1985 Redline RL-20II
We have here what I believe to be the finest, most elegant freestyle bike ever made. From the day I saw it I had to have it, and fate made it so.
The Rolls-Royce of Freestyle bikes
My Redline History
This Redline is my second, my first being a 1983 or 84 600b that my dad bought for me after my AMF Roadmaster Hawk left both me and my brother with permanent damages, hospital bills and much pain and suffering. My intentions were to start racing. I had my ABA registration, my decals, number plate and race bike. This was about the time that Freestyle was really popping. Race tracks were far from where I lived in Rego Park, Queens NY, my parents were not very keen on driving me to NJ to race, and were fearful for my safety since I was notorious for getting into bad bike accidents.
When I saw RL Osborn with the beautiful white RL-20 prototype my mouth droppedâ€¦..I had to have it. But it was not going to happen, my 600b was like new and my dad was not about to drop a few hundred on yet another bike. So I began to slightly modify my 600b to be more in tune with the street riding I was doing. I swapped in a Forklifter stem, aqua colored brake cable, aqua Z-rims with white spokes and aqua sealed Suzue hubs (store owner told me they were the only set in existence at the time, he got them at the bike retailerâ€™s show), Tioga sealed BB, Tange sealed headset, Suntour XCII pedals, MX 901 brakesâ€¦I was slowly but surely changing over to street.
But I was not done with the idea of dirt and racing quite yet so my knobbies were staying on. When Tioga came out with white Comp III I had to have them so I went to the best BMX bike shop in the area, where I had bought my bike, took it inside and left it by the store entrance to be safeâ€¦.bike theft was rampant in those days. Went to the counter at the far opposite end, bullsh!itted for a while; they all knew me since I was always in there drooling over new stuff. Made my purchase and started to make my way back to the exitâ€¦.wait where is my Redlineâ€¦..I run back and ask if they were pranking me they said noâ€¦.I yelled someone stole my bike!!!! I ran outside and see some dude power-cranking across the Blvd. I never saw my beautiful Redline 600b again.
That bike was my world, I felt like someone close to me had died. I was depressed for a while; my dad didnâ€™t really seem to care since he felt I spent way too much time on a bike anyway. My brother then received a Kuwahara Exhibitionist. Since he was three years my junior and now did not have his big brother to ride with his bike was sitting idleâ€¦.. I seized the opportunity and started to use it. Freedom and fun againâ€¦.but it was no Redline. As cool as the Kuwa looked it rode small and the geometry felt very weird to me.
Not too late thereafter the RL-20II was revealedâ€¦.this to me was and is the ultimate Redline. Seeing RL Osborn in front of the Arc de Triomphe with that amazing machine made break out in a sweat. I went to the bike store and couldnâ€™t believe my eyes there they were in Radberry, White, Hazzard Yellow and the object of my desires Turquoise. But it was $250 just for the frame!!!! That was more than my 600b complete! It was the most expensive BMX bike you could buy at the timeâ€¦..acquiring it seemed as likely as winning Lotto while getting struck my lightening.
Well to cut this long story short I begged and pleaded for many weeks, and he cut me some deal having to do with school. He tried to renege but my mom held him to it and he finally broke down and bought me the bikeâ€¦.that is this bike that you see here today which I still cherish, and value, and care for. It has had many part changes throughout the years but itâ€™s still an RL-20II, the ultimate BMX bike.
Why these parts were chosen.
- Handelbars. I liked painted bikes, but I did not like how user unfriendly they were, and with freestyle tricks a new bike could look like a piece of crap in no time at all. So when Redline innovated the chrome and paint finish, I thought, pure genius. But they equipped the combo set with painted bars. That made no sense to me since the handlebars were some of the most scratch prone tubes on the bike. So when I got my bike I told them to swap out the painted Forklifter bars for chrome ones. The problem was they had no freestyle versions in stock so they swapped in the race version.
- Forklifter plate. I have the Freestyle plate but with the race bars. The reason for that is I discovered that when trying to do the surfer trick, the flush (correct) plate gets in the way. The freestyle plate, since it sits lower does not. (This one is a repro, but I have the original)
- Stem/Neck. I love the look of the original Forklifter stem, its small, elegant and flows so well with the rest of the bikeâ€™s looks. Unfortunately those stems were all defective from the factory. The chromoly tube eventually works it way loose from the aluminum head, rendering the stem useless. I went through 4 Forklifter stems, the last of which I still own and aesthetically is in near mint condition but it too suffers from the problem I mentioned. So I had a first generation gold MCS stem lying around, I painted it and it is what you see on the bike now, this was around 1987.
