Tag Archives: vintage

Five of the Most Beautiful Vintage – Retro Mountain Bikes

While browsing the web and thinking of possible future vintage MTB projects, I inevitably get side-tracked by all the photos of splendiferously beautiful mountain bikes of yesteryear.

I usually just book mark the photos for future inspiration, but here I’m going to show five of my favourites, if not necessarily cost-effective, vintage mountain bikes.

This utterly stunning Dave Lloyd

A sublime bespoke build from one of the great frame builders of the British Isles. The colour-matched Girvin Flex Stem (and other parts) is a nice touch.

The Alpinestars Ti Mega

Super expensive, and with a frame prone to cracking near the bottom bracket. But wow!

Fat Chance Yo Eddy with aqua-fade

Known to ride like a dream (for a rigid steel bike), this bike’s look simply blows my mind.

Anodyzed GT Zaskars

What’s not to love about this bike? Loads of purple anodyzing, and Spinergy wheels. Really awesome.

The Mantis Flying V

The frame design in itself looks great, but the paintwork and the touch of tasteful purple anodyzed parts really are the cherry on top of the cake. This frame is currently up for sale, as it happens, on retrobike, for a couple of thousand Euros.

My choices are, of course, totally subjective.

 

My Muddy Fox Courier Comp

From my collection of vintage MTB frames, this is my Muddy Fox Courier Comp. It hails from the golden age of Muddy Fox mountain bikes, before the brand started using its name to peddle mountain bikes that were complete and utter rubbish.

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This was something of an impulse purchase, Fortunately, it cost peanuts. My interested was piqued by its Tange Infinity steel tubset, with a beautiful wishbone structure on the seat stays, and its bright green paintwork with matching steel stem.

The paw-print stamped into the seat tube sleeve is also a nice touch.

I have no plans to build it up, as yet. But if anybody has any ideas, please feel free to add a comment below.

Why I still prefer thumbshifters

Gear shifting technology has come a long way. The latest groupsets offer unrivalled shifting performance, with electronic shifting and autonomously calibrating derailleurs now available at the very top end of the Shimano spectrum.

But I still prefer thumbshifters, namely Shimano’s 7 speed Deore and Deore XT early 90s. In fact, I still use thumbshifters on most of my mountain bikes.

See, for example, my Haro Extreme, my Raleigh M Trax 300, or my Rourke. I’m also planning to use a set on my soon to be built Dynatech Voyager and Dynatech Mission.

Here’s why:

* low cost (typically 20-30 GBP per pair).

* reliable, virtually indestructible, they just work.

* allows the user to trim the front mech to avoid chain-rub on the mech’s plates.

* they have a hidden extra click, allowing use with an 8 speed cassette.

The Meaning of Deore

Deore has been among Shimano’s off-road groupsets practically from the very beginning of the first wave of mass-produced MTBs. Offering an excellent compromise in terms of price vs weight and performance, Deore has long been a favourite for riders who are unable or unwilling to splash out on the slightly superior XT (and XTR) groupsets.

There are a number of suggested origins for the name, including ‘of gold’ and ‘of ore’, but the original meaning is quite different. However, the deer head motif on some early XT derailleurs points us in the right direction.

To put it simply, ‘Deore’ means ‘deer’, and is a loanword absorbed into the Japanese language from English. In a way, I find it touching that the early engineers and their marketing should have imagined mountain bike riders as akin to deer, gracefully making their way through the wilderness.

A far cry from the hardcore freeriders and downhillers that characterize the modern MTB scene!

My Haro Extreme Comp: First Build

What first drew me to this frame was its unique design, with its elevated chain stays, curved top-tube, and the U-brake bosses on the rear. After having a detailed look at the original, complete bikes shown in the early 90s Haro catalogues, I had to have one, and I acquired my 21.5 inch, 1990 or 1991 Haro Extreme Comp frame as a Christmas present.

haro2

Then, over a period of a year and a half, I slowly but surely acquired the parts that would be necessary to build the complete bike. Although not identical to the original bike as shown in the catalogue, the mix of parts, importantly, is period-correct and give a very similar look.

This is the result of my first build:

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In particular, the chrome-plated chrome-molybdenum Big Fork from Tange has a striking form, and contrasts with the black paintwork of the frame. The vintage Dan Falvey stem and Deore DX seat post help keep things real with steel, for added strength and some extra shock absorption.

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The Shimano Deore 7 speed thumbshifters give slick, accurate shifting, with the added bonus of allowing the front derailleur to be trimmed when necessary.

