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Complete Disclosure: Eastern Bikes

Huge stall off a tiny bank in North Philly from Eastern's Brian Wizmerski. Eastern

It seems like an age since those lucky enough to sign up for a trade-only pass were all holed up inside a ten-acre indoor exhibition hall in the City of Sin in the middle of a Nevada desert; looking over brand new, box-fresh bikes from the industry's finest. But actually, Interbike was only a couple of weeks ago now.

For the majority of the viewing visitors to Interbike, the 2010 bikes hung up on booths were brand spanking new and not even on shop floors yet. While most riders would saw their right arm off for a 2010 complete bike that are now so dialed they make last season's look antiquated, for those working behind the scenes at the BMX companies involved these bikes are getting old fast. And for many companies returning the day after Interbike, 2011 ranges were already all over the drawing boards. For one, you can bet Eastern's working on 2011 already -- but for now, let's not get ahead of ourselves here. It's all about 2010 still -- and we spoke to Jon Byers at Eastern about what they have in the stores for us right here, right now.

How long have you guys been making complete bikes for?

We've been in business since 1996 and we started making complete bikes back in 1999. In 1998, we were flat broke and thought we would try going to Interbike to round up some sales. My mom had to buy my plane ticket. We had a few frames and some parts to sell. This Japanese kid comes up and asks if we could make complete bikes. We said "sure" even though we didn't have a clue how to do it. Two weeks later we received an order that dwarfed our annual sales. Mike [Corley] and I flew to Taiwan, spec'd the bikes and delivered the product. It was enough to get us started making complete bikes.

Do you still have any of the original range around your office?

Yes, we have a few, but we don't have all of them. We try to do a better job of archiving product nowadays.

What are your thoughts about those re-issue vintage bikes that are coming out?

You mean "Old school is the new new school." I think it works for some companies and I have to admit we've dabbled in some old school stuff with our Stealth cranks and big bars, but Mike and I prefer to keep our eye on the future.

So when it comes to your completes, who does what at your company?

For product development, Mike and I share this responsibility. We get feedback from our customers, employees and riders. Then, Mike will handle the drawings and I will handle the spec, pricing and production. We both handle quality control duties. We prefer to have some overlap of responsibilities.

Does the team get involved along the way?

Yes, we need the team to test the frames and new samples throughout the year. Leigh [Ramsdell] will handle the feedback from the riders. Sometimes we do the testing with local riders so we can get immediate feedback and check the product out on the bike.

And how many bikes have you got in your range this year?

The Eastern brand has 19 models.

Do you have more or less bikes compared to 2009?

About the same, although we have changed the models around removing some and adding others.

Can you run us through your range, starting out at the base through to the pricier stuff?

Are you sure? Let me get a cup of coffee. Here goes.

Lowdown is a no-frills bike for a beginner. It does have a heat-treated one-piece chromoly crank which is much stronger than the one-piece cranks most companies use. The Cobra is a new model for a beginner; 25/9 gear, three piece Chromoly cranks, 27.33 lbs, and $259.95 retail. Shock is the same as Cobra, except with pegs and frame has a low stand over height for smaller riders. It could also be used for flatland.

The Ramrodder is an intermediate bike with all the stuff the Cobra has plus an internal headset, a sealed Mid B/B, and weighs 27.11 lbs. Traildigger 18 is an intermediate bike with 18" wheels for smaller riders, 25/9 gearing, three piece chromoly cranks, weighs 24.34 lbs. Next, the Traildigger 20", 24" and 26" are intermediate bikes for dirt, available in 20", 24" or 26" wheels, 25/9 gearing, sealed internal headset, sealed Mid B/B, three-piece chromoly cranks, full chromoly forks, chromoly downtube, Pivotal seat and post, sealed front hub, and double-wall rear wheel. Night Prowler is an intermediate bike for street, 25/9 gearing, three-piece chromoly cranks, full chromoly forks, chromoly downtube, replaceable brake mounts, Pivotal seat and post, Sealed front hub, Double wall rear wheel.

