Lawwill Pro Cruiser- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Lawwill Pro Cruiser

    This is a bike we have had for quite awhile now and just got some less-embarrassing photos of it. More pictures and details @ https://mombat.org/MOMBAT/Bikes/1978_Pro_Cruiser.html






  2. #2
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    Loving that!
    5 is the old new black; 6 is the new new black...

  3. #3
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    I always though those were cool. That one looks nice and clean. Is that built as you got it?
    Need: McMahon brake for roller cam mounts, Mountain Goat fork.

  4. #4
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    That's the bike i wanted in 1988... since 1970s actually.
    WTB: Bomber Z2 1 1/8 steerer, in good to excellent shape OR bomber rebuild kit.

  5. #5
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    One of the most underrated, under-appreciated, coolest bikes out there I think. It's interesting how little love these get. One of the very first bikes made specifically for mountain biking.

    Terry Knight did some nice fabricating/welding on these frames. He was a custom frame builder for motorcycle racers, but that's not too surprising given Mert had a hand in these.

  6. #6
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    I think that is one of the coolest bikes out there, I guess if I had a holy grail, that might be it.
    :)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by muddybuddy View Post
    I always though those were cool. That one looks nice and clean. Is that built as you got it?
    Yep, it is obviously not exactly as it would have been built originally but I think it shows a nice evolution of how the bike would have been continuously upgraded through the years.

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    I had one of those bikes BITD. Mine was nickel plated. Those bikes had a long wheelbase and really slack angles, which made them really excellent for bombing down Tam and Repack-wish I still had mine.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by FairfaxPat View Post
    I had one of those bikes BITD. Mine was nickel plated. Those bikes had a long wheelbase and really slack angles, which made them really excellent for bombing down Tam and Repack-wish I still had mine.
    I've yet to see a nickel one, but have heard they were out there. That'd be a cool find. You can really feel Mert's influence just in sitting on one of these; feels just like a dirt tracker. Perfect for Repack!

    <img src="https://thekneeslider.com/images/mert-lawwill.jpg">

    FFB, don't know if I'd call those Dia Compe caliper brakes an upgrade unless you climbed a lot. Probably saved a couple pounds over the original drum brakes! And where'd the cool stem go?
    Last edited by Fillet-brazed; 06-22-2011 at 02:19 PM.

  10. #10
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    With 600 built, it seems a little odd that those don't come up for sale more often. Unless they had a high failure rate?
    Need: McMahon brake for roller cam mounts, Mountain Goat fork.

  11. #11
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    I have a vague "when I have the time and inclination" type plan to pick up one of these and give it a similar build to the Lawwill: (pic from RatRod Bikes).

    5 is the old new black; 6 is the new new black...

  12. #12
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    Okay, they looked cool. The reason there were so few made was that they were obsolete on the first day they appeared. These bikes were terrible climbers due to the slack angles and long wheelbase. They were HEAVY too. This is the kind of problem that crops up when a motorcycle designer with very little experience RIDING a bicycle tries to build one. The welding was fine. It was everything else that wasn't.

    The bikes that sold in their era were the ones winning races, and in the early '80s that was only one brand, which needs no introduction, designed and built by an actual bicycle racer..

    I am not aware of anyone winning any event on a ProCruiser, not even a downhill, which is what it is best suited for. The reason they disappeared from the market was that everything else out there, even a first generation Stumpjumper, was a better design.

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    I picked one up a number of years ago. I am a huge fan of On Any Sunday so a Mert Lawwill bicycle was too cool. I was struck by the length of the frame. It pretty much feels just like sitting on a flat track motorcycle. I guess that shouldn't have been a surprise! It does seem that in pictures from the period you do see a lot of the Pro-Cruisers around. The Pro-Cruiser was also featured in an early article on MTB's in Bicycle Motocross Action magazine. It's heavy duty build quality would have appealed to Dad's used to fooling around with their kids BMX bikes.

    Mine is set up with Mafac cantis and has the Lawwill stem. I stumbled across a spare stem a while back and sent it off to Oz this year. I have also seen a never finished frame sitting in parts of the original jig in a local motorcycle shops huge stash of rare and cool stuff. Would make for a nice display with the one posted here!

  14. #14
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    These bikes actually came out in 1978 and were made through 1980, so predated just about all the other early production MTB's, including the Ritchey's that CK and Gary started selling a couple of years later. Mine was fitted with a
    Sturmey Archer drum brake in front and, since I was a weight weenie, only weighed 32 pounds-not really all that heavy for the time.

  15. #15
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    Got a picture, Fairfax Pat?

