Photo by: Tim Wood Photo
A few months ago while I was browsing through instagram I noticed an interesting start of a frame on a jig that looked kind of familiar. I clicked on the page to see that someone was creating a modern version of Jay Miron’s signature Hoffman frame that never made it past being a sample before Jay left for Schwinn. I remember the buzz being around this frame at the time since Jay was literally destroying any obstacle you put in front of him. It didn’t hurt that it had a built in bottle opener too. The frame was a nice mix between the freestyle frames of the 80’s and where they were starting to go towards the late 90’s.
I have been loving all the retro styled modern frames coming out lately and this one is no exception! I reached out to Patrick Banks who built the bike to talk to him about the project and other things he has worked on!
So what made you want to rebuild this frame?
I remember when I was younger hearing people talk about a Hoffman prototype frame with a bottle opener and I thought ‘that’s pretty rad’! Back then it was hard to come across magazines in the local shops, but I did see a old mag with the frame in and thought it was pretty cool, but that was about it.
Many years later I started up a business building BMX frames. One day my buddies and I were in my garage, having a few beers when someone asked for a bottle opener and I suddenly remembered I had always dreamed of building this frame with a bottle opener. I never saw exactly where it was on the original and it got me thinking…’where could you put it to work?’ but I never came up with a good solution.
About 10 years passed by and I saw a load of pictures of the bike pop up on the internet and found I couldn’t stop looking at it. I realised the frames built around 1995-2005 stood out to me. Down the local BMX track you could tell what frame someone had easily by just looking at it – everything was so different in design. Now they all just blend in and look the same.
I put my heart and soul into building bespoke fully customised frames and get a real buzz out of someone one day looking at it, and recognising it as one of mine, especially if the design is a bit different somehow.
When I set about building this frame, I didn’t want a complete copy. I wanted to build it with a up to date geo and put my own stamp on it, so I want to ride it. The old bikes were cool looking, but geo now is a lot easier to ride. Some of the key details are inspired by the original, like the tapered top tube. The bottle opener was actually made from the original pattern he used.
Did you ever see the bike in real life?
I never saw it in real life, just in a magazine and then later on the internet. I was lucky enough that I knew Aaron Huff quite well, getting a lot of parts from him. When I was in Sacramento I noticed that there were a load of Gack parts in Aaron’s warehouse and asked him about them. He said Gack was running out of there for a while. Luckily I remembered that and managed to get hold of Kris Gack. He didn’t have any drawings but I was blown away by the amount of detail he could remember of the frame. He was a real help.
What is your background in bike building?
I have always loved bikes and I’ve been riding since the age of around 8 years old. I was welding by the age of 9, making go carts and modifying bikes. I had heard about a bike school in Oregon doing frame building classes and when I was 17, I took the next step and enrolled in the classes.
I spent about 3 months out there, having such a awesome time riding the best parks and learning how to build frames. Coming back to the UK I had a fire under my ass to get going building BMX frames. In 2001, I managed to get the gear I needed to make a start; a jig, tig welder and a few tools.
Later on, I ended up working for a race car company, which really helped me hone my fabrication skills and make new contacts. A few years ago my buddy suggested I get connected on social media, and helped me set up pages on Facebook and Instagram. I was kind of new to all of that but I unfortunately had a few months off work because I wrecked my back. However it gave me the time I needed to really push things on there. Suddenly, I had a load of frame orders and I came to the realisation I didn’t have time to go back to work for some one else.
I’ve been full time frame building ever since. It’s been around 6 years so far and I’ve never looked back.
Wow, You know Aaron and went to school here in Oregon im amazed we never ran into each other. How did you end up liking it here?
Yeah I stayed in the warehouse for a bit while we were sorting out some prototype frames for myself and then later on got a batch done by him and I think we met when I was there.
Whats the feed back been like online since you have posted this frame?
The feed back has been awesome every one has been so positive about it. I was concerned that the purists wouldn’t be keen on it, but they all seem to love it.
You also build Knee saver replicas right?
Yeah the knee saver replicas came about because Zach shaw was running some old We the people bars. He wanted a new set but they had stopped making them so he found me. He asked if I could do some with slightly tweaked geo, so I actually made a couple of sets of those. I guess he liked them because when he was getting a new retro Haro I was the first person he asked about making some decent knee savers that would stand up to modern riding.
And I have to thank him a lot for the help putting my product out there. Once people saw them, I have been making quite a few but with all custom geo out of t45.
What are some other unique frames you have worked on?
I have built many prototypes for other companies. I can’t go into details, but some were way out there haha.
One of my favourite builds was the loop tail. It was really technically difficult to build due to the twin top tube to loop with s stays all bent up out of one piece of tube. The thing was I tried to get many companies to cnc bend the tube, but many said it wasn’t worth it to them or it couldn’t be done, this just crazed me, so I machined the tooling for my tube bender so I could do it myself. The frame actually has a nos skyway seat tube that was never used. The frame, fork and bars were all fillet brazed like all oldschool British bmx bikes.