Sunday, August 28, 2011

New Old MB-1

Picked this old Bridgestone MB-1 up today, from a friendly gentleman on Alameda. After swapping out the 25 year old Ritchey tires for some halfway newer semi-slicks, I went for a short trail ride.

It has a very nimble feel on the trail, but it's surprisingly comfortable and forgiving, thanks, it would seem, to longish chainstays, a lowish BB, some heat treated steel tubing, and modern angles (despite the 1987 vintage.) Although the parts aren't 100% original, what's there is a nice selection from Suntour's and Nitto's late 80s best.

This is an interesting bike for at least a couple of reasons. For one, it comes right at the end of the first true mtb era, with japanese made mountain bikes finally shedding their bullmoose bars and starting to really flood the bikes shops of the USA. I think '87 or '88 is the last year of chainstay-mounted u-brakes for most brands, but here's Bridgestone already moving on to seatstay-mounted cantis (or back to them, as the case may be,)  and some seriously racer-oriented concepts. It's also the first production MTB to adopt the standard angles of the 90s and beyond: 71/73. I like the feel of this geometry, I must admit.

Another reason this bike is unique is that it represents Grant Petersen's attempt, I think, to pay homage to his Bay Area MTB mentors -- namely Charlie Cunningham and Tom Ritchey. By bringing this design into mainstream American bike shops, Bridgestone disseminated the kooky ideas of the Bay Area tinkers/innovators/alt-lifestylists to the unsuspecting riders of  our land. Thing is, drops on a mountain bike are not for everyone, and, as far as I can tell, this particular model didn't sell that great. Sounds like there are 300 of them around, in theory. I'm psyched to have one of them!

I'm not completely sold on the dirt drop handlebars. They're for sure cool, but the dirt drop stem could be a little higher (the quill is mysteriously short) and the drop could be a little shallower for my taste. This old fellow might be an excellent candidate for some bullmoose handlebars. Mark? You have any Nitto bullmoosen for this mb?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

15 miles in the dirt

Last weekend we got out and explored the trails at Lake Chabot a bit. By and large we try to "ride to the ride", meaning we don't drive a truck loaded with bikes to the trailhead. I'm fine with the other way too, and I get why folks do it; I only mention it because it kinda influences the way we build the bikes up. Riding big fat tires with low profile tread isn't the most ideal set-up if you want to just shred trail super fast. We've been seeing the limitations of that on our rides with lots of slippage, wipeouts, and generally slower speeds. The trick is that we want to have fun on the road too, and we do a lot of mixed terrain rides. Knobs would be killer on the trail, but such a bummer on the long sections of road. We also tend to bring stuff for longer rides, so you'll notice seatbags and funky stuff strapped to racks. It's nice to eat a sandwich out there on the trail, or stash that hoodie. Anyway, the more we ride these old things we see how versatile they are and the limitations too.
Some pics:
In reverse order, a shady spot :
Jonny in Chabot, post wipe out:
My bike and the view:
bros finishing snack time:
Jonny on the Big Trees Trail in Joaquin Miller

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

1984 Trek 890

I've been poking around trying to find a sweet Mtb for my buddy Brian, and I thought that today might be the day. I picked up this '84 Trek 890 for 40 bucks and thought it was a pretty sweet score until I got it home and was checking it out. For some reason I gave the top tube a little tap with my fingernail and I heard this strange sound, a hollow cold thud, not like the sweet bell ring ring I was expecting. I then started feeling around under the tube and discovered a huge 8" long crack running the length of the tube. Bummer! I guess it's just another one for my pile of broken frames that I might fix if I ever learn how to use a torch.
There are relatively few pics of this frame out there on the web, and it's a weird one for sure. It was made as a kind of city bike built around 26" rims. It is very similar to the 830 from '84. The front fork is much narrower at the crown than the fork on the 830 and it has adjustable horizontal drop outs instead of vertical drop outs. It also uses a clamp-on cable stop on the down tube. Other than those things it's the same as the 830, same tubes, Reynolds 501 AT, and same style of decals and placement.
As I got it:
Twisted SR crank is original
The long drops w/ really messed up adjusters:
Nice pointy lugs:

The cable stop:
I believe the Stronglight headset is original:
Cheapie "EM" Shimano shifters
The strange fork:
Interesting old tires. I think the same tire is just called the Pasela now. This is a 1.5"

Looking up to bummer city. I've never seen that before! I guess that this is seamed tubing and that the crack is on the seam. Thankfully it was cheap, but it's always sad to see a cool old bike broken like that.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dirt Owls fog ride

My buddy Mark and I share the same birthday, so we got a crew together for a little b-day dirt ride. It was probably the largest crew that we've been able to assemble of old mtbs for a ride in the mud. With the exception of Brian's Hunqapillar, the newest bike was an 1985. Needless to say I was super pumped about the whole ordeal.

The line up at Cole coffee
Lots of leather saddles in there:
Intense fog:
Paceline, because we are very serious riders:
The gates of Gnarnia
Just seconds after everyone landed big air tabletops:

The fog has been condensing and causing "rain" in the woods up on the hill. It's pretty amazing to get to ride mud in the beginning of August.
Nancy is riding the 83 Schwinn High Commando

My dirty odalisque:
The muddied crew. Mark had just scored those shoes at a garage sale.
A detail crotch shot showing the spray:
Ride on!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I was just getting stuff off the camera and found this shot. It's been strangely muddy up in the Oakland hills, I guess with all the fog. Anyhow it's always fun to go slip'n slide around on some gravied trails. Viva Gnarnia!