The bike rides really well, particularly when sprinting or riding uphill. Unlike my hardtail rides, even on the steepest climbs there’s no sign of the front wheel lifting or wandering.

Moreover, and this might be imagined, it feels as though I’m faster, or more powerful, on climbs. I might test this using Strava, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the shorter chain stays and head-down were to be delivering greater traction and/or greater power.

Unfortunately, in its current form I have a few problems with the bike.

Firstly, the short head tube means it’s not easy to set the bars at a comfortable height – even using a quill stem with a bit of rise such as the one currently fitted. And the narrow bars make the steering a little twitchy at times. Solutions I have in mind include fitting a wider bar, and looking for a quill stem with even greater rise. Fitting a suspension fork would also help to elevate the front end a little, although I’m growing rather fond of the chromed Tange Big Fork – at least in the looks department.

The brakes don’t quite have the stopping power I’d like. This is partly due to my poor set-up of the front cantilevers (which can be sorted with a bit of work), but the lack of set-up options for the rear U-brake means the only way to change the modulation is to experiment with different brake levers (incidentally, this is one of the reasons U-brakes fell out of favour in the 90s). A set of shimano servo wave levers (with shifter pods removed) would be my first choice here, but Magura hydraulic brakes could also be a useful alternative solution.

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Undoubtedly, there are many options to make my Haro Extreme Comp more enjoyable to ride. The real question is whether it makes sense to spend much time or money doing so.

10 of the Best Vintage Full Suspension Mountain Bike Frames

The nineteen-nineties saw an explosion of innovative new mountain bike technology, one of the most important being suspension systems, which allowed a mountain biker to ride faster, for longer, across the more rugged trails. While suspension has continued to evolve year upon year, the fundamental design of the most popular modern suspension systems come from the 90s.

And as such, there are a number of suspension forks and suspension frames that remain surprisingly capable by today’s standards. Although highly subjective, and by no means exhaustive, this is my list of what I consider to be the 10 best full suspension frames from the 1990s.

Marin Mount Vision / Rift Zone / East Peak / Alpine Trail Photo from this retrobike thread.

Santa Cruz Heckler Photo from here.

Raleigh Special Products Division 300 rsp300cat Specialized FSR

Photo from this webpage.

GT RTS furtado-rts1_velonews-superbikes1993 GT LTS Image from this MTBR thread.

Proflex

Photo from this site, but originally scanned from the “Pro Mountain Biker” book (Jeremy Evans and Brant Richards, 1995).

AMP Research AMPB4_MBA_slider Mountain Cycle San Andreas Photo from www.mombat.org

Answer Manitou FS

Photo from this mtbr thread.

Building my Haro Extreme 1991

A couple of years ago I decided I needed a second mountain bike, you know, to have in the shed just in case my main bike is put out of action. I wanted to avoid a repeat of my first summer in Portugal, when a trashed wheel and a slow bike mechanic made me miss nearly a month of the best MTB riding weather.

I wanted something in steel, something from the early nineties, and something a bit different. Luckily for me, Haro Extreme Comp frame came up for sale, in great condition and at a fair price, and I couldn’t resist buying what was, at that time, my 4th MTB frame.

This frame has elevated chain stays, a fad from the early nineties which eliminated chain-slap, and also allowed for a shorter wheelbase. This last point, the shorter wheelbase, made for a more responsive ride, and aided rear wheel traction when climbing by placing the rider’s mass more in line with the tire’s contact patch.

However, the fact that this kind of design fell out of fashion by the second half of the nineties speaks volumes about its cost to benefit ratio. Perhaps more importantly, I think elevated chain stays look really awesome!

Other curios features of this frame are curved top tube (similar to Raleigh’s Dynacurve), brake bosses for a u-brake on the chain stays, an extraordinarily short head tube for a frame this large, and funky bottle cage bosses.

Until my build is complete, I’ll have to resort to showing pages from the Haro MTB catalogue of the same year. I have the black frame, on the right hand side of this page:

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But sadly, I don’t have the cool looking Tange fork. The page below explains the reasoning behind the unusual frame geometry.

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Below we get to see the Haro Extreme Comp from a different angle, and side by side with a classic diamond frame from elsewhere in Haro’s 1991 line up.

