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  1. #1
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    Beware of the Desperado

    I employed Jalon Hawk (real name Laurence B. Gust) of Desperado Cycles in Deerbrook Wisconsin to create a custom bicycle for me. 22 months and over $14,500 later (yes, I'm an idiot) all I've received are excuses, demands for more money and verbal lashings for being unwilling to pay more for the work of a "master builder".

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  2. #2
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    $14,500? US Dollars?!

  3. #3
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    Cycling Guy,

    While it is nice to vent online it is somewhat unfair. If this becomes a case of throwing mud. How do we know you are not some d*ck with an agenda.

    Right now you are someone without a name who has a two post history on the forum. If you have an actual case please use the court system and sue him. After you win your lawsuit feel free to post your stuff. You will be have more creditability if you use proper channels.

    I have no knowledge of you or of Jalon Hawk but a quick Google search shows that he has a page on BBB with zero complaints. If you have a material complaint take it there and/or to the court system.
    http://www.bbb.org/wisconsin/busines...k-wi-44012588/

    Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cycling_Guy
    I employed Jalon Hawk (real name Laurence B. Gust) of Desperado Cycles in Deerbrook Wisconsin to create a custom bicycle for me. 22 months and over $14,500 later (yes, I'm an idiot) all I've received are excuses, demands for more money and verbal lashings for being unwilling to pay more for the work of a "master builder".

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.
    Ummmmmmmm.......Wow. That made me stand up & pay attention. That's some serious coin!
    I'd pay a personal visit to talk that over at that level. - Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
    steve garro el jefe/el solo. coconino cycles www.coconinocycles.com www.coconinocycles.blogspot.com

  5. #5
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    I will build you a frame for half that price and have it to you in 3-4 weeks. My price is so low because I am not a "Master Builder".
    Beechwold Cycle Works
    Columbus, OH
    http://beechwoldcycleworks.blogspot.com

  6. #6
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    $14,500 !!!

    Dude! I would have built you a PVD Road & Mountain frame littered with PVD parts. Why so much for a frame from some wack job noob builder?

  7. #7
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    Did you pay extra for the aerobars like the ones on the townie on the homepage picture?

    Sorry, couldn't help myself

    And for that sort of money I would not only build you a bike but it would come with the Anvil super master still attached...

    sorry, couldn't help my self again.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by pvd
    $14,500 !!!

    Dude! I would have built you a PVD Road & Mountain frame littered with PVD parts. Why so much for a frame from some wack job noob builder?
    PVD, I have to agree, but Desperado is not a newb. In fact I think he has been up to this for more than 15 years.

    I am also surprised by the dollar figure. You would have thought that for that amount of money that this person would have gone with tried and true builders who are usually known for catering to this type of build.

    I do not know this builder. I do know that he has been building silver fillet brazed bicycles for a long time and done some interesting stuff.

    I will say whenever you hear these stories, we don't know both sides and with that it is never very surprising. I mean you would never ever hear "Walt stole my money" or "Richard Sachs screwed me" It mostly seems obvious to me. I have an inside joke with a friend that we could start a bike company named "fly by night" or our favorite "FAH Q" and probably sell the shite like crazy.

  9. #9
    DWF
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    Quote Originally Posted by j-ro
    Did you pay extra for the aerobars like the ones on the townie on the homepage picture?

    Sorry, couldn't help myself

    And for that sort of money I would not only build you a bike but it would come with the Anvil super master still attached...

    sorry, couldn't help my self again.
    That's funny though, I thought the same thing. For 14.5 I'd build the frame and throw in the dedicated tools I used to do it for free.
    A man must have enemies and places he is not welcome. In the end we are not only defined by our friends but those against us.

  10. #10
    Eric the Red
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    $14,500? Doooood, I'll do it for $8500. If you live somewhere cool, I'll deliver it in person, crash on your couch for a few days while I ride and eat all your food.


    The Desperado website looks like it hasn't been updated in 15 years, it's got Amp suspension stuff and Columbus Metax.

  11. #11
    pvd
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbohemian
    PVD, I have to agree, but Desperado is not a newb. In fact I think he has been up to this for more than 15 years.
    Sorry, I don't judge other's work by how long they have done it. I base it on the level they practice a craft. This guy is a complete newb. His bikes are rank, pedantic, and juvenile at best. I've seen folks here build their first bikes that showed more aptitude than that guy shows over the body of his complete works. Garbage.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by pvd
    Sorry, I don't judge other's work by how long they have done it. I base it on the level they practice a craft. .
    You are 100% right PVD. All too often we give credit to someone who has just survived a long time but still does not show a highly refined skill level. Time in and of itself is not an indicator of a quality product.

    I had a look at that site again and I guess he has been in business for 30 years. That is a long time for sure. I also saw this blurb about payment.

    "A $1000 non-refundable deposit is required to begin your project. This secures the client with a specific time for build; allows me a measure of commitment from the client with time taken to work out what is exactly going to be built before the time allocated, and allows the purchase of frame tubing before the build. One week before the scheduled period of build a payment in full with a casher’s check or money order. Your money is an investment of a minimal of 40 hours of work, which is the time that is specifically appointed. If it is found that there is some question of what is to be the final product, the client is responsible for making this apparent before final payment."

    I think the large deposit up front with full payment before work commences (I take 500 deposit and half at the beginning with the rest at completion) is just odd. That just isn't done in any industry.

