Thomas Lindup’s 1988 Volvo and Chromag Doctahawk

Words Tom Plum and Ben Kidney
Date Apr 27, 2020
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Bike - by Tom Plum

The Chromag Doctahawk is a bike for dickheads. And I mean that in the most affectionate way possible.

Duppy used to be Chief Dickhead in our group. Anything from slinking away to bed The Russian in the dead of the night, right through to eating other people’s dinners when they were out of the room. Dickhead #1. Some of his traits persist. For example, you can still find him face down in the long grass in a distant part of the garden when he overindulges on the suds, like some great awful cat that’s taken itself away to die.


It may be funny looking but at least it's... sort of red?

But at some point, he shed his skin and left the bulk of all that behind. I racked my brains for a recent example of him being a fuckwit and they just don’t exist. He drove me in his fish-oiled van out to Boganville, Lower Hutt to collect esoteric trinkets that my wife-to-be insisted MUST be scattered about our wedding. We laughed at how ridiculous it was to be gathering up big wicker chairs nobody was going to sit in and a dilapidated wheelbarrow that couldn’t hold anything, and then he carefully wrapped both in a blanket so they wouldn’t explode on the return trip. When I couldn’t stand up straight the next day, he returned it all for us. I mean, that’s not gonna cut it.


When these photos arrived, Pete described Duppy's Doctahawk as a giraffe, for obvious reasons.

But the Doctahawk is it. It’s his outlet for those dickhead tendencies that he’s suppressed, and it’s perfect. Even the name is stupid. Doctahawk. Like I get it - Doc Tomahawk - they did the whole portmanteau/neologism thing. But take a step back and consider if they’d just named it the Tomahawk. Have you seen the Dodge Tomahawk? It’s a motorbike with art deco styling, a 10-cylinder Viper engine and four close-coupled wheels for fuck’s sake. It’s brutal and experimental. Hardly the kind of reference point an envelope-pushing hardtail like the Doctahawk would shy away from.

But they fell into the cheesy mountain biking trap of giving things stupid names because it’s “fun.” There’s a trail in one of our local parks called “Directa” - same shit. I get it, I know exactly how they came up with the name, but it sucks and it rustles my jimmies every time I see the trail sign.

Anyway, that’s got little to do with the bike.


It's hard to choose which is sexier; man or machine.

But the bike sucks too! It’s a bike to provoke people into saying “why bother?” It’s optimised for terrain that, almost by definition, should involve rear suspension. And the Doctahawk is a case study in proving that just because you can do something, there’s no reason to believe it’s going to be any better. Yes, you’ll survive that heinous double black trail with the big front-wheel-hating root trenches. But you’ll still get pretty convincingly dropped by any skilled rider on a fully, and a lot of the time you’ll find yourself applying a liberal rose tint in order to call it fun. Then on the other 90% of terrain where your rear tyre isn’t buzzing your ass, you’ll have a shit time because of your stupid 62º head angle, Cadillac wheelbase and 180mm fork.


Why would you carry your steel-framed Chromag into the sea?

But that’s the thing. Bikes like the Doctahawk don’t simply place themselves along the spectrum and then defend their position - they reject the existence of the spectrum in the first place. They arrive with a stated purpose, they execute it, and then when it comes to drawing comparisons to other bikes and other experiences, the conclusion is simply: who gives a fuck? It’s not relevant, because it’s not part of the bike’s raison d'être.

And I gotta tell you, that’s about as close an analogy as you’ll ever find for how Thomas Lindup goes about life.


Christening of course...

Here’s a man who once won the Under-25 24hr Solo MTB World Championships in the pouring rain. He held the 640km road race record in NZ for years, until it was snatched by a former pro roadie with the kind of pedigree that saw the guy roll Lance Armstrong (probably dripping with EPO) in a New Mexico stage race when he was 20.

He turned up to an 1100km brevet in New Zealand with nothing but a jar of peanut butter taped to his top tube.

One time, we gatecrashed an early morning roadie bunch ride and he got straight on the front, ratcheted the pace up to 40km/h and then munched on a fucking carrot as the bunch concertina’d out behind him.


This isn't any old parkade, this is covered parking, and fit for the Doctahawk.

He was one of New Zealand’s first single speed devotees, and his hand sewn Lycra costumes are the stuff of folklore around here. He’s a trained journalist who now secrets himself in the bush with his array of tiny diggers, quietly shaping the trails we all take for granted.

He’s the most reliable person I know for those hare-brained adventures with all the wrong sort of fun:misery ratios. And if you’ve sent it too deep the night before and woken with a fuzzy brain and wretched guts, he’ll always join you for the early morning bender-cleansing grovel up a nearby peak.

I feel lucky to count the man among some of my most generous and compassionate friends. And like a lot of good people in the world, I still put him, his mountain bike, and his car all squarely in Camp Dickhead.


Just so it's perfectly clear, there is a cover on this carpark.

