THE HARO FREESTYLER
The Haro Freestyler was the first BMX frame and fork designed and marketed specifically for Freestyle riding. The concept was discussed at length between Haro and his teammate Bob Morales during the 1981 Haro Freestyle Tour. On his return to California later that year, Haro took the idea to his frame sponsor, Torker, and within a few months, a prototype was underway.
Some of the earliest published images of the frame date back to March of 1982. Bob Haro is pictured riding a chrome, unbranded twin-top-tube frame, in a series of magazine articles published in both the US and the UK. The prototype made another low-key appearance in a full-page Ocean Pacific surf wear advertisement titled "The Clean Look." Haro is captured airing on a plexiglass quarter pipe in the parking lot of his warehouse on Commonwealth Avenue, Torrance. The chrome frame in unbranded and paired with a Torker fork.
The May 1982 issue of BMX Plus magazine featured a four-page feature penned by Haro and titled "Haro's Trick Bike." The frame featured in the article has Haro Freestyler graphics. In the accompanying narrative, Bob explains the finer points of his bike setup, and although he states "the bike featured is my own" there is still no mention of the Haro Freestyler.
A closer look at the prototype can be found in "Bob Haro's Freestyle Moves" a trick riding handbook showing motor-frame sequences of Haro at various stages of trick progression. Packaged with the frame at the point of sale in 1983, close up images in the "Gearing Up" section reveal the rear dropouts have no stamped knurling, and the head tube is a straight, Chromoly tube. On the full production model, a de-bossed texture was stamped into the wheel-slot on the rear dropouts, and the head tube was machined to reduce weight. In April of 1982, a full page spread of Eddie Fiola riding a Haro Freestyler at the Lakewood skate park, is published in BMX Plus.
Production and Refinement
Full production of the Haro Freestyler began in around July of 1982 at the workshop of Torker BMX, In Fullerton, Orange County. Haro initially committed to around 500 frame and fork sets - and once delivered to the Haro warehouse in Carlsbad, his younger brother, Ron, installed the decals. But as these Mark 1 frame-sets made their way out into the market, rider feedback forced another round of refinements.
A consistent point of failure on the mark one frames was at the junction where the head tube and down tube connect. A small channel on the underside of the wrap-around gusset was left un-welded to enable flex, and relief, although it ultimately became the point of weakness and many of the frames cracked through use. The mark one frames also featured a slacker head tube angle at 70 degrees. Back on the drawing board at Torker, refinements were made to the next batch of frames.
The mark two Haro Freestyler was essentially an excellent concept. To address the gusset failures, the steering angle was raked back to 73 degrees and the problematic channel on the underside of the wrap-around gusset was fully welded to the head tube. But this steeper head angle presented another challenge - mainly that the overall wheelbase was now shorter. The solution lay in the rear triangle where the dropouts on the mark two frames were extended out of the seat, and chainstays, to reinstate the wheelbase to its desired length of 34 5/8" - 35 3/4".
The final point of differentiation is the superior quality of the chrome plating on the mark one frames. Torker, who manufactured all of the Haro Freestylers, used an external contractor for their chrome and paint. The difference in finish is probably due to increased capacity.
The Haro freestyler became Haro's longest-running production frame and fork set of the US Manufacturing era, and a genuine breakthrough moment for BMX Freestyle.