1977 Race Inc. RA-7
Race Inc. RA-7 "Foiler" Airfoil Top Tube - Original Condition / Original Owner
Purchased new from Hank & Frank Bicycles in Oakland Ca. when they were on E14th St next to Lake Merritt. This frame is in it's original, survivor condition - original classic 1970's gold anodizing, original head tube and down tube decals. There are not many left from the '70s with this top tube in original condition. Purchased as a complete, the stem & forks (1978 1st gen), and bars are original to this bike. This frame has the diamond dropouts, large triangle above the brake bridge, uncommon Airfoil top tube (the term "Airfoil" - BMX Action, Sept. 1979, pg. 32) , and the pre-1978 bisecting weld of the lug behind the BB. Ano and decals are far from perfect, but the frame itself is in beautiful shape - all the way down to the drops (the og dropout washers, always). No damaged seatpost mast, no chain rub, no cracks or re-welds. I was lucky to be schooled early by older riders who were fanatical about proper maintenance, and it shows in the condition of this bike. I was ridiculed once for rounding my headset nut on my first bike ('76 Mongoose), and it never happened again. Funny how these early types of lessons can make such a strong imprint on the rest of our lives.
This bike has always been a rider, and still is, and as a result she is not truly era-correct. Parts got upgraded because that's how we did it bitd - nobody ever kept their bike stock. Once my dream of owning this bike became a reality, my next dream was to make the changes I wanted to with her. Almost all the parts replaced were bought new at the time (mostly 1980's) from Hank & Frank, because I never went anywhere else. That would include the brake sets, head set, bottom bracket, seat, power disc, pedals, and wheel sets. Thanks to the invention of the internet, some parts (seatpost, cranks, chainring, and some hard-to-find small stuff) have been sourced over the past decade in close-to-mint condition (nos, show mounted, or whatever). And I think I'm done - not by blowing her out with the most expensive parts I could find, but by doing all of things I wanted to do as a kid. The dream of a kid, 35 years later, has become real.
This bike was the first major purchase of my life, and I'm very lucky to have never let her go. I've almost sold her a few times, almost parted her out, almost stripped off the decals and anodizing. But in the end, I didn't. I just never stopped riding her, and at 5'6" 150 lbs today I never out grew her. I've been riding this bike for so long, it's like a pair of favorite driving gloves. Fits like a second skin - no thinking necessary, the bike just responds to my wishes. Owning and riding this bike is the primary reason I am on this site. Primary images are how she is today (8/18/2013) and include the black Odyssey cables, Cycle Pro seatpost clamp, Hackenbushes brake boots, and black (Cycle Pro?) Handlebar pad - straight outta the 70's and exactly like the one I had as a kid! Matches the stem pad perfectly! Thanks for checking out my ride.
. 5/25/2018 edit:
The first two of the primary images shows my new wheel set, what is on her now. Araya 7X rims (no shiny side) with Suzue high flange, loose ball bearing hubs. Both in mint condition and as smooth as butter! This bike originally came with a gold wheel set similar to this one, so I am very happy to have scored it. More like og, and more era correct. The other images have my chrome Araya Super 7X wheel set, what I was riding from the early '90's until around 2016. Images below are my ride in various forms of development over the years.
I have chronicled a history of Race Inc. and the RA-7 at the bottom of this page.
