I don’t remember my first bike, but I do remember the one I rode the most as a kid. It was a bike that to me and others seemed freaking huge! The reason was that, while everyone else was riding BMX bikes with 20” wheels, I got a bike that was more of a cross between a BMX and a cruiser with 24” wheels. It had a chrome frame with blue wheels, saddle, grips, and pads on the top tube and handlebar. I grew to love that bike the more I rode it.
I had to do a ton of hunting to find out what that bike was. But once I saw pictures of it I knew right away that was the bike I had. I can’t say the exact year but it looks to be very close to a 1982 Team Murray X24.
If it was indeed 1982 then this would put me at about 10 years old. That sounds about right since I would have been in 4th grade and us kids would then be riding to school thereafter. This would be a bike that I would ride for probably 4 to 5 years all the way into 8th grade.
I vaguely remember my parents taking me to a bike shop to get this bike. I didn't really know what the hell that I wanted other than it needed to be a BMX style bike. Seems my father listened to the bike shop sales guy and was pushed this 24" wheel bike onto us. I suppose for my size it made sense.
I don’t recall there being rear rim brakes but I could be wrong. It did have a coaster brake on it so its quite possible that I ended up just removing the rim brakes altogether. Me being stupid about rim brakes and all I probably removed them since no one else was using them on their bikes.
I do recall the saddle being super uncomfortable to me. It was rock hard and your butt would get numb after riding on it for a while. I remember getting a gel seat cover to help make it more comfortable.
I lived just north of Houston in Spring, Texas. Myself and the kids I grew up with pretty much rode our bikes everywhere. Back in the 80’s, we had creeks that ran through our neighborhood with lots of trees around them. Various bike trails were made that allowed us to go between different parts of the neighborhood. When the creek was low, there were various parts that would be bone dry that you could ride down into. Up and down the streets we went, through the trails, down and back up the creek beds, through more trails, and then back on the streets. Everyone loved to explore the forest trails and creeks.
Problem for me was that I wasn’t quite as fast as everyone else. That Team Murray bike was much heavier that everyone else’s. Definitely had my fair share of times when I just couldn’t keep up. Now, according to one of the entries on the BMX Museum site, this bike had a 39T front sprocket with a 18T rear sprocket. At 90 rpms that would have put me at a speed of around 12-13 mph. Yeah...definitely slower than everyone else. I swear, I think the other kids were hitting 14-15 mph easily with their bikes.
I don’t know how much that bike weighed but it had to be a good 20 pounds or so. The problem I always had was getting up big hills. Our neighborhood was pretty flat. However, when going down and up the creek beds, we have various dirt ramps that were dug out of the creek edges that we could go down and up from. I usually chose the easier ones that had a modest grade to them. The few times I tried going down and up the steeper ones, I would get a little over halfway up and then fall back down. Just couldn’t quite make it up to the other side. Way too steep and too high for me and my 24” rimmed behemoth!
All through junior high school, we would ride our bikes religiously to school and back. Unless it was raining or freezing cold, we were on our bikes. The trip up the main street through our neighborhood and to our school seemed long. Always felt like it took hours to get there. Funny thing is that years later as an adult I went for a stroll through that neighborhood and found that it really wasn’t that far. It’s funny how our perception changes as we get older.
Throughout this time, we more or less maintained our own bikes. My neighbor was more mechanically inclined than I was so he would help me when things went wrong with my bike. I don’t remember having to change out much on that bike. An inner tube now and then. New chain at one point. But pretty much everything else stayed the same. That bike ran so well that I didn’t have to really mess with it hardly at all.
I don’t think I even lubed the chain all that often. In fact, we pretty pretty much just sprayed WD-40 on everything. Magical stuff. Got a dry chain? WD-40 it! A little rust on some parts? WD-40 it! Now, we cyclists know that WD-40 isn’t a great lubricant but us kids didn’t know any better. Seemed to work so we just kept using it.
As a comic book collector, I remember all the various rides I used to take to get my fix on the latest comics. There was probably a good two miles separating all the places I would ride to. I had two different 7-Eleven's I would go to along with an Eckerd drugstore, all with newsstands that carried different titles on a regular basis. To cover all the stuff I read I pretty much had to go to all of them at regular intervals to make sure I didn't miss an issue.
But then, sometime in the mid-80's, a direct market comic shop opened up. That totally opened up new doors to me...and of course a new ride on my bike! The route then became a good two-mile jaunt to the comic shop and back. I remember making that run after getting paid a little money while working part-time at a stand that sold shaved ice. Man, those were good times!
I remember one particular time involving a leather coat and some rain. I had been taking piano lessons for quite some time from my long-time piano teacher. Once I had my bike, I pretty much would ride back and forth to my lessons. I remember one particular trip at a time when it might rain. I had gotten this really cool black leather jacket and, against my mother's advice, decided to wear it to my piano lesson. And, yep, it rained and rained pretty hard. Ended up having to ride home in the rain in that leather jacket. Thanks to the rain, the darn thing felt like it weighed a good 20 pounds! Ended up having to retreat it with some saddle soap and leather treatment after that. Bike was fine though.
Speaking of piano lessons, I had gotten a Korg keyboard for Christmas one year with a case for it and everything. I started jamming with a friend of mine who played drums. I would leave most of my stuff at his house with the exception of my keyboard, toting that thing back and forth between my house and his each time. If I thought the rain soaked jacket felt heavy, that keyboard with the case was definitely heavy. I can't believe I balanced that thing on the handlebars and rode to his house and back with it like that. Just nuts.
Yep, that bike took me places all over my neighborhood...and then some! That is until I got hit.
One day me and my friends were riding back home. They were going pretty fast and I got left behind a bit. I tried to speed up and, at an intersection, made the mistake of trying to run it. BAM! A car hit me from the side and threw me up on the hood. Fortunately, the car wasn't going that fast. Even more fortunate was that I didn't get badly hurt. No broken bones but a nice welt on the side of my left leg where the car hit me. I ended up with a nasty ulcer that took a little while to heal.
The bike got a little smashed. I think one of the wheels needed to be replaced but it was more or less ok. Tough bike to say the least. Although I didn't start riding it again for some time. Even then, it just wasn't the same. My fears of getting hit by a car kind of ruined my joy of riding and the freedom it gave me. High school was starting the following year so the bike ended up in the garage after that. I'm not even sure what happened to it.
I do wonder whatever happened to that bike and where it went. Do bikes have souls? Did it miss me? Did some other kid get to ride it? It's a strange thing to have something that I spent so much time with only to have it forgotten.
But, like my grandparent's bike, it's one of the first bikes I rode that led me to where I'm at now. In many ways, my adventures on that bike down neighborhood streets, through trails and creeks, led me to my love for road and gravel riding.
Go Team Murray!
Note: The pictures shown are not my bike. They're off the BMX Museum site. If this is your bike and pictures, please let me know if it's ok to display them.