Tuesday, April 19, 2016

1991 Doug Bradbury Manitou FS Prototype

I've been a huge fan of the original Bradbury Manitous for a long time now. A couple years ago I finally managed to find one and since then have been very lucky to have had several of Doug's old hardtail frames pass through my hands. Aside from the hardtails Doug did make a few full suspension bikes, but if you think a rigid Bradbury Manitou is hard to find, then a full suspension one will make your had spin. Of the approximately 316 frames he made only about 59 full suspension frames. So that makes them some of the rarest and really quite desirable bikes out there, especially if you already have an itch for Doug's work. Of those 59 only about 3-4 are in public collections, and viewable. While Doug's original frames are rare and sought after they owe their popularity largely due to the fact that the design was licensed to and subsequently produced on a large scale by Answer. Those frames became very desirable and enjoy a healthy following among collectors and enthusiasts.

I'm sure there are a few more out there, but frankly I just can't find any photos of them anyways. So, you can imagine my excitement when the opportunity to acquire and restore the first ever prototype of the now famous design presented itself. The frame in particular is the very first one made and was featured on the Manitou brochure that year as well as in a couple publications in early 1992.

This is a very early iteration of the design and it's obvious Doug was just trying things out before finalizing the design. A lot of the rear swingarm components are heavy and bulky, unlike the later machined out versions of the "production" Bradbury and later Answer made bikes.

The goal for this restoration is to bring the bike back to as new condition and match as closely as possible the build shown in the catalog and bike mag reviews. Luckily I have all the required parts including a Bradbury made fork, stem, hubs and quick releases. So, the main body of work is in replacing the cracked head tube and refinishing the frame! Can't wait to see how this bike rides!

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