BMX Icons: Linn Kastan
When you hear the name Redline, you think of Flight Cranks, Proline frames, tubular forks, and V Bars. The man responsible for all these fantastic products was none other than Linn Kastan. He had ideas that brought the level of technology in BMX up to levels that other companies could only hope to reach. Linn is still very much involved in the bike industry today with Kastan a company bearing his own name. We had the opportunity to speak with Linn about Redline and its role in the history of BMX when I ran VintageBMX.com back in 2002.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: When did you start Redline as a company?
Linn Kastan: Redline was started in November of 1970.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: And your first product at the time?
Linn Kastan: We were in the motorcycle frame business. I was a partner with a guy named Mike Konle, who was a speedway racer.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: What were you making?
Linn Kastan: Mainly suspension frames for flat tracks and TT racers.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: When did you first learn about BMX and start to get involved with it?
Linn Kastan: Around early 1974, actually, it was probably late 73 because I made a bicycle, a BMX-type bicycle out of this chromoly material that we used for the motorcycle frames for my son for Christmas in 73, and I had it locked up in the back of a pickup truck that I had at the time because it was the only place I could keep him out of, and I didn’t really think much of it. I didn’t know much about BMX as it was in its very, very early stages. And I got a call from a guy named Bob Handing out of the blue, who was president of Shimano sales, as I recall. And I didn’t know who he was and I’d never heard of Shimano. I didn’t know anything about it. But he had heard somewhere that I had made this bicycle. I don’t know how he heard it; he never told me, actually; and he said that if I was ever in the area where his office was in Sun Valley that he’d like to see it. So, I didn’t think any more about it, really; and sometime after that, I don’t really even remember how long it was, I was driving down San Fernando road over in Sun Valley and I just happened to see Shimano on this building, so I just pulled over onto the side of the road on kind of a lark and I walked in and asked the receptionist if there was a guy named “Bob” there. I couldn’t remember his last name; and he stuck his head out of an office down a hallway and he says “I’m Bob,” and he came walking up and he introduced himself and he asked me if I had completed that bike, and I said “yeah, I’ve got it out in the truck.” So he came out and looked at it and he said there was a guy up in San Fernando named Jim Emerson who was taking groups of kids out to Sylmar somewhere and they had made a dirt track and they were pretending like they were motorcycle riders. And it was right about the time when “On Any Sunday” came out. And so Bob said “you ought to go up and show this to him. I’m sure he’d be interested in it.” So I just happened to be in that area. My office my little shop was on the other side of the San Fernando Valley, on the west side, and this was on the far east side. I didn’t go over there very much. So I figured I’d just drive up to San Fernando and see him while I was there. So I drove up there, showed it to him, and he was really into this little dirtbbike deal then. And he said there were a couple of people that were making cheap frames. I think Gary Littlejohn was one of them.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Yes.
Linn Kastan: In fact, Jim Emerson was even making a few frames; I believe they were called “Dirtmaster.”
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Okay.
Linn Kastan: And he was then partners with Mike Devitt. He had a shop called “Pedalers West.”
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: I’ve heard of it.
Linn Kastan: And it’s where all the really early kids used to hang out. David Clinton and Bobby Encinas and Marvin Church, John George, and Billy Wouda were some of the riders.. And I don’t know how I’m remembering these names. I haven’t thought about this in years and years. So he looked at this bike and he said, well that’s great. You know we could use light frames like that, but what we really need is a fork that wont break. That’s what’s holding us back now. So, I didn’t say much; and I said, “okay, well nice to meet you” and I got back in my truck and I drove back to my shop and on my way back across the Valley, I came up in my mind how I’d make this fork. So, that day I made a couple of them and I headed back over to his place the next morning. And when he first saw it he said, “Oh, well that’s way too heavy.” And then he picked it up and he said, I forget, he said, “its hollow.” And I said, “Yeah, it is hollow.” So he said “we’ll try this.” And he bolted it on a bike and one of the kids rode it around and hit a couple of curves with the thing and he said, “You’re not going to believe this but you’re going to be making thousands of these things pretty quick.” So I said, “yeah, okay, good. Well, find out if that one works first.” So there apparently was a kind of a little night race meeting up in Castaic that night somewhere. So he took it up and he called me the next day and said that the kids had jumped the bike off of garage roofs and off of the starter shack and they couldn’t hurt the fork, but the bad news was that somebody stole the bike. Could I make another one? And so I said, “Yeah, I happen to have made another one.” So I took it back to him, and I didn’t think much more about it. It seemed to me very shortly after that a guy walked in my shop from up north somewhere and his name was Frank Numeroski. Anyway, he had a fledgling BMX parts distribution business up in the Bay area and he asked me how many of the things I could make in a week and I said, “I don’t know; how many you want?” And he said, “I’ll buy as many as you can make; I’ll be here every Friday.” So we settled on a price, and he started coming down on Fridays and picking them up. And he bought quite a bit of stuff from us until we had trouble with a couple of his checks, and then I never saw him again.
