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- The Story of The Bike –

By Bob Hoernemann






What is “The Bike”? I get asked that a lot. The Bike is my rookie cruiser, The USS Minneapolis. I bought a Swampworks Houston hull kit way back in 1998. I built and battled with The Bike until I picked up a HMS Warspite hull in 2002 and made that my main ship in 2003. The Bike has had many major and minor refits to make it into the “Fighting” machine it is today. The first few refits did not do a whole lot for it. Mostly because I had no idea what I was doing. But over time she got better and is now a pretty good cruiser. Although she really needs a new deck and subdeck; the internals and guns work great. She got a new deck the winter of 2009.


Why does everyone call it “The Bike”? Typically this is the 2nd question I get. When I finished the HMS Warspite in 2003 I had not made any changes to The Bike or robbed any parts from it. It was still a working ship and had a separate radio from my new battleship. I started bringing it to local battles and let new prospects battle with it. It was not a great ship and they did not know what they were doing so it sank a lot. I kept fixing it and improving it, soon the prospects started to improve their use of it and she started to sink less. One of my favorite things to do is hand it to the new guy, let him try it out, then go sink him. Nothing like having the ship you were just lent pounded under the waves to really set the Model Warship Combat hook. It was April of 2006 when the USS Minneapolis that Bob loaned out became The Bike. Ben saw the latest victim, I mean prospect, and said “So you’re taking the town bicycle out for a ride.” I can’t say that before then I had ever heard that phrase before. But it stuck for a couple of battles. The Town Bicycle would go to the prospective captain, but that was just too long to type so it, like any other good nickname, was shortened to The Bike.


How many people have taken “The Bike” for a ride? After people hear the story they want to know how many people have been caught using The Bike as bait. I’m sorry to say I did not really keep track back in the early days. I’ve tried to remember, looked back in old battle reports and I’ve asked around. The names listed below are the members of “The Order of The Bike”. Everyone I can think of that rode The Bike or people who claimed to have done it.


Former Riders of “The Bike”

Paul Erdman

He was the first Bike rider back in 2001. He came to a battle and took her out for part of a sortie. When we got home he ordered a Brooklyn kit from Swampy.

Someone from Burnsville

He had a Swampy Derflinger kit but never came to another battle. Wonder what happened to that kit…

Andy Dahl

A regular Bike rider at local battles also took it out for campaign during 06 NATS. He forgot to turn on the pump and sank.

Grant Dahl

Like his brother Andy has ridden The Bike at Port Polar Bear.

Lars Dahl

He feels bad about not taking his own ship out but not bad enough to let The Bike sit on shore.

Ron Horbul

He’s taken The Bike out a couple times when his warship died during battle.

Moe Walker

Took her out at a local battle then purchased a Lutzow.

Jason Schaffer

He’s battled with The Bike off and on since 2001.

Steve Millholand

Swampy came to NATS 04 without a ship. I let him run The Bike. He gave it back after sinking both battles on Monday.

Ben Radenbaugh

Ben heard about the hobby from Moe, his uncle, and had to see it for himself. He rode The Bike until his USS North Carolina was finished. He has the honor of naming The Bike.

Catha Radenbaugh

Ben’s wife was the first woman to battle The Bike. She did better then some of the other guys.

Kevin Bray

Kevin didn’t have a working ship for The Fray in 05, so he sank The Bike

Richard Simpson

He flew all the way from Australia to take a ride.

Curly Barret

The die hard Axis captain took The Bike out for The Ice Breaker in 2005, just don’t tell Wade.

Ryan Butler

Ryan took The Bike for a ride in 2005 then bought a VDT and won ROY in 2007

Tom Palmer

Tom showed up at the 2006 Fracus and almost lost The Bike in some deep water. He felt so bad he promised to finish his Nashville and bring it to the Ice Breaker.

Ron Faltus

Took The Bike out after Tom Palmer almost lost it.

Trystan Thompson

Took The Bike out at the 06 Fracus and 07 Springfield regional.

Trent Thompson

Trystan’s dad took a turn at the same regionals

Ryan Thompson

Trent’s brother took a ride in Springfield too.


A friend of Trystan’s he has ridden The Bike in Springfield a couple of times.

Kevin McCalib

He took The Bike out once and was never seen again.


A one battle and done captain.

Peter Ellison

Before TMGBC Peter was a Bike Rider.