Beep Beep Car - by Ben Kidney

Was at a wedding recently, Tom’s even, and I noticed there were a few cunnies absent after the eating portion of the evening had wrapped up. It didn’t take much mental dexterity to figure the sum of the missing parts would be off in a fun little area making smonk of the weed.

I unhinged my tie and went for a looky-lou out near the pygmy chapel. Alfonso the red Volvo was slowly and precisely forwarding then reversing about the little horseshoe drive. It backed all the way round, came to a tender halt, then came all the way forward, then back again. The tyres scrunched gravel pleasingly, calmly. Little puffs and giggles burbled out. It stopped and the door clonked open. I got in. And honestly, I’d do it again.


This Volvo is Alfonso, and not Susan, as you can probably tell.

I wasn’t too kind with Thomas’s first car, but he wasn’t either. It was a two-litre Accord that was too peppy for a boy sprouting his first facial pubics, so it got the shit wrung out of it more often than the manual would specify. As with all over-driven and under-maintained cars it deserved a dignified death. We shot holes in the doors and a few of us ran laps of the car with our willies out trying to wee in them while Thomas chased us with a stick. We got a few good drops in there, and for that I am thankful.


Susan was the next victim, the first of his Volvo habit. He hand-brushed it with white house paint till it looked like a Nordic plaster-cast, then added a rainbow complexion to the lumpy undercoat and glued duraseal to the interior until every warrant shop had it blacklisted on sight. It got cubed pretty quick. But, considering its pre-existing shape and neutron-star-density, I think that just meant that they took the wheels off.


'Sexiest in photo' is once again too close to call.

I don’t know why Thomas loves 1980’s Volvos, but they’re a lot of car for those in the twenty to fiddy buck price bracket. You get three to four tonne of mild steel wrapped about a ponderous, dehydrated engine block that limps to a 100 km/h in a “nice amount of time, enough to have a few comfortable sips of nice beer.” You also benefit from agricultural handling and the famous Swedish safety rating that expired in 1993. They are enjoyably reliable in their ability to leave Thomas stranded in a variety of stressful locations; and with a range of affordable second-hand parts available in Scandinavia thirty-years-ago, repairing them is as simple as driving to the wrecker’s yard and walking away.


The Jag was in the shop.

Alfonso is a different animal to Susan. Actually, the same animal, but wrapped in burnt-red skin with a flusher finish. He’s a 1988 Volvo 240 GL Estate that slurps 2.3L injected gulps and farts them out mostly digested. He looks like he sat a few decades in a garage at the end of a grass driveway keeping a ride-on mower company from under a painter’s sheet. Sheepskin seat-covers complete the look of a vehicle that has had more emotional bandwidth dedicated to it than it deserves.

But in the pile of twittering wedding dabblers smooshed into the backseat I felt the gentle, polite acceleration and the little click of the automatic transmission, and I felt the skin of the former sheep and the warmth of many metabolisms digesting marital beef together. It was peaceful, and full of good smonk. I lay back and let Alfonso and Thomas carry me nowhere at all, because I was just where I wanted to be.

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+2 Pete Roggeman twk
Heinous  - April 27, 2020, 4:35 a.m.

I did not know singularities could be so dank, but there you are.


Lev  - April 27, 2020, 7:06 a.m.

Interesting stuff!


+1 Pete Roggeman
skibumben  - April 27, 2020, 8:02 a.m.

this made my morning!


+5 Mammal Pete Roggeman Vik Banerjee Jugger Reaper
Andrew Major  - April 27, 2020, 9:47 a.m.

Not to be ‘that guy’ but what’s the maximum number of headset spacers RockShox recommends under the stem? 30mm?

Somewhere between 3cm of spacers and the ‘giraffe’ the leverage on the system between the stem and the upper headset bearing may approach undesirable?

Anyways, for tall folks trying to fit themselves to bikes with comparatively hobbit sized headtubes, ProTaper does a 76.2mm rise bar with nice geometry and an 810mm length. It’s pretty sweet. 


+4 Andrew Major Morgan Heater Geof Harries Karl Fitzpatrick
Mammal  - April 27, 2020, 10:08 a.m.

That's one helluva bar. I get the impression that Thomas my not do "suggestions".


+3 Mammal Geof Harries Pete Roggeman
Andrew Major  - April 27, 2020, 10:13 a.m.

HAHAHAHAHA... yes, that's why I addressed the comment to 'Tall Folks' generally. Thomas has obviously reached the purest state of mountain-biker-spirit-animal and could probably win XC World Champs, DH World Champs, EWS World Champs, and the SSWC on the same weekend, on four different continents, and wearing Blundstones if he aspired to it.


+2 Pete Roggeman Mammal
Geof Harries  - April 27, 2020, 12:42 p.m.

With his credentials and legacy, yeah there's not much one can say.


Velocipedestrian  - April 28, 2020, midnight

Thomas is the deceivingly normal looking one, the bike is Ben's.


Mammal  - April 28, 2020, 6:47 a.m.

