multitude of powdercoat colours. Chainstay and seatstay tubes are OPEN at the drop outs. Serial number is located on the OUTSIDE of the left drop out and is not consistent. Meaning, a lower number is not necessarily older than a higher number. This applies for both 1994 and 1995 from what i've studied. Die-cut frame decals. ROUND, die-cut small Morales "M" decal on the HEAD TUBE and on the SEAT TUBE. No coaster brake tab.
2nd Generation* 1996 is SECOND GENERATION.
CAPPED chainstays and seatstays, stamped with the Morales "M" logo. Fatter top tubes as well as chainstays than what was on the '94 & '95. Steep elevated wishbone notorious for creating troubles when fitting a small (32-28T) sprocket as the chain would drag on to it. Welded-on serial number plate located on the INSIDE of the right hand side drop out that should begin with a letter. Printed frame decals on clear decal film. Vertically stretched "M" logo decal on the head tube, "MF Morales Freestyle"crest on the seat tube. Absolutely NO COASTER BRAKE TAB.
3rd Generation* 1997 is THIRD GENERATION.
Appears to be the most common Morales to come by. Also referred to as the "Powerty edition". Has 14mm DROP OUTS and a COASTER BRAKE TAB. They lowered the wishbone compared to previous models so that small sprockets would fit. Serial number located on the INSIDE of the left hand side drop out. Typically four digits. Came in various colours including candy colours over chrome, solid colours and raw (unfinished) with laquer. Fat top tubes just like on the 1996 and capped chain stays and seat stays with "M" stamp. Has an additional single cable barrel placed underneath the top tubes, right behind the head tube. Printed frame decals on clear film. Stretched "M" on the head tube, "MF" crest on the seat tube.
4th Generation* 1998 is FOURTH GENERATION.
If it has 1.1/8" headtube, it's fourth generation. Otherwise same design as 1997.
Re: 1995 Morales Flatland
how did you get such a big teeth grave yard on that Morales bigest I can fit on mine is 36 tooth.
what size tooth is your grave yard.
Show bikes are nice. but bikes wear ment to be Petaled
YES I RIDE A PINK BIKE!! WANT TO MAKE SOME THING OUT OF IT!
Re: 1995 Morales Flatland
The Graveyard sprocket is 43T and for regular chain, i had no problem fitting it. Could've fitted a 44 too.
A few detail photos of it..
And a couple more.
Yours truly over two years ago..
Last year with a white saddle.
Have a great riding weekend!
Re: 1995 Morales Flatland
ABSOLUTELY AMAZING build Timo!
Seriously my favorite Morales in the museum.
Every part - and the set up looks perfect and true to the core (no pun intended).
Totally inspires me to get my 1st gen back together - the right way.
Also - I'm really digging those Pegs! .. A LOT!
Did you have them custom made yourself? Any chance more could be made?
Last edited by chromey (2011-08-09 10:18am)
Wanted: one TIOGA COMP III tire Natural-Gum color (1.75) /// Olive GREEN BULLY frame /// Nickel Patterson frame
Re: 1995 Morales Flatland
yeah i love this one
Green survivor 86 Haro Master frame/fork.
89/90 Haro Master parts - all of them, big and small.
<-----<<<<<<<<< That is a Garbage Plate!!! A Rochester original!
Re: 1995 Morales Flatland
Not sure what it is, but I'm a sucker for the Graveyard bars. Very cool!
Sharks are like dogs, they only bite when you touch their private parts.