Stretch Eye Candy? Stretch Beach Cruiser History, Current Makes & Models Thread

Crazy Horse

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Feb 20, 2009
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Eye Candy? Stretch Beach Cruiser History, Current Makes & Models Thread.

So many people love the Stretch Beach Cruiser Bicycle, they always are an attention ( Eye Candy ) grabber, and conversation starter when people see one for the first time!

I'd like this to be a resource thread for others that may want to know how the Stretch Beach Cruiser style of Bicycle was born. Who were the Original Designer(s) were / are, when and where the first Stretch Cruiser was built and how many were Originally Built. The Stretch Beach Cruiser bicycles were built for 6' and Taller Riders, maybe?

I'd like to include all the newest or current Stretch Beach Cruiser bicycle styles, makes, models, from all over the world!

If you have Manufacturer Specifications & Pictures please add them to help others wanting more information about Stretch Beach Cruiser makes and models.

I'll also post specifications that I have with pictures here in the Stretch Beach Cruiser History, Makes & Models thread.


About Stretch Beach Cruisers


History


The first beach cruiser was Schwinn's 1933 World B10E Motorbike, which had no actual motor but resembled a motorbike with its hefty tires and sturdy frame. Stretch Beach Cruisers are modern-day exaggerated versions of the original cruiser that take the motorbike inspiration further and emulate custom choppers.

So it's true the Beach cruiser of the 1930's, is the grandfather of the modern Stretch Beach Cruiser!

I can see why builders such as Venice Motor Bikes ( Norm ) and quite a few other custom builders of Vintage Motor Bikes, prefer and choose to motorize Vintage Beach Cruiser's, they are the not only just beautiful to look at let alone ride them with a piston powered assist engine!

Stretch Beach Cruiser bicycles can be considered an “old school” or a “vintage” style of bicycle since their history dates back to the 1930′s. Beach Cruisers were very popular in the 1930′s through 1950′s. Beginning in the 1960′s, the Beach Cruiser began to sag in popularity.

Beginning sometime in the 1990′s, the beach cruiser bicycle began to experience a new big surge in popularity. From the 1990′s through today, bike buyers continue to be drawn to Stretch Beach Cruiser & Beach Cruiser bikes for their style, affordability, and simplicity. Beach rider bicycles are flashy, sturdy, comfortable, safe, and unique. Their design is such that they give maximum balance and grip on roads and sand. Beach cruisers are best suited for flat terrain and do not feature the high tech gizmos of many modern bikes. Often associated with beach towns in Southern California, they are also quite popular on school campuses, oceanfront beach communities elsewhere around the world, fairly flat rural areas, and in many large urban cities.

The bulk of Stretch Beach Cruiser bikes are made of steel. People who live near the beach or take their bike to the beach regularly are better off with frames, forks and rims made of aluminum. Aluminum beach bikes are lighter weight and virtually rust proof. Stretch Beach Cruiser bikes are characterized by the following features: wide balloon style tires from 1.5 to 4 inches wide, upright seating position, simple construction, single speed, three speed and up to seven speed operation with an internal hub, and a comfortable saddle seat design, a wider seat than other bicycle types. Most seats use a memory foam type cushion which really adds to the comfort.

Stretch Beach Cruiser bikes are a stylish and popular style of bicycle. The first Beach Cruiser style bike was said to have been rode during the 1960′s television show, “The Munsters.” Eddie Munster rode a Schwinn Stingray. Cruisers, constructed close to the ground, have high handlebars, broad tires, a long wheelbase and offer a casual, laid back riding position. Handlebars are deigned to position the arms at eye-level. While seen in all different parts of the U.S. and the world, they’re most popular in urban areas. Un-motorized Stretch Beach Cruiser single speed bikes are not made for going fast. Riders sitting up straight make these bikes less painful on the back and handlebars are at a comfortable height too. An under the seat shock absorber and wider tires help to keep the ride smooth. These bikes are easy to manage and ride too due to the fact that most Stretch Beach Cruiser bikes only have one speed. Stretch Beach Cruiser low rider bikes can also quickly become a statement of your personality and creativity. There are many things you can do to your Stretch Beach Cruiser bike to make it into a personal statement, including hand painting, unusual components, and hydraulics.

