Last Sunday at Steilacoom, Byron rode up after his course pre-ride to get a closer look at my new bike, a new 2012 Redline Conquest Carbon. About 10min before, he had gotten a glimpse of the bike as I leaned over the bars, throwing up after the sprint finish of my race….which was exactly how I planned that race. I built the bike the night before and hadn’t ridden it before the race except for a single warm-up lap, then I rode it to a top-20 in my category. Byron looked over the bike and spotted a sticker on the down tube that was obviously not put there by Redline: an Asian girl in a school uniform eating a corndog.
“What’s that?”, he asked.
“That’s my friend Ming Tran….she’ll kick you right in the face.”
And so thus without too much ceremony, the 48cm Redline Conquest Carbon Team frameset was christened “Ming Tran”. Actually there’s a bit more background to the story, and it starts in the early 1990s with a professional skateboarder named Jeremy Klein. He came from the same era as Jason Lee (long, long before his name was Earl) and Mark “Gonz” Gonzales, Klein founded his own brand Hook-Ups which often featured graphics inspired by Japanese animation. He also made a number of skate videos, some of him skating and some skits. In Destroying America (2001) Klein plays the part of a pervy white guy leching on a bicycle-riding schoolgirl in LA’s Chinatown. The schoolgirl Ming Tran then crushes him with a series of kicks to the head and face before finally kicking him through a sheet of window glass. A couple years later a Canadian pop-punk band (one not named SUM41) recorded a song called “Ming Tran”.
“one of these days, i’ll get my revenge.
my friend ming tran’ll kick you right in the face.”
In the mid-90s, I bought my punk and techno music from a skate & smoke shop, saw the Hook-Ups skateboards & stickers, and started pasting the stickers to my bikes. Back then, I dyed my hair turquoise and raced crits and track. I’m racing cyclocross now, but the hair is that blue-green again and there’s a Hook-Ups Ming Tran sticker on my bike.
The Conquest Carbon is very new but is quickly becoming a popular choice for crossers. It’s light, stiff, precise. The fittings are all well-thought. Redline isn’t a brand that people often romanticize; the company just makes effin’ good product, including this frameset and the new Flight Carbon BMX frame. I tend to see bikes as just tools, which isn’t to say that I don’t treasure my favourite tools. Or I could say that a good bike feels like my favourite Tshirt. So it’s a little ironic that I’ve started to talk about my cx bike as “my friend Ming Tran” after I’ve just recognized it to be the most balanced and refined tool that I’ve used in a long time. The Ming Tran sticker was just supposed to be a way to distinguish my favourite tool from all the other Redlines savvy racers will be bringing to future races.