Sunday, December 16, 2012

1989 Doug Bradbury Manitou

I'm still in shock that I actually have this bike!!! I keep going out to the garage to see if it's really still there. I have been looking for an original DB Manitou for nearly 12 years. Several have come up during that time, but they were either completely out of my price range, incomplete or broken. But it seems that good things come to those who wait, and I waited.

Back in March of this year I purchased an Answer Manitou from a guy in San Diego. While talking about bikes I asked him why he was selling it. He replied that he's always wanted a Manitou and bought this one even though it was too small for him hoping that he could make it work somehow. He went on to say that his father was high school buddies with Doug Bradbury and bought one of Doug's first bikes to help him get started. Of course at this point he had my complete and undivided attention. I somehow managed to contain my excitement and asked whether his father still had said Manitou. He said "Yeah, I'll get you some pics..."

A month or so these photos arrived in my inbox:

I could not believe it, at first glance it was all there, the fork, the hubs, the stem and of course the frame. Other subtle touches emerged as well, Cook Bros cranks, early Grafton brakes and an IRD post. For the next nine months I exchanged occasional emails with Howard about the bike. He confirmed the origin story of the bike. Him and Doug grew up together riding bikes and motorcycles. In 1989 after high school when Doug moved to Colorado and started building bikes he bought one of his early ones. The bike originally came with a segmented Manitou fork, however when Doug started making the early suspension forks he upgraded to one of the first ones that came out of Doug's garage. Fortunately unlike so many Klein owners Howard kept the rigid fork. Of course I wanted to buy the bike immediately but Howard wasn't ready to sell and with a story like that I couldn't blame him. I didn't push the issue but would periodically inquire if he would consider selling the bike. Finally last week I got the email I've been waiting for and last Friday I came home with this:

All the special touches, all the enhancements, everything was there... unbelievable!!! Aside from the frame a DB Manitou is not complete without a the fork, billet machined stem and customized 115mm/145mm front and rear hubs.

The front hub is actually a Hi-E with a longer center cylinder and the rear is a modified XT with similar treatment but with a custom machined step down body.

The brakes are very early Grafton Speed Conrollers with custom machined Titanium brake pad holders. I've never seen another set like them, and the only other pad holder like that is at John Grafton's house.

Cranks and bottom bracket are Cook Bros and the rest of the equipment is Shimano M735 XT.

Aside from some period correct tires, new cables, a chain and maybe an overhaul of the bearings the bike really needs nothing.

One of the coolest things that came with this bike is an original Manitou brochure, a glossy promotional photo, a recommended build sheet and a couple of Doug's original hand made business cards!! I'll take some photos of these items later on.

At this point I've installed the rigid fork back on and mounted a nice, new Fisher Fattrax 2.2 tire on the front. I'll do the same thing on the back end and then go over all the bearings. I was going to replace the XT headset with an old Chris King, but at the advice of a good friend I decided to leave the XT and just overhaul it.  I'm not a huge fan of the Mavic quick releases and may replace them with some black Ringles, but even there I'm not sure it's a good idea, we'll see...


  1. Wow, just reading the full story about this bike! Always fun to read a story like this. Gee, one handshake away from Doug Bradbury....! The bike is gorgeous! Good thing it is all complete and with the rigid! Must be rare as hence teeth... (erh... dunno if that is correct English). Nice find!

  2. I just drooled on the keyboard. Can't say I've ever seen one of these, but I do know the story. What an incredible bike!

  3. Wow, it looks like it was made by hand in somebody's garage. It's almost primitive yet absolutely bomb proof at the same time. Martin, is Second Spin like a side project or your main work? I can't believe the paint jobs you do, your a real artisan . You remind me of that Rick Dale guy from American Restorations but for mountain bikes.

    1. Thanks Josh. I wish I could take credit for the paintwork, but sadly I am not that talented. This is just a hobby for me and an offshoot of my personal bike collections.