And before long, I got a call from Howie Cohen at West Coast Cycle wondering about it. And so I sent him a sample of one, and he called me back and said it was the ugliest thing he’d ever saw and they’d never sell. Shortly after that, he was disposed from there by the bank, and his brother, Leo, was running it then. Leo had a purchasing agent working for him named was Joel Davis, who was very sharp. Joel called me down, and I showed it to him, and he placed an order for like a thousand pieces. It was the biggest order we ever got.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Wow.
Linn Kastan: We didn’t stop making those things for about six years. They were known as “chromoly forks” and that’s all anybody called them in those days, was “Redline forks” or “Redline chromoly forks.”
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: So in 1974 you started producing them.
Linn Kastan: Yes. In 1974 we started with those forks.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Very early versions of your fork had the fork legs extending beyond the dropouts. The reason?
Linn Kastan: The reason we did that is because at that time in the motorcycle business, there was a revolutionary development by Maico, Maico Motorcycles out of Germany had a very long travel front fork, and the axle dropout was mounted on the front of the fork leg to give more length to the stanchion tube. And it was a really popular look to have it go by like that. So that’s the reason I did the first one like that. Only for looks. We didn’t make them like that too long.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: And what was the reason for changing the leg design?
Linn Kastan: To save material and weight. It didn’t do anything; they were just for looks.
Linn Kastan: The very early forks were of poor quality. The early headsets were not very good quality, and the bottom races were very thin, and instead of pressing over a small shoulder on the fork crown, it had a taper to it, and it nested on an angle that was cut into the collar on the bottom of the fork steer, and so that’s the way I did the original forks it was sort of a mistake to do it that way. I should have made a step on it, but I didn’t like the step because it made it very thin, you know how thin the wall is on that step of a one-inch fork steerer?
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Yes.
Linn Kastan: Okay. I didn’t like that. So I made the collar, you know the original fork steered tube was one inch and I believe it was a one and quarter inch tube that the one-inch steerer pressed into?
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Yes, and then you welded it at the bottom.
Linn Kastan: Right. Welded it at the bottom. I didn’t like that little thin step trick on there. It seemed like it would break off. So I machined an angle on that collar that fit the angle that was on the fixed cone of the Schwinn headsets of the day. But the problem was that when kids saw that angle on there, they didn’t think they needed the race, so they started running the bearings directly on the fork, and the forks were constantly come loose and we kept getting calls from people saying they cant keep their forks tight, and we had a couple of them send them back and when they sent them back, of course, we saw that the hardened balls were just beating their way into that angle, that was machined on that collar, and the fork was constantly getting loose and they finally they’d just run out of threads. Or sometimes it would actually slip over it, it would get beat up so badly. So we didn’t do that very long. We changed that pretty quickly. That was the first actual modification. And the second one was the nipping of the cutting off the fork legs so they didn’t go by the dropout.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Now, you made your son’s frame When did you start getting into the frame business?
Linn Kastan: Would have been the next year, about 1975. We started playing around with some frames right away but we didn’t come out with our own frame until, I believe, well wait a minute, it was late 1974. That’s right. Because we had a guy going around to bike shops trying to sell them for Christmas and he’d come back and say that the bike shops thought he was crazy because we wanted, I think we wanted $82.50 for a frame, and they said they could buy a whole Stingray for that much. In those days, the Schwinn dealers were the only dealers that really were dependable, and they weren’t allowed to buy from people like us. They only could buy from Schwinn. So we sold them kind of onesies and twosies.