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Marin Mount Vision: top of my list of full suspension bikes

With quite a few rigid mountain bikes in the collection now, I’ve been thinking about broadening the collection to include a cross-country capable, but inexpensive, full suspension bike. Top of my list at the moment is the Marin Mount Vision, which I’ve included in my list of the 100 best vintage mountain bikes. And below is an example of one, from this blog. With it’s M-shaped frame, it looks awesome, and the overall design is as efficient as vintage full suspension gets.

100 of the best vintage mountain bikes

This is something I thought would be interesting to share. It’s adapted from a list I’ve written myself in recent years, as I’ve  searched for interesting vintage mountain bikes for my own collection.

As one might guess, there is an obvious bias towards the following:

  • bikes from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s, principally 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995
  • MTBs with steel frames
  • mass-produced MTBs
  • MTBs that won’t cost an arm and a leg
  • MTB brands that were available in the USA, Canada, and the British Isles

It’s not exhaustive, and it’s not especially objective either. It’s simply a list of what I consider to be the best 100 vintage mountain bikes. These are all bikes I’d like to own, and would consider buying for myself, in the right size and condition.

I plan to add links to photos or catalogue scans for each of the listed bikes, in the near future.

The list

Alpinestars Cro Mega (e-stay or normal)

Alpinestars Alu Mega (e-stay, without cracks)

Alpinestars Ti Mega (e-stay, without cracks)

Bontrager Race / Race Lite

492Bonty1

Breezer Storm

91breezerstorm

Bridgestone MB-1

mb1

Brodie Sovereign

93-brodie-sovereign

Cannondale Killer V series

Cannondale M series

Diamond Back Axis

Diamond Back Axis TT

Diamond Back WCF / Vertex

Giant ATX

Gary Fisher Montare, or any pre-Trek steel Fisher

GT Psyclone

GT Zaskar and Xixang

GT RTS

GT STS

Haro Extreme

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Ibis Mojo

KHS Montana Comp

Klein Attitude (pre Trek)

Koga Miyata Ridgerunner

Kona Hei Hei (Titanium)

Litespeed Titanium (without cracks – lifetime warranties no longer valid after buyout)

Mantis Valkyrie

Marin Rift Zone

Marin Eldridge Grade

Marin with late 80s to early 90s splatter paint

Merlin Titanium (without cracks – lifetime warranties no longer valid after buyout)

Mountain Cycle Moho

Mountain Cycle San Andreas

Muddy Fox Courier Comp

Nishiki Alien

Orange Clockwork

Orange P7

Orange Vitamin T (or T2)

Overburys Pioneer

Pace RC200 (and other RC frames)

Panasonic MC Pro (rare but awesome)

Pro Flex 855 (and similar)

Raleigh Dynatech Torus

Raleigh Dynatech Diablo LX, DX, or STX

Raleigh M Trax Ti 3000 or 4000 (1995 model with UGLI fork)

Raleigh Special Products Division 853 (hard-tail or full suspension)

Raleigh lugged and brazed 531 frames from the late 1980s (Moonshine, Thunder Road, White Lightning, and others)

Raleigh USA Technium Chill

Ridgeback 704 XT (and similar)

Rock Lobster / Amazon

Rocky Mountain Fusion

Rocky Mountain Blizzard

Santa Cruz Heckler

Saracen Kili

Schwinn Paramount

Scott Team or Pro

Slingshot

Specialized Stumpjumper (steel)

Specialized Stumpjumper (M2)

Specialized FSR

Trek Singletrack series (steel)

Trek 8000 Series, bonded carbon composite

Trek Y33

Univega Alpina 500 (and similar)

Yeti Ultimate (steel)

Zinn (anything)

Save

How to buy a vintage mountain bike

OK, so you have some idea about what model of vintage mountain bike you’d like to have. How do you go about buying it?

By far the best place to buy a vintage mountain bike (or any kind of vintage bike) is retrobike.co.uk. Prices are generally fair, and the sellers are almost all honest. Ebay is a bit of a mixed bag: prices tend to be higher that at retrobike.co.uk, and borderline fraud is not uncommon, unfortunately. Gumtree can also serve up some gems, if you’re able to collect from the seller.

Retrobike doesn’t just have a for sale forum, there is a also a forum for posting ‘wanted’ adverts, of you’re looking for something specific. More often than not, somebody who has the item (or bike) you’re searching for, and will reply to your advert. There is also a handy forum where the retrobike.co.uk community can be asked for honest valuations on any bike or component.

Things I look out for

A rule of thumb is that buying a complete (or nearly complete) bike is more cost effective than buying all the parts separately. Of course, if money’s no object, or you have a specific set of components in mind, then by all means do the latter!

