– Interview with Neal Wood –
Whose idea was it to build a custom S&M for Chris Moeller to celebrate the company’s 20-year anniversary?
It was my idea. Chris sprung the idea of having a 20th anniversary party 2 weeks before it happened. He thought about having it in Vegas, but changed his mind and decided to have it at S&M. I thought it would be a good idea to give Chris something back for his 20 years, so we cooked up the idea of the 20th anniversary bike. If you knew Chris, a bike is the only appropriate gift…you aren’t going to give him an engraved watch of something.
Was it a surprise when Moeller got the bike? What was his reaction, and how does he like it?
It was a complete surprise; no one at S&M let it slip that we had built the bike. Although it was difficult to get his attention that night, with the 1000 other people around, he was speechless and appreciative and quickly hid the bike as to not have it lost in the mayhem.
Who was in charge of gathering the parts and building it up?
With help from everyone at S&M including riders, venders, and employees, I primarily gathered the parts from the S&M building. What was not available directly, was begged, borrowed, or stolen with the help of Jim and Nuno at Odyssey.
What is custom about the frame?
The frame is the new S&M LTF frame, which will be released in September. It is the first frame we have built utilizing the swaged seat posts and bullet-nosed chain stays and seat stays. Knowing he wasn’t keen on the 75-degree head angle, we made it 74.5 degrees and called the frame the “Mad Dog,” as it was made specifically for Chris Moeller. Besides, the .5 degree change, all of the geometry on the frame is identical to soon to be released LTF.
The frame, forks, and bars are “Electroless Black Nickel”… What is that and will it be an option for consumers in the future?
Electroless nickel plating is a process for chemically applying nickel-alloy deposits onto metallic substrates using an auto catalytic immersion process without the use of electrical current. It differs from electroplating, which depends on an external source of direct (electrical) current to produce a deposit on the substrate material. Since electrical current cannot be distributed evenly throughout the component, it is very difficult to obtain uniform coatings with electrolytically applied deposits. Electroless nickel deposits, therefore, are not subject to the uniformity problems associated with electroplated coatings.
Yes, this will be an option for customers in the future as well as other plating processes we are looking into. We have discovered that adding powder coating to a frame can add up to 3 ounces in weight, and this process, like anodizing, adds no significant weight to a finished frame.
Who or what is Xian Leather and what was the idea behind the custom leather seat?
Chris is really into his motorcycle right now and I wanted the bike to emulate the style of an old school chopper. Chris is friends with all the guys from Biltwell Inc. and Christian-Xian Leather has done custom seats for Biltwell in the past. I thought a custom, hand-crafted leather design would give the bike the look I was going for. Doing a custom leather seat for a BMX was a first for Christian, although he mentioned he used to race back in the day. Not only did he do an amazing job completing the seat on tight deadline, he designed the artwork for the custom seat and produced it in 3 days.
Is this a collector’s bike for Chris, or is going to be put to use?
This question is not as simple at is seems. Yes, this is a collector’s bike. It is a custom bike built for Chris Moeller for 20 years of running S…but it was built for, and to be ridden only by Chris. It is a combination of the newest technology we have at S&M, combined with classic BMX parts, and modified to his personal specifications. Just look at what went into the bike:
– LTF “Mad Dog frame
– Race XLT forks
– Prince Albert cranks, donated by Marvin
– Anniversary “Mad Dog decals, applied by Dogger.
– Race XLT bars cut down to 25″ wide…Chris’ personal preference.
– S&M logo grips, removing the flange from the brake side…another Chris favorite.
– Comp. III front tire (Also Chris’ first tattoo.)
– Proto-type FIT 1.95” rear tire.
– Custom burgundy Odyssey wheel set.
– Pre-bent Tech 77 lever.
With all that said, it is a BMX bike, and Chris will likely be riding it at the local trail spot.
Have you guys already had requests for identical bikes from customers or fans?
Yes, endless. All I can say is we are working on the LTFs, which will be released in September. We are S&M, an American BMX manufacturer, and custom frames are always available.
– Interview With Chris Moeller –
What was your reaction to the surprise gift, and what do you think about the bike as a whole?
I about shit myself! I couldn’t believe it. The bike looks like I set it up myself but with crazy custom and/or one-off parts. The relaxed head angle is cool because I have been talking about that for a while for myself and the custom seat blew my mind. I had never seen the new Fit tire sample and the re-painted Prince Albert cranks were a crazy blast from the past. The frame itself has some features on it I hadn’t seen yet like the swaged seat tube and bullet tipped stays.
What is your favorite part about the bike?
Definitely the frame, the design and craftsmanship that went into it is nuts.
How did Neal and the crew know what all to do with the bike? It seems perfect for you…
Balls and Neal have probably spent more time sleeping on my bikes in the back of vans than I have spent riding them, so they know this stuff. All the little details like the fat Comp III, the bent Tech 77, the flange-less right grip…the whole bike is dialed.
How do you like your bikes set up?
I like my bikes to run well and ride smooth and quiet. My bikes feel a little like beefed up race bikes with 990’s instead of V-brakes.
What parts do you go through the most?
I’m pretty easy on my bikes these days but every now and then I hang up on the ramp and put a big dent in my rim and blow the tire out or do a disaster on something concrete and bend my sprocket. All the parts are so much better than they used to be so they last longer.
Any chance you are going to jump on the brakeless bandwagon?
I rode trails with no brakes for a while in the mid nineties and I ended up crashing hard a lot. I like to ride as fast as I can and having no brakes would be sketchy. Although I like to ride other people’s brakeless bikes on certain stuff, I will always have brakes on my bike.
It goes without saying that you are a busy man…How often do you get to ride these days and what is your favorite spot right now?
Working at S&M actually allows me to ride as much as I want…it’s my bad hip/knee that limits my sessions to about a handful a month. When I do ride I like to session trails or mini ramps. A few weeks ago I rode a park in Hawaii that got me stoked on trying to ride concrete, so that’s something I want to do more of. I wouldn’t say I have a favorite spot right now…I’ll ride anything.