Cook Bros Cranks NSMB AndrewM.JPG
EDITORIAL

Three Tears For The Too-Fresh Retro Rigs

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Mar 14, 2022
Reading time

Hardtails, A Love Story

I saw an old Ritchey hardtail last summer. I'm certainly no expert on vintage machines but it would have been late '80s or very early '90s. That same classic 'TR' headtube sticker and the outline 'RITCHEY' decal on the downtube. Dressed as a commuter with fenders and a rack. From the look of the original paint and the mix-match of components it has obviously been through a glorious life of use and abuse. But it had fresh Shimano cable and housing and I'd bet that XT thumb shifter still drove the XT derailleur across all seven cogs with no complaints. The front and rear rims were mismatched and neither had the telltale groove of a rim braking surface about to crack. I'd bet a beer that the seat post had fully become a seat mast at this point.

For a while I sat and looked at it. I thought about waiting for its rider to come out and claim it so I could ask my one burning question. Then I thought about leaving a note. Would it be weird? To arrive back to your bike and find a handwritten note tucked between your brake lever and shifter that says: "Hi, can you please text me if you are the original owner of this bicycle?" Yeah, I think that would be weird. The reason I wanted to know is because if it was still held by the original owner in the well used condition it was in, then that's one of the nicest examples of 'hardtails, a love story' that I've come across.

Please don't misread me. I've met plenty of folks who have thirty-plus year old bicycles. Some of them are the original owners, some of them went out of their way to buy the dream bike they couldn't afford when they were younger, and some of them found a too-good-to-resist deal. The difference here is that the majority of those bikes can be divided into two categories. The first is frames hanging on a wall and the other is bikes sitting in storage. To a large degree, these are no longer worthy of classification as bicycles; they're objects. Retired jet planes that will never fly again, destined to hang in the Smithsonian if they are of sufficient uniqueness, interest, or quality, and otherwise idle for all the time in the basement equivalent of Tucson's Boneyard.

Univega Retro NSMB AndrewM (2).JPG

When was injured I was initially worried about coming up with content ideas so I asked friends who wrench locally to let me know about interesting or potentially inspiring stuff that comes across their bench. This fresh Univega comes from the stand of my friend Nice Guy Geoff.

Univega Retro NSMB AndrewM.JPG

It was acquired free. Free, like, zero dollars free? Yes, free, by the new owner who's planning to ride it regularly as a city bike. The only real wear on this rig is from storage. As a connoisseur of anything anodized purple, I'm more than a little jealous of the near-new Cook Bros. cranks.

Though not a collector by nature, I'm not innocent of the behaviour myself. I have a wicked Truelove-built Chromag Sakura frame, size XS, with a straight 1-1/8" headtube, 68° HTA, and a 27.2 seat tube gathering dust in my little shop space. It was a gift to my wife years ago, just as all those standards were changing, and it would be a perfect candidate for a rigid fork and a trip to my local frame builder for some rack-and-fender mounts to be installed. Or maybe I could have the headtube cut off to install a 44mm unit, at a much slacker angle, and the rear end spacing spread so it could be my daughter's next mountain bike after her 24" Marin? Or maybe, we could cushion some of the emotional blow of letting go an emotionally charged object by finding the perfect home for it where it would be loved? It should have decades of use as a lovely bicycle ahead of it. But my wife has a commuter bike she loves, all the parts made their way on to a custom 27+ Waltworks, and my daughter has a few years ahead before I have to make a decision. So it sits.

To me, the mothballed Chromag is a lot different than a Foes LTS frame that lives as wall art - a thirty-year-old design this year! It's totally removed from my first bike shop boss Grant's very cool mid-'90s custom Ibis Szazbo. And it's nothing like my friend who has a Cannondale with a blown Headshok, dowel where the rear shock used to be, half-built and hanging in his garage. It's absolutely not the same thing as trying to collect front triangles from the entire Rocky Mountain RM lineup, which for the record requires an RM6, 7, 9, and X. Bonus points if the RM7 is the Wade Simmons Edition.

There are exceptions, like Ricky "Shaquille O'wheel" Muehl's novel full-suspension Super-V gravel bike project, but for the most part these old full-suspension machines are like the horse-drawn hose cart sitting on display in front of your local fire department. It's cool to see how far we've come from a history perspective, but they're for display purposes only. What's old? Well, certainly anything with a 1-1/8" headtube that isn't dual-crown compatible. There are a number of 1.5" headtube bikes from the noughties that can take a tapered steerer fork and didn't crack if you looked at them funny. And, geometry matters more in some types of terrain than others. So, the easy answer is probably "it depends."

Univega Retro NSMB AndrewM (6).JPG

If you ever want to lightly troll your favourite veteran bicycle mechanic ask them how much they charge to change a cable in a GripShift X-Ray shifter. Make sure to really put some emphasis into the 'Xxxxxxx-RAY.'

Univega Retro NSMB AndrewM (7).JPG

I'm almost positive that I've never seen one of these Kooka brake levers... that wasn't snapped. I tried not too look at it too intensely. The Answer Hyperlite bars look fresh, but given its paper-thin decades old aluminum I'd be tempted to replace them.