The Stretch Beach Cruiser with added frame length, an elongated frame with a “chopper” feel. Stretch Beach Cruisers are a good choice for those looking to purchase a cruiser that differs greatly from a basic cruiser design. This type of cruiser provides a more stretched out or laid back ride, with the pedals being in front of a person’s body.

Numerous accessories are available to customize a Stretch Beach Cruiser. There are different color seats, a huge selection of bike baskets which can be placed at the back of the bike to carry essential goods, bags that are smaller in size than baskets, bike lights, bottle holders, rear view mirrors, extended handlebars, various custom fenders, different type horns or beach ball style ringers, just about anything you can think of. This is a style of bike that people really go all out to decorate to give it their own unique signature.

New Stretch Beach Cruisers sell for as little as $300. Many cost around $250, less than a tenth the price of some fancy road bikes, a New Stretch Beach Cruiser Frame cost about $150 . Major Stretch Beach Cruiser brands include the Electra Bicycle Company, Nirve, Felt Bicycles, Kustom Kruiser, sixthreezero cruisers, Choppers US, Phat Cycles, Pedalchopper Stretch, and a few others.

Characteristics

Stretch beach cruisers have an extended frame and are lower to the ground than traditional cruisers. Riders can place both feet on the ground for an easy-going swagger, sit far back with long, chopper-style handlebars, and cruise smoothly on a smooth single speed.

Brands

Manufacturers making stretch beach cruisers include Firmstrong, Prado, Micargi, American Flyer, and Kustom Kruiser. Model names of Stretch Beach Cruisers evoke the laid-back biker culture, such as Micargi's "Mustang," Kustom Kruiser's "Double Down" and Firmstrong's "Urban Deluxe" just to name a few for now.

Customization

Riders typically customize their Stretch Beach Cruisers with decals, fenders, handlebars, seats and wheels. Customized Stretch Beach Cruisers go for a dragster look with bold colors and flame detailing, body-colored rear and front fenders, extra-long chopper handlebars, extra-wide white-wall tires, extra-wide wheels painted alloy rims and plenty of chrome, are all customized to the builders style and taste.

Culture

The Stretch Beach Cruiser has become a symbol of laid-back Los Angeles, California style. It's the stylish mode of transportation for beach-bound surfers and urban hipsters, but they're also have been gaining world wide popularity beyond the Southern California beach-and-boardwalk crowd.

To be continued: The next post will include The First Stretch Beach Cruisers produced in the early to mid 1990's, since the 1930's.

Where? Ready for this,

Huntington Beach, California. USA
 

Crazy Horse

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Feb 20, 2009
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The original first Stretch Beach Cruiser's, were built in Huntington Beach California, USA. By Rob of HB Cruisers the Original Designer-Builder, and then by Robs son, who tried to revive the bikes in Oceanside California and he opened up Oceanside Cruisers in early 2000's but once again couldn't compete with the other manufacturers because they insisted that the bikes were still going to be American made!!

Unfortunately, like all bicycles unless it's a custom made bicycle, all new mass produced Stretch Beach Cruiser's are now manufactured in China!

Below is one of my Stretch Beach Cruiser's motorized with the 2-stroke bicycle engine kit, this build was inspired by forum member RedB66's Custom Stretch Beach Cruiser's.

Here's the Greenline, Firmstrong, American, Stretch Beach Cruiser bicycle frame, these are sold as bare frames for about $150.00 US on ebay.
All these Stretch Beach Cruisers are manufactured in China, except maybe the Suspension Stretch Beach Cruiser sold by Allan @ Choppers US.



Here's mine after motorizing.





More History of The Stretch Beach Cruiser's!

They were built by a guy named Rob in Huntington Beach!! Each bike was handmade in his garage!! The early ones didn't have any kind of serial numbers on them but the later ones did on the right rear dropout. There are 4 or 5 different variations of the frames, the most recognizable ones being the lightning bolt design frames!!

