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A short history of Titron and Grove Innovations

 

Quick links to the other Grove pages

Grove Assault

Grove X

Grove 2B1 and Hardcore

Grove Aggressor and Xtreme

Grove Ti and Suspension

Custom Grove's

Grove Hammerhead, Hot Head, Mountain Stems, Hot Rods

Grove Monoski and DH-1 race chair

Have a Grove picture? e-mail it! to mike at this website (spelled out to foil the spambots)

 

A short history of Titron and Grove Innovations

 

I recently took my bike into a shop and the owner immediately knew the bike & the company (that had never happened w/other bike shops) anyway he loves my frame!  He said if I were to ever sell it he would love it...but, sorry, that's never gonna happen.– Jacq in PA

Thanks for putting together the page about Grove bikes on your website.  Lots of very cool information there. It's amazing how hard it is to track down info re: the Grove frames that are still out there, and I've never seen any of them for sale, anywhere! – Joe

Love the Grove Innovations site.  It is nice to see a centralized collection of Grove Innovations/early mtn biking/State College memorabilia, i.e. the Leitzinger Racing sticker on the side of Bill's briefcase.... Nice!  – Joe C.

 

Innovations, and then Grove Innovations is, or was, a custom frame shop in Central Pennsylvania run by Bill Grove in the mid 1980s thru late 90s. For a while it was affiliated with The Bicycle Shop in State College, when Randy Moore and Bill Grove were financial partners. The brand name Grove Innovations is now defunct. However, Grove bicycles are still coveted by their owners and continue to turn up in private collections worldwide. Grove designs were ahead of their time and had a strong following during the early days of the mountain bike revolution. And that is exactly what it was, a revolution - it was a very exciting time to be a part of the bike industry. Bill Grove made a lot of custom designs, from trials to track bikes, road and mountain tandems, competition mountain bikes and specialty designs for physically challenged individuals. These aren't the kind of bikes that get put in dumpsters - sooner or later they pass thru a bike shop and the mechanics start asking questions... and that's usually when I get an e-mail from someone.

In recent years there has been quite a bit of interest in the history of Grove Innovations. If you have a Grove bike e-mail me some pictures!

Bill is a master craftsman, an extremely talented designer of virtually all things mechanical, and an early mentor of mine. Much of the design work I do today has roots in the design principles I learned working with Bill, and I'm fortunate to have been a part of it.

I first met Bill in 1979; I was a 15 year old BMXer and he was the local bike mechanic guru, a few years older, wrenching at John's Derailleurs in State College, PA. John's Derailleurs was owned by Clayton John, who eventually became president of the ABA. Bill had a side business called Titron, making really trick titanium BMX parts such as axles, seat post clamps, headset locks and pedals. I raced BMX for a few years flying the John's Derailleurs jersey, and although I was pretty good at riding bikes I was never particularly good at winning races. I didn't realize at the time I would be involved in the bike and outdoor industry as a career. This is me circa 1980 on a Schwinn Mag-Scrambler with Tuff Wheels at the Stormstown, PA, BMX track.

Bill's early sucess with Titron led to his becoming the designer for Hutch BMX, and towards the end of the BMX heyday Bill started Grove Innovations, designing original mountain bikes and components. Between 1988 - 1998 he produced a lot of really cool bikes for a very appreciative clientelle, and I wonder where these bikes are now. A handful of 'em surface every season, so maybe this website will help to keep track of them.

By 2000 Grove Innovations was almost entirely devoted to designing action products for the physically challenged. Bill's primary designs were Mono-ski's, competition wheelchairs and one very radical downhill chair. Today Grove is a design engineer doing what he does best, thinking about stuff normal people don't think about ...things like the Flybar:

Bikes aren't really part of Grove's world these days, but all designers are influenced by their past.

These work and play buggies distributed by Yerf-Dog are Grove designs.

 

TiTron: Grove's first product

The pre-history of Grove Innovations is Titron BMX - some of Bill's first bike designs. Here are a few of the pedals that were the first round cage design, one that SunTour would later copy. Bill sold Titron to Hutch BMX, and most Titron designs went on to carry the Hutch brand while Bill was the lead designer during the heyday of Hutch.

Above are the original Titron Bear Traps, a very rare pedal. The scalloped cage design was the original style. Below is the Hutch BMX version, produced after Bill joined Hutch Hi-Performance BMX. The bodies were polished aluminum, and cages became very aggressive with vertical teeth.

The following images are from the Alan McCorkle collection, the most complete private collection of Titron BMX parts on the planet. If you have, or need, TiTron information e-mail Alan.

NOS Bear Trap cages

TiTron Magnesium Hubs and a set of yellow Bear Traps

 

TiTron Magnesium BMX stem and seat clamp, in Grove's early style of ultra-smooth lines.

TiTron poly BB/Ti spindle for BMX and and Titanium BMX axles.

1980 JMC Mini with TiTron pedals, hubs, stem and seat clamp (McCorkle Collection)

1980 TiTron ad in BMXA (McCorkle Collection)

1981 Bear Development ad in BMXA. Bear was a partnership with TiTron. (McCorkle Collection)

A very rare Titron T-shirt

 

The first Grove Innovations catalog

 

Bill Grove left HutchBMX to begin fabricating mountain bikes in Centre Hall, PA, in the mid 1980s. This catalog was produced in 1988.

For a while there actually was a Grove Catalog, but most of the bikes sold by word of mouth. Here's some catalog info, most of which I wrote around 1988. I took the pictures of the bikes against a white brick wall at the gas station down the street, and laid out the catalog using Microsoft Word and a copy machine; about as low tech as you can get.

 

 

 

Grove Innovations Crew: 1991, Centre Hall, PA. Bill Grove (red shirt, far right) with John Upcraft (blue shirt), who has designed a few bikes of his own under the label Hubcap. Jon Balban (blue striped shirt) was the exceptional welder, and Mitch (red shirt) was an apprentice welder. Dave Case liked to pick up heavy objects (in blue tank top), painters/artists Tom Worrick (holding frame) and Mike (Piper) Knipe wearing the latest in Tyvek fashions. I have Cruiser the Happy Husky over my shoulders. Photo by Stan Smith.

The Innovations booth at Interbike Atlantic City 1989, myself (back to camera) and Greg Ford setting itup. Greg also made a career in the bike industry. The wineberry tandem in the lower left may be the same bike on the cover of MBA about a year later.

 

 

Below: Dirt Rag interview in Issue #9, 1990. The name 'Weapons' in the title art was the early name for the Hot Rod cranks.

 

 

 

Mike Knipe designed the custom paint sticker and did a lot of the custom painting. I came up with the Need for Speed/Fear of Death logo on a ski trip to Breckenridge.

 

Grove did a lot of custom paintwork on other frames. This was one of my favorites - woodgrain - layers of orange and reddish hues with lots of wet sanding.

 

 

An early 90s Team Jersey, which showed up on ebay, and an ad from the days when "we stock the entire line" meant The Bicycle Shop bought everything Bill Grove could build, literally.

A 1997 Grove Jersey from Joe Callan's collection. You can find Joe's Aggressor in the site.

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Below: An early issue (#11, 1990) of Dirt Rag featured this interview with myself and Randy Moore:

 

The last remaining Bomber bike: Randy Moore's 'Wimpy"

 

 

 

updated 6/2010