Museum Quality

I've worked with Toxik Harald for a few paint projects over the years and I've never been to his shop when he didn't have something really interesting going on. Some of the restoration work he's involved with is incredible. Usually it's people buying their dream bike from years gone by, the one they simply couldn't afford at the time, and Harald's contribution is either patching the paint work or doing a full respray and decals to match the factory model. The effort that some of these folks go into to track down period-correct drivetrains is impressive. Or excessive, depending on where you sit on collecting things.

One bike in particular comes to my mind because when it arrived the chainstays were fully rusted out. Harald could poke holes in them with a pencil. The frame would have looked fine hanging from a wall, but it certainly wasn't safe to ride. But the chainstays can be replaced right? Okay, it's steel. So then Harald, effortlessly, poked holes in the downtube as well. But the downtube can be replaced right? Okay, it's steel. So a local builder replaced the rusted out frame components and then Harald painted up the Bike of Theseus to the original factory spec.

My thinking is, at that point why not get a steel frame with modern geometry and get it sprayed in the classic hue with original graphics that you love so much? It will be a significantly better and more usable bike and still project your sense of nostalgia. When I mentioned it to Harald he told me the owner in question wasn't planning to ride the bike, he just wanted to own it. I just looked at Harald. I mean, I'm glad he has lots of work refreshing folks' bicycle dreams but why go to all the work if it's not going to be ridden anyway?

A couple of years back my friend sent me a post selling a SRAM ESP 9.0 derailleur with a faux-wood finish and a matching GripShift shifter. Both were totally fresh new old stock (NOS) that could have been straight out of a time machine. In the moment I thought it was pretty cool. Someone could use them to complete a retro rig or even as a stand alone display. Now, I'm more inclined to think it's seriously sad that no one beat the crap out of that derailleur on the trail over twenty years ago when it was one of the top options on the market. It's not a pristine example of mountain biking history as much as a pathetic epitome of potential unrealized.

If I'm going to walk through a museum of mountain bikes I'd like to see bent derailleurs, scratched frames, cracked rims, worn out brake pads, and handlebars so vintage that they'd give nightmares to Cooper Quinn's bar-failure nightmares. They should be bagged out mountain bicycles that lived real mountain bicycle lives - not objects that were raced once and then vacuum-sealed with the factory chain lube still in place. The latter should have been sold time and again, and then gathered back up at the end of a good life if it was destined for a second life as a collectable.

Univega Retro NSMB AndrewM (3).JPG

Univega's 'Max Mudroom' stays predate Surly's 'Fatties Fit Fine' by a fair few years.

Univega Retro NSMB AndrewM (5).JPG

Premium mountain bike materials have changed but the meaningless materials marketing hasn't.

Univega Retro NSMB AndrewM (4).JPG

Witness the glory of squished tube manipulation that is the 'Bi-Axial Power Oval.'

Buy that old steel frame you always wanted. Replace the chainstays and the downtube. Paint it in the factory tones with fresh graphics. Maybe add a disc brake mount. The fork is dead, so buy a fresh one from Soma or Surly and get it painted to match at the same time. Then, build it up with whatever mix of retro and current parts that you can get and at least ride it regularly to the coffee shop. But ride it. And if you are just going to hang it on the wall, hang it on the wall in the condition you acquired it. Tell the whole story of its life, not just its shop-floor-fresh beginning.

I love old mountain bikes. Long-retired full-suspension frames and timeless hardtails alike. But lately, it's the ones with provenance, patina, repairs, and detrition that absorb my interest. That pristine '80s or '90s hardtail isn't getting a second life as a commuter, it's getting a first life as a commuter, thirty years after the fact. At least they're not sitting resplendent in gilded cages like an unmolested Monster-T-mounted freeride rig that was just pulled from stasis to go from one owner to another. Continuing a sad example of a life unlived some twenty years removed from its chance for glory.

Maintain your bike, and ride the life out of it. The more I think about the number of rideable bicycles sitting somewhere gathering dust - especially bikes that have barely done anything except sit somewhere and gather dust - the more sad I feel for them. Three tears for the too fresh retro rigs, and a fourth for the folks that never rode them.

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Comments

boomforeal
boomforeal
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+8 Andrew Major Cr4w Zero-cool DanL goose8 FlipSide Derek Baker Butch White

amen; if a bike's not being used, it's being abused

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Butch White

Oooo, poetry! 

Perfect summation.

Reply

SteveR
SteveR
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major Derek Baker

"amen; if a bike's not being used, it's being abused"

Absolutely! 

On a grey Sunday morning yesterday, with Calgary area conditions transitioning from winter to spring, I tuned up my 2000 Dekerf Team in anticipation of "spring bike path season" for the next few weeks. Mounted up with Schwalbe cx pro 1.35's, it still sees regular use around town from March until winter sets in, and gets to taste a bit of dirt, or at least gravel, on pretty much every ride. As it should be. Around about 2009 I stripped it down and took it back to it's birthplace, where Chris repainted it in classic Dekerf copper after brazing on a disc mount. There are still a few original components on it-  the XTR shifters and Chris King headset. A couple of summers I put a set of new 2.1 knobbies back on and happily rode trails on it while my Chromag was down for 2 weeks. Still a fun ride!

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

I see a few classic Brodie steel hardtails around being used as commuter and errand bikes too. 

I see the odd classic Dekerf but I’d guess most of them - even the repainted ones - are collectors objects now… maybe let out of the cage to soar a couple times a year at most. Awesome you’re is still in play!