There were a couple of tandems built as well as a trike or two!! Supposedly there were only a couple hundred of them made and are very rare and very collectible!!

The original bikes were very expensive when new, about $800, mainly because of the hand built frames and all the parts were bought at the local bike shops!!

The HB Cruisers were basically put out of business by Dyno when they saw these bikes cruising around So-Cal and wanted to get in on the stretch cruiser action and designed the Coaster/Roadster!! The Dyno's were cheaper and easier to get than the HB's and Rob couldn't compete with them!!

Robs son tried to revive the bikes in Oceanside and opened up Oceanside Cruisers in early 2000's but once again couldn't compete with the other manufacturers because they insisted that the bikes were still going to be American made!!

So, the big business bicycle companies squashed the lil guy by copying and putting him outta business, by having the copied versions made over sea's.

I just remembered I had this sent to me few years ago. I don't know to who sent it to me originally:

Hi,
I was just forwarded your website about the Dyno Roadster. It is great to see an appreciation for this bike after all of these years. Let me introduce myself, my name is Jeff Soucek and I actually designed that frame while working for GT bicycles between the years 1992 and 1998. I thought I could share a little incite to the project and how it became.

The idea of this Roadster frame actually was conceived after Sean Flickinger (one of the other GT Industrial Designers) designed the standard Dyno cruiser frame.

I was responsible for the geometry of that bike, and at the time we wanted a standard cruiser that would simply blow away the old Schwinn Beach Cruiser's that were so popular at that time.

We kept kicking the geometry back and slacking out the frame until it had –what we called at the time “6 pack geometry”

This meant you could be half lit and still ride it to the liquor store and them back with one hand on the bar and a six pack of beer in the other.


The next part of the story goes like this. Bill Duehring (Director of R&D at GT, and now President of Felt Bicycles) knew we had just designed a great cruiser, and wanted to create something to stir up the excitement of this new “standard” cruiser.

We really wanted to highlight the new “six pack” geometry of the new bike.

There was a small custom builder in the Huntington Beach California area where our office was, called HB CRUISERS. This guy had made some super stretched out beach cruisers that we had seen the locals riding down at the beach.

This gave us the idea to take our standard cruiser design and “six pack” geometry and stretch it out to the Roadster length, creating a “show bike” for the Interbike release that year in Aneheim California. This would be such an obviously different bike that it would help draw attention to the “standard” cruiser line.

So I went to work hand building the first prototype of this Roadster with the help of Dan McGrew (master frame builder in the GT tooling room).

We hand formed, bent, flared and machined everything from scratch. Next we had the front half of the frame chrome plated and painted it custom with classic chrome darts, electric blue pinstripes, and black from there back.

Even the front fender and chainguard were half chromed and painted. It was a beautiful job done by the Custom GT paintshop in Colorado responsible for all of the Custom frames made by GT at the time.

All of the other bits were triple chrome plated to car show quality, down to the 12 gage spokes and nipples. It even had an internal generator front hub with a headlight and internal wiring.

Once the bike was complete, everybody was freaking out about how cool it was, so it was time to show it to the boss Richard Long (owner and president of GT) We approached him with the bike the day of the yearly sales meeting where all of the sales reps from the entire country were in the building. We brought it up to the meeting and called Richard into the hallway were we had the bike sitting to surprise him, and as him for permission to show it to the Sales reps.

I still remember his words when he came out and saw it “Are you Fu*king serious, you actually think you can sell those”. We said “let us bring it in and show the sales reps and see what they say”. He reluctantly agreed, and we left the meeting with the Reps cheering.

The bike was now set to be shown at the Interbike in Aneheim. Needless to say the bike caused quite a stir at the show. When we noticed the big guys from most of competition was in our booth checking it out, Richard had us pull the bike from the show after the first day and gave us the go-ahead to make a production bike.

The rest is history with this bike surprising all with the numbers sold over the few years it was in production.

Pretty interesting side note: Bill Duehring the director of GT R&D during this time is now the President of Felt Bicycles. Some of the same guys who worked on these bikes at GT now work with Bill once again for Felt.

