Dan Gurney Eagle Monoshock: A Rare Classic BMX Endorsed by an American F1 Hero

If you're familiar with the name Dan Gurney, it's probably because of his reputation as, more or less, the only American Formula One Driver worth talking about, or maybe as an innovator in both NASCAR and Indycar. But a select handful of folks remember Dan Gurney for another reason entirely.
Gurney Eagle Monoshock Bicycle Heaven 9 photos
Photo: Benny Kirk/ autoevolution
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That reason would be putting his name on one of the very earliest innovators in BMX bicycles, a trend that would see the hobby of cycling undergo a profound transformation. This is the Dan Gurney BMX Eagle Monoshock. It's what most bicycle enthusiasts would call a pretty sweet-looking classic BMX bike with a spring inside the frame.

But trust us, it's so much more than that. It's the missing link between competitive BMX riding and professional auto racing that helped lay the foundations of the sport of BMX for the next five decades. Of course, the story behind this bike is largely tied to that of an American racer unlike any other that's come after him.

A man who'd won races in NASCAR, Indycar, Sports Car racing, and of course, Formula One. Considering most people can't even name an American-born Formula One driver is a testament to how huge of an ambassador he was for his country in mostly overseas competition.

But it was while he was home from racing for a period in the mid-1970s that Gurney made the decision to make a foray into the still infantile mountain biking scene. Legend has it that it was actually Dan's two sons, Alex and Dan Jr, who first sparked their father's interest in the idea of purpose-built racing bikes specifically made for off-road and trail riding purposes.

Gurney Eagle Monoshock
Photo: Benny Kirk/ autoevolution
The two Gurney boys supposedly roughed up more than a few bikes in their days, carving trails around their family home. According to the staff at Pittsburgh's Bicycle Heaven Museum, at least the world's largest private bicycle collection, this was the impetus for what would become one of the forbearers for the entire BMX industry.

It's not the first BMX bike, although this museum does have a model claimed to be the first. But you can't help but appreciate all of the novel engineerings that were behind every nut and bolt of this machine.

Though, it must be said. Gurney had very little to do with the design or manufacturing of this bike. Gurney's role was largely on the marketing side of things. The bike itself was made by the little-known All American BMX Company.

The monoshock design of this incredibly rare example was produced only for a short period between 1975 and 1976, as was the rest of the Dan Gurney Eagle lineup consisting of the Hardtail Eagle, Double Loop Hardtail Eagle, and this Monoshock Eagle.

Gurney Eagle Monoshock
Photo: Benny Kirk/ autoevolution
Of course, your eyes can't help but gravitate towards the single shock absorber integrated into the front half of the frame behind the front wheel but just forward of the handlebars. The logic was that this in-board shock would do what it does in a good race car. To dampens the impact of traversing over uneven terrain and keeping the front tire planted to the ground in fast corners.

It was an ingenious idea, one that's seldom been copied since, mostly as a cost-saving measure. Elsewhere, both wheels are clearly different from the run-of-the-mill thin metal spokes we're so used to even today. They're both forged alloys derived from the same techniques that are used in making wheels for sports cars.

They're very light in weight for their size while being remarkably strong, much more so than modern cheap trail bike wheels made of wire. Thin but strong aluminum makes up every sinch of the Eagle's lightweight frame, and even the tires are molded with Dan Gurney's name onto the sidewall in both the front and the rear.

Safe to say, the chances of ever finding an OEM replacement of these tires anywhere else in the world would be like finding the holy grail. But rest assured, Craig Morrow the owner, and curator of Pittsburgh's Bicycle Heaven Museum, has more than a few tricks up his sleeve.

Gurney Eagle Monoshock
Photo: Benny Kirk/ autoevolution
Check back for more from our trip to the Bicycle Heaven Museum here on autoevolution.
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