Next up, the Shovelhead is an expert bike for dirt, with 25/9 gearing, sealed bearings, three-piece chromoly cranks, full chromoly forks, full chromoly bars, chromoly main frame, Pivotal seat and post, sealed front and rear hubs, double wall rear wheel. This one weighs 24.82 lbs. Growler is an expert bike for street. 25/9 gearing, sealed internal headset, sealed Mid BB, three-piece chromoly cranks, full chromoly forks full chromoly bars, chromoly main frame, replaceable brake mounts, Pivotal seat and post, sealed front and rear hubs, double wall rear wheel, also comes in at 24.82 lbs.

Our Scythe is a pro level bike for dirt, so it has 25/9 gearing, sealed internal headset, sealed Mid BB, three-piece chromoly cranks, full chromoly forks, full chromoly bars, full chromoly frame, Pivotal seat and post, new Eastern Strangler Stem, sealed front and rear hubs, and a double wall rear wheel. The Dragon is our pro level bike for street, 25/9 gearing, sealed internal headset, sealed Mid BB, three-piece chromoly cranks, full chromoly forks, full chromoly bars, full chromoly frame, replaceable brake mounts, Pivotal seat and post, the new Eastern Choker III Stem, sealed front and rear hubs, double wall rear wheel.

Axis is another a pro level bike for dirt, 25/9 gearing, sealed internal headset, sealed Mid BB, 48-splined three-piece chromoly cranks, full chromoly forks, full chromoly bars, full cromoly frame with Lightning Rod downtube, Pivotal seat and post, new Eastern Strangler Stem, sealed front and rear hubs, the rear hub is Bi-Rectional and bike can be converted to left or right hand drive without any additional parts, with double wall front and rear wheel. The Reaper a pro level bike for street. 25/9 gearing, sealed internal headset, sealed Mid BB, 48-splined three-piece chromoly cranks, full chromoly forks, full chromoly bars, full chromoly frame with Lightning Rod downtube, replaceable brake mounts, Pivotal seat and post, new Eastern Choker III stem, sealed front and rear hubs, and again, the rear Hub is Bi-Rectional and bike can be converted to left or right hand drive without any additional parts, and it weighs only 23.94lbs.

Finally, we have The Boss. This is our team level bike: 25/9 gearing, featuring new Eastern Nomad cranks, 8-spline taper on one side, 48 splined on the other, concave arms for strength, only requires one bolt. Super light cranks, full chromoly Hawkeye forks, full chromoly bars, full chromoly frame with Lightning Rod downtube, Pivotal seat and post, Eastern Deceptikon stem, sealed front and rear hubs, rear Hub is Bi-Rectional and the bike can be converted to left or right hand drive without any additional parts, Alienation Double wall Deviant front rim, and an Alienation Double wall Runaway rear rim. It clocks in at 22.62 lbs.

Which single bike took the longest to figure out?

The Cobra because we needed to keep the price down.

Which was the toughest detail this year?

In a word -- pricing.

Which is your favourite bike, which one are you most proud of?

I'm most proud of The Boss because it looks good with the grey and black and it is super light. I remember walking into the factory seeing this bike and then when I picked it up, I just smiled.

When did you start working this year's range -- how long does it take?

We began last year. It usually takes a while because we like to modify stuff and make revisions before releasing the final product. I know our suppliers hate this.

I'm most proud of The Boss. I remember walking into the factory seeing this bike and then when I picked it up, I just smiled.

--Jon Byers/Eastern

Which of the whole line would you ride straight out of the box?
Anything from the Scythe and up. But The Boss is really the one to have.

Have you got anything else in there?

Well Eastern is sticking to BMX bikes and a few 26" dirt jumpers. We have a cool new rear hub for our Night Train Dirt Jumper. It allows the disc brake and the driver to be on the same side which means you can now run a peg without messing up your chain or rotor. Mike and I started a distribution company earlier this year [EBIUS Trading and Distribution] and we are distributing some Gran Royal fixies and city bikes. Nothing fancy, just bikes to ride for fun.

Have you already started work on next year's 2011 bikes? Anything you can tell us about those yet?

Yes, we've already started on 2011 and no. I'm sorry, but we like to pretend like everything we do is top secret.

Finally, what about bikes coming from other companies -- which other complete bike ranges do you rate? Which one would you ride yourself?

Mark, you know I really hate this question, but I'll answer it anyway. I wouldn't buy a complete bike but rather a frame and build it up. Probably something from Colony because I like their frame designs: clean and simple.

For more information on Eastern, check out the Eastern site.