  13. #13
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    Very odd

    Clearly Mr. Hawk either is not a native English speaker or doesn't write well, so I don't necessarily know that my interpretation is correct, but the "If it is found that there is some question of what is to be the final product, the client is responsible for making this apparent before final payment" sentence seems crazy!

    I read that as: "I am not going to make sure we're on the same page, that is YOUR JOB. If I don't build what you want, tough."

    I mean, there are some people out there that really hated what I built them. Sometimes because I blew it, sometimes because, well, they were batsh*t crazy. Or some combination thereof. But I figure the ultimate responsibility lies with me, and that fixing what you screw up is just a cost of doing business. It does not look like that is the case with Desperado.

    Then again, we only have one side of this story. $14.5K seems outrageous for any bicycle related project that one could possibly conceive. Handing over that kind of sum without any kind of legal agreement about what was to be produced... well, I honestly do not know what to say. Could be this is a standard-issue internet hatchet job, could be Mr. Hawk is the king of the bicycle con men. No way of knowing, I guess... but for that sum, I'd have hired a lawyer rather than posting to the forum. It's not as if any of us is going to solve this.

    -Walt

    Quote Originally Posted by dbohemian
    You are 100% right PVD. All too often we give credit to someone who has just survived a long time but still does not show a highly refined skill level. Time in and of itself is not an indicator of a quality product.

    I had a look at that site again and I guess he has been in business for 30 years. That is a long time for sure. I also saw this blurb about payment.

    "A $1000 non-refundable deposit is required to begin your project. This secures the client with a specific time for build; allows me a measure of commitment from the client with time taken to work out what is exactly going to be built before the time allocated, and allows the purchase of frame tubing before the build. One week before the scheduled period of build a payment in full with a casher’s check or money order. Your money is an investment of a minimal of 40 hours of work, which is the time that is specifically appointed. If it is found that there is some question of what is to be the final product, the client is responsible for making this apparent before final payment."

    I think the large deposit up front with full payment before work commences (I take 500 deposit and half at the beginning with the rest at completion) is just odd. That just isn't done in any industry.

  14. #14
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    I met him about 15 years ago when I lived in Madison and I would be surprised if he had more than a few paying customers since then. One of those unique individuals that seem to be a part of the cycling subculture.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt
    Then again, we only have one side of this story. $14.5K seems outrageous for any bicycle related project that one could possibly conceive.
    -Walt
    A little off topic Walt but I just wanted to bring up that there are road bikes sold every day and actually many a day that are way north of 14.5k.

    I know that seems like a lot in our world but Serotta has bikes that expensive and there is a bike shop here in Tucson (Fairwheel bikes) that carries some really Uber stuff and they sell a couple of bikes like that a week other shops and manufacturers do too.

    It is a heap of money but realize it does happen, I have done it. It's just that for jobs like that I come to an understanding and take regular payments just like any home contractor would do.

    You are right, for this kind of money the only thing that will really help is a good attorney. At least they can meet together for arbitration.

  16. #16
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    Good point...

    I realize that there are plenty of bikes out there that cost more than this. It does seem insane to me, but there are a lot of dumber things (speedboat? mistress?) to blow your money on, so more power to them, I guess.

    I guess I should have said "Any conceivable bicycle FRAME related project". Though I guess there could be some conceiveable steel frames that could cost that much...I'm struggling to think of examples, though. Then again, we don't know if this is what the fellow paid for the frame or the complete bike, or the Eiffel tower.

    As an aside, sometimes I wish I sold more road bikes. I sell a mountain bike to someone, and I tell them the complete bike is going to be $3k. Often they'll come back with something along the lines of "Well, I have a left crank that's pretty good, how much will it save me to just get the right one? What if I use my old saddle from 1993?"

    Roadies, on the other hand, don't seem to blink when I tell them that they're asking for a $7k bike. I hear a lot of "I want it to be really light/awesome/whatever. Put whatever you think is best on there." Too bad I only do like 1 or 2 a year.

    -Walt

    Quote Originally Posted by dbohemian
    A little off topic Walt but I just wanted to bring up that there are road bikes sold every day and actually many a day that are way north of 14.5k.

    I know that seems like a lot in our world but Serotta has bikes that expensive and there is a bike shop here in Tucson (Fairwheel bikes) that carries some really Uber stuff and they sell a couple of bikes like that a week other shops and manufacturers do too.

    It is a heap of money but realize it does happen, I have done it. It's just that for jobs like that I come to an understanding and take regular payments just like any home contractor would do.

    You are right, for this kind of money the only thing that will really help is a good attorney. At least they can meet together for arbitration.

  17. #17
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    Since the OP has zero credibility and hasn't come back to comment, we don't know if the person is just some bitter ex boyfriend/girlfriend trying to seek revenge. Any further guesswork is just that. The OP gave no information about what was ordered or how it went bad - seem suspicious? I think so.
    May the air be filled with tires!

  18. #18
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    if you google his first sentence, you'll find that he posted this on every forum he could find. He has answered questions on other forums.

  19. #19
    bee
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    There is no way that a steel frame is going to cost $14,500. There must be more to the story than this. Maybe it was for multiple frames, or a few tandems. Not for a single frame.

  20. #20
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    Maybe it was for a complete bike. He states on his site that all componets must be paid for in advance.
    "Parts for complete bicycle are paid in full before the build"

    Maybe they both got in over there head.