- Rear brake. I never cared for the FS880 brakes, they looked cheap. At the time I got this bike the top dog brakes were the MX 901, so I had the bike store swap that in the rear.
- Rotor. I realize a gyro works better, but nothing fits the RL-20II better than a Pro-Rotor.
- Pegs. Front are aluminum for weight savings and to allow for easy modification. The right one has been shortened to allow for Miami-hoppers. Rear pegs are steel for wheel retention. I experimented with matching pegs in the rear but the aluminum just could not be tightened enough to keep the wheel from slipping, and would eventually strip
- Grips. Always ran Aâ€™ME Unitrons, but they are no longer in production and when they do pop up people want as much for them as a set of Flight cranksâ€¦..that to me makes no sense. Coupled with the fact that the aqua color was never a great match for the Redline turquoise made them no good for me this time around. The teal Aaron Ross Odyssey grips that I shortened are a much better color match than anything that was made even back in the day.
- Tires. I have always wanted turquoise/teal tires. These modern FIT Bike Co. FAF tires are an answer to my prayersâ€¦.took 27 years.
At this time in its semi-retired state, there are only two things I would change to call it perfect, that would be Forklifter Freestyle handlebars (maybe painted like the original combo set) and Peregrine Super Pros.
How and why has this bike survived.
I was conscious of how the axle nuts/pegs dug into the dropouts, I also realized that the problem was that the nut and washer would spin against the chrome thereby cutting into the finish. I experimented with bunch of things including aluminum nuts and pegs, but they all slipped. I finally realized that a chain tensioner would be stationery and would help locate my rear axle, require me to tighten the axle nuts less, and protect the chomeâ€¦.so that is what I did, this was around 1986.
I have always been a very critical and anal person. As a small child my things were always in great condition, and I sought to preserve them. My bikes were no different. I realized early on that if I were to really use this bike it would get trashed in no time, so what was I to do? I figured that if I had a protective film covering the whole bike that was removable, I could use my bike hard and not fear damaging the finish. Long before 3M started to cover cars, I was covering my Redline. I used several layers of clear heavy duty packaging tape and basically wrapped the entire bike, chrome, paint and decals. Every 6 months or so I would do a major overhaul and remove all the scuffed up tape and recover it. It was similar to what we now do to cell phone screensâ€¦.but I was doing this in 1985 at the ripe old age of 14.
Another thing I did to preserve the bike was plug and seal every single hole, this includes the holes located inside the bottom bracket tube, and head tube as well as fork tubes. I sprayed the inside of the tubes liberally with WD-40, allowed to dry overnight then using cork plugs and or silicone sealant to close everything up. I also sealed some of the rust susceptible welds located by the rear dropouts. With these mods I had no fear of getting caught in the rain or riding in the snow and slush.
As you can see all these steps paid off very handsomely. While there are RL-20IIs out there that have been restored to better than new, you will be very hard pressed to find any that is original was used hard for many years and is in this great a shape. I love this bike and am so glad I have held on to it all these years even after everyone told me to just get rid of it. BMX Museum has inspired me to bring it back to its full luster and I am grateful for that.
- Frame, fork, fork pegs: 1985 Redline RL-20II. Japanese made. Original finish. Combo set.
- Decals: 1985 Redline original with exception to one â€˜Redline All-Chromolyâ€™ on rear triangle and the yellow pinstripes that were missing since bike was new.
- Handlebars: 1985 Redline chrome Forklifter race version. Original finish.
- Stem: MCS first generation 6 bolt. Genuine Pots-Mod conversion. Refinished by C4.
- Number plate: Jeung Oh reproduction. New
- Handlebar pad: custom made from generic white Porkchop/Flite white pad. New.
- Detangler: ACS Pro-Rotor. All original.
- Headset: Tioga Beartrap II, chrome. New.
- Rotor cup: Tioga chrome NOS.
- Dirt Skirt: SST Original silver anodized. NOS.
- Cranks: Redline genuine 401 Flight Series 175mm cranks. Full wrap. Chrome hardware. Rechromed by Chrome Masters. Decals NOS.
- Bottom Bracket: Redline Techmatic. Original.
- Sprocket: Redline Flight 44T. Painted and baked.
- Chain: KMC 410 Super Chain, NOS, teal. No master link.
- Freewheel: White Sealed bearings 16T. Chrome. New.
- Pedals: Shimano DX. Original caps. Refinished.
- Wheels: Peregrine HP-48â€™s. Polished sealed mechanism hubs. Polished spokes. All original.