Frame: 1977 Race Inc. RA7 Airfoil TT
original anodizing, original HT & DT decals
Forks: 1978 Roger DeCoster / Mongoose (original)
1st Gen., og condition
7/8" legs, lrg. boss
nos decal - incorrect, better colors
Stem: 1978 Mongoose Gold Stem (original)
1st Gen., og condition, og decal
Headset: Tange MX-2
Headset Lock: Tange LP-440
Dirt Skirt: SST
Bars: Race Inc. - 23.5" x 7" rise (original)
Grips: ODI Rogue
Cranks: Takagi Cr-Mo 180 mm x 28 tpi
Bottom Bracket: Tange Seiki Co. loose ball, 28 tpi
Bottom Bracket Lock: 6061 Al, 28 tpi
Bearing Cap: ODI Mushroom
Spider: Tuf Neck Power Disc
Chain Ring: Tuf Neck - 46t
Pedals: Suntour XC-II
Rims: Araya Super 7x - 36h
Hubs: GT Mohawk - 1st Gen, 36h
sealed, hollow axle, rear flip-flop
Freewheel: Shimano SF-MX30 - 16t
Tires: Odyssey Aitken 20x1.90 tan wall for general riding
GT AAPro Fat/Skinny for dirt riding
Mitsuboshi Sliver Star Comp III's 20x1.75 (Blue/Yellow/Green lable) for show
Brakes: Dia Compe MX1000 F/R set
Line: Odyssey Race Linear Slic
Levers: Odyssey Pitbull
Hoods: Dia Compe
Pads: Kool-Stop Eagle 2
Post & Adjuster Caps: Dia Compe
Seat: 1979 Mongoose made by Velo, VL-169
- padded, leather
Seatpost: Tioga Layback Chro-moly
Tioga Stamped, 13/16"
og chrome and decal
Clamp: Cycle Pro
Stored: Original Ashtabula Cranks - dated 1978
Original Schwinn Headset
Original Schwinn Bottom Bracket - 28 tpi
Original (to the Calipers) Dia Compe Tech-2 Brake Levers
Specifications: Top Tube length: 20"
Head tube Angle: 70.5°
Head tube size: 1" ID x 4" length
Fork Rake: 15/16"
Seat tube Angle: 68°
BB Height: 12"
Crank Length: 180 mm
Gearing: 46t x 16t
Frame weight: 3 lbs. 8 oz.
Total Weight: 23.2 lbs
Some older pic's with the original Ashtabula cranks (now stored)
* * *
Race Inc History
The Race Inc RA-7 connection to FMF, Cycle Pro,
SE Racing, Peugeot, Laguna, and more
Bill Bastian works for Kawasaki/AAA in the early 1970's, helping design frames. He decides to start making his own bicycle products, and in 1973 starts his own unofficial company - Race Inc (BMX Action, June 1983, pg 41). The fledgling company starts by making some of the first aluminum handlebars for the sport of BMX, and soon after starts making aluminum seat posts. Both these products were made light and strong, which was ideal for the new sport, and quickly became popular.
Kawasaki decides to get involved in BMX, and Bastian is one of the key contributors to the new BMX division. Kawasaki was also contracted out by AAA to make a rigid BMX frame design for them, and the Rascal came out in 1975. The Rascal only enjoyed a very limited run as it was not really marketed at all. The Kawasaki frames came out just as suspension frames were going extinct and, instead of going to a rigid frame design, the motorcycle company decides to bail out of BMX in 1977. But you can see with these frames, especially the Rascal, how the concepts for the RA-7 were starting to form.
Bill develops his concepts, and files for the business licenses necessary to make Race Inc an official company in 1975. He soon after leaves Kawasaki to concentrate on Race Inc full time. 1976 sees production of the first Race Inc BMX frames - what will become known as the RA-7, one of the first mass produced 6061 T6 Aluminum Alloy T.I.G. welded BMX frames. Every step in the building process has an almost fanatical attention to detail. Each frame is fixture welded - clamped solid until the entire welding process is complete. After welding, the frames are stress-relieved for one hour at 650°F to remove stresses that may have occurred in the tube junctures from welding. Tension in the tubes can cause the frame to slightly twist out of alignment as it heats and softens. This step is a bonus feature; Bill could have manufactured his frames without this step. After stress-relief, the frames are heat-treated to approximately 1000°F then spray quenched in water. Each still soft frame is inserted in a special frame fixture and meticulously checked over by hand, confirming specifications and alignment. The frames are then "cooked" for eight hours at 650°F to bring them up to T6 hardness. The craftsmanship is impressive, even by today's standards.
The RA-7 is a Pro size frame with a 20" top tube, and a Jr version was also made (the RA-8). The most distinguishing characteristics are the aluminum alloy material, the looptail design, the welds (the "stack-of-dimes" effect), and the diamond dropouts. These first frames were missing the brake bridge until late '76, when it was added and other modifications were considered for the upcoming year. Most of these frames do not have serial numbers, and of those that do have them, they are located on the bottom bracket shell. There is no organization to these numbers. These first frames have Race Inc's first generation decals (oval, blue on chrome).