    I know of a case fifteen years ago were a very well respected builder agreed to build a Titanium Tandem for a well respected customer. It took well over a year, was around sixteen thousand dollars and then broke a short time later and then it took another year to be repaired. The tandem is still ocasionally ridden. I was just speaking with the owner a couple weeks ago. He is getting rid of some bikes but said he would be hanging onto to this particular Tandem.

    Steven

    Quote Originally Posted by bee View Post
    There is no way that a steel frame is going to cost $14,500. There must be more to the story than this. Maybe it was for multiple frames, or a few tandems. Not for a single frame.

  21. #21
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    At first I thought this guy had not updated his site since he put it up in 97. Everything on it looks to be about 15 (or more) years old but some of the photos are dated 2005. Who builds bikes like that? This has to be some kind of joke. Or is this his niche? Maybe his bikes come with a free Dokken record and t-shirt too (that would explain the crazy cost for sure!)?

    Anyway, since the OP is quiet, this is most likely a BS!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by marks_bike View Post
    At first I thought this guy had not updated his site since he put it up in 97. Everything on it looks to be about 15 (or more) years old but some of the photos are dated 2005. Who builds bikes like that? This has to be some kind of joke. Or is this his niche? Maybe his bikes come with a free Dokken record and t-shirt too (that would explain the crazy cost for sure!)?

    Anyway, since the OP is quiet, this is most likely a BS!

    Could not see anyone getting close to paying 14.5K for a frame alone. Even a complete bike decked out with all custom parts I would think would be hard pressed to get close to that figure. Agreed smelling a bit of BS perhaps mixed with a bit of truth, but that is all speculation at this point.

  23. #23
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    Hank at Henry James talks this guy up. Evidently he has secret brazing powers. Odd and eccentric, but he knows a thing or two. Some of the tube tech info on his site is great.

    -Schmitty-

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmitty View Post
    Hank at Henry James talks this guy up. Evidently he has secret brazing powers. Odd and eccentric, but he knows a thing or two. Some of the tube tech info on his site is great.

    -Schmitty-
    Maybe he really is a Master Bilker-I-mean-builder then.

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    On another site the OP says it was for one frame a complete bike and some work on another bike. Not sure if he got anything done from this guy. Any how if I spent that kind of coin I'd take a little trip and have a close up and personal talk with him.

    Tim

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    Quote Originally Posted by TimT View Post
    On another site the OP says it was for one frame a complete bike and some work on another bike. Not sure if he got anything done from this guy. Any how if I spent that kind of coin I'd take a little trip and have a close up and personal talk with him.

    Tim
    Yep. What is a $500 R/T airfare next to a $14k item?

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharacterZero View Post
    Yep. What is a $500 R/T airfare next to a $14k item?
    Going to confront him may make things worse.

    Have you taken this to the BBB and/or the Courts? Did you pay with a credit card? If so discuss with you card company. It's fine to post stuff here but really you need to go via proper channels.

  28. #28
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    I'm glad he uses JC Wiggles framesaver so I can use my bike in compitition.


    "I cut my teeth in frame building with the construction of mountain bikes in 1993. In fact, I did it by using the AMP rear triangle to create full suspension frames. When the Columbus Metax tubing came out I was silver fillet brazing many a WARS racer with artilery for compition.

    Well, the Metax tubing is no longer available, however the True Temper OX Platinum is very close in mechanical properties. Using JC Wiggles framesaver will make sure that corrosion will not be a factor and allowing a lifetime of pleasure and service to the owner."

  29. #29
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    For a mere <em>one tenth of 1%</em> fee ($14.50) I'll send him a really nasty letter.

  30. #30
    bee
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    Maybe, the original poster meant that he spent $1400 on the frame, not $14,000.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by daves4mtb View Post
    I would say hire a lawyer, but then again, most lawyers want to be paid up front too!

    (jokette)
    Better yet take the case to judge judy. But make sure all your ducks are lined up or she will rip you a new one on national tv.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by daves4mtb View Post
    And you have to beware that the Desperado doesn't use the famed "bendejo" defense!
    aye-way. if bendejo defense is used than get these girls to go get the deniro.


  33. #33
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    Thank you very much for this piece of advice. I followed the link and accomplished my submission. Absolutely top notch advice. Again, my thanks


    Quote Originally Posted by febikes View Post
    Cycling Guy,

    While it is nice to vent online it is somewhat unfair. If this becomes a case of throwing mud. How do we know you are not some d*ck with an agenda.

    Right now you are someone without a name who has a two post history on the forum. If you have an actual case please use the court system and sue him. After you win your lawsuit feel free to post your stuff. You will be have more creditability if you use proper channels.

    I have no knowledge of you or of Jalon Hawk but a quick Google search shows that he has a page on BBB with zero complaints. If you have a material complaint take it there and/or to the court system.

    Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

  34. #34
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    bee,

    The original project weighed in at a little more than 9k. We scheduled and I paid for another build and we we working towards a restoration that I also paid in full for. While my "story" certainly wreaks of personal retardation I must report it to be true. My intent is to pass on a true story. My hope is others will take it into consideration when choosing their builder.



    Quote Originally Posted by bee View Post
    There is no way that a steel frame is going to cost $14,500. There must be more to the story than this. Maybe it was for multiple frames, or a few tandems. Not for a single frame.

