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Complete Disclosure: SE Bikes

A few finer details of the 2010 SE line, including $100 wrap on the OM flyer and Odyssey PC pedals on the Wildman. SE

Man -- where to begin with SE Racing? 1976? BUMS track? PK Rippers? Quadangles? Perhaps we should all sit back and watch Mark Eaton's reasonably epic film Joe Kid On A Stingray again to refresh -- or educate -- the bicycle motocross brain cells. Suffice to say, a lot of water has flowed under the SE bridge, and what started out as Scott Breithaupt's Scott Enterprises has become Sports Engineering, and the company is a different beast these days. While our other interviews with Verde and Subrosa feature a couple of the newest companies in BMX, SE has to be the oldest. But still, over thirty years on, they have BMX at their heart, a strong team, and a rider in charge of the operation. And that's what I really like, when it boils down to it: maybe sometime soon we'll do something more in-depth on SE, but be warned -- it would take a book to do it justice (hmm, now there's an idea.) So in the meantime, I asked Todd Lyons about what's ticking for 2010's SE complete bike line.

So, how long have you guys been making complete bikes for?

I think the first SE Racing completes were made in the mid to late '80s.

Do you still have any of the original range still around your office?

Nah, but I wish! When ASI bought the company in like 2001, a lot of the old stock was sold off to Shiner in the UK -- and Shiner is our current distributor for England, so the bikes are still in the family. Actually, Shiner is SE's longest standing distributor.

What are your thoughts about those old original bikes, now?

The original old-school bikes are where I get a TON of ideas for our current retro bikes and other color schemes. You can't beat the color combos and flash of the bikes from the '80s.

The original old-school bikes are where I get a TON of ideas for our current retro bikes and other color schemes. You can't beat the color combos and flash of the bikes from the '80s.

--Todd Lyons

So when it comes to your completes, who does what at your company?

Actually, I kind of do it all. But for reals. I have been the Brand Manager and Product Manager for the past five years. I do everything from original concept design, all the way through the design process, and then still sticking around to fix any production issues. From start to finish, I am there every step of the way. Here's the general schedule of what I do in terms of complete bikes.

" October: Put together all of the feedback that I have gathered during the past year. And also take into consideration any cool stuff and new trends from Interbike.

" November: Travel to Asia to meet with parts vendors and also confirm some frame design changes and some graphics.

" January: Travel to Asia again to meet with different part vendors and confirm the rest of the frame changes and graphics. I also finalize the spec of the entry-level style bikes that did not change much from the previous year.

" March: Travel to Asia again for the annual Taipei Show. The purpose of me at this show is to meet with parts vendors and tie up any loose ends, and also to see in person any new products that have been developed in the last couple of months. I also go to our factory on this trip and finalize the spec of the rest of the line.

" May: Travel to Asia yet again for the catalog photoshoot of the bikes. This is when I am able to see the last seven months of hard work pay off.

Does the team get involved along the way?

Yeah, totally. I am buddies with all the guys, so I am constantly getting feedback on what they like and don't like.

And how many bikes have you got in your range this year?

For 2010 there are 32. But that includes seven Single Speed and Fixed Gear bikes. So we've got 25 BMX bikes in the line.

Do you have more or less bikes compared to 2009?

More. Man, every year we keep adding more. I remember when I started doing the bikes five years ago, there were only like 17. Now we have almost doubled that.

Can you run us through your range, starting out at the base through to the pricier stuff?

The Bronco is the Entry Level Series. These three different models are essentially the 'kids bikes'. Hi-Ten frame, fork and bars, one-piece cranks, plastic pedals. Nothing fancy on these bikes as the price is the most important thing.

Ripper is the Race Series. These are the 'race ready' right out of the box bikes. We really did our homework on weight this year. Our race series of bikes are almost 13lbs lighter than last year. And actually, bike for bike, our entire line of bikes is 32lbs lighter than last year. I am SO stoked on this.