Reply

SteveR
SteveR
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major Derek Baker

Despite a personal connection with the frame from all the great riding and places that it has taken me to, I wouldn't bother keeping it around just for show. I fact, I'm heading out on it after lunch today for a 30 km paved path ride. At least once a year I still get a "nice bike" comment from a passing rider. I'm looking at replacing the clapped out 2012 Reba with a rigid fork, which will likely trigger a re-paint as the frame is looking a bit dinged up again.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

Perfect machine for a rigid fork painted to match. Just be prepared to also shell for a wider rim/tire for the front if you still want to hit single track.

Reply

ridestuff
Derek Baker
10 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I have my old '97 Dekerf Generation frame hanging up in the garage.

Your posts have made me believe that this is the season to bring it back to life!

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 3 weeks ago
0

What colour is your Generation? 

Soma makes a disc brake rigid fork that's correct for an 80mm suspension fork that would be perfect. No Canti bosses for a clean look. They make a canti-boss version too if you'd rather stick to rim brakes up front. 

Make sure to post it here or fire me a pic or two when it's running!

SteveR
SteveR
10 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

"Soma makes a disc brake rigid fork" 

Thanks Andrew. Had a look and almost ordered one on the spot. Bookmarked for future reference- sober second thought and all that.

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Mike Bergen

At least, even if you did impulse buy, Soma makes great stuff!

gdharries
Geof Harries
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+5 Cr4w Andrew Major Andy Eunson Mammal Derek Baker

About 6 years ago, I scored a never-ridden 2002 Cove Handjob XC frame and built it up with as many retro parts as I could find (and/or afford). My intent was to use it for commuting and gravel riding.

Hayes Mag brakes, 9-speed XTR, Dark Cycles bash ring, etc...it was a beauty.

After riding the Handjob for 3 years on paved paths, dirt roads and even the occasional singletrack ride, I sold the bike to someone who knew what it was, and understood the heritage.

I regret selling it, but the 20" frame was far too small for me. I looked like a bear atop a circus bike.

I'm grateful for the time we got to spend together.

Reply

craw
Cr4w
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major Geof Harries

Wow the olden days. Capturing effectively in a single photo just how insane bike fit is for taller guys. It's amazing we survived.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+2 Geof Harries Butch White

It’s crazy the range of stem lengths we used to use to size mountain bikes when today, aside from XC rigs, the acceptable range is basically 15mm (35-50mm / 31-50mm if you still use a 31.8 bar). 

It’s a solid reminder that most brands need to add 3-4 sizes to their curve (XS - S - S/M - M - M/L - L - L/XL - XL -XXL). Let’s get some size specific stays and seat tube angles while we’re at it.

Reply

gdharries
Geof Harries
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+5 Andrew Major silverbansheebike Zowsch Pete Roggeman Derek Baker

Here’s a photo of me on the Cove, at far right.

Hopefully that explains the circus bear comment I made.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

Was that the original paint!? Looks like you rescued it from a life unlived. The SPCB thanks you.

Do you know if Dekerf was still making them in ‘02? Not sure when the cutoff was.

Reply

gdharries
Geof Harries
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

It was the original paint. I think this one was built by Yess Products in Surrey but I’m not 100% sure.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

Yess built the Canadian made aluminum frames but I don’t think they did any steel. Happy to be wrong though.

Reply

gdharries
Geof Harries
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major Derek Baker

Interesting! Well, it did have a beautiful ride quality.

I’ve had some nice steel frames (and lousy ones too) over the past 30ish years and the Cove was one of the best.

Sometimes I could swear I heard it singing.

Maybe that was the Dekerf magic.

Reply

flattire2
Brian Tuulos
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

any old retro frame the reach is so short they are all unrideable for me.  Even as a seawall cruiser, wont do it.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Derek Baker

Even the old Jumbo Cannondales? Can I interest you in a 190mm stem

There are some BIG old bikes out there, but they all have seat tubes that match their top tubes so those with long torsos and shorter legs need not apply.

Reply

andy-eunson
Andy Eunson
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+4 Andrew Major gman3000 cheapondirt Pete Roggeman

I like the bikes that people have restored to original. Like museum pieces that get ridden a bit. But the people that go on about how this or that cross country bike from the early 90s rides so much better than the modern bikes with those wide bars and short stems and slack head angles which are just a fad make me shake my head. "It rides like a dream" they often proclaim about that Klein that miraculously hasn’t failed yet. You know. A nightmare is a type of dream too. The true retro grouch does not pine for the old bikes or old skis. In fact they pine for the days when their body could do the things they could on that old stuff. Yeah, those lte 60s pony cars with 7 litre engines and two four barrel carbs were great. In their day.

Seeing old bikes still being used and cared for as town bikes is heart warming. I kind of want an old frame for conversion to monster cross type bike for gravel.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andy Eunson

Yeah, I’m not pining to take any of my old rides on the trail. But a couple of them could have had extra second or third lives running errands on the path less travelled. 

.

A nightmare is a dream too.

Indeed.

Reply

Squint
Squint
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major Andy Eunson

I have an early 90s mtb, and I can definitely confirm they are very much more difficult to ride than modern bikes, even just cross country (I have neither the courage nor the youth to try gravity trails). But still fun in a way, I'd do it more often if the rims weren't so worn out they'll dent just putting it in the bike rack. 

And can also confirm, it is possible to wear out XT thumb shifters. But there's always the friction setting.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

Friction mode’s the best anyways!

