Monday, November 10, 2014

1990 Klein Attitude ride report

It dawned on me a couple weeks ago that I've had about eight 1990 Attitudes come through my garage, and yet I have never actually ridden one.  Luckily I was just about to put the finishing touches on a wonderful example for my brother and so I decided to give it a spin, and then another... I really miss having a Klein in my lineup.

Before I get into this I feel like this review should be limited to just the following phrase : "This is a race bike." Everyone should just get it and not ask any questions and definitely not complain about the harsh ride. Also, this bike does't photograph well. Anyways, onto the review.

First impressions / Why do most Kleins have slicks?

The early fuselage concept Kleins (Attitude / Adroit) are pure and unadulterated race bikes. For any of you that have spent any time on a race track in an open wheel formula car or even a basic purpose built race car know what it's like to be pushing a machine to the limits of its performance. You can feel the car braking traction during cornering and yet it's predictable and controllable. It's a fine balance between going slow and being in control and going fast on the edge of control. Well, that sort of sums up this bike when you push it hard. Now, I'm not a pro driver or mountain biker by any stretch of the imagination, but I feel I can push the bike on a few sections of my local trails and get a brief glimpse of its true potential. It dances underneath you when you stand on it and if you lose focus for a moment it will kill you.

It's a long running joke that all Kleins end up with slicks or hanging up in garages never seeing any dirt. Much like driving we all want to believe we're all like Ayrton Senna and that we can drive a race cars to work, but then we realize that driving a race car with 900 lbs springs, a roll cage, 6 point safety harness and no air conditioning in daily traffic is really no fun. Same thing here, unless you push this bike to edge of its and your capabilities you're just going to think it's stiff, unforgiving and in the end you'll have no fun.

Take away - If you're gonna ride it, be prepared to work for it. Otherwise, hang it up like the rest of them.

Ride characteristics / how to make it work

Some of my favorite characteristics of this Attitude or any other MC1/MC2 fusealge Klein is the way it seems to make everything work better. The brakes are crispier, the drivetrain seems to shift better and each peal stroke takes all your energy and uses it break traction on the rear wheel. This bike just wants to move and every design element is there to help you achieve that goal. The steering is very sharp, it's very easy to get the bike to change direction, especially at speed. Traction out of the seat is fantastic, a testament to how you're expected to ride.

About the only bit of advice I can offer on making the most out of this bike is to use compliant grips and do your best to run 2.35 tires. I managed to shoehorn a pair of Ritchey Megabite WCS 2.35s into the relatively tight spacing in the rear, the front has plenty of clearance. The extra damping afforded by large volume tires is very much appreciated here.

I do believe that the box crown fork makes for a stiffer ride than a uniklein or Adroit/Strata fork. It's not much worse, but you notice the harshness a little more.

The fusealge concept coupled with a large diameter aluminum fork was a revolutionary step back in 1990. Stiffness was key and this design had it in spades!

In so many ways this design and paint scheme are the most iconic Klein and in that vein one of the most classic designs of the early 90s.

My verdict : I wish it came in large... I want one. It's just so bone crushingly awesome and it makes you want to be a stronger rider so that you can ride it like it was meant to be ridden and get those rare glimpses of how it must have felt to be Tinker Juarez back in the early 90s.


  1. I'm coming back into mountain biking and picked up a 97 Attitude Race with a blue fade. It is so much fun. It has some massive Nokian knobby tires on it, so changing those out for some slicker 2.35s. I know what you mean about changing direction at speeds. I've only had a glimpse for a few moments. It's like there is a thoughtless union of intention between rider and bike. Thanks for this post.

  2. I had a Merlin Mountain for years, and it was a great bike. But, I could never 'carve' fast turns in rapid succession. It was probably my bike-handling skills, or lack thereof. But, then I got a Klein Attitude, and suddenly, I could make those transitions, no problem. But, definitely not as comfy as the Merlin.