  35. #35
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    I'll bet an attorney in the area would write him a sternly worded letter for a fairly small fee. That often wakes people up

  36. #36
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    The Wisconsin BBB got back to me. My complaint was submitted to Desperado Cycles and he has 2 weeks to respond. If he does not, a second notice will be sent with another 2 weeks given for reply. If nothing is received then I will be informed of the next set of options. If a response is given I will receive a copy of the response with an explanation of the possible next steps. There are a few other agencies that others have graciously suggested and I'm following those. So, I guess the process begins. Not exactly what I had in mind a few years ago but it is what it is. Sad. I'll update as things happen.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cycling_Guy View Post
    The Wisconsin BBB got back to me. My complaint was submitted to Desperado Cycles and he has 2 weeks to respond. If he does not, a second notice will be sent with another 2 weeks given for reply. If nothing is received then I will be informed of the next set of options. If a response is given I will receive a copy of the response with an explanation of the possible next steps. There are a few other agencies that others have graciously suggested and I'm following those. So, I guess the process begins. Not exactly what I had in mind a few years ago but it is what it is. Sad. I'll update as things happen.
    I did this a few years ago when a machinist was stiffing me for work I had payed for almost a yr before, A large amount.
    after what I thought was quite some time of back & forth I found out that the BBB is basically toothless.
    What I would do is take it to court. If your claim is correct then $14K is a very large amount & is too large for small claims court.
    Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
    steve garro el jefe/el solo. coconino cycles www.coconinocycles.com www.coconinocycles.blogspot.com

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    I contacted the Wisconsin BBB and they accepted my complaint. The complaint was forwarded to Desperado Cycles but no response to date. I also contacted local authorities who sent an investigator to speak with Laurence Gust (Jalon Hawk). The investigator had a few forward moving ideas that I will follow.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cycling_Guy View Post
    I contacted the Wisconsin BBB and they accepted my complaint. The complaint was forwarded to Desperado Cycles but no response to date. I also contacted local authorities who sent an investigator to speak with Laurence Gust (Jalon Hawk). The investigator had a few forward moving ideas that I will follow.

    Well, this has suddenly gotten very interesting. So, his name isn't really Jalon Hawk? And now, there is a investigator on this from the police Dept? Let us know what happens.

  40. #40
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    You might learn more here.

    Bullseye Crankset Bearings wanted.

    It's fine by me if he gets an Internet reputation beating because I witnessed his behavior first hand.

    I thank my wife's extraordinary sense of sight and smell for our not helping him more than we did. He earned our human waste of time (and space) status when he ripped off those who helped save his home. That included not making good on his pledge of bike for the kid of somebody who sacrificed for him.

    If anybody does see him, I'd like my vintage Campy, Raleigh and Schwinn catalogs back as well as the Mitutoyo measurement tool I lent him when he first started building frames. I figured some poor bike owner needed better than a ruler and tape measure in the manufacture of their frame. He called these things contributions to the "shoppe" (he uses or used the long eeee).

    A friend who did get one of his frames discovered the tubes were cut poorly when there was a crack in the brazing. Others with expertise said it could not be made safe and suggested destroying it. Thus, one of his many helpers were ripped off yet a little more.

    All that said, I don't know how anybody who saw his web site, web content, bikes, lack of bikes out there for a real reputation, or who spoke with him could give him $1400 let alone $14,000.

  41. #41
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    Very sorry for your loss.

    Laurence Barney Gust II is a con man. I could bore you with lots of stories, about how he ripped me off and burned others, but the fact that he felt the need to change his name should tell you all you need to know.

    Walt

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    Late to the party here, but I love the "enable ActiveX controls" bit on his website.

    1996 called, they want their **** back.

    ...Sorry for your loss dude, that stings.

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    Hah!

    I should probably not throw stones from my craptacular website/glass house, but wow, how does he get any business through that site? It's unintentionally hilarious, though, on the plus side.

    _Walt

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Diller View Post
    Late to the party here, but I love the "enable ActiveX controls" bit on his website.

    1996 called, they want their **** back.

    ...Sorry for your loss dude, that stings.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    I should probably not throw stones from my craptacular website/glass house, but wow, how does he get any business through that site? It's unintentionally hilarious, though, on the plus side.

    _Walt
    Fixed, check your email.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    I should probably not throw stones from my craptacular website/glass house, but wow, how does he get any business through that site? It's unintentionally hilarious, though, on the plus side.

    _Walt
    Last I checked, if you look on the Henry James website for custom builders in Wisconsin... he comes up.

    You know the story... people don't just buy the bike (or website), they buy the builder. If he is in fact a bit of a con, then he likely has a personality that draws folks in.

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    I wanted to update this thread. My process with Laurence Gust/.Jalon Hawk/Desperado Cycles continues. Last May, Mr. Gust ceased all communications, stated that despite agreeing to do my work at a flat fee (which he was well paid for) that I owed him for over 600 hours of additional work, that his hourly fees have doubled (there was never any mention of hourly fees in the past but it makes sense that he assigned value to his time) began producing bills that show I owe him over $16,000 additional dollars. I now personally believe Mr. Gust is incapable of distinguishing reality from the world he has created for himself. I literally am not aware of him speaking a single honest word since last March. He has lied to me, the police investigator, he has lied on his business homepage and on his Facebook page.

    My processes with him continue and are showing no signs of stopping. I will pursue this to formal conclusions. Some wheels turn slowly.