Similarly, sometimes it pays to buy a ‘donor’ bike to get a full set of components to turn your bare frame into a complete bike. Some even buy complete bikes for a single part, and then break down the remains to sell separately, to cover the cost of that single part.

I’ve found that the level of wear on moving parts usually makes little difference to the price of a vintage bike. A bike with a nearly worn out drive train could sell for the same or a similar price as an identical bike with very low mileage. The key to detect a low mileage bike is to look at the parts that wear out fastest: tires, chainrings and cassette. It helps to know beforehand what the original specs of the bike were.

What I try to avoid

I try to avoid bikes with evidence for having had a hard life, or which haven’t been looked after. For example, a little bit of rust is not necessarily deal breaker, but it would be pot luck as to whether the rust is just skin-deep, or has gone all the way through the tubing. In the event of there being more than a little bit of rust, I would not touch the bike with a barge-pole, unless the frame is something really special and/or cheap.

It sometimes happens that a seller tries to sell a decent frame, but built up using low grade parts, to an unsuspecting buyer. I’ve seen frames go cheaply on ebay, only to get relisted a week or so later at an inflated price, having been built up with inferior parts. Imagine a Zaskar built up with a Shimano SIS pressed steel and plastic drive train!

A seized seat post is another ‘gotcha’ that occasionally crops up. Although not fatal, it does take a fair bit of work to remove (or dissolve) a seized-in post. Similarly, beware frames that have been stripped down, with the exception of the bottom bracket, which could be hinting at a seized in bottom bracket.

Suspension can be a thorny issue, as it can be hard to tell whether they still work. For suspension forks that use elastomers, it’s common to find the elastomers have disintegrated. Oil forks may require new seals. If you really want suspension, it may be best to buy separately a set of forks that you know are in good working order.

Finally, beware adverts or listings with no photo of the item, or only limited photos. A good seller will show the bike from all angles, and will show and describe honestly the condition, and any damage to the item.

Which bikes to choose?

Tastes and budgets differ, so there is no clean answer to this question.As a general rule, it’s hard to go wrong with a double-butted cromoly steel frame with a Shimano LX or DX groupset, which should cost somewhere in the region of 75 to 150 pounds (100-200 Euro; 120-230 USD) in good working condition.

But also check out my highly subjective list of some of the best vintage steel or aluminium mountain bikes. If you’re up for a less conventional bike, then perhaps an elevated chain-stay (e-stay) mountain bike might hit the spot. I also highly recommend Raleigh Special Product Division’s titanium and steel composite frames, which are usually very good value for money. For more refined tastes, hand-built Reynolds 853 frames occasionally come up for sale.

My rides: Raleigh Dynatech Mission (Dynacurve)

One of my projects is a 1990 Raleigh Dynatech Mission. I’ve heard great things about this frame, and I’m rather looking forward to getting it built up, when time permits.

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The frame is of an unconventional construction, having butted Reynolds 653 mang-moly steel main tubes (531 material, after heat-treatment), a Reynolds 531 Mang-Moly fork and rear triangle, and an aluminium head tube.

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Look closely, and you’ll see the frame is lugged. But unlike most lugged frames, this one isn’t lugged and brazed. In fact, the main tubes are joined by bonding (using high-tech aerospace glue) into lugs. This actually makes for a stronger join than could normally be achieved through welding or brazing – the heat from which can reduce the tensile strength of heat-treated steel – and allows different metals to be joined (aluminium and steel in this case, but Raleigh also bonded titanium and metal matrix to steel and aluminium).

Raleigh often didn’t publicly acknowledge which tubing was used in their Dynatech ranges, preferring instead to invent their own tubeset designation. In the case of the Mission, Raleigh’s mix of Reynolds 653 and 531 was designated ‘2070 performance enhanced tube set’.

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For comparison, my Dynatech Voyager‘s 2060 tube set has Reynolds 531 main tubes instead of 653, and a chrome-moly fork.

Check out the unusual design of the lugged head tube  in the photo below

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But what really sets my Dynatech Mission apart from other frames is its ‘Dynacurve’ top tube. Dynatech Missions are not exactly common, and frames with the Dynacurve top tube are even more of a rarity – so I feel pretty lucky to own one.