Linn Kastan: We started building the frames, and they were sort of pre sold. I found all of the old books the other day, that we entered all of our sales in, and we numbered each frame, and I’ve got hundreds of pages of where all those first frames went: who bought them, what bike shops, what numbers they were, and everything like that. It was kind of funny to look at them.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: That’s interesting. How many frames do you figure you made the first year?
Linn Kastan: I have ledgers where we recorded every frame made and according to them from November 1974 to March 1978 we made 10,500 frames
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: When you started numbering the frames, did they start from number one? Linn Kastan: The frame numbers started at 100
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Was the first frame was a Squareback?
Linn Kastan: Yes
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Now, how did you come up with that Squareback design?
Linn Kastan: Oh, just my own.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Just something unique.
Linn Kastan: Well, there wasn’t anything to copy in those days. It was just the way that I thought we should do it. We were in the motorcycle business, and that’s the way motorcycles were made.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: And that was with the single gusset up at the front without a hole.
Linn Kastan: The first ones had a single gusset right in the middle. A small one.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: All right. The next version had a larger gusset with two holes in it.
Linn Kastan: Right.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: The original rigid frame, the chain stay has several mitres to it. Was that made from several pieces of tubing?
Linn Kastan: Well, actually, it was one piece, but it was just like a piece of pie cut off of one side of it, we bent it and welded it back.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: What was the reason to go with the bent chain stay piece instead of the pie cut chain stay?
Linn Kastan: It was a lot easier to make them that way.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Okay.
Linn Kastan: Once we started making a few of them, then we were able to make the bend tooling so we could bend them. Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: There was less labor involved in the process?
Linn Kastan: Yes.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Around late 1976 some Squareback frames started showing up with larger O.D. top and down tubes. Why the change?
Linn Kastan: I wanted to do that right from the start because we were like, let me see. We got into it so early, or I got into it so early that there was nobody making anything of any sophistication in the industry at that time at all. And I wanted to use a larger OD tube to start off with, with a thinner wall, but the kids that used to hang around the shop; they thought that people would think it was too heavy. So we used one-inch tubes on the early ones with a pretty thick wall. But I went to an inch and a quarter diameter down tube with a thinner walljust as quickly as I could rationalize it to everybody.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: What was the reason for changing from a Squareback design to the newer round tube chainstay with one piece dropouts?
Linn Kastan: If you will recall that the chainstay was a rectangular tube, it was “ 1/2 by 1” stock.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Yes.
Linn Kastan: The slot was right in the center of it, we’d mill a slot into that tube and then we’d take this little formed piece which was like a clip and then we’d slip it in there and then we’d weld it in. And the seat stay was welded right above that, adjacent to the slot.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Yes.
Linn Kastan: So it was very strong in the upward position. But some of the kids would tighten their axle on it without a washer and when they would loosen it, they would spread the bottom, because it wasn’t very strong in the other direction. And we started getting some back that were bent open and broken off and then they were scrap.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: You went from that Squareback slotted design to the one piece dropout because they were spreading them and breaking the end off.
Linn Kastan: Right.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: When did you start making the double clamp stems?
Linn Kastan: I have to say that that was very, very close. It would have been around 1976, maybe 1975 when we started making those stems. We had a kid working for us named Byron Friday who was our tester. He would break
off these Ashtabula stems. Byron Friday probably has better memory of that stuff than I do, to be honest. He worked with me every day. He was a good kid.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: How many prototypes did you go through before you came out with that or how many versions did you go through before you eventually went to the Brute stem?
Linn Kastan: Well, that particular one, we didn’t do a lot of testing on. I can recall that I became aware of the problem of the handlebars slipping on the Ashtabula stem. And so I figured to do it that way, because that was a motorcycle design, so I just went ahead and made those with a quarter inch mild steel plate on top. And I don’t believe the first one even had a gusset on it. I didn’t think that it needed one. And I think Byron Friday took about two days, before he brought one back in two pieces. So I put the tubing gusset under it, still using the mild steel material, the cold rolled material, and sometime later on, we started getting those back with cracks around the outside of all the welds. So that was a big increase in the amount of stress that those things were seeing as the kids became more trusting of this equipment. They started getting more and more daring and they started putting more loads on them so we were chasing them after a while. Meantime, Cook Bros. came out with one that used a chromoly plate instead of a mild steel plate, and it had a bit of a slope on it. And what that did was serve to increase the weld area around the attachment from the plate to the stem. It also did something else in that, with the plate being angled back like it was, it put the force more in tension. The hardest way to break that plate would be
to try and pull it straight off, right? Not twist it off. By angling it that way, it was going in that direction, so it decreased the load on it, so it was a pretty good idea, actually. It decreased the load on it and the, using the 4130 material, solved the breakage problem.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Where did the idea for the V bars come from?
