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1983 Birmingham Wheels Expert

1983 Birmingham Wheels Expert

Birmingham WHEELS race bike

I have opted to build this Birmingham WHEELS frame up with a nod towards the original WHEELS Team bikes, plus with a few unusual parts of my own liking. This is the bike pretty much as I would have built it BITD, and at the same time I have attempted to restore it using as many of the original period-correct parts it came with; presumed original to the ’83 build (Tioga forks, Shimano seat post, MX clamp, rare Hanabishi cranks). I did quite a bit of research and eventually contacted four of the original Team WHEELS riders who discussed their old WHEELS bikes, the parts they used and how the Team developed and was run. Comments from those riders, and from the period pics they have sent me, have steered me towards retaining the skinny rims that came on the frame when I purchased it; Team WHEELS ran almost exclusively on skinnies BITD. I think they suit the lightweight look of the bike which I have attempted to carry through with the rest of the optional parts. Towards the end of the build I discovered that WHEELS also made their own bars, with both brazed and TIG welding methods being employed (first batch brazed, second batch TIG-welded). I was then fortunate enough to be offered a set of genuine Birmingham WHEELS race bars by a great RAD member in order to finish the bike off perfectly. The full build spec is as follows:-


Frame: 1983 Birmingham WHEELS ‘Expert’ BMX in Butted Reynolds 531 tubing. Frame number 072. Dimensions: 9 inches centre of crank to centre of top tube / seat tube junction (seat tube), 18.5inches centre of seat tube to centre of head tube (top tube). Original factory chrome finish retained. Forks:  1983 Tioga Max Flo Aero (made by Tange) – presumed original to the build. Original finish. Bars: Original and extremely rare pair of Birmingham WHEELS race bars, complete with Reynolds 530 tubing decal (authenticity confirmed by Anthony But – ex-BW Team racer) with a TT Racing Products ‘Jam Buttie’ Double Decka Anti-Tweak in NOS Blackberry. Wheels: NOS Black Ukai ‘skinny’ rims (20 x 1 1/8 stamped) with original decals, as originally came on the bike. Further research and discussions with various ex-WHEELS Team members reveals they mostly raced on skinnies. Hubs: Polished silver Son-lite Turbo with original etched logo, titanium spindles and hardware. Lacing: Radially laced front and half-radially laced and 3x rear (with thanks to Steve69). Tyres: NOS Panaracer ‘skinny’ 1 1/8 gumwalls. Padset: NOS original white set with black lettering (with thanks to Khaled). Decals: Reproduction by Del. Unused original gold set (including Dutch dealer logo) and repro red set also retained. Headset: NOS Tioga MX402 sealed headset with black Tange headset lock nut. Headset: Suntour in black – came with the frame and presumed original to the build. Grips: Black NOS ODI Tec-7 (rare, often used for freestyle mid 80’s onwards but one of my favorites!) Brakes: NOS MX 901. Brakepads: Scott Mathauser finned ‘Superbrake’. Brake Cable: Early 80’s dated black Dia-Compe. Brake Cable Guides:  NOS black Dia-Compe. Lever: Black NOS (still in packet) early 80’s MX-121/Tech 3. Cranks:  Rare early-80’s Hanabishi 3 piece 175mm cranks – retained from original build. These cranks took quite a bit of effort to identify, and I actually removed them from the bike at one point as I did not know what they were. Another RADBMX member eventually posted about his set and my problem was resolved. (Hanabishi was an early Team Kuwahara racer in Japan in the early 80’s who ended up briefly putting his name to various sets of cranks; not many left about today). Crank Dustcaps: Original Hanabishi in black (took 12months of hunting to track these down). Pedals: NOS (and NIB) black Shimano DX including original caps (plus one spare). Chainring: Black Ammaco stamped 44T (130BCD) with NOS Sugino chainring bolts. Chain: Half black Izumi chain with a pair of NOS black ROE Whale Tail chain tensioners. Seat clamp: TT Racing Products ‘Jam Buttie’ Clamp in NOS Blackberry. Seat post: Shimano DX – presumed original to the build; polished, repro black decals. Seat: NOS black Cycle Pro Shot Gun II, date-stamped ’82 on the underside.

Submitted by dinglem