Reply

andy-eunson
Andy Eunson
10 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Unless we’re talking seats and bums.

Reply

paulc
paulc
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+4 Andrew Major Geof Harries UFO Butch White

In 1996, I helped my girlfriend buy her first "real" mountain bike - a Rocky Mountain Cardiac.  It was fine riding in the Endowment Lands, commuting to work, and for light overnight trips with panniers. We replaced the canti brakes with V-brakes at some point and it served her well.

In February 2004, now my wife of 5 years, she rode it down Pipeline for her first ride on Fromme. We found out later that she had been two weeks pregnant with our first child. A Chariot attachment went on the following spring to take our daughter about town. When our son came along in 2007 we added a Salsa rigid fork, had Sam Whittingham add a disc brake mount and put on a Bion-X system.  She towed two kids around until they were able to ride by themselves.

Our daughter decided when she was in grade 4 that she was going to ride her bike to school every day. Now in grade 12, I can only recall about 6 days when she has been driven to school and not ridden her bike since then. And the bike she has been riding for the last 4 years? The same '96 Cardiac. It will accompany her to UBC next year when she lives with her grandparents - the same place it first called home to when it was brand new.

We've talked about repainting it but the scuffed stickers and patina are part of what makes it a modern family heirloom. And hopefully deters theft in the university bike racks.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

That's an amazing story Paul, thank you for sharing! Do you have pictures through the years? 

How stock is the bike at this point other than the v-brakes?

Reply

paulc
paulc
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

The only things stock are the crank arms, seat post and clamp. It now has a riser bar and higher rise stem, hydro brakes, 1x9 gearing with the only chainring I had in a parts bin that fits the old crank, 1.5 slicks, a rear rack and fenders. I can't figure out how to post a photo but can only find one from a few years ago that shows the bike in profile.

I've got two other bikes that fall into the all-terrain-bike category that haven't been ridden in decades but I hope to one day get back on the bike path. My grandfather was a cyclist and did club races in the 30s and 40s and he and my grandmother cycle toured before the war. I have the bike that was custom made for her 4'11" height by their groomsman, Les Brooks in Manchester (no relation to the saddle maker) and my grandfather's chrome New Hudson that might be from 1948 if dating it by the Sturmey Archer hub is accurate. I used to ride his bike when I'd visit them in the mid 80s but the cracked tires haven't held air for a long time.

My mountain bike with the most kms is a Naked SS that was the first 29er Sam built in 2009. I don't ride it as much now but I can't see myself selling it. I've thought about trying it out with a drop bar just to mess around. A Naked long-tail electric cargo bike and Soma Double Cross (also commandeered by my daughter) round out the steel fleet.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

When it comes time to get those true-classics rolling there are some great resources that would help you track down compatible rubber and get them rolling.

I usually refer proper-old stuff to talk to Gordon at Cap’s New West or Darren at Dream Cycle but there are other shops that love old stuff too.

Reply

papa44
papa44
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+3 Andrew Major Zero-cool shenzhe

« I'd bet a beer that the seat post had fully become a seat mast at this point » ahahaha my 20 odd year old on-one inbred feels personally attacked, I recently had to cut the old profile bmx cranks off it too as they had seized. I estimate I have at least another couple of decades pub biking out of it. Christ knows how I ever had the minerals to take it off road back-in-the-day when Screaming kool stops on xt v-brakes were  the height of stopping power.

Reply

Bikeryder85
Bikeryder85
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

You mean the chainstays haven't snapped yet!

I do miss the inbreds, i kinda wish they would update them and bring them back.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

I’m beyond biased, but as much as it’s always a good time to release a rigid (or hardtail) single-speed (or multi-speed) rig with current geo, I think now is a better time than most.

Reply

Bikeryder85
Bikeryder85
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I would agree...i loved those old inbreds too. Much nicer than the surlys of the time imho.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andy Eunson

That’s not too hard. But I’m very biased. There are only two bikes I truly regret buying in my life.

The first is a Niner Jet 9. What a dog. Flipped the frame so fast it didn’t know it had been built up. Got just less than 1/2 what I paid for the frame and still felt like I struck gold. I’ve since ridden more stable & capable gravel bikes.

The second is a Surly Straggler. Positively the worst drop outs in the history of the bicycle. There is not a BSO in Walmart that doesn’t have better ones. These were clearly a drawing that one of the Surly employee’s toddlers drew and then when said employee was half-hypothermic on a Fatbike ride back from ice fishing they had a vision and decided to make them reality.

The worst part of the Straggler is that my wife f***ing loves the bike - how it rides, how it looks - and the more I bombard her with replacement ideas the harder she digs in.

At this point I’m basically resolved to having the dropouts cut off and replaced with some Paragons. I’m rather surly spending time removing the stupid three mile long fine-threaded limit screw every time I need the wheel out.

Reply

papa44
papa44
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I just looked up those dropouts, ahahha madness, I guess you can’t swap in someone else’s adjustable rear axle puller or whatever they’re called? the on one has simple and effective ones, also how did we get from this to eccentric bottom brackets? I can’t decide which is more of a faff. On Bmx’s you just crank them up and they seem to hold, granted with m12 nuts… hey, new standard anyone?

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andy Eunson

Disc brakes killed horizontal dropouts. I had a MinuteMan and while nostalgic for the true simplicity I’d never trade my sliders/swingers. Kona actually makes my favourite sliding dropouts. They’re simple, robust, etc. I love the swinging dropouts from Paragon that are on both my Waltworks but if I was a production bike manufacturer Kona’s sliders is what I’d use. 