- Tires: Fit Bike Co., FAF, teal. 20x2.1 Rr, 20x2.25 Fr. New.
- Inner tubes: Porkchop Thorn Resistant 20x2.25. New
- Valve caps: generic chromed alloy, NOS.
- Front axle pegs: GT (80â€™s circa) aluminum, modified and polished.
- Rear axle pegs: Redline new-school, NOS. Chrome.
- Chain tensioners: Redline silver. New.
- Front brakes: Redline version Dia-Compe FS880 chrome with turquoise lettering. Modified. Original finish.
- Rear brakes: Dia-Compe MX 901, chrome. Lettering painted to match front brakes. Original finish.
- Brake cable housing: NOS tealâ€¦no name.
- Brake inner cable: Jagwire Hyper. New.
- Brake levers: Dia-Compe Tech 7 locking lever. Polished. Lettering painted to match calipers. Paint original finish.
- Brake pads: OBE Mountain bike clear trials. New.
- Grips: Odyssey Aaron Ross keyboard teal. Shortened. New.
- Donuts: Factory Effex moto grip â€œmetal mulishaâ€. New.
- Seat post: Redline chrome. New.
- Seat post clamp: Peregrine Strapper. Silver. NOS.
- Seat: Peregrine turquoise/teal. NOS.
- Lube: Tri-Flow clear synthetic water-proof grease. New.
Unusual / Irregularities
When the RL-20II was released, one of the BMX magazines did an article on Redlineâ€™s new coating technology that was being implemented on new frames, specifically the chrome and painted Redlines. The article stated that the process is called powder coating, and that the finish was harder, more durable and able to stick to the slick chrome surface of the new Redlines. However my bike, does not appear to be powder coated. It instead appears to have a modern multi stage paint job. There is grey primer, a color coat, and then a clear coat, from the factory.
Special thanks to Tommy D for helping me with the pad and graphics!
- Freestyle / Flatland
- Company: Redline
- Model: RL-20II
- Wheel Size: 20"
- Headtube angle: 73
- Seattube angle: 65
- Toptube length: 20.5"
- Headtube size: 1"
- Details Components: Frame, fork, fork pegs: 1985 Redline RL-20II. Japanese made. Original finish. Combo set. Decals: 1985 Redline original with exception to one â€˜Redline All-Chromolyâ€™ on rear triangle and the yellow pinstripes that were missing since bike was new. Handlebars: 1985 Redline chrome Forklifter race version. Original finish. Stem: MCS first generation 6 bolt. Genuine Pots-Mod conversion. Refinished by C4. Number plate: reproduction. New Handlebar pad: custom made from generic white Porkchop/Flite white pad. New. Detangler: ACS Pro-Rotor. All original. Headset: Tioga Beartrap II, chrome. New. Rotor cup: Tioga chrome NOS. Dirt Skirt: SST Original silver anodized. NOS. Cranks: Redline 401 Flight Series 175mm cranks. Full wrap. Chrome hardware. Rechromed by Chrome Masters. Decals NOS. Bottom Bracket: Redline Techmatic. Original. Sprocket: Redline Flight 44T. Painted and baked. Chain: KMC 410 Super Chain, NOS, teal. No master link. Freewheel: Suntour 16T. Chrome. NOS. Pedals: Shimano DX. Original caps. Refinished. Wheels: Peregrine HP-48â€™s. Polished sealed mechanism hubs. Polished spokes. All original. Tires: Fit Bike Co., FAF, teal. 20x2.1 Fr, 20x2.25 Rr. New. Inner tubes: Porkchop Thorn Resistant 20x2.25. New Valve caps: generic chromed alloy, NOS. Front axle pegs: GT (80â€™s circa) aluminum, modified and polished. Rear axle pegs: Redline new-school, NOS. Chrome. Chain tensioners: Redline silver. New. Front brakes: Redline version Dia-Compe FS880 chrome with turquoise lettering. Modified. Original finish. Rear brakes: Dia-Compe MX 901, chrome. Lettering painted to match front brakes. Brake cable housing: NOS tealâ€¦no name. Brake inner cable: Jagwire Hyper. New. Brake levers: Dia-Compe Tech 7 locking lever. Polished. Lettering painted to match calipers. Brake pads: Porkchop, aqua. New Grips: Odyssey Aaron Ross keyboard teal. Shortened. New. Donuts: Factory Effex moto grip â€œmetal mulishaâ€. New. Seat post: Redline chrome. New. Seat post clamp: Peregrine Strapper. Silver. NOS. Seat: Peregrine turquoise/teal. NOS Lube: Tri-Flow clear synthetic water-proof grease. New.