Right! They switched write-ups, my mistake. He looks a lot more like a Ben.

Cam McRae  - April 28, 2020, 3:08 p.m.

Wait... I thought both bike and car belong to Thomas and Ben and Tom did the writing? But what do I know?


+2 Mammal Cam McRae
Velocipedestrian  - April 28, 2020, 4:49 p.m.

The car is Tom's, the giraffe is Ben's, the dank strangeness is everyone's.

+1 Mammal
Cam McRae  - April 28, 2020, 9:40 p.m.

Love it. 

So Ben has the beard? Tom is getting married. And Thomas is a myth?

+1 Pete Roggeman
fartymarty  - April 27, 2020, 1:16 p.m.

or if you are after something with a little more backsweep and klunker look.  Word of warning tho - they are mega stiff and heavy but aint gonna break.


+1 Pete Roggeman
Andrew Major  - April 27, 2020, 1:21 p.m.

So stiff; so heavy.

Chromag has FU50 now that looks great. For more sweep there’s the Dream Bar. But yes, things are limited at 3” rise.


+1 Vik Banerjee
fartymarty  - April 27, 2020, 1:29 p.m.

I would buy a FU50 if they did a 16 degree.

+1 Andrew Major
Pete Roggeman  - April 27, 2020, 1:57 p.m.

Definite 'that guy' status for that one, AM!


+2 twk Pete Roggeman
Andrew Major  - April 27, 2020, 1:58 p.m.

I knew the risks and regret nothing!


+1 Pete Roggeman
Vik Banerjee  - April 27, 2020, 3:03 p.m.

The cost of the Docthawk is high enough you are in non-famous custom steel frame builder territory and you can have as tall a head tube as you like with whatever geo floats your boat.


+2 Pete Roggeman Mammal
Mondoss  - April 28, 2020, 2:53 a.m.

Hate to be "that guy" to your "that guy", but max 30mm spacers is kinda meaningless. I mean, 30mm of spacers and a 20mm rise bar will put as much bending load on the steerer/loading on the frame and bearings as a 50mm rise bar slammed. Anyway there's no way upper body loading on the handlebar can compare to a nice square edged input at the axle..

Giraffes for erryone!


Andrew Major  - April 28, 2020, 9:11 a.m.

You don’t think the amount of steerer tube above the upper headset bearing/race/cap changes the leverage on the steerer tube at that interface?

Additionally, forces on the steerer from the fork (input from axle) will be born where it’s captured at the crown race/lower headset bearing where it’s tapered to 1.5”.


+1 Mammal
Mondoss  - April 28, 2020, 5:19 p.m.

Shouldn't do- it's just a function of bar height above the frame aye! How much of that rise is from the bar vs spacers shouldn't really change the peak stress on the steerer or load on the bearings. I wonder what bar rise Rockshox assumed when they came up with 30mm max..


+1 Pete Roggeman
Geof Harries  - April 27, 2020, 12:39 p.m.

All of my ranting about today's trend of overly short seat-tubes and head-tubes (with matching lowrider stack heights) finally has a clear visual example: the giraffe!

Dude needs to get a Ventana El Capitán in 25 inches, pronto.


+1 Geof Harries
Andrew Major  - April 27, 2020, 1:24 p.m.

Meh, that thing doesn’t look future proofed for 300mm dropper posts. 

Lots of custom builders out there doing awesome worth in terms of getting a Doctahawk-esque machine with more stack and longer rear center.


+7 JVP Mammal Mondoss Cam McRae Pete Roggeman DCLee Samuel McMain
IslandLife  - April 27, 2020, 5:32 p.m.

Did anyone else read this in a 6-cans-in-pissed-off-kiwi accent?  Cause I did... and it was glorious.


+3 Mammal Pete Roggeman IslandLife
JVP  - April 27, 2020, 6:42 p.m.

I want to listen to the audiobook version of this article.


+1 Pete Roggeman
fartymarty  - April 27, 2020, 11:07 p.m.

I thought it was mandatory to read it in a Kiwi accent.


+1 Pete Roggeman
Velocipedestrian  - April 27, 2020, 11:59 p.m.

You may not be locking down with us, but I doubt you have much accent choice.


+3 Karl Fitzpatrick Pete Roggeman Cam McRae
Velocipedestrian  - April 28, 2020, 12:03 a.m.

Lynsky, you're a gem. I didn't have to get to the nuptials photo to recognise your purple prose.


I understand the impulse to baptise a new steed, however braving the bracing waters of Ōwhiro Bay is too much for my tender nugs.


+2 Cam McRae Mammal
Samuel McMain  - April 28, 2020, 7:54 p.m.

There are few things I repost on the Facebooks, and 100% of them are from


+1 Mammal
earle.b  - April 29, 2020, 9:29 a.m.

Can we get a weekly/monthly article from these two? This reminds me soo much of late 90's Bike Mag vs the stuff we get now either online or in print.


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