***Observation: I have pic's of these BB numbers on early '76 Race Inc's and FMF's, and '77 Cycle Pro's - og finish/decals. I also have pic's of all three companies, same years, all og, without any numbers. And pic's of subsequent years, same results. Early numbers may be 4 - 6 digits long? Up to 8 digits long - for the late 1970's? I don't know. In doing this research, I came to understand that Bill B wasn't the most organized person, and identification markers for later archive purposes were not really his concern.
The "rule" surrounding these numbers involves Cycle Pro and how they are suppose to be the only company to have these BB numbers. This rule is broken by these early '70s frames made for Race Inc and FMF, prior to and during Cycle Pro's involvement with the RA-7. ***
In early 1976, Scot Breithaupt forms the BMX division for FMF. Bill makes both of his frames available to Scot, to be sold under FMF's name as the "Team Replica" and the "Jr Pro". That year, Scot Breithaupt and Jeff Utterback take the RA-7 (Team FMF) to #1 and #3 in the NBA Nationals (BMX Action, Dec 1976 & Feb 1977).
Also in late 1976/early 1977, the RA-7 was marketed to Peugeot as the Race 1 MX (BMX Action, Feb 1977, pg 16). Peugeot later changed the name to the CPX-500 in 1978(?).
Courtesy of Leviathan - thanks Ron!
(Also, if you check the comments section for this bike, you will see the advertisement for the Race 1 MX)
Up to this point, Race Inc has been purely an OEM fabrication shop. Although the company finally had a logo to attach to their frames - and even had big name racer Harry Leary sportin' their colors (BMX Action, Dec 1976, pg 23) - Bastian did not seem to be interested in marketing the Race Inc name.
An alteration is done to FMF's RA-7, and a hole is punched out of the front gusset, probably to differentiate between companies. Two years later, Laguna puts out an advertisement for their GT, featuring the RA-7 with this same hole in the front gusset. However, it seems that most Laguna GT's sold did not have this front gusset hole. I don't know. The only Laguna GT I have seen with this feature is in this advertisement (BMX Action, Oct 1978, pg 30).
***Opinion: This front gusset hole is known primarily as a feature of FMF. When I found this ad, it blew a rather strong held theory away. I'm thinking it's possible that this front gusset hole originally was meant for any RA-7 that was not a Race Inc. But because that required organization, that quickly went out the window. Laguna ended up getting whatever RA-7's were available, as did Cycle Pro. This might help explain why some early RA-7's have serial #'s on the BB housing and some do not. Scot kept with the plan, and most FMF's ended up with this front gusset hole. This is all speculation. I say most because I have come across unconfirmed FMF's without this gusset hole. I feel more confirmation is needed before I can truly separate any of this info from "opinion". ***
In 1977, Race Inc experiments with modifications to their Pro size RA-7. A brake bridge is added, the size of the triangle behind the seat mast is altered (at random, it seems), and a different top tube is introduced - taken from Bill's earlier work, borrowed from the Kawasaki and Rascal. The Airfoil top tube (the top tube distinction "Airfoil", BMX Action, Sept. 1979, pg. 32) always seemed to me to be the logical progression for the RA-7, to eliminate the space between the top tube and down tube at the head tube, totally completing the triangle (seat mast - head tube - bottom bracket) and making a structurally stronger frame.
With the exception of the brake bridge (a permanent addition), these modifications did not replace the original RA-7, they just became different unofficial "models". No name or model number distinction was ever made, but both of these top tube designs were sold under Race Inc (In my mind, I call the Airfoil design the RA-7A). Both were offered and sold under the Cycle Pro label, and sold as the "Spoiler" (Round TopTube) and the "Foiler" (Airfoil TopTube). Race Inc and Cycle Pro were the only companies to offer the RA-7Airfoil. Both Race Inc models came with Race Inc's second gen, and more familiar, decals (shield, blue and red on white). The blue oval decals were not used again and are primarily a feature of the '76 frames.
