Tuesday, August 19, 2014

1990 Doug Bradbury Manitou trail review

I've owned this DBM for almost two years now and it's seem some solid trail duty. However, I never took the time to take any decent photos on the trail or really get into the ride characteristics. As I go through and formulate my collection strategy this bike continually serves as a benchmark for all new comers and has secured a permanent place on my ride rack.

The thing everyone asks me about this bike is "How is it compared to a Klein?" Before I answer that I'd like to point out that this design is over 2 years older than any comparable Klein (thinking 90 Attitude here) and so any comparison is somewhat flawed. However, with that in mind I'd say it's like comparing a saw with a scalpel. Both cut just fine, but one is a bit rougher. I think of Kleins as precision instruments that need to be treated with care, and if you do that they'll do exactly what you ask of them. The DBM is much more like a saw, your cut may not be as precise and you may make a mess, but you'll get it done and it requires a lot less thought and care.

When you ride this bike you care a bit less about your line, a bit less about rocks flying up, a bit less about going over that bigger rock or drop. You just know this bike can take it and won't miss a beat. It's just more of a bruiser. That being said it's not as light, it doesn't quite help you feel like you're in command of something special and unique. It's more utilitarian in nature and you get that feeling when you ride it. It's like a bit of that spring in your step was taken out and replaced with a steel toe which you use to crush any obstacles in your way rather than flying over them.

Does it climb well?? Yeah, it climbs well. I feel like I'm in better shape when on a Klein, but there is virtually no flex in this frame under heavy climbing loads and great out of the saddle traction coming out of stream beds.

Does it descend well?? Yeah, it's great when you point it down. Actually, it's more forgiving than a Klein.

This is the fork that every Switchblade, IRD or Bontrager fork dream they are when they are sleeping. It doesn't chatter, it's doesn't flex under braking, it's doesn't wonder, it's awesome! There is nothing more to be said about it.

I love this bike. I urge everyone who ever gets a chance to throw a leg over one to do so immediately. It not the lightest out there, at 25 and change lbs it's got a few pounds over an ARC or Adroit, but then again it's a few years older. But it's a bike I keep coming back to and it's always ready to hit the trail!!

To put it another way it's a bike I make sure always has air in the tires because I'm likely to pull it off the rack for a ride on any given day!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Riding legends - Klein Adroit Team Storm

Riding a bike like this is beyond privilege, it's really an honor. Everything about it screams "I'm here to race, put it in the big ring and turn and burn!" This bike is an amazing piece of history, I am thrilled that it's finally done and blown away by the final result.

Read the back story of this bike here

I may not have Tinker's legendary ability to grind away the competition in the big ring, but I still had a blast riding it. The ride is not a whole hell of a lot different from a rigid Adroit. The Mag-21 was plenty stiff, with just a bit of give on the descent. It took the edge of and I can see how over the course of a long ride it would pay off. The Grafton brakes were mush, the Ti chainrings shifted like crap compared to the ramped and pinned M900 rings I'm used to, the tires were begging to be put out of their misery, but the shit eating grin never left my face.

I will definitely be converting these brakes to use eye bolts in lieu of the L brackets. This setup has way too much flex and is nearly impossible to keep in place.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Klein Adroit - Team Storm

Well, what can I say other than this has been a very-very long time in the making. I have been working on or thinking about this project going on for 15 years ( Backstory here ) and I almost can't believe it's finally come together.

Pics to my summary of Tinker's 1993 season on his Team Storm bike : here

Pics of my first ride on this bike : here

There are now words to describe how absolutely stunning this bike is in person. It might be my most amazing project to date, I am utterly speechless!!!

The fork lowers and brake arch actually came from Tinker. They were never used and just had internals put into them for the first time this year. The color is a really dark purple, almost bordering on black.

Tinker signed the frame for me back in 2001-02 at the Cannondale homecoming event. I hadn't even started restoring it at that point in time.

This MC1 was actually found earlier this year in Gary's personal stash of parts of all places. I'm guessing that once the Klein factory was closing down all of the surplus MC1s and other random parts were locked away in storage and this bar got throw into the mix. It's a perfect match... only took 14 years to find it!!! I bet Gary already had it when I came to visit him back in 2002, bummer I didn't see it back then!

Grafton cranks with Action Tec Titanium chainrings and Tinker's signature Look clipless pedals. No idea how anyone could actually mountain bike with those things!!

Since Ringle didn't make 31.6 posts quite this early they made a custom one off prototypes for Tinker and Sara. Basically Ringle took the oversize 31.8 posts they made for Doug Bradbury and turned them down to 31.6 for use in Kleins and then pressed in bonded their standard head. This is a replica of this post made the same exact way.

I took some liberties with the rim using 3DV Sun CR16 rims with an equivalent of ceramic coating for the braking surfaces. Tinker didn't run these, but he would have it they had come out a few months earlier.

Ringler Super Bubba hubs with radial non drive side lacing and 3 cross on drive side using double butted Wheelsmith spokes. Matching Ringle skewers complete the setup.

Grafton Speed controller brakes were about the best there was back in the day. 3DV was the color choice for many top racers.

This style of head tube badge was only available on team bikes. 

