I’ve had enough communication regarding this bike across various channels (email, Instagram, et al) that I thought I’d publish the complete build sheet for it along with a few more photos. Plus I have some footage of the new-for-Fall-2017 pump track at Rays. Last but definitely not least, let’s address the Mexican-Silverado-sized elephant in the room: Hey, dummy, you have three Haro resissue bikes? Don’t you know they’re made in Taiwan?
The short answer to that question is: Yes I do, and in the case of post-1984 Haro reissues it is absolutely correct for them to be made in Taiwan. In fact, Haro is being unusually persnickety in the way it’s done. The 1984 don’t-call-it-a-Master Haro Freestyler was made by Torker in the United States. That’s why it has a twin top tube; Torker was set up to do twin top tubes. For 1985 and beyond, Haro went to Anlun for all production. As a consequence, the 1984 20″ Freestyler reissue frame was made in the USA by a small-batch builder, and the 1985-on reissues are being made in Taiwan.
The dirty little secret of Eighties BMX is that the USA-made frames and forks of the time were often subpar. I commissioned a Cyclecraft cruiser that arrived with a bottom bracket more than five degrees off square; I bought a BADD Stretch with a mis-positioned brake bridge. A lot of twentieth-century USA bike production was done in shops that were also muffler shops or general-welding shops. Like it or not, the 1986 Haro Master was a premium product in part because it was usually better-welded and more durable than the USA-made GT Pro Performer with which it directly competed.
It wasn’t until Rick Moliterno convinced the ex-Schwinn shop at Waterford to build his frames (and, not so incidentally, to lock out a certain 19-year-old Jack Baruth from having his frame design built there) that there was any real prestige attached to USA-made BMX frames. The run-of-the-mill stuff being turned out by B&E Fabrications in California during the Nineties was no better than okay — and it didn’t matter if the sticker said S&M, Badd, Brackens, White Bear, “10th frame”, Excalibur, or anything else. They were made in a hurry from thick-walled mystery-meat Cr-Mo.
Things are a little different now. Standard has its own fab shop which is reportedly very good. S&M, too, makes its own products that are far better than they used to be. And Mike Laird has built over three hundred and twenty boutique customs in North Carolina for people who demand the very best… as you’d suspect, I’m a customer of his as well. But to have the Haros done in Taiwan is absolutely correct, period point blank.
With that said, I tried to make this Hokkien-Mandarin Master a little more American if possible, as you will see in the build list. Edited with approximate cost and country of origin per reader suggestion.
Frame: Haro DMC Master 1986 reissue, 21″ top tube — $289 — Taiwan
Fork: S&M Pitchfork XLT, chrome — $139 — USA
Bars: S&M Hoder, anodized blue, cut to 27.75″ — $59 — USA
Stem: Profile Push, anodized blue, 63mm reach — $70 — USA
Headset: Kink — $19 — Taiwan
Seat: Deity pivotal — $25 — Taiwan
Post: Black Ops pivotal — $19 — China
Clamp: Dia-Compe hinged, blue anodized — $15 — Not sure
Cranks: Profile “DJ”, 180mm — $185 — USA
Chainwheel: Profile Imperial, 28t, blue anodized — $45 — USA
Bottom Bracket: Profile Mid — USA
Chain: Mission — $15 — Not sure
Brake Lever: Flybikes — $13 — Taiwan
Brake Cable and Caliper: Odyssey Evolution II — $29 — Taiwan
Wheels: Odyssey Antigram (front) and Clutch freecoaster (rear) laced to Odyssey rims — $429 — Taiwan
Tires: Haro Lineage 2.0 — $80 — Taiwan
Grips: ODI Longneck Lock-on, Custom — $30 — USA
Completely Superfluous And Stupid Number Plate: Haro Series 1B Reissue — $25 — Taiwan
Total cost of USA components: $528
Total cost of overseas components: $958
Total bike cost: $1,486
Price of 1986 Haro Master complete: $379 without 3-piece cranks
Adjusted for inflation: $855
1986 Haro Master in survivor condition currently listing for: $2800
Expect the wheels to go on eBay pretty soon, replaced by a set of Profile Elites laced to Sun Big Ballers like on my Laird.
How’s it ride? In a word: great! It’s a little short for me but it handles very well. Here’s a short demonstration at the new Ray’s pump track. The idea behind a “pump track”, if you’re not familiar with the phrase, is that you’re not allowed to pedal. You have to make speed by pumping up and over a bunch of obstacles. It took me a while to get hip to the idea but I’m about 80% with it now and I’m just a few seconds slower than the really fast kids. Here I am using the Master to chase John down, only to have him laugh at me when I do…
I never thought I would still be riding at the age of (nearly) forty-six. It’s still a joy. And though I’m flying awfully low these days, it’s better to be three feet off the ground than stuck ankle-deep in the mud.