Andy Terpstra

Found the hobby at the Ice Breaker in 2006. He battled The Bike locally until his USS Baltimore was completed.

Dave Terpstra

Like his son Andy he has taken The Bike out locally.

Mike Cucchiarella

Mike also took a ride at the 2006 Ice Breaker then built the USS St Paul.

Bryan Bray

Ran The Bike at the 06 Fall Fray. Did well enough that dad (Kevin) thought he could handle his own ship.

Tyler Helland

As a college student he came to a winter building meeting with a USS Minneapolis wood hull. He rode The Bike until his was done. The training from The Bike helped him win the NATS 2008 ROY

Kevin Kaminski

Kevin came to the Fray with a real old Lutzow. We did our best to revive it Friday night for battle on Saturday but an ESC died so he took The Bike for a ride.

Rick Whitsal

Rick came back to the hobby in 2007 after taking a few years off. His cruiser was not ready so he rode The Bike during NATS.

JP Marino

A true Cubs fan JP took The Bike for a ride at Ice Breaker 2007

Paul Coffee

Another of the many locals to take out The Bike while building their own ship.

Shelby Coffee

Shelby tried to paint The Bike pink.

Tom Henchal

Tyler’s college roommate took The Bike out and was hooked, not as deep as Tyler but enough.

Chandler Archibald

He’s an officer in the real US Navy. His brother Brandon does most of the model battling.

Brandon Archibald

The Bike was the start, now he’s got an I-Boat.

Chuck Speltz

A big gunner at heart The Bike was his fast gun friend.

Steve Dickow

Riding The Bike inspired him to build a big battleship first.

Jim Kaminski

Kevin’s brother came from Arizona to Farmington, MO to ride The Bike. At the end of his first sortie he went on 5. He thought he could just sit out his 5 next to shore, until an Au desheeted the starboard side of the ship.

Steve Smith

He has a dusty Graff Spee that needs a refit; in the mean time he’ll take The Bike.

Bill Eckenrode

Of all the people I’ve worked with over the years Bill is the only one to take a ride.

Randy Stiponovich

The Smurfs took over for the cruiser battle at NATS 2008.

Hudson Myer

Tyler’s cousin rode The Bike until Tyler built him a cruiser.

Darren Mathews

Battled The Bike most of the 2008 Fray.


He happened by the 2008 Fray and was handed the controls, never did get his last name.

Alan Farham

A reporter for Forbes magazine came to the 2008 Fray to do a story on us and took his turn on The Bike. We should have tried harder to sink him.

Chris Pearce

Chris had too many onion rings Sunday night at the 2008 Fray and needed a smaller ship Monday morning.

John Worley

Started as a high school student, we try to get them young and keep them around.

Kim Mendrzycki

He bought a Brooklyn kit from Swampy then put it on the shelf for almost 10 years. The Bike helped get him into a safer hobby.

David Kuisle

He drove up from Rochester with his dad and went Bike Riding before he left.


A guy Lars works with took a ride in the fall of 2008.

Jeff Lipp

Took her out at Wade’s battle in 2009.

Jake Scott

Another friend of Tyler’s did not look that interested until he took out The Bike. “This is pretty cool I might have to get one.”


A young guy found us in the local paper and came out for the Tangle @ Engler. He battled The Bike all weekend and his mom took video for us.


Another friend of Tyler’s took The Bike at a local battle.

Greg Hackenson

He’s working on a ships and took The Bike for a ride in June, 2009. It sank, funny how that works.

Brian Garret

A young guy from St Cloud talked his dad into driving him down for a battle and got to ride The Bike.

James Foster

James could not get his cruiser ready for NATS 09 and took out The Bike.

Zach Hoernemann

The new “owner” of The Bike battled with it for the first time at the 2009 Ice Breaker. He’ll still let you take her out, sometimes.

Robert Smith

Johnny Adams brought Robert to the 2010 Brouhaha to take the Bike for a ride. Then Johnny shot it up when ever he could.

Steve Reichenbach

Steve took The Bike out for a spin at the 2010 Tangler

Mike Gregson

Battled at the Tangler with The Bike before his ship was ready. Tried to lose it at the deep end of the pond.


Great Moments in The History of “The Bike”

Fall 1997

I discover model warship combat at the hobby store, order a Swampworks catalog and buy The Bike.