Linn Kastan: Well, the problem with the handle bars were was that the kids would break them off right where the crossbar welded. I put the bend in them so that they had a bit of spring to them; it put a little flex in the bar because with a straight crossbar. It had no flex in it at all. With a bent one, it was like a spring.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: And then we come to the Proline. How did you come about the decision for a five inch steerer tube?
Linn Kastan: It gave it some individuality to frame design. The kids were raising their stems up and they wanted their bars higher, and I thought we could just kind of solve a lot of those problems with just making the head tube longer adding more rigidity and we could use lighter tubes. The base of the head tube and the fork length was the same position on all frames with four inch head tubes. That meant that if you wanted your bar higher, you’d have to just slide the stem up or get a higher bar, where if you just made the head tube longer, then it made everything you had to do on top of that an inch less.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Okay. So that was the reasoning behind it was to, also making it stronger and allowing you to use lighter tubing?
Linn Kastan: Yes
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: When was the first Proline made? Linn Kastan: In March of 1978
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: When did you start getting the idea for the flight cranks?
Linn Kastan: I started on the flight cranks around late 1976, and there was a bunch of generations that I started from the beginning.
Linn Kastan: And late 1977--I think it was that I went to Japan as a guest of Shimano along with one of the Cook brothers, who were the first ones who copied our fork by the way. They’re not real high on my list. And a guy named Gerry something that had a place called Laguna Distributors. Chuck Raudman from Skyway. A guy from CYC, Terry somebody or other. And when I came back from there, I was so impressed by what the small Japanese companies, I mean they were just little tiny hole-in-the-wall shops just like we were. There was none like Shimano, there was no big factories that were doing anything. And I got real excited about doing things over there instead of making frames and forks over here and then importing 35 parts to make a bicycle. I got the idea that what I’d like to do was make some kind of a deal with a small factory over there. Teach them how to make frames and forks for me, and let them assemble complete bicycles for me. So, when I got back from there, my partner and I disagreed on that so I bought him out of Redline in 1978, and I was working on those cranks for about a year and a half before that and he had such little faith in that particular product that he let me have that for free, I didn’t have to buy that from him. It turned out to be our best product ever, actually.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: So you went through several generations of them. Linn Kastan: Oh, yeah. Half a dozen. The first one lasted about a half an hour.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Byron Friday told us he broke an ankle on one of them.
Linn Kastan: He probably did because he didn’t have a whole lot of caution. We were really feeling our way along. It was very difficult to come up with what I wanted to come up with because the existing parts that we had to utilize. The spindle sizes because of the bearings and all that stuff, were so small that I really couldn’t put much of any size in there.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: In the June 1978 Bicycle Motocross Action there’s a Redline ad that shows the picture of the tubular flight cranks. And its rounded at the end by the pedal boss. It looks like it’s made out of rectangular tubing. And there is an actual bolt at the end, like a pinch bolt. “Newest edition of the Pro Set, available now in seven inch. Lighter than the most popular three piece alloy crank, one bolt quick change operation, uses
any sprocket.” Is how the ad reads. And then the next one we’ve been able to find in catalogs showed up in a Schwinn catalog from1979 and that didn’t have the pinch bolt and had a more conventional style rounded type, rectangular tubing.
Linn Kastan: There were a bunch of prototypes; I think we made a couple of hundred that we used for testing and on the tours, and just to kind of find out what we were doing; and I really didn’t get into it until I found somebody that could make that proper tubing the way I wanted it; and then that’s what launched us. We couldn’t make enough of those for ten years, it seemed like.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: There was a bike in one of the magazine ads that had cantilever brake posts, or canti brakes on it in. Did you experiment with that for a little while?
