Hands down the Koski is in a class by itself.
There are some cool bikes here and certainly many individual definitions of the word "restore". What Aaron did with his bike was very cool, over the top, and a very fun read to follow. My hat is off to him. Not to compare to an overused cliche of cars to bikes but it is just fits me here. I see that bike and I think 33 Ford , chopped, channeled fenders removed, and a blown big block sitting out front. An amazing hot rod but not restored. Refabricated "Yes" to something way more than it ever was originally meant to be. A fun build; Over the fricken top. Certainly the Elgin was the right bike to do this to. The bike is awesome and I admire all the work he did.
If the same type of build was done to one of the only three Koski's (I know of), I would have been emailing and pm'ing my friend to stop until he blocked me from all his contact lists.
That Koski lived a hard life. Used abused, there wasn't much left of it when StanLee acquired it a few years ago. The research to restore the bike back to how it was BITD includes information provided by the original owner, bike shop it came from, the builder, Joe Breeze and probably a few others that were around BITD. That is incredible. Sure the stem looks funky on a MTB but by golly this is what it was in the beginning. A mishmash of Road, BMX, and Klunker technology with a little individual intuition of what else might be right thrown in. It would be easy to put a styling Tuf-Neck stem from the era or something else just as cool on the bike, but the idea is to "restore" and preserve what is left of the bike to the way it was, not the way it should have been or would have been cool.
Not that you care but I have several old bike projects going on at any one time and I think I can use three of them as comparison here.
Two just complete and one that I will still be working on for a few years: 94 Yeti Pro Fro, 81 Ritchey Everest, and A 79 Champion Cruiser converted to a MTB.
The 94 Yeti was a well used, dinged up frame with no real provenance. Just a high end US built frame from BITD. Felt no guilt at all getting it powdered and then splattered it with era correct parts that my son and I found in our travels. Looks pretty. Certainly some the parts aren't what I would have used BITD but they have earned respect and coolness over time.
The 81 Ritchey was straight forward. First, most of the parts came on the bike in decent shape, and it was just a matter of reviewing the Ritchey catalog posted up on the oldmountainbikes site to determine what was needed to complete a proper 1981 Ritchey Everest build. Some parts were hard to find but an easy bike to spec. The History is well documented.
The Champion has no catalog specs, and being vain, I need to spec the bike with every component that I have determined to be the coolest and available in 1979. Hard to find, yes. Have I seen other Champion conversions from the era complete? Yes. Were they built the same direction I am going? No. Do I still need to make it my way? Yes. But if I was honest with myself, I believe most people who were converting BMX cruisers to Mtb's BITD were the ones who couldn't afford to drop the $1800 to buy a bike from Kelley and Fisher and wanted a little more than a 41 Schwinn had to offer. Absolutely it should be build up with average at best parts to be correct.
Which one of these three bikes looks way different than when I started the project? The Yeti. Which bike took the most effort? The Champion. Which bike is "restored"? The Ritchey.
The Koski was a run of about what, possibly 80 bikes? I bet Stanlee has every picture ever taken of these bikes from a time before digital was an option. I bet there are less than 20 photographs? I bet nobody much remembers what these bikes really looked like without referring to the Koski's, Joe, the original owner and possibly a few others who were riding with friends on these bikes BITD. Add that to a few fuzzy photographs.
The research, effort and accuracy done to the restoration of this bike was amazing. Sure fresh paint and the cool parts would look neat, but to restore is to return to original with what you have available, while preserving what original is left.
That is all.
Seek: Cunningham, Koski Trailmaster, Breezer Series II or III, Early Ibis Custom.