Tuesday, December 10, 2013

1985 Fat Chance Trials

Another interesting Fat Chance bike. This time it's a 1985 Trials bike formerly ridden by Nancy Earle who raced for Fat in the mid 80s. The most notable feature of this bike is heavy duty box crown fork with cool dedicated axle dropouts (EDITED : I previously referred to these as an early attempt at Thru-Axle dropouts, which was not correct - Thanks Mike for the clarification). The build is pretty nice with Cook Bros hubs and cranks. The bike is in surprisingly great condition for a trials bike. A real interesting piece of history.

This seems to be a fairly stock trials bike given it's lack of bashguard, weak brakes and gears. (EDITED I previously commented that the fact that the bike has gears was odd, having mostly seen modified trials bikes I was surprised to see one with gears - Thanks Mike for the clarification)

1986 Cunningham LPB

This 85 Cunningham LPB (Little Person's Bike) is the little sister to Kirby, the big 85 Cunningham I featured the other day. The two bikes couldn't be further apart. While Kirby was designed and built to take the punishment of a larger rider hitting the trails hard, the LPB is limited to a rider of approximately 130lbs and wasn't even heat treated.

I found out about Kirby and the LPB via Curtis at the Auburn Bike Company. Curtis was instrumental in helping me get the bikes. Curtis has a nice rotation collection of vintage bikes on display, definitely worth a visit if in you're in the area!!

As I am still learning about these bikes, I won't attempt to discuss the details and instead will just get on with the photos.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

1985 Cunningham Racer

I think that Lockheed designed and built the SR-71 in less time than it took me to get this bike... Regardless it's here.

First of all a big thank you to Issac, Curtis @ Auburn Bike Company and Greg for making this happen to Stephanie for letting it go!!! I really appreciate it!

The bike is a rather large 1985 Cunningham Racer. For those in the know (not really me) each one of these bikes is special and unique. They were basically all built to order and were meant to fit someone like a glove. I won't even attempt to describe the individual features of this bike. All I can say it's is awesome and I'm thrilled to have it. Hope to get it out on the trail sometime soon to see whether I can ride such a massive bike safely.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Why collect vintage mountain bikes???

This question gets asked all the time by all sorts of people. The answer, I think it rather simple:

Because they are freakin awesome! 

Nuff said!

1984 Ritchey barn find...

Last week while away on Thanksgiving vacation I was enjoying my morning cup of tea while surfing the web and came upon this unsuspecting for sale post.

I couldn't tell what it was from the pics, but it looked fillet brazed. Upon contacting the owner I found the serial number was 0A3... now my curiosity was peaked. It was either an Everest which is a nice bike in and of itself, or it might be the holy grail of Ritcheys, the Annapurna. Too bad I wasn't going to be home for another 5 days and the seller had no interest in taking a deposit. I was sure the bike would be gone by the time I got there. Lucky for me it went under the radar for a whole 13 days!!! Well, the other day after a long flight followed by a short night's sleep and a big cup of coffee I drove up to Canoga park to check out the bike. I was met the original owner, an elderly gentleman in his 90s!!! He claimed he bought the bike brand new while living in Tarzana. Immediately my eyes focused on the head tube, where much to my amazement (Is this better Holli?) I saw the outline of the beautiful faux lugs indicating that this is no ordinary Ritchey but is in fact the Annapurna

I am not a Ritchey expert, so any attempt on my behalf to tell you what this bike is would end up being nothing more than me parroting other people's websites. So, for more info please navigate over to : Old Mountain Bikes, or MOMBAT.

The owner claimed was only ridden on local paved trails and up and down his evidently long driveway to get the mail. Sadly, the condition doesn't exactly reflect such a low level of use, most likely years in the garage/tool shed can be blamed for the scratches and scrapes on the fork and stays. 

I've since removed the rack and front bag, but along with the twin water bottle cages and portage strap it seems that this bike has the touring package. I think it looks much cleaner without them, but I'll hang onto them just in case.

Aside from the modern seat, grips, tires and chain the bike is all original per the 1984 or early 1985 catalog spec, right down to the Ambrosio Durex rims!!

Beautiful brazing adorns every part of this frame!