    Anyway, the reason I want to update this is to pass on an important piece of information I have discovered. That information concerns the necessity of a signed contract when having custom bicycle work done. Without it, you run the risk of falling victim.

    If you are considering having a custom bicycle built please take this short list of advice as hard earned experience.

    Be aware that what you are entering into is a personal services contract. Do a little research as to exactly what that means.

    Start no work and place no deposit until you have a signed contract that at minimum includes:

    1. The final product you will receive in as much detail as you feel comfortable. Once signed, neither make nor permit any changes to these details. If you do, you've just turned your personal services contract into toilet paper.

    2. Explicitly state timelines for completion. You should speak about this in detail and build in reasonable slack. Remember, if you permit a change, your contract has just lost all its' validity. All cards will reside with the provider of the services. That means they can take as long as they desire and charge whatever they want to get you your final product. Absolutely no limitations. This is so important. Make nor permit changes once the contract has been signed. Don't even change the bar tape. Do not accept any changes. Nothing.

    3. Explicitly state how much you will place as a deposit and how much you will pay upon completion. The amount you place as a deposit you should be comfortable in losing. Because, if the provider can show he/she made any attempt whatsoever to obtain the materials or do any work this money will be lost. Make no interim payments. While cold, the only leverage you have is payment. Be smart.

    4. Outline work hours, per hour charges and explicitly state the combination of your deposit and final payment encompasses full payment for all materials and labor required to complete the project as detailed within the document.

    5. While you will want to have absolute confidence in your provider, please keep in mind that charlatans exist and some of them are very, very good at what they do (meaning being charlatans). You must think worst case scenario. You must be willing to go to the mat if necessary. If you are not, buy off the shelf. In other words, while your heart will be in it, you need to think with your head.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cycling_Guy View Post
    I now personally believe Mr. Gust is incapable of distinguishing reality from the world he has created for himself.
    and you said...

    Quote Originally Posted by Cycling_Guy View Post
    I employed Jalon Hawk (real name Laurence B. Gust) of Desperado Cycles in Deerbrook Wisconsin to create a custom bicycle for me. 22 months and over $14,500 later (yes, I'm an idiot) all I've received are excuses, demands for more money and verbal lashings for being unwilling to pay more for the work of a "master builder".
    I think you're the one incapable of distinguishing reality from the world you created for yourself.

    Good luck. And you offer good common sense advice.
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    Blaster1200,

    There was a lot that went into what happened. It's not as simple as me blindly sending money into a black hole. While in the end I was taken gross advantage of and I absolutely permitted it, I simply have never dealt with a person of this reduced character. Being naive and having that naivety taken advantage of is not the same as being disconnected from reality.

  49. #49
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    "I wanted to update this thread. My process with Laurence Gust/.Jalon Hawk/Desperado Cycles continues. Last May, Mr. Gust ceased all communications, stated that despite agreeing to do my work at a flat fee (which he was well paid for) that I owed him for over 600 hours of additional work, that his hourly fees have doubled (there was never any mention of hourly fees in the past but it makes sense that he assigned value to his time) began producing bills that show I owe him over $16,000 additional dollars. I now personally believe Mr. Gust is incapable of distinguishing reality from the world he has created for himself. I literally am not aware of him speaking a single honest word since last March. He has lied to me, the police investigator, he has lied on his business homepage and on his Facebook page. "

    Yes, this sounds familiar. After I saw how he was struggling to keep his head above water, I found a way to write down his debt to me and make it feasible for him to pay off. I told him I would take my reduced payment in terms of a couple of bikes.

    He was fine with that until we got down to the last $800 he had begged from me. He was close to missing a house payment and I agreed to help him out until he could make arrangements to sell.

    When I tried to get yet another bike from him in return for my $800, he started accusing me of cheating him ( the bikes at that point somehow became worth more than we had agreed) and asked me to leave his house. That was the last time I have seen him.

    By the way, one of the bikes he traded to me in lieu of his earlier debt broke at the down tube joint because the braze failed. I had absolutely no confidence that he would return the bike if I gave it back to him to fix (given his stated position that the bikes were worth more than previously agreed). So I filed the braze material away in order to re-join it myself. There was a void inside! The braze material had not stuck to the tube He had bridged over it with an unattached glob of braze material and left a bubble inside the joint. I fail to see how this could be an accident, but instead was a deliberate fraud to cover up a defective joint that was too difficult for him to get right.

    This is the work ethic of Laurence Barney Gust II aka Jalon Hawke aka The Desperado. He is a charming individual who hides with great care a string of lies that run through everything he is and does. He has some basic bike repair skills, but his word means absolutely nothing if he gets your money in advance, and he will fake skills he doesn't have. He has no shame in taking money in return for defective work, or no work at all.

    Sorry for your loss. I hope by airing my experience that other people learn and are protected from this swindler.

    Walt

  50. #50
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    Dude. You people that got taken for a ride by this guy are idiots.
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  51. #51
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    Should there be a new reality TV show called, "When good builders go bad"?

    I'm just surprised that the guy stole over $10,000 from a single customer.