Eccentric BBs make sense on Tandems and nothing else? I did eventually get my Niner One9 to not creek or slip and that knowledge did transfer over to my Cetma so not the end of the world, but sliders are better in every way.

With the Surly I’d get them chopped and replaced with regular vertical dropouts. My wife feels the same way about single speeding as most NSMB readers.

Bikeryder85
Bikeryder85
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

Man, those dropouts are brutal! (had to look them up as well). My regret was a surly KM. Just was so.... mediocre...in the worst way. Of course it was early days for 29ers, and I am in no way tall...so apologies to all who liked those frames (I know a few who wax nostalgic about it) but it just was not for me.

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

Absolutely terrible! And certainly worthy of their own article if only on MEATengines. 

And yeah, I can’t think of an actually-good 29er mountain bike before the gen.1 Kona Satori and Honzo. I owned a few before then but they didn’t GO like those bikes. Credit to Niner WFO before that which would have been more impressive if suitable tires/forks existed.

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 papa44

Wishbone stays and the straight blade rigid fork with the dramatically swept forward of the steerer crowns?!

Classic.

Reply

papa44
papa44
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

That’s the monkey, on its third set of rigid forks and second powder coat paint job. It’s incredible how small and short of reach it feels compared to a modern bike, while still feeling nimble and fun, with what someone generous would describe as a “forgiving ride” I.e. noodly. Still a cracking pub bike though

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 papa44

I appreciate it’s still in use.

Reply

papa44
papa44
10 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Then You’ll appreciate my wife and I actually have matching single speed inbreds haha we look like the best type of doofuses riding fire roads on semi slicks

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Hahaha, that’s beautiful! I know so many people who need some single speeding in their lives. Are they full twinsies? Colour and everything?

When I was doing the geo for my wife’s hardtail she very, very specifically said no sliders. I tried to tell her they serve many purposes beyond running #1FG but I think deep down we both knew one day she’d go to ride it and someone would have accidentally turned it into a one speed.

MTB_THETOWN
MTB_THETOWN
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+3 Andrew Major Velocipedestrian Butch White

Joe Breeze welded up the first few mountain bikes. Number 2 is his, and it sits in the mountain bike museum and hall of fame in Fairfax. But every once in a while, Joe takes it down to go ride re pack on it once again. 

If that bike still gets ridden, no excuse not to take anything else for a spin now and then.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

Totally.

Cool story too!

Reply

Lowcard
Lowcard
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+2 Cr4w Andrew Major

My first bike purchased from a bike shop was a '95 Univega Alpina 503

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

Do you know how their numbering system worked? What was the build on a 503?

Reply

skooks
Skooks
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+2 Geof Harries Greg Bly

I still have my 1990 Rocky Mountain Blizzard. Beautiful steel frame with the maple leaf fade paint job. Was still welded locally if  l am not mistaken. I ride it often as a gravel bike, and it's probably the only frame that I will never consider selling. Does it ride well? Not compared to anything with modern geometry but in its time it was cutting edge. I have it built up with an ancient Recon so I could run a disc brake up front. It's actually my third Blizzard. First one got swiped downtown, second one cracked at the bottle bosses, and this one was a warranty replacement. So many great memories with these bikes!

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

1990 was definitely still local. I don’t know my Rocky history as well as others but that may still be a Dekerf. The last Dekerf ones were somewhere in that ‘89-‘91 timeline?

Lots of options out there for disc brake rigid forks when the Recon is done-done.

Reply

the-prophet
the prophet
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I remember oggling a Univega Alpina at the local shop almost daily when I was in grade school circa 1987.

The use of spare spokes as the chain stay protector...:)

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TomM
TomM
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Who made those magnificent purple bar ends?

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

Flite Control was the brand but I want to say ODI owned them?!

Their bars with the thread-in extenders are called Flite Control still.

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craw
Cr4w
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

My Tech Nova, Ritchey Ascent Comp and Bridgestone MB-2 are surely kicking ass as commuters in Toronto even now.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+2 Cr4w silverbansheebike

You think? I’d say the denizens of Mega-City One can hoard usable sh*t in their basements and garages as well as any Raincouverite.

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Vikb
Vik Banerjee
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

My 2013 OG Surly Krampus is too new for classic bike status, but I intend to keep riding it until it gets there. I think in 2033 I can safely call it a "classic" ride.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Zero-cool

You think the 2033 Krampus is going to be any different? It’d be like calling a 1980-2008 Yugo a classic. In 2033 you’ll be able to sell yours as a 2032 with a throwback paint job.

And I know, don’t fix what ain’t broke, but that’s valuable steel manufacturing capability that could be used building awesome rigid mountain bikes with good geometry!

(Part 1 is intended in jest)

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Vikb
Vik Banerjee
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Well we can argue about the terminology, but I'd say a bike that gets ridden regularly for a couple decades by someone who has the money and knowledge to upgrade/replace it at any time is worthy of some recognition. Historically since it was the first 29+ bike made I'd say it deserves to be a classic in the general sense as well.

I'm not suggesting the Krampus is some iconic North Shore double black shred sled. But, there are some bike missions for which it remains great and will likely still be great a decade from now. It has beat out several other bikes in my fleet for its current position.

