Van Halen Frankenbike - The VH Cruiser

Aug 8, 2020
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This build is in memory of Eddie Van Halen who inspired so many of us who are still chasing that Rock and Roll dream. Here is a picture of the guitar that started it all. What Eddie did was take a black guitar, taped it and painted it white, removed the tape and had a white guitar with black stripes. You can see that on the cover of their first album. Then later on he taped it again and painted it Schwinn red. This gave him a red guitar with black and white stripes. He did considerably more to the guitar but for my bike purposes that's as much as I needed to know. There's a lot more to know.

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I started with a teal colored single speed Aero cruiser. A bike I had never heard of before and sincerely hope it wasn't some kind of treasure because it sacrificed itself and is currently part of three different bikes and counting.

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Up next... My series of paint jobs. Many of them nearly correct.
 
Aug 8, 2020
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I started by stripping the teal, priming and painting the entire thing red. It was gorgeous. It was also completely wrong. I wasn't thinking enough steps ahead. My thought was, it's mostly red so I'll start there. As I mentioned above, red was last. I didn't realize that at the time and when I did, I had to take a couple days off I was so mad at myself.

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I came back and painted it white. This was also incorrect. As described above, the guitar started black so my base coat should have been black. But my thought was that it's easier to cover white with black than the other way around. I was concerned the black would show through a layer of white.

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But I wasn't going to repaint it again. I'd make it work somehow. Then I PAINSTAKINGLY studied the Frankenstrat pattern. The plan was to be as accurate as possible to the part near the tailpiece with the black "X" and its surrounding stripes. And to put that part on the tank. The rest of the bike would simply be in the "spirit" of the guitar. I taped it up. But not after then realizing I had to do both sides of the bike and the left side would be a mirror image of the right! Eddie only had to do it once. I had to do it twice and the second time backwards. If I spent as much time practicing guitar as painting this bike things might have been different for me...

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Aug 8, 2020
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Next I painted it black and did NOT remove the tape before adding more tape and more paint. This was the first thing I did right.

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After black paint came more strategically placed tape. These would be the black stripes.

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Finally came red (again) on top of all the tape and other paint.

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Next, the reveal...
(spoiler alert, it wasn't right.)
 
Aug 8, 2020
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I pulled off the tape, and it was clear how my black-white mistake manifested.. there was no black “X”
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Sooo, I tapped off the surrounding areas leaving the “X” exposed and just painted that part black.
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Finally!! With the frame painted, it’s now on to actually BUILDING the bike!
 
May 20, 2009
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Got a new seat and new grips and repurposed a front and back wheel from the pile. The plan is to paint the rims red and put whitewalls on.

I still need to repaint the forks but after all the nonsense with the frame, I'm actively avoiding it.

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Looking good, but I think it needs a set of BMX bars on it.
First, I think it would give a better riding position and
Eddie was way more ‘BMX’ than he was ‘cruiser’

Wicked paint job BTW!


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Sep 2, 2020
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Red rims & whitewalls is perfect. Big & little hot rod or the same tire? That seat looks like it was made for this bike. You totally need a boombox mounted on the bars. Rad!
 
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I love the guitar accessory ideas but... all my guitar stuff is in use! I’ve got tons of spare bike parts lying around but no extra guitar parts. I’ll start looking into it...
 
Aug 8, 2020
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I re-painted the forks the right way: black, tape, white, tape, red, remove tape. I also went with Mongoose handlebars instead of the cruisers.

I painted the front wheel red and put the tire on. I think it looks pretty good. As soon as the back wheel is done it'll be time to assemble everything. (Forgive my filthy work space)

AND... I found the chain guard which had been hiding. So, inspired by the above suggestions I added a tremolo bar and tone knob. The black paint is just the bottom coat, it'll have a similar pattern. I'll also paint the tip of the trem white.

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First full assembly. Took her out for a test ride - Very smooth. Just waiting for the chain guard to dry, then a couple of tweaks, grips and it's off to the Rock and Roll hall of fame. Nah, those guys suck - (no Warren Zevon?!?!). Maybe I'll take it to Pasadena.

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