  52. #52
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    Well, my process is finally moving forward. I have made a few attempts to reach something resembling a reasonable settlement with Mr. Gust outside of the court system but to no avail. He went as far as to send me a mail stating he was once told "that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results". Yea, completely insane of me to expect to receive what I was invoiced for and paid for in advance. Fair enough. The legal complaint is being processed and things will move forward in that manner. Mr. Gust has been very blustery on occasion. His web site sometimes has fresh and artistic reworkings of the facts and even Mr. Gust stating "he welcomes civil court to resolve this matter". He then of course does things like refuses certified mail (documents still reach him via the regular postal system of course). I will post things of actual value as they occur. Oh, just to be clear - I still have not received a single thing for my money. I reiterate boys and girls - be careful out there. Build your dreams with your heart but chose a builder with your head.

  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cycling_Guy View Post
    Well, my process is finally moving forward. I have made a few attempts to reach something resembling a reasonable settlement with Mr. Gust outside of the court system but to no avail. He went as far as to send me a mail stating he was once told "that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results". Yea, completely insane of me to expect to receive what I was invoiced for and paid for in advance. Fair enough. The legal complaint is being processed and things will move forward in that manner. Mr. Gust has been very blustery on occasion. His web site sometimes has fresh and artistic reworkings of the facts and even Mr. Gust stating "he welcomes civil court to resolve this matter". He then of course does things like refuses certified mail (documents still reach him via the regular postal system of course). I will post things of actual value as they occur. Oh, just to be clear - I still have not received a single thing for my money. I reiterate boys and girls - be careful out there. Build your dreams with your heart but chose a builder with your head.
    I don't see anything newer than this court record.

    Case Details for 2005SC000339 in Langlade County

    Please consider posting the public records when they exist because many use the court databases to know if they might be dealing with a questionable individual.

    Judging by his www site, it doesn't look like he's completed a bike in years.

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    bitflogger,

    Thank you. I will do as you suggested. My lawyer is in motion. Doing things properly just seem to take time.

    All I can do at this stage and will continue to do is assure everyone that all I did was be the best possible client I could have been. I paid for all parts, materials and labor per provided invoices in full and in advance. I've had years of personal savings and the little dreams that money was intended to make come true taken from me by a ruthless, low-brow, confidence man named Laurence Barney Gust II.

    I will post relevant processes as they produce results. Again, thank you for your suggestion.

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    Update. Mr Gust was served and responded to the complaint against him. Of course, it was a categorical denial of all things. Discovery is the next step.

  56. #56
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    Thread dredge:


    Any updates?
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  57. #57
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    Beware of the Desperado

    Quote Originally Posted by cda 455 View Post
    Thread dredge:


    Any updates?
    http://wcca.wicourts.gov/caseDetails...nt=40&offset=5
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  58. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by bitflogger View Post
    Same court record now shows $15,306.20 judgement against him.

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    OK. Finally done. The initial judgment in my favor was a default judgment as Mr. Gust did not appear. That judgment was vacated in favor of a trial. Mr. Gust chose to attend this time. I ended up doing better. So, it is no longer a matter of personal opinion or judgment passed without all the facts being presented. Mr. Laurence Barney Gust II, owner/proprietor of Desperado Cycles is um, well, a dishonest, unethical, integrity-free, advantage taking, low brow dirtbag. I can only suggest to anyone looking to have a custom bicycle made to take this now fact into consideration when choosing a builder.

    My thanks to all who offered sound advice, commiseration and when needed a good whack to the back of my head.
    Last edited by Cycling_Guy; 01-27-2015 at 08:03 PM.

  60. #60
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    Cycling Guy,

    Thanks for taking your valuable time to give us the final outcome to your case. As someone who was burned, let me say, "Job well done!". Hopefully others will get the information and not get taken.

    I'm not sure where I got this, I think it was on the Desperado web site, Larry said he had been diagnosed with leukemia. I hope it isn't true. The thought did cross my mind that perhaps he was angling for sympathy and/or donations. Did he seem like he had been ill? Lost all his hair?

    WTF does he do to support himself? Speculation around here runs to "shootin' critters" for food. Thank goodness whether he eats regularly isn't my problem anymore!

    What a waste. We had him set up with a decent construction job and he walked away from it.

    Walt

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    Walt,
    Yes, it appears Mr. Gust has indeed been diagnosed with leukemia. Like you, I would never wish such a thing on him. As for working, my experience has been that Mr. Gust is work averse. However, he will actively "talk the talk", "invoice the invoice" and "take the money and run".

  62. #62
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    As of 2/9/15 the official court records database shows the 3/2014 judgement, a vacate judgement in May, and now case reopened. Sorry to hear of Larry's health problem, but it doesn't change that he took advantage of people. If I think of it I'll revisit the court record in the future.

    I join Walt's curiosity and wonder about the vermin hunting because the Desperado web site gives the impression he's not made a bike in years.

  63. #63
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    On his diagnosis, Karma is a *****.

  64. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Dizzy View Post

    WTF does he do to support himself? Speculation around here runs to "shootin' critters" for food. Thank goodness whether he eats regularly isn't my problem anymore!

    What a waste. We had him set up with a decent construction job and he walked away from it.

    Walt
    Walt,

    According to the man himself, he has lived off of public assistance for everything for a number of years.

  65. #65
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    Beware of the Desperado

    Quote Originally Posted by Cycling_Guy View Post
    Walt,

    According to the man himself, he has lived off of public assistance for everything for a number of years.
    Not a surprise here. A few of us helped him get employment a few times and he blew it. I gave up on him when he blew it with a former boss of mine who was known for taking risks in hiring and mentoring employees who had tough scenarios and lacked formal education.