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    Unfortunately, no. My frame was one of three that were nickel plated, and was intended for a good friend at that time, Eric Fletcher, who was killed in a car wreck in West Marin before he could pick it up-so I ended up with it. I built it up with TA cranks, Huret Jubilee rear derailleur, Sturmey drum brake in front, alloy bars and Cinelli #3 saddle. It was very cool, but as CK says earlier, they climbed like dogs, and all we have here in Marin are hills. However, if you did get it to the top, it felt very stable on the high speed descents.

  17. #17
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    I don't know, the first year Stumpy feels a bit awkward with the short tt, slack head and short stem. The Pro Cruiser at least has a little room up front and feels right for a cruiser type ride. Didn't the geometry come from the Koski Trailmaster? Anyway, the Pro Cruiser preceded the Stumpy by 4-5 years.. and the Ritchey by 2-3??

    Let's see a pic of one with the nickel plating!

    Here's one of Mert doin what he did best:

    <img src="https://oldmountainbikes.com/catalogs/ritchey/articles/bma_jan-80/bmxa_1-80_6.jpg">

  18. #18
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    Here you go! Not mine I know how to mount a seat.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Lawwill Pro Cruiser-lawwill.jpg  


  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fillet-brazed View Post
    Here's one of Mert doin what he did best:
    I was at that photo shoot. It looked to me like that was the first time Mert had ever ridden a bike without a motor. Mert was on the spot to demonstrate his bike, since Joe Breeze had already pulled off a monster cross-up. Trust me, that was the LOWEST corner on the hill! and Mert's "ride" didn't start much higher on it than where the photo was taken.

    The shoot location was just where the trail out of Deer Park School starts to pitch upward.

    The original ProCruiser design was from the Koski brothers, who contracted with Mert to build their bikes. Pat is correct that the ProCruiser hit the market before Ritchey did (and after Joe Breeze had finished his first production run), but Mert was unable to capitalize on the advantage of being firstest with the mostest.

    Feel free to speculate why the first off-road bike to hit the market in any numbers did not fare better.

  20. #20
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    Except for the seat and bar/stem, the bike in BMX collector's post looks just like my old one.

  21. #21
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    Love the nickel-plated one! One of three? Likin' those Marin Rockstar tires on there too.

    CK, when I said "Mert doing what he does best" I just meant sliding a two wheeled machine.

    Many factors go into a successfully selling bike and the ride isn't necessarily always a crucial part of that as evidenced by the '82 Stumpjumper with its improperly executed copy of the Ritchey geometry.

    It would be cool to compare/test all the bikes from '77 (first year of the Pro Cruiser?) and then all the bikes from 78, and then 79 and I'm sure by 79 and 80 the Pro Cruiser was surpassed. Or maybe it was bad from the get go. Mine is actually pretty fun to ride.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fillet-brazed View Post
    Mine is actually pretty fun to ride.
    must be a fairly recent pick up dave? any pics?

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    Quote Originally Posted by scant View Post
    must be a fairly recent pick up dave? any pics?
    Pics coming soon hopefully. I think I've had it for almost a year now. Where does the time go!

  24. #24
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    The first of many things often aren't commercially viable. The costs of innovation sometimes takes everything you've got. Then, somebody else will come in and do it better with less R&D costs not to mention the patent issues that come with the territory.

    What's Mert doing nowadays? His website is down.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmxcollector View Post
    Here you go! Not mine I know how to mount a seat.
    Got more pics of that Stang behind it?
    -eric-

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  26. #26
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    Seriously, right? It's all dusty!

  27. #27
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    Scan of Lawwill Knight Pro Cruiser decals

    Lawwill Pro Cruiser-lawwill020.jpg

  28. #28
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    Lawwill Knight Pro Cruiser catalogs

    Mountain Bike:
    Lawwill Pro Cruiser-lawwill021.jpg
    Lawwill Pro Cruiser-lawwill022.jpg

    Street:
    Lawwill Pro Cruiser-lawwill023.jpg
    Lawwill Pro Cruiser-lawwill024.jpg

    Trail-Blazer:
    Lawwill Pro Cruiser-lawwill025.jpg
    Lawwill Pro Cruiser-lawwill026.jpg

  29. #29
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    Right on. Cool stuff!
    Seek: Koski Trailmaster. Breezer Series 2 or 3. Cunningham Racer.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by route66 View Post
    Lawwill Knight Pro Cruiser catalogs

    Thanks for sharing those! So cool. Do you know what year those are from? I never knew there were three variations. Head angle was 2 degrees slacker on mtb version. And I didn't know B72 seat was an option. Gonna have to put one on mine.

    5.25lb frame weight! Pretty light frame for 1978! My top of the line MB-1 11 years later with Prestige tubing was 4.75 lbs.

  31. #31
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    I have seen pics of a Trail-Blazer before. When I first saw it, I didn't think it was a Pro-cruiser.
    Seek: Koski Trailmaster. Breezer Series 2 or 3. Cunningham Racer.

