This is why we love Readers’ Rides; because of submissions like this. Harrison took it over the edge and back with this Diamond Back Racing drop bar gravel bike with custom-made Y-Bike guitars… Let’s get to it!
Remember Velospace? Well, this was my, er, my bike’s profile pic back in 2005 (attached). Forgive the fake chord and graphic tee: I was in high school. Here’s the story:
I was working as a mechanic at a local Trek dealer, Outspokin’ Bicycles, still a great shop, and it was one of those slow, rainy Saturdays. A coworker and I had been tasked with cleaning out the back room of the shop. Now, as a Trek dealer, we’d seen a Y-bike warranty claim or two, and one of those frames was in the storeroom awaiting whatever creative destruction we could derive: it deserved better than the dumpster.
As it happens, we’d all gotten tired of playing DJ (this was 2005, remember, so pre-streaming), so on Saturday afternoons, we just started doing these days. One artist all afternoon, no need to think about it. Johnny Cash, Fela Kuti, Zeppelin, artists with a large catalog of easy-to-binge music that we owned. That day, it was Hendrix. A muffled solo drifted in through the walls of the storeroom, and fellow mechanic Jeremiah Swanson grabbed the frame and cranked out an air guitar ripper; suddenly, we knew exactly what to do with those cracked Y bikes.
Now, I was 17 and only had a drill, a borrowed jigsaw, and some shop tools, plus I was supposed to be studying for final exams but by golly I had an open mic night coming up and wanted this thing to happen. It did! One show, one song (Trees, as Jerry Atrick and the Skellingtons), and it was on to the next project. I built another one a few months later after investing in a Dremel.
Fast forward, like, 16 years later, I was crate digging at my fabulous local co-op the Cola Town and eyed this old AMP (image attached). The “PI/MP” re-label was a joke made in poor taste by a previous custodian and not the co-op’s handiwork. Anyway, When I was a teenage bike dork, I thought they were the coolest thing ever but had never ridden one. I was in the process of building up a drop-bar MTB, so I figured I might as well build it around this fork.
The drivetrain is a mix of mid-90s LX and STX, plus some 2×8 brifters from that era. 105, I think? Hardcore dorks might note that LX was 3×8, 105 was 2×8, and those STX hubs were 7-speed: a 9-speed freehub body swap, the loff of the little ring up front, and the addition of a barrel adjuster in the front end and voila. Ah, the ’90s.
So, how about that fork? Well, to be honest, it’s a total dog (but it’s not as bad as fascism!) Maybe it’s because it’s on a drop bar bike and the weight’s way over the front, maybe it’s because the bushings are worn, or maybe it’s because it’s tech that’s nearly 3 decades old (though I also regularly ride a bike with a Quad 21 on the front; I’m really not that picky), but this thing stinks: it feels good over small bumps, but tap the brakes and the fork dives through most of its travel the geo is instant velodrome.
Anyways, so the question was: if there’s an AMP on the front, what goes on the back? A guitar? Get it? Whatever, it seemed funny at the time. Also, it felt really good to bring the Woody Gutherie joke (that sticker was also a Cola Town Bike Collective signature) full circle. So here we are: an AMP, an amp, two guitars and three bikes in one: this was a really fun build.
Truth be told, this photoshoot is a bit of a swan song for this build: the frame also had some funky corrosion issues, and the drivetrain, which was an experimental setup anyway, is ready for prime time on another project. This whole thing was a rolling test platform for multiple projects, really, so why not go out on a high note? After all, shouldn’t a swan song totally rock?
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading the story of my bike(s)!
We’d like to thank all of you who submitted Readers Rides builds to be shared here at The Radavist. The response has been incredible and we have so many to share over the next few months. Feel free to submit your bike, listing details, components, and other information. You can also include a portrait of yourself with your bike and your Instagram account! Please, shoot landscape-orientation photos, not portrait. Thanks!