Original Phil Wood hubs look worse for wear, but spin just as smooth as when they were new 

Iconic Ritchey logo and Specialized Alloy headset

I am pretty sure somewhere a welding school dedicates an entire semester to this seat cluster alone

Last but not least the super high-rise Twin Strut fillet brazed Ritchey bar/stem combo, really sets off this bike and makes it possible for this 6'1" guy to ride a 20" frame.

I pumped up the massive Kenda tires, threw on a slightly better seat, raised the post and took it for quick spin around the block. Well, I'm happy to report that it's no Klein Adroit, but it's a fantastic bike. The very upright seating position attests the more subdued temperament of this bike, which seems to feel right at home going on a leisurely ride to the local coffee shop as it might on your favorite fire road. Normally this would not have a place in my quiver, but with looks like these I think I'll screw another hook into the garage wall!!

The full restoration of this bike (don't worry, preservation is the name of the game here) won't begin until next year, but I am very excited to get started!!!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Good or Great Restoration? : Chapter 1 - Build Accuracy

Before arguing about the fact that people often kept their bikes for a long time and upgraded them from time to time, or simply replaced parts that wore out with new ones, it's important to ask yourself why are you restoring a bike? If you simply want an old bike to ride and you don't care that parts don't match or were not available when the bike was made, that's fine. If, on the other hand, you are trying to build a bike as it was spec'd back in the day or attempt a custom build from that time period, then do the research and find the correct parts.

Knowing the manufacture date of your frame is a good place to start when selecting the proper components to complete the build

Just don't be surprised or offended when someone picks at the fact that you used Mavic 117 rims on a bike that was made in 1988, seeing as those rims didn't come out until 1994, and identifying and sourcing some period-correct rims would not have been that hard. Again, there is nothing technically wrong with it, but a little more effort would have gotten you a more period-correct build. This logic can be extended to all manner of components, tires, cables etc.

There are several categories one can work at when trying to be period-correct. I use the word category loosely and the number I chose doesn't mean there aren't intermediate 'catregories' or that there aren't a dozen more ways to slice things to suit your own needs. Also I'm not directly implying that C1 is better than C2 or on down the line. This is just my take on things based on what I've done and what I've seen others do with solid results.

Category 1 - A build utilizing only components that were listed or shown in a catalog, a replica of a team bike or something along those lines. Someone undertaking a build like this will make sure that everything down to the inner tubes is correct per the spec.  All part date codes and stamps are aligned with the frame manufacture year and/or minor details like stickers or brake pads will be accounted for. A basic example would be using correct M900 coded XTR parts on bikes made from 1992-1994 and using M910 parts on bikes made in 1995. A more specific example could be only using Salsa stems with the correct decal for the given year of manufacture of the frame.  Knowing which sidewall stickers on your Specialized Ground Control is key for a build like this.

Good example of a catalog spec bike (excuse the seat in this pic)

Good example of a faithful replica show bike

Category 2 - A build utilizing only period-correct parts but not adhering to any specific spec or build guide. Typically, in a build like this, the aftermarket parts will be from the same manufacturer or represent a region where the components were made (e.g. all Syncros or IRD build). As in Level 1, all part date codes and stamps correspond to the year of the frame manufacture. Typically builds adhering to a high degree of uniformity tend to elicit a better response among fans rather than a build that utilizes parts from multiple manufacturers. Again, there is nothing wrong with a highly mixed build. In fact, an argument can sometimes be made that cherry picking parts across manufacturers can result in a better performing bike (e.g. Bridgestone MB-Zip), but these cases tend to be rarer. So, in some cases a highly customized build backed by proven performance benefits or perhaps manufacturer relationships can win out over a more consistent build. But simply throwing a ton of pretty CNCd parts from one year onto a frame of that year with limited though to match or performance won't win you any points among purists.

Good example of a non-catalog spec period correct build

Category 3 - This is really just a broader expansion of C2 to include parts that may not have been made during the exact manufacture year of the frame, but were definitely available during the production life for a frame. Obviously this opens up the range of what's acceptable to put on a bike, while trying to keep within the scope of what would have been doable back when the frame was manufactured/sold.

Fair example of a Cat 3 bike (easy to cheat with frame that was built for over ten years)

There isn't much point in going down past Category 3 as at that point you're simply just throwing random parts on a bike and calling it vintage just because something is no longer made. In my mind that sort of defeats the points and frankly is just too easy.