BMX Bikes / P / Phazer BMX

Phazer BMX (1981–1985)

A bike frame invented in January 1981 by Ron Vigneri while watching television at his home. He & Slammin Sammy Miller were watching television one evening & Ron had a design idea he sketched on the back of an opened mail envelope.

Ron showed the design to Sammy & he thought it was very interesting. The next day some 1/2" chrome moly tubing & plate for the frame was ordered with the rest of the parts to build a complete bike through Tom Daniels, Manager of Speed Unlimited where the Thruster BMX bicycles were built. I also showed the sketch to Lee VanOrmer, the CEO & lead investor in Speed Unlimited, & he was very interested in producing the bike through his company, but was having company financial problems. Sammy's deceased father had founded the bicycle company, Speed Unlimited, located in Wayne, New Jersey.

The design to the frame was novel in that the main idea was to build a frame that would not require a tubular frame member end to be welded into the side of another tubular frame member. The welding of a tube into the side of another tube required a radiused cut on the end of one member and a mechanical jig to hold the two tubes in proper alignment before welding. The new design would speed the setup, eliminate the radiused end cutting, & eliminate the requirement for a jig. The new frame design basically "jigged" itself, besides being stronger & lighter due the smaller tubing diameter that could be used. Plus, the frame could be made with a selectable stiffness by preloading the main tubes axially before welding the plates, & besides all that, the new frame design just looked "cool". The first Phazer frame was symmetrical about the seat post.

Ron wrote & submitted a patent application to his attorney, Art Jacob, after the parts were ordered. When the parts came in about 1 week later, the first Phazer frame was built in the Miller family garage along side the rocketcar, Oxygen (being prepared for the ice speed record). Ron hand radiused the four main tubes and fabricated the frame plates & used Thruster parts for bottom bracket and headset. George Garboden of GG Industries, MIG-welded the first frame assembly. 

The rest of the painting & assembly of the first Phazer BMX bike was done by Ron in his Kinnelon, New Jersey barn at his home. The assembled bike was then tested on the BMX track built on West side of the 8.5 acres at American Tennis & Country Club in Kiinelon. It passed all the test rides & was prepared for its first public showing at the 1981 New York Auto Show at the NY Colisium along with Oxygen.

The Phazer activity was shelved by Ron after noting to make some intended production changes (head bracket plate, bottom bracket position, seat tube angle & position). There were 5 production Phazers built by Ron, George, & Sammy to start a run of 100 units funded by Ron. All the units were sold in about a 3 month period & no further production by Ron occurred. The ice speed record activity & subsequent oil well treatment system development took all the time Ron had available.

Sometime around 1985, Ron was informed that Sammy & a Dutch rocktecar driver, Henk Vink, were building & selling a version of the Phazer in Europe named the Rocket X-1. It was a knockoff of the Phazer ripped-off by Sammy & Vink. Ron had a friend & former employee, Jim McGlashan, buy a Rocket X-1 which he still has. Sammy claimed in Europe that he invented the bike frame. Also the Thermox gas generator, but that's another story. Ron received many more patents in multiple disciplines over the next 25 years after the split with Sammy. It is interesting to note that the opposite didn't occur.

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