Do you know this rider from 50 years ago?

Richard Helms was a Clarion State College student from Pittsburgh in 1970 when he snapped a photograph that recently won recognition. “I originally shot this as a Kodachrome slide,” Helms told the CLARION NEWS in an email exchange. Helms said he was sorting through his old slides earlier this year and found the snowmobile shot.

“I entered it and was selected to show in the SPARK Photo Themed Juried Show,” Helms said. “The theme was ‘Motion.’ I recently found out I won honorable mention.” Helms graduated from Clarion State College in August of 1971 and moved to Canada to do graduate work in computer research and development.

As for the photograph, Helms doesn’t know who the rider is and believes the race was held somewhere near Shippenville.

“In 1970 there was a snowmobile turf race,” Helms recalled. “For those not familiar with turf racing, in the 60s and early 70s, snowmobiles were air-cooled and used a bogie wheel suspension. Later sleds required snow as a lubricant and to aid in cooling, but the old sleds ran just fine on grass. Arctic Cat even came out with a limited production of grass racers called the Arctic Cat Turf Tiger.”

If anyone knows the identity of the snowmobile driver, drop us a line at the CLARION NEWS.

This article appeared in The Clarion News October 29, 2020.

The Clarion News Article

Clarion Turf Racing Photo Wins Honourable Mention

Today my photo “Clarion Turf Racing” won the honourable mention at the SPARK Photo Festival Themed Juried Show. The theme this year was “Motion.” I originally shot this as a Kodachrome slide in 1970 at a race in Clarion, PA with a Russian Zenit-E 35mm camera.

The Zenit-E was just about the most manual camera ever. You even had to manually close the iris before pressing the shutter. I found the slide a few years ago while scanning with a slide scanner. It could scan with high enough resolution to print at 11×17 at 300 dpi in 48 bit colour. With photoshop I could pull out the detail and colours as well as clean up dust and such. When I heard the theme was “motion,” I immediately thought of this race.

I am so honoured to receive an Honourable Mention. I am privileged to be included in such a remarkable group of photographers.

Show Entries

2020 SPARK Photo Festival Juried Exhibit

Announcement Video

My announcement starts at 1:20

A Brand New Unridden Skatebike (Roller Shuttle)

Brett from England UK acquired an unridden Minson skatebike, circa 1985. This is a first release version. In the UK it was called a Roller Shuttle. You can tell it is a first generation from the stripe on the seat, the brake mount and the secondary curved tube to the front truck.

For someone looking to restore a skatebike, this is a nice photo collection of what a new one looked like.

Thanks Brett for sharing. I hear you are “becoming quite attached to it…it’s pretty cool.”

Mentos in Diet Coke

Did the classic Mentos in a bottle of Diet Coke for the grandkids. Dropped about 6 Mentos in. The video was shot with an iPhone 11 at 1080P 240 fps slow-motion. I thought it worked rather well. Diet Coke was used so there is no sugar mess left.

Anthony’s Aussie Skatebike Restoration Complete

Anthony from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia contacted me in Feb 2020 about a skatebike he bought. Now just three months later he sent me details on the restoration. What a beautiful job. I especially love the labels for the Minson logo and Twisties slogan. Well done Anthony.

Finished Photos

In Anthony’s Words

Now that the Minson Skatebike is finished, there are a few companies I want to thank for their help and guidance.

I used the original truck and wheels, but replaced the bearings, bushes and pivot cup.

Frame work was painted the wrong colour and the stickers were not want I ordered, but in hindsight, it did come up better than I hoped, and I am happy with it.

All the chrome work on the crank came up a treat and is back to original condition. I do have the chain guard also, but I do think it looks better without it.

The guys at Lux BMX  know their stuff with supplying the drivetrain.

On my first ride on it, I was a little bit cautious, but once I went down to the local park, I started to get the hang of it once again.

Being classified as an old fart now, I can see the reasons why I enjoyed this so much as a teenager in the 80’s. I rode around the park for nearly an hour, and I was stuffed, pooped out.

It’s taken over 30 years to find another Skatebike and only a few short months to restore it back to its former glory.

There are still many more years of life left in it for me to enjoy it.


