Pistons & Pivots
Fraser Newton's '92 Dodge B250 Sport Van & 2019 Trek Remedy
Pistons and Pivots is presented by Maxxis. Every second Monday, we'll present a new round of Pistons and Pivots which features cool vehicles with character, and a little about their owners and the bikes they ride.
If you've got a vehicle and bike that fit the series, we'd love to help you share them with a wider audience, and you can take a crack at winning some tires from Maxxis.
You can submit your photos in one of two ways:
- Send photos and articles to firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to include 'Pistons and Pivots' in the subject line.
- Or simply post a few vehicle and bike photos and details to Instagram and use the hashtags #pistonsandpivots and #nsmb.
Once a month, we'll pick a winning submission and feature it on the site, and the person that submitted it will earn a fresh set of tires for their bike, courtesy of Maxxis. At the end of six months, we'll pick a grand prize winner, who will walk away with Maxxis rubber for the vehicle they submitted for Pistons and Pivots!
For core riders between Vancouver and Pemberton, Fraser Newton's whopping smile and positive attitude are well known. B.C. Bike Race participants may recognize him as well; since its inception in 2007, Fraser's run the race's tech support team, healing racers' mechanical issues during their assault through the wild terrain of Coastal B.C. Countless bikes have gone through Fraser and his team's hands over the years.
Prior to the BCBR, Fraser cut his teeth on bikes near Hamilton, Ontario. Growing up 10km from town is largely to blame for his bike obsession, and he says the distance from his friends "was a pretty good reason to figure them out." An early memory of wrenching on bikes includes a set of "throwaway Skyway II wheels" and some busted hubs he was trying to fix. Shortly after he started as a shop grom for Wheels in Motion on the Hamilton Escarpment. Starting with the store around '92, he was introduced to building road bikes shipped from Italy. He learned to "chase and face headtubes and bottom brackets, tapping braze-on and painting custom lug details." Those experiences are visible in his abilities working on bikes today – Fraser is a bicycle MacGyver.
Fraser raced cross country and was supported by Devinci from '94 to '98. He was hooked on MTB and has since moulded his life around his passion. His business; Flying Fraser’s Cyclic Consulting (F.F.C.C.), collaborates on film projects with Anthill Films. He's also the Assistant Manager of the B.C. Bike Show this year and has a plethora of other odd jobs. When Fraser and I met to shoot his vehicle, he had just finished a wild project constructing a room that could rotate for a commercial. Oh yeah, and after decades of working in bike shops across Canada, including Obsession Bikes on the North Shore of Vancouver, he continues to wrench on bikes for a small customer base.
The majority of my work these days revolves around helping film MTB by aiding in creating those seemingly impossible shots with the amazingly talented crew at Anthill Films. – Fraser Newton
The 1992 Dodge B250 Leisure Way ~ Sport Van a.k.a The Landshark
Perhaps the best thing about Fraser, beyond his bottomless positivity and MacGyver wrenching skills, is his creative approach. He doesn't follow trends, doesn't bow to the man, and yet, he's liked by everyone. That is aside from suspicious homeowners who see his van and worry that he's going to camp out. Their concerns are likely short-lived because Fraser's charisma undoubtedly wins them over. He doesn't live in the van anyway. He lives with his wife Kate, two kids (daughter, Orla and son Cam) and dog Kitt, as most of us do: in a house. The van is used at work locations though, where he's usually confronted by grumpy residents who are unimpressed by the Landshark's character.
When Fraser's dad upgraded his recreational vehicle, then known as Vanna White, it was passed down to Fraser's sister. After she was done with it, Fraser bought it for $1, a debt that they joke has yet to be paid. Despite its subdued appearance, Fraser says it drives well and his father wishes he had the steering of this van in his newer one. Mechanics may disagree with Fraser's old man though. Whenever Fraser has an issue, the wrenches aren't happy. Apparently it's not an easy vehicle to work on (were any of these old vans?).
