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The Complete, Champion history post

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The Champion legacy has always intrigued me, and I thought I had the story strait. Here is a good analogy of the history.:

 

The aftermarket frame evolution which started with Flat trackers (basic version)

 

Swanson frame 1967-Ken Swanson builds two Bultacos for John Lund, Neil Keen

Sonicweld frame 1968-Ken Watkins, Ray Hensley

Trackmaster frame 1969- Ray Hensley, Neil Keen leave Sonicweld start Trackmaster

Redline frame 1971- Mike Konle, Lynn Kasten leave Trackmaster, start Redline

Trackmaster frame- Hensly leaves for Canada to be a fishing guide and Trackmaster goes thru a series of owners Walt Mahony, Phil Haskell,etc. ....now owned by Pete Fisher

Schwerma Champion frame- Started by Doug Schwerma

Champion frame- Doug Schwerma dies and Redline buys Champion at auction

Knight frame-Terry Knight welder/fabricator for Schwerma starts his own company after Schwerma's death, with Mert Lawwill, called Lawwill Knight

Champion frame- sold to Buddy Carrol..Konle takes name to Champion Crane Company (See Terminator 3 for Crane reference)

Redline frame- goes into the BMX business and Kasten sells it

Star racer- Ray Hensley comes back from Canada, Larry Kennedy, Neil Keen team up to build a new frame

Star racer Attebury- Kennedy sells company to Attebury who changes design form Keen original

Dick Mann Frames- 1967 Mann's own business then he goes to work for Yankee and designs the DMR and Z...business is resurected when he leaves Yankee

C&J frame- Jeff Cole and Steve Jengtses are asked to fabricate frames for Kawasaki and then Dallas Baker private label frames

Steve goes to work for Ron Wood and Jeff later sells the business

J&M frame....Mike Owen starts out as a distributor for Knight frames and when that shuts down starts making his own frames...

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Here is Doug Schwerma in the middle, wearing glasses and a hat, and a young Ken Roberts just to the right:

schwerma01.jpg

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Wow!!! Thanks so much for that!!!

 

 

I love Champions, always have, so now, I am looking for the missing pieces. Where does Lawwill fit in to this time line? My Lawwill 24", has welds and rear drop outs like a Schwerma. Yet, the rest of it looks like my 81 24" Champion. Or, does my 81 look like my Lawwill. And is there a connection between Lawwill and Schwerma? Did the same guy build both bikes?

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I got it, I got it, by Joe.....

"Knight frame-Terry Knight welder/fabricator for Schwerma starts his own company after Schwerma's death"

 

My cruiser says "Lawwill-Knight" it was the same guy. So, my Lawwill is the same builder, I knew it!! It had to, cause the rear drop outs are identical.. How fricken cool is that!

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Funny Joe......

 

The Lawwill part was always where I lost the story. So I started trying to fill in the pieces. And it was right in front of me... DOPE!!

lawill.jpg

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So, my stable has included these bikes so far:

1981 Champion 20"

1978 Champion Squareback 20"

1981 Champion 24"

1981 Lawwill 24"

 

So, how about an all Champion thread? Just Champions... I didn't see any posts in here for just Champions in here. Anybody game? I know Route66, SE666, Larock, Bufardi, and so on has at least one or two...

03_2010a.jpg

Champion_right02.jpg

goodright.jpg

lawwill_right.jpg

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I just realized I have a 5th Champion product... Notice my first blue Champion has a blue Redline Carrera fork? Well, I have a chrome Redline Carrera with a chrome Champion fork now!

Go figure...

redline01.jpg

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Cool, lets fill this post, Champion style...

82championdad.jpg

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Now heres an oddity. I seem to collect images that sometimes I have no clue. Found this sometime last year, and I can't remember squat about it. Anyone?

Champ1.jpg

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Another, I actually found in here...  Feb. 1976

Champion.Feb76.BMXN.jpg

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Now heres an oddity. I seem to collect images that sometimes I have no clue. Found this sometime last year, and I can't remember squat about it. Anyone?

