30 Years Of Hoffman Bikes - Pt 3: The story of Kevin Jones' Prototype BIG DADDY
The lesson here is, always look under the stickers. That ratty old BMX bike in your neighbor’s yard? It might be part of history.
22 Nov 2021
Words by Brian Tunney - An exclusive extract from the 30 YEARS OF HOFFMAN BIKES zine.
York, Pennsylvania is not normal.
Granted, nowhere is normal. But legends of bikes passed down from rider to rider always seem to take an additional weird step in the York area. There is one tale of a Level frame hand made by a welder near York who made his own dynamite and messed up angles on close to 90 frames because he was blind in one eye. And there are tales of Big Daddy frames taking extremely wide worldwide routes from rider in York to rider visiting York to other riders revisiting York for the first time. At one time, it was a destination city for flatland riders and people sought it out, only to be greeted by a tight knit group of riders that had no problem swapping parts with one another. Eventually, some of those parts disappear, while some find collectors or riders with previous knowledge of all that was accomplished on those bikes. That is the case with Kevin Jones prototype SE-built Big Daddy, which had gone missing for years. “We talked about this frame for years and I had joked on BMX Museum that some kid in York was riding around on the bike, oblivious to what it was,” says York local Adam Dawson. Adam is a devoted Hoffman Bikes collector/historian, with a deep knowledge of their manufacturing history.
Here’s his story:
In the mid to late 90s, a 12-year-old kid bought the prototype SE-made Big Daddy frame with GT/Dyno stickers on it. He had his dad spray paint the frame (coat of primer, paint, Dyno decals) and added GT parts. That kid rode it for a few years, then sold it to another friend. That friend did nothing with the bike, and it was relegated to his backyard. It wasn’t good enough for the shed, so they stored it behind the shed, where it sat for 20 plus years. Eventually, that second buyer sold it back to the first buyer, who was intent on restoring it several years ago. So that buyer gets on the Internet, discovers that it’s not a Dyno or GT. And he puts it up for sale again.
And here comes Facebook.
Someone posts pics of the bike on a Hoffman Bikes group. Dawson recognizes the bike and knows exactly what it is.
“I was blown away to see it survived,” says Dawson.
Dawson’s friend Jason drives from Philly to York to purchase the bike, and the owner wanted it to go to a good home. Jason purchases the bike. And through a trade, Adam gets the frame.
“I post a couple of photos on Facebook and I start getting messages. Apparently, Kevin sold the frame to York local Billy Jarboe.” And from there, it went from one owner to another, until it was finally repurposed as a Dyno and then cast aside.
Mat Hoffman is eventually contacted and explains that the Big Daddy prototype was built by Mike Devitt at SE. Two were made: one for Kevin and one for Chase. Chase’s was lost on a flight many years ago, but one remains lost somewhere in York. It’s this bike.
This was Kevin Jones’ original prototype Big Daddy: the Holy Grail of flatland bikes, ridden in Dorkin’ videos, admired the world over, and left to rot in someone’s backyard for 28 years.
Highlights of the frame include a lowered standover height, dual back brake cable routing, holes in the dropouts and the knowledge that the frame is in good hands. Adam got to work restoring the bike. And then more work. And then even more. Left to the elements, the frame was in serious need of TLC, which Adam generously doled out via YouTube in a restoration video that began amassing more views than he expected. At the completion of the video, Adam rides the bike, proving that it can still handle flatland moves, then rolls it back into his garage.
The original Big Daddy, ridden by Kevin Jones in 'Hypnosis,' is back home. The lesson here is, always look under the stickers. That ratty old BMX bike in your neighbor’s yard? It might be part of history.
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