  32. #32
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    I do not have the year on these. But I just got them form Mert lawwill and I think the Trail-Blazer is the later model frame while the Mountian Bike and Street are older as they came on older paper stock and the Trail-Blazer was photo copied and has some measurements in metric on the sheet. B72 saddle on them is really cool as I love this saddle.

    Post some pics of yours Fillet-Brazed, in fact anyone that has one should post some pics. Lets revive this old thread.
    Last edited by route66; 04-07-2013 at 04:48 PM.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by route66 View Post
    I do not have the year on these. But I just got them form Mert lawwill and I think the Trail-Blazer is the later model frame while the Mountian Bike and Street are older as they came on alder paper stock and the Trail-Blazer was photo copied and has some measurements in metric on the sheet. B72 saddle on them is really cool as I love this saddle.

    Post some pics of yours Fillet-Brazed, in fact anyone that has one should post some pics. Lets revive this old thread.
    Will do. It needs a bit of love but I'll get it posted.

  34. #34
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    I believe the Trail Blazer was at the very end. 83ish..
    Seek: Koski Trailmaster. Breezer Series 2 or 3. Cunningham Racer.

  35. #35
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    No mine but unique for a Pro Cruiser:

    Seek: Koski Trailmaster. Breezer Series 2 or 3. Cunningham Racer.

  36. #36
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    Pro Cruiser...Mtn Bike?

    Quote Originally Posted by Repack Rider View Post
    Okay, they looked cool. The reason there were so few made was that they were obsolete on the first day they appeared. These bikes were terrible climbers due to the slack angles and long wheelbase. They were HEAVY too. This is the kind of problem that crops up when a motorcycle designer with very little experience RIDING a bicycle tries to build one. The welding was fine. It was everything else that wasn't.

    The bikes that sold in their era were the ones winning races, and in the early '80s that was only one brand, which needs no introduction, designed and built by an actual bicycle racer..

    I am not aware of anyone winning any event on a ProCruiser, not even a downhill, which is what it is best suited for. The reason they disappeared from the market was that everything else out there, even a first generation Stumpjumper, was a better design.
    First off... Sweet Bike First Flight!

    I am new here to the Forum, and this is great stuff!

    No Disrespect intended to Repack Rider, but I have a few comments regarding Pro Cruiser and its History.

    "Repack Rider" is dead on regarding the climbing characteristics of the Pro Criuser, and I think his take on what won on Sunday sold on Monday was true. Although Mert was indeed the man behind the Pro-Cruiser, it was Donny Koski of the Cove Bike Shop in Tiburon California who was behind the geometry, and he defiantly had experience "RIDING" a bicycle. The Frames were built by Terry Knight. Word has it Terry had worked for the late great Doug Schwerma of Champion racing in Hayward California, Champion built a BMX frame back in 1975 with very similar appointments to what the pro Cruiser showed up with a few years later. To many BMX collectors, a Hayward built Champion is regarded as the Holy Grail. (See Image Below). I don't really know why Pro Cruisers didn't sell, but my guess is that is was because the the DH market was relatively small back then. What ever Mert had intended, the pro Cruiser was super attractive to downhillers. I was a DH grom growing up in Larkspur. There was no way any of us could afford one of those things, but one of the older kids in my neighborhood Craig Weichel, (Second generation Canyon Gang) bought one after breaking so many Schwinn's you couldn't count them. As for a pro Cruiser winning a downhill... I don't know, but homeboy set one of the fastest runs Repack ever saw on a Pro Cruiser!

    S-Trail






    Last edited by S-Trail; 05-02-2013 at 05:12 PM.

  37. #37
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    Did someone say Champion?

    Seek: Koski Trailmaster. Breezer Series 2 or 3. Cunningham Racer.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by S-Trail View Post
    First off... Sweet Bike First Flight!

    I am new here to the Forum, and this is great stuff!

    No Disrespect intended to Repack Rider, but I have a few comments regarding Pro Cruiser and its History.

    "Repack Rider" is dead on regarding the climbing characteristics of the Pro Criuser, and I think his take on what won on Sunday sold on Monday was true. Although Mert was indeed the man behind the Pro-Cruiser, it was Donny Koski of the Cove Bike Shop in Tiburon California who was behind the geometry, and he defiantly had experience "RIDING" a bicycle. The Frames were built by Terry Knight. Word has it Terry had worked for the late great Doug Schwerma of Champion racing in Hayward California, Champion built a BMX frame back in 1975 with very similar appointments to what the pro Cruiser showed up with a few years later. To many BMX collectors, a Hayward built Champion is regarded as the Holy Grail. (See Image Below). I don't really know why Pro Cruisers didn't sell, but my guess is that is was because the the DH market was relatively small back then. What ever Mert had intended, the pro Cruiser was super attractive to downhillers. I was a DH grom growing up in Larkspur. There was no way any of us could afford one of those things, but one of the older kids in my neighborhood Craig Weichel, (Second generation Canyon Gang) bought one after breaking so many Schwinn's you couldn't count them. As for a pro Cruiser winning a downhill... I don't know, but homeboy set one of the fastest runs Repack ever saw on a Pro Cruiser!