It is cool to see that the Felt Forks/Bars, Tires, cranks and other misc. parts you put on your custom cruiser are actually designed all by the same people. It is almost like a continuation or evolution of the bike.

Thanks for keeping it alive and we would love to see more of your work. Let me know if you have any questions.

Best Regards. Jeff

Jeff Soucek / Felt Bicycles
Senior Design Engineer

So, HB Cruiser's were the original Stretch Beach Cruiser builder in Southern, California. And then GT Bicycles took the bicycles to mass production, Nationwide US, and then Worldwide!

Yes, if you have more information of current Stretch Beach Cruiser's in production with specifications please do post the information here in the thread.

Peace Crazy Horse.

P.S.This build below by forum member RedB66, is what inspired my first Stretch Beach Cruiser motorized bicycle build back in 2008! Enjoy!


 
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Crazy Horse

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Feb 20, 2009
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Page 1 of a 2 page post! See Continued Post!


So, I just found a little more History regarding The American Made Original California Stretch Beach Cruiser's designed and Built in Huntington Beach California.

Quote
"JHammons,


Allow me to introduce myself in a BS free post.

I am John Hammons I was the marketing side of HB Cruisers. I have a long tale to add to all this mystique and many of you HB Fans will appreciate the trials we went through way back when.

I was an employee of GT Bicycles way back in '92 (Rightway Products to be exact in Placentia Ca. Rightway was the Distributing branch of GT) I wanted to be an outside rep but could never get the opportunity from GT. I had worked for Redline Bicycles (SBS in Seattle) before and was a shop owner at one time as well. I raced BMX for years going way back to 1976. As a young man, I worked for Blazer BMX in Texas cutting tubes and welding frames. So you see I had a long career in bicycles well before HB Cruisers.

Since GT wouldn't allow me the next career step I left and went to work for Tip Distributing (large in BMX) as a road rep. They were into BMX but I was into anything that sold and I could make money off. At that time in History, BMX was flat in sales, MTBs had reached critical mass and the least you could spend and still be "cool" was $2000 MTB.....($2000 in 1992-1993 was a lot) Road bikes were stagnant or saturated....the bike shops were starving to death. Nothing was moving.

Along came this really wild style that soon was to be know as "Lowriders". Since I was here in SoCal and I knew almost every shop around, I soon learned who was hand making these products, "Banana Seats, Baby Daytons, Springer forks. Tip Distributing had no interest in offering these products so I started buying these things and carrying them around in my trunk and selling them direct to the bike shops.

Soon, 90% of my income could be attributed to what I was buying and selling on my own. So I quit Tip Distributing and started my own company called "Full Circle Distributing" I immediately called all my old co-worker Road sales reps and offered them a commission on what they sold and we were off!! I mean we were selling crap left and right...faster than I could pack it up.

Well, while I was at Tip, I had heard of this guy in Huntington Beach making these wild frames from old Schwinn frames. I went and met Robert Belyea after successfully searching for him for two days. I took his ideas to Tip Distributing and they scoffed at me. The Sales mgr told me that he would buy 5 of these long frames but if I didn't sell them, they would make me pay for them out of my pocket. The Sales Mgr. never followed through on his boast. But I kept Robert close to my vest after that. This was 1993 mind you.

After I started Full Circle and money was flowing, I again approached Robert and from that point on we were a team.

Robert Belyea deserves full credit for the entire project. Without him non of HB Cruisers would have existed. Robert (Bob) was a Union Pipe fitter by trade, but not only that, he was an absolute artist that could conceptualize absolute art in his head. Half a day later and you would be looking at the most awesome frame design you've ever seen. Without Bob.....well I can't say enough about him and his creations.

Sadly, Bob new very little about bicycles. His ideas weren't to be confused with Lowriders in any way. He was aiming at the Harley Davidson custom market more or less. We wanted to do what folks were doing with custom Motorcycles yet with Bicycles. Bob was taking old cruiser frames and modifying them into cool bikes frames and building them up with used parts.......cool but one problem, you can only find so many old Schwinn's to cut up.