As the name suggests, the top tube has a noticeable curve, so as to “ensure maximum support for the seat tube while keeping the head tube at the optimum length” on larger models of the frame.

dyna-curve

However, it’s not obvious why the Dynacurve is really needed at all. Other manufacturers managed to build large frames without the need for curved top tubes, but perhaps the issue is related to the bonded construction of the Dynatech. Regardless, I think it looks really cool!

See the photos below, linked from retrobike.co.uk, for a few more examples of Dynacurve frames.

Dynatech Voyager with Dynacurve:

Compare the above to the non-Dynacurve (smaller) bike below:

Dynatech Voyager without Dynacurve

And another example of a Mission, again from retrobike.co.uk:

Photos of my own build will follow at some point in the future … watch this space!

Vintage steel Raleigh Dynatechs

Often overlooked in favour of the lighter titanium models, Raleigh made some really nice bonded steel Dynatech frames during the late eighties and early nineties.

dynatech awaiting trial
Cover of a Dynatech catalogue

The innovation made by Raleigh for this range of bikes was the bonding together of the main tubes, often from different materials, to build a frame that is light yet strong. The Raleigh brochures of the day boasted that bonding gives stronger tube joins, compared to welding or brazing.

dynatech_steel

I really love the very visible engineering on these frames in the form of lugs, and the absence of messy welds (although the rear triangle is still welded). Let’s have a look at a couple of the bikes.

Dynatech Voyager

dynatech_voyager

Dynatech Encounter

Check out the Girvin Flexstem ‘suspension’ stem!

dynatech_endeavour

My rides: Diamond Back Apex 1996

My Diamond Back Apex served me well over a period of 17 years, traveled with me to university in London, to the Spanish island I lived on for a year, then Mexico, Korea, and finally Portugal.

Its story starts in the summer of 1997. With my M Trax 400 showing its age, I thought it would be cheaper to simply buy a new bike, instead of keep replacing the moving parts as they each reached the end of their lives.

I opted for a sensible rigid steel bike, inspired by my best friend’s own 1994 Diamond Back Apex, and I wasn’t disappointed. Light, responsive and compliant, with a generally nice set of components, my Apex was a joy to ride.

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After a hiatus of nearly a decade, it was on my Apex that I reconnected with mountain biking, but its geometry was a little problematic for my aging back, so I had to build a new, more suitable bike. When I finished building my Rourke 853, the Apex went into storage, and its frame forks were passed on to a new owner, whose re-build can be followed on this retrobike thread.

This is the final photo of my Apex, before its final disassembly and shipping over to the UK for its new owner.

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Dynatech: awaiting trial

Unlike for some brands, surprisingly little information exists on the internet about the Raleigh Dynatech brand – despite being one of the coolest serious mountain bike ranges from a British manufacturer during the early nineties. To remedy this deficiency, over the next few months I plan to catalogue and showcase as much of the Dynatech range as possible.

To get things started I give you the 1991 Raleigh Dynatech mountain bike catalogue’s front page, whichhas to be one of my favourite catalogue front covers of all time:

dynatech awaiting trial

Depicting a Dynatech Encounter handcuffed on a dank backdrop, the imagery evokes danger and subversion, and the bike screams ‘ride me, as though you stole me’.

Check out this thread at retrobike to see a surviving Encounter close up.

I too have a similar Dynatech Mission frame and forks at home, awaiting trial, which can only happen once I’ve decided exactly how I’ll build them up… And I have every confidence it will be as fun to ride as my Dynatech Diablo STX or my M Trax 300 or 400.

Vintage road bikes: my shopping list

With my mountain bike collection growing nicely, I’ve been pondering adding a vintage road bike to the collection, for those days when I feel like a bit of road training .

Now, I have to admit I don’t know much about road bikes, but here is my own ‘shopping list’ of road bikes I’m considering buying. Aside from my Raleigh / Dynatech brand loyalty, there’s no rhyme of reason to this list/ Except that the frame must be steel – obviously!

1. A Raleigh Dynatech, preferably a bonded titanium / steel frame:

Image from here.

Image from retrobike, here. Lovely.

2. Bianchi Columbus TSX

bianchi_tsx

Seen on this forum. There’s something about that colour of paint.

3. A hand-built steel frame from Roberts.

Delightful. Photo reblogged from here.

4. Or perhaps Rourke?

Drool. Image credit.

Google is also telling me there are quite a few excellent frame builders or manufacturers who I’d barely heard of in the mountain biking world. For example:

5. Colnago

Image from here.

6. Merckx

Image also from this page.