This is no typical Sprinter van and Fraser has zero interest in the glossy, rich van lifer image portrayed by many. For his family, the '92 Dodge B250 van is all about function, and it serves their needs exceptionally well. Family camping trips sound like a hoot in this thing and they usually tow a '75 Boler loaded with bikes as well. When we connected for this feature there was still snow on the back roads but the 150HP 5.2L V8 had no problems. Aside from the one time he put the front end too far into a ditch, lifting the rear driving wheel off the ground. The Landshark cruises at a steady pace, earning its new given name well.
So far its main and most effective use is pissing off other Squamish locals. Being parked in or around their stationary home, or even simply in its existence. It gets some people pretty fired up. I just offer my condolences and half a beer and remind them there are nicer ways to treat their new neighbour. – Fraser Newton
We roll pretty hard in this as a family, pulling a ‘75 Boler loaded with bikes makes Glamping easy. Just jackknife the trailer, pop up the 10x10, run power and propane and we’re set. – Fraser Newton
It’s followed the B.C. Bike Race along the island and Sunshine Coast, ski trips on the Duffy, parties on the Rutherford… – Fraser Newton
The original owner lived on a commune and her brother did some whack stuff under the hood to save on mileage. Space-age shit y’know. Magnets on the fuel rails to align the molecules pre-injection, water/oil, water/gas separators, and a bunch of other stuff my dad ripped out after they caught fire. – Fraser Newton
Right now, the newly flashed Motor Control Unit (MCU) has a shit ground or is about to burn out, so it needs a pretty good lead time to when you actually want to drive somewhere. If you were just driving it starts up fine but sitting for a day or longer, it takes a long time for it to communicate and get satisfactory read back from all of the vehicle's separate systems. It just clicks away pestering through its best of wires until it finally gives a pass to the fuel system and she goes. – Fraser Newton
I rarely use it [cruise control] around here with all the climbs and descents. It's always searching for gears too late and wants to overheat the transmission, which is the weak link on these vans. There’s an orange overdrive override button on the left panel which I've used a lot. Locks out 5th(OD) gear, so the engine rpm stays above the final drive rpm and you can rely on engine compression to manage the speed and save from burning out the brakes. Big climbs, if I’m not paying attention and it bogs down to become that annoying camper van doing 50 on the hwy, I can drop into second gear to wind back up to 80km/hr with no issue. – Fraser Newton
The Custom 2019 Trek Remedy 9.9
In similar fashion to his van, and continuing to do things his own way, Fraser's bike is not your run-of-the-mill Remedy 9.9. He originally bought the Trek Remedy as a frame and built the bike up for his wife, Kate. Pregnant at the time, Fraser completed the build and proceeded to test it out on the trails around Squamish and when your nickname around town is "first-corner Fraser,” you can bet it's been tested well. He says it's a great Squamish bike, but his build is anything but normal. It features a shorter stroke RockShox Vivid air shock, lowering the BB and raking out the head angle. A 170mm Lyrik further stretches the wheelbase while aiding its rowdy capabilities.
The wheels are particularly interesting, especially for someone as aggressive on the trail as Fraser. He's shoed the Remedy's 27+ wheels with a set of 2.8 Maxxis Minion DHF tires, claiming that it fits the profile (he's 40 and balding, haha) but in honesty, this thing will have been dealt some punishment under him. He says his wife Kate loves it too.
Trek has always been a bike that I felt I had to ride on top of and had a hard time getting inside like my other lower-slung bikes. This version goes inside for sure. – Fraser Newton
Parts selection criteria: Is it black… does it fit… is it in arms reach, haha – Fraser Newton
Although Fraser is currently using the van as his daily driver, he also has a GMC Sierra which his wife Kate tends to drive more – fitting considering he seems to have taken her bike – and an '86 BMW 325. Maybe he likes using the Landshark as a conversation starter, even if it gets him off on the wrong foot? Nevertheless, he enjoys the functionality of the van and surely the driving characteristics, too. As I finalized this feature, Fraser was en route to Campbell River for a weekend away, enjoying another drive…