After talking with Bob, decided to start building from scratch. Bob, bless his heart, didn't know what size tubing to purchase for headsets and bottom brackets. Our first few totally built bikes, the headset cups would just fall into the tubes and the BB cups would do the same. We had to re-do those and buy the right tubing with the proper I.D........but that was just a small hitch in the process.

We then started trying to sell the Frames by themselves, but the Bike shops just couldn't grasp the idea, nor could the customer. The first few I sold to my customers, I would come back in a week and they would say that no one looked at the frame......I informed them that they were to build it up custom......some "got it" Most didn't.

I sourced most of the parts and started packaging the frame as a whole bicycle. At that time almost a year later, Tip Distributing had started selling the large half moon bars and since it was me....there was no way they would sell to me.....ya know...I had quit and all.

I went to White Brothers and got a sample of Harley Davidson "wide Bro" bars and tried to make them work. But they are too thick for Bikes (1" instead of 7/8) and they were $38 wholesale to me!!! Motorcycle bars are a lot more expensive!!! So I took those bars to a Boat rail maker in Costa Mesa and we made a pretty good copy out of Stainless Steel and that is what I spec'd on the HBs. People loved them!

So, now we are selling full bikes out of my garage. It was quite the operation and we had as many as 6 folks working at one time.

We had 4 main models that we were selling. The Lightning Bolt and the Hiawatha (second tube bends downward) were the two largest sellers. We were making handcrafted bikes in America with nice Aluminum and Stainless components powder coated frame and we were successful. I sold 78 bikes in a single day.....we were selling to Japan, Germany, France, Canada.....

Now to the Dirt.

Yes, much of the above post is accurate to a degree. But let's add some reality.

Jax bicycles in HB was my largest client by far. The Manager there was very supportive of me as I had always serviced their account with professionalism and fairness and speed. Well after a year of moving product for us, He told me flat out, He sold 300 Cruiser that year, 200 were Schwinn 78 were HB Cruisers and the rest the cheap Chinese cruisers. That was a great feet! To come out of nowhere and gain 30% of the market share that fast.

So, I have this ally that loves our product.......One day while I was stopping in Jax, they come to me and tell me about how the guys from GT were at the shop with Slide rules, notebooks and tape measures and they were all over my frames measuring them up. What could I do....I knew they were up to something but what?? GT had no stretch cruiser nor any "6 pack" cruiser......

Months went by and we were selling right along and then as the "person" above points out that it was time for the Innerbike trade show (this year it was 1995 and held in Las Vegas) It is true what he said.....GT had in the middle of their booth a Candy Apple Green "Concept bike" with a brown leather Brooks saddle and the Wide bars that I had been marketing. (NOTE: No 6-pack cruiser was located in the booth and this was late 1995)

It created quite the stir as everyone that new me ran over to MY booth where I was selling 7 different HB Cruiser models.

HB Cruisers was on the cover of the trade show daily publication that first day. A Chrome lightning bolt that I was riding back and forth to my hotel to avoid paying for parking. I'll scan that cover if I get a chance.

You should have seen the look on Gary Turner and Rich Longs face when the came to my booth and saw that they had been "had" by marketing. I'll not say who at GT...but a very high level person told me "God put eyes on the front of your head" meaning that the bike industry was full of cut throats without an original idea in their head. He meant for me to be looking for the "next" big thing and stop worrying about the HB Cruiser.

He was right.

a few months later, I went to my powder coating facility to pick up a run of frames and the owner had a long face, he said "come here I have to show you something" He took into the back of building #3 where there were 3000 Chinese built copies of our lovely HB Cruiser waiting to t be powdered in the same colors were were offering.


It wasn't 5 months after that.....HB Cruisers and Full Circles sales plummeted as a cheaper chinese version with better pay terms flooded the market.

Understand, there wasn't huge amounts of these bikes being sold....but enough for a small company to make a living......once the Dyno copy hit the markets, we were sunk.

SEE next post for continued History

Crazy Horse.
 

Crazy Horse

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Feb 20, 2009
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Page 2 of two part post!