The fact that you may not share that opinion doesn't change anything. I don't share your enthusiasm for some bike trends/geo/features, but I don't judge them less notable because of that. If you find them enjoyable/beneficial I take your word for it...backed up of course by your actual long-term use of those items. There are flavours of ice cream that make me gag, but I can appreciate and share someone else's stoke for those flavours.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

The Krampus is a very important bike to me. 29x3”! Without what was originally marketed as a faster Fatbike my riding experience today would be incredibly different than it is, and I certainly wouldn’t be riding/talking about rigid forks all the time.

“(Part 1 is intended in jest)”

It’s no different than an ‘70s Civic with collectors plates. It’s not a Ferrari but if you drill down it actually had a bigger influence on automobiles.

I stand by my second part, in saying the Krampus is very much overdue for some geometry tweaks that would make it a better mountain bike (for everywhere) without taking away from anything else it does well.

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Vikb
Vik Banerjee
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

"I stand by my second part, in saying the Krampus is very much overdue for some geometry tweaks that would make it a better mountain bike (for everywhere) without taking away from anything else it does well."

Sure. My comments are about my 2013 OG Krampus and how I use it. So I'm not thinking about changing the geo/adding thru-axles/internal dropper routing/etc... as that would be a different bike. It would be pretty rare for a ~10 year old bike to not to benefit from updates, but then it's not a ~10 year old bike anymore. So that's an odd criticism. My point was despite it being an older bike it keeps getting ridden and that I have sold other bikes that theoretically were "better" and kept the OG Krampus. I have talked to quite a few other OG Krampus owners who feel the same way. 

There is a reason I don't own a copy of the current Krampus. Every time I go to buy a modern hardtail frame there are better options for what I want to use it for.

Maybe I misunderstood your article, but I thought we were talking about riding older bikes not critiquing Surly's 2022 line up.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Vik Banerjee

I understand completely. Apologies that my attempt at humour didn't land.

------

I think it's fair to say that the comments here often flow widely and wildly from any article framework and I don't think it's out of character that I'd be sharing my wish/critique that the Krampus would get an update.

fartymarty
fartymarty
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

The OG Krampus is a classic in my books - name another production frame with horizontal drops, 3" compatible and a 44 HT.

I wish the HA was 2 degrees slacker and had a larger ST diameter (for a longer dropper).  But for a 2013 frame it's still ticking a lot of boxes.

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

Marty, I want to be cheeky and point to plenty of bikes with the same features - the Kona Wozo for example - but I really do want to highlight that the Krampus, and then the Stache, really did change mountain biking for me. I need to dial back my can't ride super-sass.

Vikb
Vik Banerjee
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I don't think Surly has done anything particularly great/interesting in a while. I used to have several of their bikes in my garage and looked forward to their new releases. I'm down to just my OG Krampus now and wouldn't recommend a friend buy a Surly except for some really unusual circumstances.

It's unfortunate. Given QBP's backing Surly should be able to put out some great bikes at reasonable prices. I am not sure why they are stagnating so badly.

That said there is no shortage of great metal bikes to buy so it's not like we are hard done by.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

I’d argue there is a shortage of metal bikes! Stooges are a year out? Units are a year out? Trek has discontinued the 520?! There is limited capacity to manufacture quality steel bikes in Taiwan and Surly’s using up a lot of it! 

(Half joking)

fartymarty
fartymarty
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

The Krampus could do with a major (pun semi intended) update.  Keep the horizontal drops and long CS of the original, increase stack and reach and steeper STA (but not too far) and take about 4 degrees off the HA.

Vikb
Vik Banerjee
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I keep hearing about the inability to get stuff and yet I built up two nice hardtails with no compromises in late 2021. I could build up a few more if money and space were not restricted. Anecdotes not being data and all that, but I haven't run into problems.

I'm also not stuck on one ultra niche frame or part.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 3 weeks ago
0

The issue, when I was turning wrenches, was  certain parts that are very common on mid-to-high end bikes. I didn’t have issues personally either but here’s stuff that caused me stress:

DUB BBs - no SRAM or alt-BBs for months & months. 

Eagle Chains - first it was a trickle NX on XX1, XX1 on NX bikes then nothing SRAM or alt for months.

XD Cassettes - no SRAM or alt, 11 or 12.

Shimano 12spd HG+ chains.

Shimano Microspline cassettes

Shimano 12-speed derailleurs or clutches

Shimano master cylinder assemblies (there was a rash of folks working on their own bikes pushing the pistons in without opening the masters and exploding their non-serviceable guts + tons of broken lever blades with no blades or masters to replace them).

Shimano 4-piston brake pads (no fins + new fins) OE or after market.

142x12 rear hubs 

That’s just things that really come to mind. Somewhere i have more written down for an epic poem I was going to write.

bux-bux
Bux Bux
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Question is... does anyone here have a Cook Bros Racing bike? The Cove guys rode/sold them in the 80's. Think the other pre MTB bike I recall was the Marushi. Would love to have one of those.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Bux Bux

I know of at least one guy in the cove that still has a Cook Bros from The Cove. He might have two actually. I don’t know if they still get pedaled.

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bux-bux
Bux Bux
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Saw one for sale a few years ago for cheap and missed it by 15 mins.  Some lady in West Van had it in her garage it was mint.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

I'm certain it's way more common than I'd imagine. It's a funny thing about collectible anything - aside from art masterpieces with heavy provenance, who knows how many are really still in circulation.