Now I just need to find one in my size…

Retro Raleighs: a trip down memory lane

A rather nice, vintage Raleigh mountain bike came up for sale recently on retrobike, which set me tripping on nostalgia via google image search.

Raleigh did some excellent mountain bikes back in the day – see my titanium Dynatech Diablo and my titanium M Trax 300, for example. But by the early 90s, Raleigh’s steel framed bikes had come to be seen as a bit naff, unfairly some might say in hindsight.

Their Dynatechs were still a bit cool, but other UK brands or imported American mountain bikes were the new must-haves for the coolest mountain bikers. At least this is how I remember things as a teenaged mountain biker…

However, twenty years on a bit of digging on google and retrobike yields some great examples of surviving 90s Raleighs. And while they don’t have the overt XC racy looks of rival brands like Marin, Cannondale, or Orange, I still find them visually appealing in a way that’s hard to explain.

Perhaps this is partly down to details like the lugged frame design and the Raleigh head badge, which hint at the heritage of bicycle manufacture at Raleigh and give a vintage feel to an already retro bicycle.

Reblogged below are a just few of the fabulous Raleighs I’ve come across:

Raleigh Thunder Road.

Pure awesomeness in the form of a Reynolds 531 mang-moly steel frame. Photo from a retrobike thread dedicated to Raleigh MTBs. I’m now currently building one of these myself.

Raleigh Yukon

… from the same retrobike thread as the Thunder Road. Another 501 frame.

Raleigh Moonshine

… again, from the a retrobike thread. Reynolds 531.

If you like what you’ve seen, then please do go and check out the ‘get ya raleighs out for the lads’ thread on retrobike.

Rourke 853 first ride

Finally built up and ready to ride, this is my Brian Rourke 853 mountain bike. 20150206_125313 After collection from the bike shop, I couldn’t resist taking it for a spin around downtown Porto for a little test ride. 20150206_132106 I love the chrome together with the polished aluminium of the Shimano Deore DX rear mech. 20150206_125432

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Overall it rides like a dream, most things work as they should. The Deore XT thumbshifters provide surprisingly crisp indexed shifting across the cassette, and the XTR V-Brakes stop exceptionally well. The Pace RC 36 suspension fork looks great, but will need a bit of tuning to get the sag and damping set up to my satisfaction. And the long stem and narrow bar are going to need changing for something a little more practical!

Rourke 853 mountain bike build

And now for something special in the steel mountain bike department – my ‘new’ Reynolds 853 Rourke frame.

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The frame seems to have survived its journey over from the UK, and once unpacked it’s clear I’ve landed a truly stunning frame.

Hand-made from Reynolds 853 tubing sometime slightly after 1995, this is a real work of art.After the tubes were welded together, legendary framebuilder Jason Rourke (son of Brian Rouke of Brian Rourke Cycles) added finely crafted, decorative lugs, and other sublime details such as the wrap-around chain stays (see below for a close up from Brian Rourke Cycles’ webpage).

The red and black paint job is awesome enough, but the chrome-plating on part of the rear triangle is the icing on the cake. Cosmetics aside, I have high hopes for how this frame is going to feel.

My build philosophy for the Rourke takes what I hope to be the best aspects of 90s and modern mountain bike technology, with a mix of Deore DX, XT and XTR groupsets, and other parts (Hope, Salsa, Middleburn, Titec etc.) I had lying around the man-cave begging to be attached to this splendiferous frame.

Photos of the final build and first thoughts from testing riding to be added soon!

StaFast – Reinventing the Flexstem?

Way back in the early 90s, before real suspension was invented, Girvin came up with the innovative Flexstem. Designed to soak up a bit of trail buzz, which would otherwise be transmitted to the rider’s upper body, the Flexstem was little more than a normal stem with a hinge and an elastomer. Some riders complained that when using a Flexstem, the constant rotational motion of the handlebar would irritate their wrists. Nonetheless, the Flexstem plugged a gap for a few years until real, fork suspension arrived on the scene, and was then forgotten by nearly everybody.

The StaFast suspension stem

Now fast-forward to Fall 2014, when sta-fast announce they have developed an innovative suspension stem for bicycles, retailing at the hefty price of $350 United States Dollars.

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Although unlikely to pose a threat to fork-based suspension on mountain bikes, one might expect the StaFast to find its niche in the touring and commuter bike scenes, where rigid forks are the norm.

The good old Girvin Flexstem

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Little more than a hinge and a bit of rubber added to a quill stem, yet a huge innovation in its time.