Spring 1998

The Bike arrives, the instructions are bad, and I have no idea what I am doing.

Fall 1998

The Bike is done and takes its first trip on the water.

All of 1999

Having still never met another battler I spend all year working on my house and going to weddings.

Spring 2000

The first Port Polar Bear meeting I was able to attend. Curly helps me fire my guns for the first time into his freshly skinned Possen. He needs to replace a panel when we’re done. “That was dumb” is all he can say.


The Bike’s first battle (Mine too). She got 1 hole, listed to starboard and sank. The radio box leaked and battling was done for the day after 2 minutes.

July 2001

A new main deck and super structure to make it look more like the real USS Minneapolis.

Winter 2001

The old plastic Swampworks radio box is shelved and a new wood box is made.

July 2002

The Bike’s first NATS (Mine too). She sinks in campaign on Tuesday, starting a yearly tradition. This one is caused by a bad ram patch using duct tape. If not for a bad rudder servo on Friday she would have been Best of Class 3.

August 2002

After moving both guns to the stern Paul & I have a 1on1 battle. Paul’s Honolulu sinks becoming the first victim of The Bike.

July 2003

The Bike sinks in campaign, this time run over by Kevin HovisBismarck.

Winter 2003

I finally pull out the auto pump switch and add a micro switch to the radio box.

May 2004

New guns from BC, now she has some teeth.

July 2004

Sinks in campaign again. This time right at the end of the battle as the RX battery died and she backed herself under.

Winter 2005

A major refit to add solenoids, new pump, new motors, better gun set up and all new wiring.

June 2005

Has a great NATS campaign, helping sink 3 convoy ships in the two battles. Finster sinks her in Thursday’s campaign when I’m not paying attention. He warned me Tuesday and I still lost focus.

April 2006

Ben starts calling her The Town Bicycle, since everyone has taken her for a ride.

May 2006

Is almost lost in a battle at Farmington, MO. After sinking pretty close to shore she drives around under water eluding three different captains trying to find her.

June 2006

Sinks in campaign again due to a dead RX battery. Randy tries to push her to shore after shooting her up. Only a tinny amount of water was in the box after being under for 40 minutes.

Winter 2007

Get’s a major drive and rudder refit, including a rudder box. Spring sea trials revel she can spin in a very tight circle.

July 2007

Something must have gone wrong at NATS; The Bike is not sunk in Campaign, but does help put down a couple convoy ships.

Summer 07

Some of the old Swampy foam superstructure is replaced with ABS. You’d be surprised how many bbs were in there.

Fall 2007

A hose explodes and blows out one panel of the ship. If only it would have happened on the water it would have looked so cool.

Winter 2008

The RX batteries are tossed and now she runs on the main battery.

July 2008

NATS in MN has The Bike in Andy Dahl’s hands for campaign. Andy keeps up with tradition and sinks her; he forgot to turn on the pump.

Winter 2008

New NIMH batteries to power The Bike. Old BC guns are taken out and new “Mark 7” PPB guns are installed.

Summer 2009

Goes to NATS and is used by James Foster all week. He paints the hull, oh the horror, now she looks “scale”.

Winter 2009-10

Another major refit. The old deck is removed and a new sub deck and deck are installed. Now the ship will have a real deck seal. I also have found a higher RPM pump motor, more amps and more output. I even made some improvements to the superstructure.


A Photo History of “The Bike”



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The first battle launch of The Bike.

Looking for The Bike after her first sink.

The Bike at her prettiest right before NATS 02.

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NATS 02 in the cruiser battle.

Ben’s NC blasting the helpless Bike.

It’s fun to shoot up The Bike. When some poor rookie is driving her.

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Kevin Bray sinking The Bike at the Fray 2005

This pile up happened in the 05 Fray cruiser battle.

After sinking in the Fray 05 cruiser battle.

NATs 05 Ionia, MI 110


Ice Breaker 06

Heading out for another run during NATS 05 campaign.

Foster shooting up a convoy at NATS 2009.

Sunk at the hands of some rookie at a local battle, happens a lot.

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Cruiser battle at NATS 07.

The hole from the big hose explosion. The main deck popped over the nuts holding it down and the SS covering the mags blew off.

After removal of the decks in 2009.


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The new decks cut and ready for install.

The back half of the ship looks much better now.

New decks and even some better superstructure.