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garycsaenz@gmail.com
garycsaenz@gmail.com
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Pete Roggeman

I have a 2002 Gary Fisher Supercaliber 29 as my commuter. Granted, it is AL but I have loved it for the last 20 years. It now has a rigid fork (got tired of rebuilding the leaky Bomber). Wider bars and a Thudbuster helps this 62 year old stay in the saddle.

I saw a well worn Dean a couples days ago in all it's glory outside the local HEB.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

I see lots of older aluminum around - Cannondale USA made road bikes are a favourite. I think a well built bike is a well built bike. Those Trek-Fishers were solid. 

If I was rescuing an old bike from retirement to use as a city rig one of my first choices would be a 1996 Trek 8000. Love the bonded aluminum tube tech, USA Made.

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Margo
Margo
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Lol! Idk why you're crying about dusty old product going unused! 

It's the only chance poor old focks like me have to live the missed dreams of our youth.       Lately I have bought classics I once owned and lost to misfortune. Still looking for a Cannondale with the Suntour "rim crusher" brakes🙂. And those cool thumb shifters and huge brake levers from the early 80's Ross mountain bike...nobody offered all alloy shifters after that on a production bike...memories...sigh

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andy Eunson

If you’re riding them then I’m down. I can’t get behind turning bicycles into objects for the sake of nostalgia or otherwise.

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Larrabee
Larrabee
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

“But lately, it's the ones with provenance, patina, repairs, and ///detrition*/// that absorb my interest.”

Excellent word; new to me. Thanks for a great article. 

*the action of wearing something away by friction.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+2 goose8 Butch White

Cheers!

When I ran the front-of-house at SuspensionWerx I was sending so many e-mails every day that I put a lot of effort into expanding my 'You F***ed Up Your Expensive Thing And How' vocabulary just to keep things interesting, for me.

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Shoreloamer
Greg Bly
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

When I saw the 2003 Giant XTC . I wanted one. Had massive amounts of rear platform. Too much. The Manitou fork also uses platform. Not great for off-road but silky smooth on pavement. I purchased the bike in excellent condition about 5 years ago. Gets ridden every day. 

My grip shift I installed is very easy to do cable swaps. Trigger shift for right side . Original 9 speed rapid rise mated to a new Sunrace m 90 derailuer. 

I put on large rotors and Avid bb7 disk brakes . More power than need but with a 60 litre back pack ripping down trails on the gulf isands . Much appreciated. 

Plenty of ruffled feathers over long stems , old geometry, anything not considered new. 

The best bike is the one I'm on and yes I'm having fun. 

Still have my 2006 Giant Faith frame and Shivers . Will make a great park/ shuttle rig if I ever get it finished. 

The problem with attractive commuter bikes . They are attractive to thieves . My bike looks ugly on purpose.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

Most of the GripShift shifters I owned were very easy to change cables on (I actually really like GripShift for indexed MTB drivetrains - and the front shifters with 9-clicks shift Shimano 9-speed rear derailleurs perfectly, which was a favourite trick since front shifters were very cheap & easy to come by) but X-Ray was an event.

Did you flip the links on the Faith? Lots of folks used to do that to drop that BB and slack them out. When the frames were being cleared out they were the ultimate DH rig on a budget. 

What rear shock do you run on the XTC NRS? It stretches my imagination to think the original SID or Manitou is still running. It is crazy how much energy the bike industry put into making many-pivot suspension bikes ride like hardtails. 

I'm with boomforeal, "if a bike's not being used, it's being abused" and I think it's awesome your Giant is still in regular use.

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mrbrett
mrbrett
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Re: frozen seatpost. 

Is there a product that functions like a road bike seat mast for mountain bikes?

I'm imagining cutting the head off the old stuck seatpost, and having a thing that vaguely resembles a larger diameter seatpost that slips over the stub, allows some height adjustment, and has a head of some sort. Would have a cut and a clamp like what a seat tube on a frame has.

If it fit a 26.8mm and a 27.2 I think there's a market for it. If such a thing exists, I'm not aware. I have destructively removed more than one seatpost from an old steel frame and it's not always pretty or financially viable.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

No reason you couldn’t make a reverse Telescoping post. Just need a seat post with the right ID and a clamp with the right OD. I actually made such an animal once, which I called an up-stick, so I could have the post on my 2-Step be both high enough and low enough. I’d remove the up-stick at the top of a climb and put it in my pack. 

I want to say the frame was 27.0, the outer post was 30.9, and then the upper post was 27.0 as well. I had a QR on the frame, a bolt-on collar where the frame insert (27.0) went into the outer and then that had a QR for the part of the post that held my seat. It was very usable even if it sounds like a PIA now. 

Just doing a mast I could have taken the 30.9 OD / 27.2 ID post and just added a slit and clamp at the bottom. Would want about 4” of overlap between what I left in the frame and that external post. 

Posts come with all difference IDs so it would be a matter if micing a few to find what matches the OD of what’s left behind.

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silverbansheebike
silverbansheebike
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

The materials marketing always cracks me up. My favorite has been the words "heat treated" boldly stated in flashy, fire coloured 3D letters on the box for some cheapo cast aluminum pistons. Yeah, no shit.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 silverbansheebike

It’s a bizarre divide. There’s all these companies celebrating things that qualify as either “no shit” or “who cares” and then there’s companies that do something a certain way because it’s their standard and don’t say anything about it.