Linn Kastan: Well, I actually made my own brakes at one stage. I haven’t thought about this in years and years, but I actually made a set of brakes with little sealed ball bearings in them in the late 1970s and we never did put them in production, but they had some linkage, and they had some leverage doublers in them. I cant remember. Byron will probably remember about those two.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: He did say they were some type of a canti brake. They mounted on a post. Linn Kastan: Yes.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: So you did make those, but there was never production on them. They were strictly team bikes. Linn Kastan: Right.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: You went through a lot of research and development on everything you did.
Linn Kastan: Yes, well, you know, really, we were used to working in an arena that was much, much more sophisticated than bicycles. We were making complete motorcycles at that time.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Which was technically a lot more advanced.
Linn Kastan: Yeah. And really, the BMX kids, they had a vice, a crescent wrench and a hammer. That’s all they had, so things that we were making were revolutionary to all these kids that saw them but it wasn’t anything that was that sophisticated for someone who was in our business.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: What was the relationship with Champion?
Linn Kastan: Well, Champion was owned by a guy named Doug Schwerma, and he and I were early competitors in the motorcycle frame business. And there is a really interesting story: Yamaha International decided to come out with a division called YDPI, I think. I cant remember exactly what it stood for, but it was a division within Yamaha International, Yamaha USA, to distribute these hot rod parts that we made for flat track guys like frame sets and crank shafts and primary case covers and all this kind of stuff. They were going to distribute them themselves. And there were not a lot of people in the accessory frame business, mainly Redline and Champion. And we did a lot of work for Honda in those early years making prototype moto cross frames. We worked a lot with Honda R&D; we worked a lot with Kawasaki; we did a lot of motorcycle projects in the early days. Yamaha sent out a couple of letters. One to us and one to Champion. They were in Hayward, up in the Bay Area. And all of a sudden, we saw that Yamaha was selling Champion frame sets. And I called, I cant remember the guy’s name who was running it at the time. I said “well, why did you go with him?” and he said, “well, because you didn’t respond to the quote.” And I said, “I never got anything from you.” And he said, “well, we sent everything out a couple of months ago, and he was the only one who responded so we just kind of went with him.” So shortly thereafter we went to a larger plant, and when we were moving, I found a letter from them behind the secretary’s desk.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: It never made it to your desk.
Linn Kastan: I never saw it. So Schwerma got that job, and he started having a lot of success, and he made very good stuff. I have to give him full credit. He had a nice little factory up there and Doug Schwerma was a very clever guy. But he started making a little bit of money, and he, how can I put this diplomatically? He inhaled most of it.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Okay.
Linn Kastan: So he ended up committing suicide. He pulled over on the side of the road, on some lonely stretch of road and finished it off. Put a garden hose in his exhaust pipe and killed himself. So we got a call from either it was his bank or somebody asking if we were interest in his plant. So we drove up, actually we flew up. We had our own airplane at that time. We flew up and we landed at Hayward airport and we went and looked at his plant. He had been gone for about three months, as I recall. And we walked into this plant and it was as if the lunch bell went off and people walked out and never came back. Things were set up on jobs. There were cigarettes in ashtrays. And we made them an offer. I cant remember what it was now. We bought the whole place and the name, and we loaded up a couple of 40 foot trailers; and we brought it all down to Chatsworth, and put it in our plant. We dedicated. We kind of split them up at that stage. Redline was making mostly bicycle stuff, and Champion was doing motorcycle stuff. That would have been in 1976 or around there. And when I bought out my partner(Mike Konle). I took Redline, and he kept Champion.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Did he continue making Champion bicycles at that point?
Linn Kastan: He tried to make a few bicycles, but mainly what he did was, he was a big subcontractor for Skip Hess.
Linn Kastan: Schwerma made the first Champion bike frames with that triangulated front section, he had a small tube piercing the downtube.
Linn Kastan: Mike Konle continued with that for a while, but he finally gave up on it and got out of the bike business and went into the crane business (one of his truck cranes is featured in the movie, Terminator 3- Rise of the Machines).
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: When did you make the Monoshock?
Linn Kastan: That would have been right around those same years. It was pre 1976, probably if I had to guess. We first put them in a little brochure that we had advertising motorcycle frames. We put that in there along with the fork. It was our very first advertisement for BMX stuff.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: So the monoshock and the fork? Linn Kastan: Yeah.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Did you make a lot of them?