    That boss RIP, would take big risks with who he hired and let them sleep in his office if they had nowhere or if it helped them stay sober or clean. I knew it was probably time for mental write off when Larry blew such an opportunity. Larry was smarter and far less messed up than many who got ahead thanks to that very special man. What a shame when one of those angel on earth types tries and you blow the opportunity.
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    What I am taking from your and Walt's comments is that Mr. Gust has a standing history of being unwilling to actually work work for a living. How very sad.

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    It's all a sad waste. Larry was a close friend to me for a long time. I looked the other way when he started going off the rails, then I paid the price when he burned me. I get no joy from his business failures and his very unfortunate illness. But I don't think it's fair to let him keep stealing from others and not speak up.

    Larry, if you're reading this, I hope you get well. I hope you come to see that ripping people off is a horrible way to make your living and you get your life back on track. That whole "Desperado" thing is a stupid idea. You can do better. Don't waste the time you have left.

    Walt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cycling_Guy View Post
    I employed Jalon Hawk (real name Laurence B. Gust) of Desperado Cycles in Deerbrook Wisconsin to create a custom bicycle for me. 22 months and over $14,500 later (yes, I'm an idiot) all I've received are excuses, demands for more money and verbal lashings for being unwilling to pay more for the work of a "master builder".

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.
    I just wanted to let everyone know Uncle Larry passed away on June 3rd, 2015. He started building bikes in the early 80's. He owned a shop in Madison WI for about 15 years before moving to deerbrook. In the last decade of his life he struggled with mental illness, including depression and delusions. He was diagnosed with leukemia in 2013, and fought it for over 2 years before succumbing. I'm not saying your wrong, or lying. This was just the first thing i came across while searching for hit obit, and wanted to share a little bit of his story.

  69. #69
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    I am saddened to hear Larry has passed away. Very unfortunate his final years were unhappy, and he wasted them preying on others.

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    Walt I do believe I know exactly who you are and the exact issues and outcome of your and Larry's relationship. I did stay in your house and eat your food. And as far as the family he has hurt. What family? Larry really had no family except for his grandmother whom he took care of almost till the day she died. I blame Mr Vannon for his rapid health loss in his fight against cancer. No where does he mention that this 14000 was for 3 different projects and that he was also offered his grave and other personal items in court and refused then. Not does he go on to say how he lost his job for disrespecting a high ranking Japanese business man. There are a lot of gaps in this story and Larry was unable to afford a lawyer. At the spreading of Larry's ashes there was a great group of people that showed to honor this great man. He did suffer from a long life of disappointment and losses only to finally find his peace only in death. I have read over 17 different blogs and Walt dizzy, bitblog and cycle guy he's dead. I watched him shrivel into an empty shell of a man. I buried him the day after my birthday on his birthday. I don't think anyone will get a dollar besides the state as I understand he sold everything.

  71. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghostinthemist View Post
    Walt I do believe I know exactly who you are and the exact issues and outcome of your and Larry's relationship. I did stay in your house and eat your food. And as far as the family he has hurt. What family? Larry really had no family except for his grandmother whom he took care of almost till the day she died. I blame Mr Vannon for his rapid health loss in his fight against cancer. No where does he mention that this 14000 was for 3 different projects and that he was also offered his grave and other personal items in court and refused then. Not does he go on to say how he lost his job for disrespecting a high ranking Japanese business man. There are a lot of gaps in this story and Larry was unable to afford a lawyer. At the spreading of Larry's ashes there was a great group of people that showed to honor this great man. He did suffer from a long life of disappointment and losses only to finally find his peace only in death. I have read over 17 different blogs and Walt dizzy, bitblog and cycle guy he's dead. I watched him shrivel into an empty shell of a man. I buried him the day after my birthday on his birthday. I don't think anyone will get a dollar besides the state as I understand he sold everything.
    Ghostinthemist,

    I'm not sure if I'm the Walt you're addressing your reply to, but I have to say you have my interest.

    First, I went through this thread and was unable to locate where Larry was accused of hurting his family. My personal knowledge of his family relationships are that he stated on several occasions that his inheritance from his dead parents had been stolen by his step parents, but his grandmother was well off and he hoped to receive an inheritance from her. I contacted Larry's stepmother after Larry burned me to sound her out, and she confirmed that Larry blamed her and her deceased husband for their falling out. I don't know how this fits into your view that I (or the other Walt) blame Larry for hurting his family, but my view continues to be that if his step parents got any money from his parents estate, they spent it on raising Larry and his sister, not enriching themselves. His stepmother was pretty clear that she saw Larry's interest in his grandmother as motivated by getting his hands on her money.

    On to the more fascinating parts of your reply. I figured out that the Mr. Vannon you blame for Larry's "rapid demise" as the Original Poster in this thread. I have to say this is an interesting interpretation of events. Did Larry ever indicate to you how he felt about the contract he had with Mr. Vannon? How did he justify taking $14,000 and not producing a bike? This seems like a fundamental problem with painting Larry as a victim in the story.

    When you say that "he was offered his grave and other personal items in court and refused them", I assume you mean Mr. Vannon was offered reasonable compensation and is to blame for not accepting settlement. I am having difficulty envisioning the scenario where a court offers someone's grave as an item of value, could you explain?

    And on to the most puzzling part of your post, "...he lost his job for disrespecting a high ranking Japanese business man." The first part of your statement indicates Larry was working for someone as an employee. Who or what did Larry work for? What was the disrespectful thing that Larry said or did? Why did it matter to Larry's employer?