My favourite example is from the pre-Trek Bontrager frame shop and comes from a former boss who went there to see the production line. They had a guy rolling steel tubes on a perfectly flat surface and marking the high spot so any flex would be in the optimum plane. Does that make ANY difference in a double triangle frame? I doubt it. But I think it speaks to a general persnicketiness that increased costs and quality for their frames.

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silverbansheebike
silverbansheebike
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

That is a really interesting story, certainly one way to do it.... maybe someone was long awaiting an "i told you so" moment. I'd like to think that is the attention I would give it if I was building my own frame, but like you said, I doubt it makes much difference.

Great article as always

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

Thanks!

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maximum-radness
Maximum Radness
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I once built a evil imperial frame with a shiver cuz it was my youthful lust....

Saint cranks, king hubs, hope brakes, straitline pedals, fat ass tires on really shiny chrome wide hoops, and a little purple bling for sure.

Yep, rode like total garbage. Couldn’t even enjoy it. 

But I did look at it lots, late at night, a few smokes in at the shop, just a fine specimen!!

Eventually it helped me fund a bad mamma jamma new super bike wonder whip......

And went to another collector dying to build it up,.......

Hopefully he rode it more than me!

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
0

Yeah, an Imperial isn't a bike I can really imagine as a commuter or bike packing or gravel rig - but what do I know? I would have put it in a category with the full-suspension bikes from the time, cool but not something you'd see getting ridden anymore, at least around here. I do suddenly wonder how many folks have an Imperial or a Le Toy stashed away for the memories though.

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UFO
UFO
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Andrew, I'm in a similar predicament with my Sakura as well. I'm tempted to move it along as it doesn't need to get used. But I also know that my chances to find another one when my regret sinks in will be next to none. I thought I would have had that same regret when I moved my Dekerf along years ago, but I honestly haven't missed her aside from not being able to flex that I own a Dekerf.

I'm contemplating converting the Sakura into a drop bar gravel bicycle, but I need to build a use case for it first.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 UFO

I was thinking a moustache bar rather than a dropbar (there are versions that can run MTB shifter/levers or versions that can run brifters), a rigid fork, and getting the frame modified to add rack and fender mounts to use it as a commuter. I'm not convinced it would get used v. a purpose-build commuter frame though. 

Either way, I can't sell it because as you note I'd never replace it. But it bothers me hanging around so it will become part of a project at some time.

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UFO
UFO
10 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I've got some 700c disc wheels and rigid fork already, so at a bit of a crossroads to go in or out. I'm thinking to keep my 10sp 11-40 rear on a 36t or 38t NW ring. 10sp brifters on a Tanpan to make it work, with the left shifter gutted out to activate the dropper

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Sounds Rad! Share some shots if you get it setup that way.

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velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
10 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I've been having a good time recently on my '06 DMR Trailstar. Straight steerer, very steep HA and short reach mean it's not great off road (except when riding with the kids), but the current build has become known as "The Duchess", because rigid with one gear, a front rack and 70mm rise bar it's the Dutch-est bike in the house.

Sorry (not sorry) about the dad-joke. 

As one of the few frames I've owned from new I'm really enjoying the litany of builds it's been through. From main-mountain-bike, to backup-hardtail, to silly-SS, and its current guise. 

The Duchess

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Velocipedestrian

Well, I laughed so at the least it passed the dad-humour test at my level. Did you collect photos of the various builds along the way? The Trailstar is such a classic example of a repurposefull hardtail rig.

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velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
10 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Pics are only from the last 5 years or so - there are probably older ones on the computer, it definitely had an OG Pike for the first build.

Couple of examples. 

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 3 weeks ago
0

This comment has been removed.

XXX_er
XXX_er
10 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I  see people selling old bikes/ old components/ old tires on FB, to me its just old  stuff I thru out years ago and I would rather ride a modern bike so I don't really get the " vintage " thing. I do still have some old bikes for riding to the bar or mtb repurposed for touring cuz I already own it but I sure wouldn't go looking for this stuff

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 3 weeks ago
0

I sometimes regret selling an old bike that would be a perfect city ripper now while also carrying a lot of positive memories. Like, my '00 Kona Roast with 650b slicks and a rigid fork. I mean, I sold it for ~ nothing. 

I also understand riders going out and buying a certain bike/frame for nostalgia's sake because they couldn't afford it in the past. If I came across a fresh Mountain Cycle Moho in my size for cheap-enough I'd also have to buy it (and turn it into a rigid city bike) because I thought they were just the coolest rigs when I was a teenager. 

But, to each their own. I certainly don't understand collecting for collecting sake - bicycles are meant to be ridden.

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AskP
Ask Petersen
10 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I’m the happy owner of a 1994 Kona Hei-Hei. It was the frame I lusted after for years when I started mountain biking and when I had the opportunity to buy one in 2010 I immediately did so.

I used it the first years on trails as geared or single speed, front suspended with a polished Fox 32 120mm.

It has now been my daily commuter for the past 5 years with a 29” Project Two steel fork, a 29” front wheel, Eno SS hub and different odd old parts. And it absolutely flys.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
10 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Are you running rim brakes or did you have a disc mount added at some point? I've seen a lot of '90s Kona Ti frames with disc brake tabs added. 

Do you run a White Industries freewheel on the Eno?

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