Mantis Valkyrie ride report

Finally managed to get some time to get out on the trail and check out the Valkyrie. I was a little worried that this bike was going to disappoint, and I really wanted to like it. So, there was a lot of emotion on the line.

The thing I noticed immediately about this bike is that it's damn stiff. Not quite like a Klein maybe, but stiffer than any other steel bike I've ridden, and definitely stiffer than the Merlin. For comparison sake I ran it with Fisher Fattrax 2.2 in the rear at 42psi, and Dusttrax 2.2 in the front at 40psi. This stiffness made it seem a bit twitchy and combined with my not so perfect setup of the roller cams resulted in a few off trail excursions. But seriously, I did not expect the bike to feel this way. I was anticipating a soft, flexy and forgiving ride. This is exciting!

The setup of this particular bike made for a fairly upright position which in turn made the cockpit feel a tiny bit more on the cramped side than I might want, but not in a way that makes the ride uncomfortable in any way. Perhaps, just a bit more upright than I'm used to. Probably a nod to the slightly more slack angles that some of my more modern bikes.

I've never ridden a bike with roller cams on the front, it takes a little bit of getting used to and probably some more time fiddling with the cam setting. I think I had some beginner's luck with the roller cam on the Merlin, these didn't feel anywhere nearly as good as that one.

I've been getting into WTB stuff lately, this is the 2nd bike I have equipped with nearly a full WTB kit, so far I am pretty impressed. I guess I'll get #3 and #4 done soon and check those out.

Fisher Dust Trax tires. Never even knew these existed until recently. Kind of a good front tire compared to the Fattrax, which is pretty happy being relegated to rear tire duty. 

The rear brake needs a little more work, but it's getting there. It took a little while but I made a custom setup for running the twin cable ends, I think it's pretty good. I used a short section of brake cable which is pretty stiff, and still impacts the cam angle. I may try some braided cable instead and see if that helps things out further. Fortunately the stays are pretty stiff, and unlike the later XCRs and Flying Vs there is very little flex. So, I was able to run the brakes without the stiffener plates and still maintain solid brake feel.

The drivetrain setup worked virtually flawlessly, surprisingly crisp shifts with very few mis-shifts. I guess all that work I did on adjusting the chain-line late last night paid off.

I don't like the 4 finger brake levers, nuff said!

The straight blade Mantis fork definitely contributed to the rigid feel of the Valkyrie. I think maybe dropping the front tire pressure will help a bit wit that. But overall, the turn-in was great, the bike tracked great and more or less went where I wanted it to go. But with that said, you really have to focus while riding fast in technical sections. A lapse of concentration and you're in the bushes or jamming on the brakes. This is not a bike that you can just ride, you need to be on it if you want to go fast. There's no looking around and checking out the scenery, if you want that sort of bike look elsewhere.

This is my second WTB equipped bike and so far the components are living up to their reputation. The hubs looks great, are much tighter than Bullseyes and spin very smoothly.

All in all I like this bike. I think I'll put on some more modern tires, adjust the brakes, go over everything and hit the bigger trails. I think it'll earn a permanent spot on one of the hooks.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Mantis Valkyrie

Growing up there were three brands of mountain bikes that I wanted to ride; Yeti, Klein and Mantis. Over the years I managed to throw my leg over a number of Yetis and Kleins, but haven't had much luck finding any good Mantis frames in my size. So when the opportunity came up to trade my Ritchey Annapurna for a 20" Valkyrie I jumped at the chance.

The Valkyrie is a very special bike. Richard made very few of them in total, and even fewer of the non-elevated variety. It's a very unique design, which stands out from the crowd. I won't go into the details on this frame and it's history because it's been done before on numerous other sites. So, on to the pics!

I mean what's there not to love about the way this bike looks???  It's simply stunning from every angle!

It's sleek and elegant and yet looks strong and purposeful.  There are a lot of little touches everywhere, including cable guides and stops, twin tubes with their beautiful scallops where they meet the head tube and the rather unique cable routing in general.

I decided to keep the WTB theme going with this bike and outfitted it with WTB roller cams front and rear and WTB classic grease guard hubs in matching silver. I still have some work to do in order to get the rear brake functioning very well and may swap it for a compact set of arms. I'm also going to try and run the cable to a yoke ahead of the seat tube and then run both ends of a straddle cable to the cam. See if that helps things. I've seen a Valkyrie on Mombat with the pulleys relocated underneath the arms, but I tried that and it seemed worse on this frame, maybe that works better on the EC version.

Campagnolo quick releases were commonly used by mountain bikers back in the day, and they look right at home on this bike.

Shimano 600EX rear freewheel in 13-28 and short cage rear derailleur give the bike a bit of a racy feel.

Cook Bros cranks with Specialized round chainrings and a Cook Bros Titanium bottom bracket round out the drivetrain package.

One of the highlights of this bike is the Richard Cunningham made fillet brazed stem with very slick internal cable routing for the front brake.

Shimano M730 shifters and 4-finger brake levers mated to a Cook Bros Titanium handlebar provide the controls.

I think this is a pretty solid build including some nice, boutique components from the era but not going totally overboard with trick parts. The total bike weighs just a hair under 26 lbs which is not bad for 20" steel frame from the late 80s. I haven't had