Before Shots

SPARK Themed Juried Exhibit 2020 – Clarion Turf Racing

Received exciting news yesterday. I have been accepted into the SPARK Photo Festival Themed Juried Show. The theme this year is “Motion.” I originally shot this as a Kodachrome slide in 1970 at a race in Clarion, PA with a Russian Zenit-E 35mm camera. Last year I was scanning my slides and discovered these. Many hours later in Photoshop the image was ready to enter.

View The SPARK Juried Exhibit

For those not familiar with turf racing, in the 60’s and early 70’s snowmobiles were air cooled and used a bogie wheel suspension. Later sleds required snow as a lubricant and to aid in cooling, but the old sleds ran just fine on grass. Arctic Cat even came out with a limited production of grass racers called the Arctic Cat Turf Tiger.

202 entries were received for the juried show and 25 selected. All entries had to be 11×17″ or 17×11″ and the selected works are printed and framed by SPARK. I am looking forward to the reception on April 3, 2020.

Two other interesting shots from the event was the appearance of the Arctic Cat Boss Cat. It held the world speed record for a snowmobile of 125.87 mph.

Andrew’s Skatebike Rebuild is Done

Andrew C. from Australia’s skatebike is done. On Jan 22, 2020 I posted before pictures. Here are Andrew’s comments on the restoration.

Well the re-build is complete and I have been out on the street riding my Skate Bike and reliving memories from many years ago. Of course I am much older and bigger now plus I rarely ride even a normal push bike but was still able to do a couple of laps of the street.

I will visit the local skate shop at some stage to replace the bushes as the ones that came with the truck are too soft (I think you previously mentioned this) as I remember the old ones were quite stiff which would give more stability.

Overall pretty happy with the build and looking forward to my son being able to ride it. I am looking to organise a new sticker for the little plate at the back “Life’s pretty straight without a Twistie” to finish it off.

After Pictures

Beautiful Job!!!

Footnote on bushings. The bushings that come with modern trucks are too soft. They are made for someone standing on a board flexing their feet to steer. On a skatebike you are moving side to side with the skatebike acting as a lever. You need much firmer bushings.

MuirSkate Longboard Shop has an excellent intro guide on bushings. The Downhill Weight Guide at the bottom matches skatebiking.

I am in their last group (175-220+ pounds) and use a 92a bushing in my skatebike truck.

New “Minson Roller Shuttle” pictures on eBay UK

Anthony from Australia found this 12″ junior skatebike on eBay in the UK. Notice they call it a Minson Roller Shuttle. Also it has the curved front support tube and even has the original box.

12″ Minson Roller Shuttle still in box

I searched on Minson Roller Shuttle and found this new eBay UK listing

Any Yet Another Aussie Restoration

Anthony from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia contacted me about a skatebike he is restoring. Anthony had one back in the 80’s. He paid just under $70 USD which considering the condition is an excellent buy.

(Link to the restored skatebike)

While it looks similar to Andrew’s Twisties Skate Bike, it is not. It is a different model. Note the silver stripe on the seat and the off-frame brake mounting bracket. This is an early model. This is the photo from the original manual that came with the bike. Actually it is a scan I made this morning of my manual that came with my bike. Notice the silver stripe, the off-frame brake mount but different is a curved front truck support. I have never seen a curved front support.

Photo from original owners manual

Another Skatebike Restoration from Australia

Andrew from Australia emailed me the other day to ask for advice on restoring his Minson Twisties Skate Bike.

My name is Andrew C. from Australia and I am really enjoying reading your website material. As with one of your other contributors, I too won a Twisties Skate Bike back in the 1980’s in a competition. I remember having a lot of fun on it for many years before it was relegated to the back of the garden shed where it has unfortunately deteriorated (35+ years).

I had pulled it out of storage a couple of months back thinking that I would like to restore it so that I could pass it onto my son who is now 7 years old and would probably enjoy having such a unique bike to ride with his friends.

I stripped everything off of it and have had the frame professionally stripped and painted ready to reassemble. Here’s where I hit a snag which led me to your website and reading about some other Skate Bike Restorations. I was thinking that I could walk into our local bike store, which is pretty well equipped, with all of the components and ask them to order new replacements. I am not hung up on it being exact replicas as it is more for actual use that putting on a wall as a thing to look at.

Before Pictures

It is even rustier than mine was. I will post updates as Andrew sends them.

On Feb 16, 2020 I posted the After Pictures.