    For what it's worth, I am in complete agreement that Larry had a life of disappointment, and I take no joy in that or his passing. We part ways though when you describe Larry as a "great man". Do you believe that Mr. Vannon and me are misrepresenting our business/personal dealings with Larry? That he was the victim of people unfairly expecting more than he promised?

    In other words, what is it you think that Mr. Vannon and I get out of publicly airing our viewpoint? I wrote off what Larry owed me years ago. But it still boggles my mind that he burned a 20 year friendship for $800. I spent more that that buying him pizza and beer. I was part of his wedding and he mine. For the life of me, I can't understand it.

    Walt

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    Vannon disrespected the Japanese business man and lost his job that is when he decided he didn't want his projects completed but expected a refund. Larry told him all or nothing. Something I don't agree with but I understand where Larry was coming from. Sorry as well for the typo. Grave was supposed to be frame. The exact work done was a Schwinn frame retro converted into a modern road/mountain bike, a set of custom wheels and a fix up on a seperate bike. 14000 divided between a new bike a complete overhaul and a new set of wheels is not absurd. Mr Vannon wasn't even in the states at all for any of this it was all done over phone or computer from Japan. During this time Mr Vannon lost his job and wife. He decided that he needed the money he had spent and went after Larry. There was multiple times that Larry was mistreated by the legal system. And Walt from what I remember of you a soft spoken intelligent man with a small family now feels burrnt on a life time relationship over $800. If you ask me I would have given him a million cause a friendship has no monetary value. His uncle beat and molested his sisters and Larry would take the beatings for the girls. I know Mary Ellen very well. His aunt knew everything and had a hand in beating Mary till she needed stiches. Then Doloris sucked over 215000 from Angela's estate before she died. When Doloris suddenly died after Angela from complications from a UTI. They went through her estate and found over 70000 in losing scratch offs. The only thing that their inheritance money went to is a new Cadillac and Larry's abusive uncle's drinking. Larry got himself out of the house at 17 through the court system. He had a great business up until the Bike Crash of the 90s where his divorce and depression got the best of him. In 93 after a month long stay at devils lake he came back with the name Jalon Hawk . He was spiritually, a deep individual. I have, between through numerous threads, have only found 3 people that have issues with his work. One a wheel, the other a braise crack and the last is Vannon. As for Vannon destroying his health. Numerous times Larry was summoned into court after the doctors said specifically he can't be in public or straining himself. The courts ignored these warnings and more than once gave him contempt of court. He would go in against his will with no lawyer or energy to fight. He told Vannon he would give his stuff back finished and Vannon just turned away. Larry died alone. In a hospital bed, 110lbs drowned by his own lungs. He was a great man. I learned more from him than any teacher. That is because he taught me how to survive. Inside and outside of this pathetic realm of people.

  73. #73
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    And Walt I have been your guest. Eaten your food and slept on your floor. I remember your wife and son. All good people.

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    This is all crazy and sad.

    I don't want to hear about some of his problems because child abuse didn't stop me from burying what wouldn't do any good once I became an adult, and it gave me empathy for a lot of people who could use some care and understanding.

    It happened that I met Larry around the same time my wife and I gave similar support and friendship to a Vietnam vet we met. That guy shared same elements of Larry's childhood but got some extra baggage from being a soldier in combat same age Larry was doing bongs in college. He never took advantage of people as Larry would.

    My employer when I met Larry also died of cancer and that guy might have proved that angels exist via the many he helped, and what at times looked like turning his business into a place where f'd up people had a place to sleep, paycheck, learned how to tie a neck tie, and had opportunity. It was sad to see it didn't take long see him taking advantage of kind of people instead of taking advantage of opportunities.

    Everything about this is sad, we had enough fun times together and shared passion for bikes to make his being gone sad. My former employer who gave him opportunity was bummed that he didn't join the many he cared for. Just very sad that a guy probably a lot smarter than others we helped clearly had a side that could and did take advantage of others.

    You cannot say Larry didn't have family when I think of some who were part of his life, and when he was hired by my former boss Tony RIP. That man could be appropriately tough, and with tears, I just ran out of fingers counting the mentally ill, disabled, alcoholics, substance abusers, and people who needed a chance he helped.

    Larry (aka Jalon, aka Desperado) RIP.

    Tony RIP, you tried with Larry, and big thanks for all you did for many more. May the world never stop producing the occasional rare and special ones like you.

    Thanks to the others who tried with Larry.

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    My name is Angela, I am Mary's daughter., and I can certify all the abuse, and Delores was a monster, and her husband a child molester.

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    I'm very sorry to have it confirmed that Larry's step parents were, indeed horrible people and treated him badly.

    That being said, it still doesn't change what I experienced. Larry begged me for money to save his house, telling me I was his best friend and the only person he could rely on. Then he said he couldn't pay me back. I offered to take payment in a bike, and he told me to get out of his house. Then he sold his house, left town with the money from the sale of his house, and never contacted me again. I didn't break off our relationship. He did. I didn't throw away a 20 year friendship over $800. He did.

    I'm sorry to hear he died feeling his life was a disappointment, but a large part of his failure was self inflicted.

  77. #77
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    I only read the last page. This thread needs locked and deleted. ****ing A people its just bikes.
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  78. #78
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    way off topic, inappropriate and now done. No more of this guys.
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