After some of my latest research I figured it was time for a good ol' fashioned Show n Tell...
As some might know, I'm kind of a nut about vintage 26" cruisers. I love them all. Over the years I've had the pleasure of hunting down and owning several different makes and models, again, loving all of them. Over their seemingly short lifespan from the late 70's to around 1984, a few of the BMX brands that got into the 26" steeds always stood out to me, usually based on their craftsmanship, well thought-out design, geometry and handling. One of those is the Cook Bros Cruiser.
Being inherently curious, I've spent years digging for every little bit of trivial information and history regarding the manufacturing of these bikes. I've tracked down ex-employees, welders, team racers, old shop owners, just about anyone that had a personal first-hand story about Cook Bros Racing and their cruisers. Most exciting for me has been chatting with Craig Cook(co-owner/machinist/product developer), Bill McIntyre(team rider/head-welder until 1980), Jim Watson(shop manager until approx 1982) and Jack Witmer(owner 1983-current), all of which have their own memories and stories to tell. All of them have been super cool and unbelievably helpful in my research and they've all given me interesting info which lead me down a new path to more info. One of those breadcrumbs...was the name Evan Teske. I'd been hearing the name for years but never able to track him down. Everyone seemed to have an old or expired phone number for Teske, until recently.
After finally making contact and meeting at his home, I learned immediately that Evan Teske is not just a super cool cat, he had some serious history to share. Evan started working at CBR around 1978 where Bill McIntyre taught him to weld. When Bill left Cook Bros and bicycle manufacturing completely at the start of 1980, Evan became their ace welder. He was also a team racer and responsible for product testing and development. He would test the strength of parts at the local skatepark on the one day a week that bicycles were allowed. He'd do fly outs of the bowl on his cruiser to flat landings until his fork legs would bend and the dropouts would break off at the axle slots...then he'd head back to the shop to make himself forks with double thick dropouts welded together(like S&M Bikes would do almost 10 years later) and sleeve the fork legs with smaller OD tubing for double walled strength. He came up with the bends/design of the CBR Cruiser bars, and later the 24" bars. On the side, he welded all the early ELF frames when the brand first started. He welded for CBR until about a week after Gary Cook sold the company around 1983, but Gary would continue to have Evan test his short lived "Cook's" products and CQP cranks for years after.
One of the most interesting things I learned was that he still owned his original 26" cruiser. Not only that...the bike itself had quite a story to tell. As I would learn from Teske, the frame is the very first 26" frame they made. In 1979 Bill McIntyre welded this frame up and the guys all took turns riding it around the building. Unhappy with the steering angle, Evan watched as Bill cut the head tube welds, pulled the HT out and re-welded it. According to Teske, he did this at least twice before they all decided the bike rode the way they wanted it. Looking at the bike, you can see the welds in that area are built up and don't match the others. There's still tiny cut scars on the headtube peeking out from under the welds. The fixture was then made off this frame. Bill then made a frame for himself and for Kevin Cobb before they went into full production. This first frame became Evan Teske's. The serial number is "0" and under the BB shell the name "Evan T." is welded.
For a short period in 1979 the bike was painted white. Here's Teske racing the bike in 79, coaster brake and pre-cruiser bars. The seat was a custom one-off Evan had made for himself and upholstered in red/white/blue vinyl.
Less than a year later, chrome was becoming the hot ticket for the 26"ers so on a day when a batch of freshly made frames were getting picked up for chrome, Evan stripped his bike down, tossed it in with the newly welded frames and it hitched a ride to the chrome shop.
Here's an article from Super BMX magazine, August 1980. The bike is now chrome, sporting the new cruiser bars, seat upholstery in need of repairs got changed to black, and always experimenting...running a crazy skinny rear wheel and radial laced front.
Racing the 26" at the Las Vegas Nationals, 1980. Skinny rear wheel still in play.
Cook Bros Classic, Irvine CA, August 10th 1980.
And here's the bike as it sits today. Notice the early Phil spider/Shimano chainring and Pete's sealed BB from his old 20" race bike in the Aug 1980 article has been moved over to the 26" cruiser. The custom bread loaf style seat was changed out years back and he lost track of it. Tires have been swapped for Cheng Shin but his original Carlisle knobbies from 1979 are still in tact and currently set aside.
Rat traps are welded at all the joints and the outside teeth are sharpened.
Where Bill McIntyre cut and adjusted the steering angle. You can still see areas where he slightly cut into the headtube.
The base of this Slant Stem was never plated, just painted black by Teske as it was a prototype for an updated process of the underside being partially welded, as opposed to fully welded underneath, which was prone to cracking. This stem was tested hard and held up, production from then on changed.
As CBR's 20" bikes would get updated with chain tensioners around 1981, Evan decided to mod his cruiser with the same treatment.
Always preferring to cut his bars down...after he welded these, they were cut at the factory then sent to chrome after.
Factory Team gear bags and race jerseys. All the originals from the old magazine shots are here. Including his old Charlie Gnarley t-shirt and Factory ELF jersey with the name "ET ?".
Another fun idea Teske had during his time welding at Cook Bros...was to make a step-thru ladies bike for his then fiance! Built on the 26" cruiser jig with a standard toptube flipped upside down. Afterwards a couple other guys at the shop thought it was pretty cool idea and decided to make em for their wives as well. There are three ladies bikes and each one is slightly different. This one is serial number "1".
Figured you guys might appreciate this stuff being history buffs. Hope you've enjoyed the read.