GT under cut me in price, they had 50 sales people versus me, they offered free shipping, they offered 60 day terms........
I offered a higher priced US built bike (means **** to kids) I offered COD terms, I offered no free freight and the bike was heavy, meaning it was a $50 bill just to ship.....

Is this an open an free market?? You betcha it is.....Should GT have done what they did?? who knows.....

Should the above poster come in here (a thread specifically about HB Cruisers) and spew how he totally was responsible for ripping off a concept and putting HB Cruisers out of business.....and with such pride for doing so?? All I can say is...what a tool....what an absolute tool

The OP asks specifically about the History of HB Cruisers and the Tool replies with how they systematically destroyed HB Cruiser with a Chinese knock off.

well played sir, well played.

Sadly, GT only offered one style of stretch cruiser. We had too many to count. We sold tandems, We sold two seaters.....not a tandem, but a bike with a "***** seat" over the rear wheel, we sold trikes, Trikes with "woody" rails, we sold frames that Bob had cut and welded flames in the middle, we sourced and sold a Tank model (see my avatar with my two daughters riding my Tank model. We sold accessories like saddle bag racks for the rear fender, rechargeable light kits, Aluminum stringer forks, modified springs for the springers, Harley style grips ( was able to get the grip manufacturers to put two lefts into a package) 4 and 7 speed internal shimano hubs built onto 72 spoke radial laced wheels.........

All of these ideas were lost when we had to close shop......it is such a shame...we had a really good thing going and it all came to a abrupt end when GT did what they did.

I'd like to say I kept up with Robert...but I don't know where he went nor if he is willing to face the heartbreak that was HB Cruisers. Understand, we were both shattered.

I was so downtrodden by the events that transpired, I left Huntington Beach California and for two years, I never stepped foot in another bike shop........and then only very limited bases. I lost touch with Bob during that time and I think I saw him one time since.

I've been neglectful in mentioning my good friend during that time frame. One guy that was very supportive and my friend was Benno Benziger. He is the owner of Electra bicycles. We were both starting out at the same time and we became friends as we both saw this emerging cruiser trend. Even though we were competing for the cruiser market together, He did things his way and me mine, while neither encroached on each other.

Apparently, Benno and Electra is doing quite well these days. If I ever run into Benno, he always says, "I hope they never forget what they did to you (me)"

Benno will back my story up 100%

Well that is a long tale indeed. sorry for taking up so much of your time but I hate fabrications!
End Quote"

So, thanks to JHammons we have the real truth behind the Original American Made California Stretch Beach cruiser's!

I just wanna say thanks to JHammons & Rob, for Designing and Building
Continued Post from Page 1,

the Original California Stretch Beach Cruiser's, Kudo's to you both.

I hope you guy's do start building more HB Stretch Beach Cruiser's, if others can do it so can you!

Checkout the Kickstarter.com website, if you guy's want to get funding to build More HB Stretch Beach Cruiser's let your DieHard Fans help you make it a reality!

Here's the Link to Allan's from ChoppersUS.com Kickstarter Stretch Beach Cruiser Susupension Build project:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/553612698/next-generation-cruiser-bicycle-fits-tall-large-ri

Thanks again HB Cruiser's for your Stretch Beach Cruiser's!
Peace Crazy Horse.
 

Crazy Horse

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Feb 20, 2009
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Finally have some pictures to add to this thread!

The Original California Stretch Beach Cruiser's by HB Cruiser's!

The below Picture is the HB Cruiser's Lightening Bolt Stretch Beach Cruiser.



The next picture is The HB Cruiser's Stretch Beach Cruiser this is The Surf City model.



The picture below shows The Tandem Stretch Beach Cruiser by HB Cruiser's.



The next picture shows HB Cruiser's Stretch Beach Cruiser Woody Trike.



Here's another Surf City Stretch Beach Cruiser from HB Cruiser's.



I hope we can motivate HB Cruiser's to do a Kickstarter program and bring back the Original American Made Stretch Beach Cruiser's!

If you like this post your yea or nea?


C.H.
 

hdserv

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Aug 16, 2013
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I say Thank You Crazy Horse!
I'm new to this forum and I really Love and Appreciate the Passion I'm Finding Here.

Dan