Helen Wheels

Mar 26, 2012
7,664
14,895
Maplewood, MN
Final Photo.jpg


Helen Wheels started life as a 1953 Columbia 20" kids cruiser, was modified in the muscle bike rage of the '60s, and resto-modded and brought back to her glory by this guy in his 60s this August.

Named after my grandma Helen, who was a bit of a 'hot rodder' in her 60s when she 'freed' this bike from the school playground where she was the janitor and grounds keeper for a little grade school in a small Southern Minnesota town. We used to ride the bike at her house when we'd visit. She later gave the bike to us when she moved in to an apt and didn't have room to store it.

Helen's ride in those years was a 1970 Ford Torino, in the iconic color Anti-Establish Mint green. For real. She had a lead foot, and proudly declared, "I can beat anybody off the light in this car." And then she did.

This build is dedicated to my wild and crazy grandma Helen, and her Ford Torino.

Build thread can be found here for build process, and a few other funny stories about Helen.
http://www.ratrodbikes.com/forum/index.php?threads/helen-wheels-crossing-the-finished-line.109217/

And some highlight photos along the way....

Here's how the bike looked when we rode it back in the day; and how it was when we resurrected it out of my brother's garage attic in early August.
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The original Columbia bike would have been similar to this model:

Helen wheels columbia.jpg


And the inspiration, the Ford Torino :

Ford Torino mint.jpg


There were 4 colors of paint on her frame :
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Three more colors, wouldn't hurt...

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The seats and upholstery in grandma's Torino were a spruce green. So this seat got the same treatment:

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Because it had a Schwinn badge on the head tube, and it wasn't a Schwinn, it needed it's own brand. I created the 'BACK40' head badge using a etching process on aluminum sheet metal.

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Back40 head badge FLIPPED.jpg
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Thanks for joining me on this trip down memory lane. There's nothing better than a spin on your muscle bike through the neighborhood park. Till next time....

 

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Sep 7, 2014
3,173
6,168
52
Columbus OH
Awesome fun build! Love the stories and history. Fade looks great.

Is that a pic of Aunt Helen in the Torino? That car is SWEET!
 
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Reactions: OddJob
Mar 26, 2012
7,664
14,895
Maplewood, MN
That was exactly what my grandma Helen's car looked like, and it spookily looks like her in the drivers seat with the door open. :43::13:

But, yeah. That was a very cool car. We have been trying to unearth it, but my aunt's brothers who bought it from Helen in the 80's aren't talking.
:D
 
Mar 8, 2016
51
152
52
Head badge, super sweet. Love the back story too. Those Torino’s were awesome. Starsky and Hutch awesome! Great bike!
 
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Reactions: OddJob

kingfish254

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Aug 31, 2009
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Historic Savannah
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Coolest backstory! Excellent fade paint and that badge is wicked!
Well done my friend!!!

You probably already know this, but Don't forget that when the Voting thread is created we will use the first pic from your Finished thread. I'm not suggesting anything is wrong with the current pic, just making sure everyone knows.
 
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Reactions: OddJob
Mar 26, 2012
7,664
14,895
Maplewood, MN
Coolest backstory! Excellent fade paint and that badge is wicked!
Well done my friend!!!

You probably already know this, but Don't forget that when the Voting thread is created we will use the first pic from your Finished thread. I'm not suggesting anything is wrong with the current pic, just making sure everyone knows.
Thanks man! When the bike has a significant story line, it makes it all that much more exciting for me to build and be creative!