Linn Kastan: We made a run of 35 of them, I’ve only got one. They used banana seats, Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: How about the 16 inch squareback.
Linn Kastan: We made 150 of them with first one built in June of 1975
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Were they a good seller for you at the time?
Linn Kastan: They were okay. We made them for real little tiny kids. There was going to be a 16 inch BMX class, and there was for a while for the little tiny kids, but it didn’t last long.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: That was the reason you built them. Linn Kastan: Yes.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Was the monoshock was the initial bike.
Linn Kastan: Well, no the rigid frames came first. We made 637 of the original rigid frames. Linn Kastan: The monoshock didn’t come in until quite a ways down the road.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: How many people were working at Redline back in the day? Linn Kastan: About 20, before the bicycles, there was only four of us.
Linn Kastan: When we started in the bike business, we really cranked up for a few years.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: There were about 20 people employed by you. What year did you finally decide to send your production overseas?
Linn Kastan: I went over there in April of 1979 and stayed over there two months in Kobi, Japan, and trained six kids that worked for Kalamura, how to tig weld. There weren’t any machines over there. I had to bring them all from here and there was a little room in their office building where it was the only place where anyone spoke any English at all. They had two factories but nobody spoke English there. So we moved these, I think there were six welding machines, into this little room that was no bigger than a double car garage, and that’s where all the Redline production was done for quite a few years after that.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: By 1980 you were building complete bicycles in Japan Linn Kastan: Yes.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: And how about the frame sets? Linn Kastan: We were making them here in the U.S.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: When did you put your first team together?
Linn Kastan: The first real team we put together probably around 1978, and we took a chance with the ABA, I think, in 1979 we sponsored their summer tour. I think that was the first time we really took a team on tour.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: And do you remember everybody that you had at the time?
Linn Kastan: There would have been Jeff Ruminer, Mike Bush, and a kid whose name escapes me, I can see his face, I can’t remember his name.
Linn Kastan: I’ve got one of those little magazines that that ABA printed for that tour with the cowboys on the front. And that would have all the information about who was on it in there, but I don’t know if Greg Hill was with us then or not. I know he went on a couple of tours with us, but I’m not so sure he was on that first one.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Dave Clinton? Linn Kastan: David Clinton was with us.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Dennis Dain?
Linn Kastan: He came quite a bit later.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Okay, late 1979 into 1980? He’s pictured in the 1979 May BMX Action in a Redline uniform. Linn Kastan: Oh yeah. Well there were a bunch of them riding in that time frame.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: The next riders on the team were Stu Thomsen and Greg Hill, How was that team?
Linn Kastan: It was very, very successful for us, but they were very difficult to work with...Stuart and Greg were a couple of brats, actually. In fact, a few years ago, I ran into Greg at a race over in Phoenix somewhere, and he came up to me and he said, “I apologize for how I used to be.”
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Do you remember roughly what the pro salaries were back in the day?
Linn Kastan: I think Stuart was making about $1,000 a month. And I think he was getting another $1,000 from Skyway. I think also he was getting a little from Oakley. He probably had some other guys too, I don’t recall.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: And then any contingencies based on performance Linn Kastan: Yeah.
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: When did you get involved with freestyle? How did that work. Did RL Osborn approach you?
Linn Kastan: Yeah. It was RL and his father. They were trying to say that freestyle was a market waiting for a product. It was sort of the opposite. He just claimed that if somebody would start supplying these things that they would be an instant success. And he wasn’t right about the instant success, but in the end, he was right. Actually, as I recall RL and Buff were riding for the magazine, remember? And I think Bob started getting some heat about that from advertisers because people were advertising their product in his magazine, and he was advertising his own team, and I think people thought it was too much of an inside job, so...
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: The team had their co-sponsor logos all over their bikes and uniforms.
Linn Kastan: Right. So RL came to me and said, “I’d like to get away if you can handle this,” and I said, “all right, I’ll take it over then.”
Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: How many years did you work with RL?
Linn Kastan: Well, as I recall, we got into it about 1983, I think. So I don’t think it was over 3 years. Bill Curtin / VintageBMX: Did it work well for you?
Linn Kastan: Yeah. Really well.
At this point Linn had to go so we ended the interview. VintageBMX.com would like to thank Linn Kastan for his time in giving this interview.