As a "rule", Race Inc was the only company to have the RA-7 done in blue anodizing in the '70s. However, like any good Race Inc "rule", this one is broken as well - this time by Cycle Pro's Spoiler. Some came in blue ano. I don't know if CP got any Foiler's in blue, as I have only seen one blue ano RA-7 Airfoil top tube. It's a Race Inc here in the Museum, og condition/decals, and doesn't have the diamond dropouts (post-1979). This rule is complicated by the fact that Laguna did an RA-7 in blue epoxy, and further complicated by Laguna doing some of their other frames in blue anodizing - just not the RA-7. Laguna did have an anodized RA-7, but only in gold.
***Opinion: Because of Bill's lack of organization, I believe the only way to tell the difference between these companies selling the RA-7 is by the original decals. Almost every rule has exceptions, and many examples of such exceptions. I don't get the impression that Bill is a fan of rules, and I wouldn't be surprised if most of these "rules" were invented in an attempt to make sense of the chaos. I think the man just liked to make BMX frames, and liked to modify them. I even have pic's of a blue ano, no brake bridge RA-7 (1976, no decals, no serial #'s) that doesn't have the gusset over the bottom bracket. That says something, I just don't know what :) ***
1978 sees Scot B leaving FMF and forming SE Racing. Bill and Scot design and produce SE Racing's JU6, Jeff Utterback's signature ride. Scot looks for ways to improve efficiency, and eliminates a complication that will open the door for new idea's later for SE Racing. The lug behind the bottom bracket on the RA-7 is a complicated piece to make in the mid '70s. It was made by rolling a section of flat aluminum stock to form and shape the flat, oval tube. Then it was welded down the seam before it was applied between the BB and the chain stays. SE Racing hires Alcoa Inc. to make the tooling necessary to create a seamless flat/oval tube - and floval tubing is invented, having never existed before in BMX. Once SE starts making this seamless flat/oval lug, they went on all RA-7's made by Race Inc, regardless of what company's decals were to go on - and the bisecting weld of this lug was history. This is one definitive way to date the RA-7, but only as it confirms 1976 & '77 (with the weld) or 1978 to 1984 (without). This is one rule that is concrete.
In mid/late 1979, Bill replaces the Race Inc diamond dropouts on the RA-7 with SE Racing's flat dropouts. This is another definitive date point, and the beginning of the RA serial numbers. Unfortunately these numbers, again, have no logical progression. And it is difficult to tell the difference between a "new/flat dropout" being from 1979 or 1980. For this reason, frames with RA serial #'s are considered 1980+. But, in true Race Inc fashion, there are exceptions (of course). There are some RA-7's with diamond dropouts out there that have RA serial #'s - I even have pic's of a Raleigh Rampar with diamond drops and RA #'s (it's not an RA-7, but still interesting). In my research I have come across some bazaar combinations, which just backs up my theory of Bill just wanting to make and modify frames - a kind of mix-and-match mentality.
Bill and Scot continue to work together through 1981, with Race Inc making most of SE Racing's aluminum frames. Then in late 1981 Scot takes SE Racing in-house. Even after the "split", the two continue to work together. Bill still uses Scot's floval tubing and dropouts. In late '81/early '82, SE Racing puts out their second (of three different) versions of the Basher, which is an Aluminum alloy RA-7 (round TT). And Race Inc continues to fabricate the P.K. Ripper to SE Racing's specifications through the 1980's (BMX Action, June 1983, pg 42). An interesting side-note; there are a handful of looptail P.K.'s out there with the diamond dropouts (maybe 5), and they are very rare. It's the construction of the PK's that may have contributed to the demise of Race Inc, when some got decaled as Race Inc's and sent to Europe.
In 1983, Race Inc comes out with the RA-10, which is an Aluminum alloy, round tube, geometric copy of the looptail PK Ripper. And in 1983-1984, Perry Kramer rides and manages the Race Inc BMX team with Mickey Lundy. Race Inc closes shop in 1984. The RA-7 was made almost the entire time the company was in business, from 1976 - 1984. But it was never sold by Race Inc as a complete, only as a box package. Bike shops often built them up as completes to sell, and often took many liberties with the selection of parts used. The first, and only, complete bike Race Inc put out was the RA-24 in late 1983 (BMX Plus, Oct 1983, pg 64. Specifications for the complete RA-24: Super BMX, Oct 1982, pg 48).
* * *