Pistons & Pivots - THE GRUNDLE DOWN UNDER
Thomas Lindup’s 1988 Volvo and Chromag Doctahawk
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.
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- 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.