    S-Trail
    Great stuff. Thanks for sharing. Is that photo of him in the corner the same day as that fast time? That's such a cool photo.

    Would love to see a clearer scan of that Champion ad. Looks very much like a Pro Cruiser and curious what it says about Mert there at the bottom.

    Good stuff! Let's see more if you've got it!

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fillet-brazed View Post
    Great stuff. Thanks for sharing. Is that photo of him in the corner the same day as that fast time? That's such a cool photo.

    Would love to see a clearer scan of that Champion ad. Looks very much like a Pro Cruiser and curious what it says about Mert there at the bottom.

    Good stuff! Let's see more if you've got it!

    Hey Fillet Brazed,

    Craig says he raced there twice, so not sure when the corner shot was taken. Photo was shot by Dan Nilsen of San Anselmo. The other shot is a still from the 1979 Evening magazine coverage.

    Regarding Champion: I replaced the low resolution Champion poster picture in the earlier post. The guy on the motorcycle is Kenny Roberts AMA 73-74 champ, so he would have worn the #1 Plate in 1975, the year Doug started making the BMX frames. As far as I am aware of, Doug Schwerma never built frames for Mert Lawwill or Harley Davidson. Champion/Pro Cruiser/Mert Connection: As stated in earlier post Terry Knight welder of the (Pro Cruiser), worked for Champion. After Doug Schwerma (Champion Racing) died in 1977 Terry started his own shop. Mert Lawwill worked for Harley Davidson. Harley made a factory racer called the XR750. Five batches of XR750's were made between 1970 and 1980. I believe Terry Knight made Batch four (Frames and Swing arms) in 1977. in 1978 Mert contacted Terry to build a bicycle...

    Image Below: A young "King Kenny" probably 71' or 72'. You can see a proud Doug Schwerma off to the left in the background (Beard and glasses, wearing the white Champion shirt).

    <a href="https://s268.photobucket.com/user/chrisparetich/media/Champion/schwerma01_zps344ac5ef.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="https://i268.photobucket.com/albums/jj33/chrisparetich/Champion/schwerma01_zps344ac5ef.jpg" border="0" alt=" photo schwerma01_zps344ac5ef.jpg"/></a>

    S-Trail

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by S-Trail View Post
    Hey Fillet Brazed,

    Craig says he raced there twice, so not sure when the corner shot was taken. Photo was shot by Dan Nilsen of San Anselmo. The other shot is a still from the 1979 Evening magazine coverage.

    Regarding Champion: I replaced the low resolution Champion poster picture in the earlier post. The guy on the motorcycle is Kenny Roberts AMA 73-74 champ, so he would have worn the #1 Plate in 1975, the year Doug started making the BMX frames. As far as I am aware of, Doug Schwerma never built frames for Mert Lawwill or Harley Davidson. Champion/Pro Cruiser/Mert Connection: As stated in earlier post Terry Knight welder of the (Pro Cruiser), worked for Champion. After Doug Schwerma (Champion Racing) died in 1977 Terry started his own shop. Mert Lawwill worked for Harley Davidson. Harley made a factory racer called the XR750. Five batches of XR750's were made between 1970 and 1980. I believe Terry Knight made Batch four (Frames and Swing arms) in 1977. in 1978 Mert contacted Terry to build a bicycle...

    Image Below: A young "King Kenny" probably 71' or 72'. You can see a proud Doug Schwerma off to the left in the background (Beard and glasses, wearing the white Champion shirt).

    <a href="https://s268.photobucket.com/user/chrisparetich/media/Champion/schwerma01_zps344ac5ef.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="https://i268.photobucket.com/albums/jj33/chrisparetich/Champion/schwerma01_zps344ac5ef.jpg" border="0" alt=" photo schwerma01_zps344ac5ef.jpg"/></a>

    S-Trail

    That's a neat picture. Funny you posted a pic of Kenny Roberts. Not totally related, but I just heard a couple days ago from a friend and (dirt track) competitor of Kenny that he had unique assymetrical bars for dirt track that facilitated the position when laying it down in the corners. What race is that do you know? He also told me about a story about a guy named "Griff" and a brother in law (Alan?) of KR that had differing views on bike set up for Ascot and the ultimate decision cost him a win. Haha, we're getting a little off track!

    Thanks for the info and the better scan! That Champion BMX frame is neat and the Pro Cruiser is a pretty close copy.

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