 

1st gen Champion cruiser.

 

A magazine did an article about it back in the day, I believe Jamal Spelling owns the actual frame from the article.

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How about a Mini........

champmini.jpg

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Now heres an oddity. I seem to collect images that sometimes I have no clue. Found this sometime last year, and I can't remember squat about it. Anyone?

 

1st gen Champion cruiser.

 

A magazine did an article about it back in the day, I believe Jamal Spelling owns the actual frame from the article.

 

 

Thats bad ass, I like the headtube.. Overall it hardly looks like a Champion, besides the finish...

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Heres a 1981 24" Frame and bars. With assorted decals and pads.

All Champion OG. Courtesy of, well... over there...

champ24.jpg

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Heres the last of my random Stuff related... For now....

champflyer.jpg

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Serial Numbers:

(1975 - 1976)

Doug Schwerma Champions serial numbers are located on the very front of the headtube tube (under the headtube decal)

All of the Dog Schwerma numbers I have seen have started with CF and then three digits.

The highest number for the Doug Schwerma Champs is in the high 280's

 

(1977)

Gap in production due to Doug Schwerma's death

 

(1978 to 1979)

The next generation was the "Linn Kastan/Mike Konle" Champions.

All of the frame I have seen of this generation have no serial numbers or the serial number is located on the bottom bracket shell.

Included in this generation:

Squareback 20"

Squareback 26"

 

(1980 to 84 "I think"??)

The Mike Konle generation. This generation is typified by the rainbow style decals.

Included in this generation are: (I am sure that others will surface)

20"

24"

26"

26" Tandem

20" mini (a few different styles)

and some prototypes.

 

There are several different variations of the placement of the serial numbers in this generation. All seem to be on the bottom bracket shell.

1) Serial numbers are just a set of numbers from side to side

2) Serial numbers are just a set of numbers with the word "CHAMPION" numbers are from side to side.

3) Serial numbers start with the letter "C" and the word CHAMPION is above the number. Number is side to side.

4) Serial numbers start with the letter "C" and the word CHAMPION is above the number. Number is front to back.

5) Serial numbers start with the letter "G" and have a rider weight limit

6) Serial numbers start with the letter "C" and the word CHAMPION USA is above the number. Number is front to back.

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Heres another bit of history, from an oldschool Flat track blog, kinda interesting and cheeky:

The flat tracker Freakshow:

Regarding the early flat tracker frames, doug schwerma knew nothing about geometry the champions were almost copies of the yamaha dt1 frames, just "cleaned up a bit.

not great frames but doug was a brilliant promoter of his product.

 

terry knight was doug schwermas shop-forman at 19 years of age . as schwerma , begin to manullipate

the us govt. small business loan program, finally went broke and douggy just walked away (from champion), and got into drugs before getting cut down.

 

mike conley the redline guy , bought the name and all the assets and machinery from champion bank forclosure

 

terry knight then went into business for himself ,and the

rest is history, as they say as Knight frames.

 

Carlo lucia made Boss frames early in the peice, then followed the money with the redline guys into BMX frames

 

the only guys to make any money and get to keep it are linn kasten and mike conley the red-line guys.

 

they made most of their money with mx bicycles. linn and

mike split up in early 70s and linn took the red-line name only, and went straight to japan to have them made, he now has a factory just into mexico from san diego, and has made and kept millions.

 

Poor ray hensley ,sold off trackmster ,for nothing, and pissed

away the money up in canada 500 miles north of detroit at lake

nippising trying to run a fishing camp.he died of lung cancer and finally of "cancer of the everything" poor guy..

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Probably why the Squareback was used... Its a twisted tail of events for sure.

I bought a early 90's Kastan 24" for that same squareback design. So it has been used more then once...

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All joking aside, the third bar actually pierces the lower tube and enters the head tube, to reinforce the head tube from possible breakage. The 70's saw alot of metal damage and breakage in that area, so the third tube was their idea of using triangle frame layout, to elimintate that structural failure. Making it one of the best designs, in my opinion...

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