Next, the Wildman is the Dirt/Street Series. There are different price levels here with the Wildman 18 being the smallest and least expensive through the Wildman, which is bigger, on to the Wildman X-Pert which now has a Cr-Mo frame, fork and bars, all the way through to the Wildman Pro which is full Cr-Mo with double butted mainframe, removable brake mounts, Pivotal seat and post, etc.

Heavy Hitter is our High End Dirt/Street Bike -- this is Pat 'Big Daddy' Laughlin's signature bike. We pulled out all the stops and made the best bike we could. It'll be the most high-end BMX bike we've ever made. The frame will have Cr-Mo seamless tubing, double butted main-frame, Taper Lock dropouts, built-in seat clamp, and removable rotor tabs and cable guides, and brake mounts. The parts will be top notch. Odyssey pedals and tires, fully CNC'd stem with cut-outs, Big Daddy grips, Pivotal seat and post, high end KK sealed hubs, 25-9 gearing. 48-spline cranks. The whole kit and caboodle!

Quadangle is our new Freestyle Series. This is our full-on freestyle bikes. Beginning riders usually love these bikes because of the unique Quadangle frame design. And for 2010 we brought back the four-piece bars and STANDING GEAR forks! That's right. The Landing Gear forks with standing platforms are back in full effect. And it's amazing that these bikes are still even lighter than last year.

Single Speed/Fixed Gear Series -- yeah, I know that these aren't BMX bikes, but they have really helped the SE brand and opened up a lot of doors for us. We only have seven of these in our line, but most all of them already outsell our BMX bikes. And we do have a VERY BMX influenced Fixed Gear bike, the PK Ripper Fixed Gear. It has the PK Ripper Floval tubing, Looptail rear end, 48-spline BMX cranks, BMX seat, etc. It's basically a BMX Fixed Gear. And it looks like no other Fixed Gear bike out there.

Retro Series -- these bikes have created the most buzz for SE over the past few years. SE was there at the very beginning of what we call BMX back in the late '70s. And these retro bikes throw tribute to the good ole days. I have the most fun designing these bikes. No color is too crazy! We have the PK Ripper Looptail, OM Flyer, and 20", 24", and 26" Quadangle Looptails. These bikes bring smiles wherever you ride them.

Which single bike took the longest to figure out?

Probably the PK Ripper Fixed Gear. Simply because it is such a new market and I did not grow up riding bikes without a freewheel. Haha. Oh, just so ya knows, riding a Fixed Gear is definitely not for me! I love to design 'em, but I need a freewheel on my ride.

Which was the toughest detail this year?

Getting our bikes to shave off 32lbs of weight. Well, the goal wasn't specifically to lose 32lbs. But it was to really take EVERY bike back to the drawing board and start from the ground up and try to get the bikes as light as possible. I had to evaluate and analyze every part of every bike in the SE line. And I had to study the competition too. It was a lot of work, but in the end, we shaved off 32lbs from the entire line. Some bikes, like the Wildman bike, lost 3.5lbs alone!

Which is your favourite bike, which one are you most proud of?

For 2010 I'd say that it's the $100-wrap OM Flyer. It took a long time to get the style of the bike dialled in. This bike has $100 bills 'wrapped' around the frame, fork, and bars. And all the parts are anodized gold and green. It looks like no other bike you've seen before. "Green fo' the money, and gold is fo' the honeys!"

Which of the whole line would you ride straight out of the box?

Which one DON'T I ride straight out of the box? I have been racing the 100% stock PK Ripper Team bikes straight out of the box for the past four years. And whenever I get a retro bike, I ride those completely stock as well. Man, I have like almost 20 bikes in my garage now. I'm starting to feel like one of those BMX bike collector dudes. But none of my bikes are more than five years old!

Have you already started work on next year's 2011 bikes? Anything you can tell us about those yet?
At this stage, 2011 is still in the brain and on my note pads. I have tons of ideas already, but nothing is moving forward 'till after Interbike in September.

Finally, what about bikes coming from other companies -- which other complete bike ranges do you rate? Which one would you ride yourself?
For racing, I'd say Redline. And for street/dirt, I would go with WeThePeople.

For more information on SE, check out SE Bikes.com.