Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Thinning the herd and other long terms plans...

I'm almost ten years into my second foray of collecting and restoring vintage mountain bikes and have arrived at a point where I feel like even my modest collection is weighing heavily on my mind. Seeing the fallout of the MOMBAT collection liquidation, and feeling at times burdened with the constant maintenance and upkeep of twenty plus bikes, coupled with the cost of missed opportunities due to the financial investment I have in my collection, has given me pause and caused me to rethink my goals. When I started back into the vintage MTB scene in 2009 I cared much more about simply owning bikes than I did about riding them or documenting their history. Over the past few years though I've felt a shift in that focus and now I much more enjoy getting out and riding and simply just talking to people about them or more recently writing about them. Another factor was our move from SoCal to Maryland last year. In early 2017 I packed all of my bikes and due to multiple moves and a load of new life adventures fewer than a fourth of them have come out of their boxes in the last 16 months... that fact alone made me realize that some of them I don't really miss and could probably live without.

Over the past ten years I've owned some amazing bikes, some moved on but many of them are still with me. I've let go of some bikes that I would have put in the "I'll never sell this" category in the past. So, the idea of reducing the count even further is a hard pill to swallow, but I've come to realize that if I don't I risk the chance of falling out of love with bikes and I feel that at this point in my life it could be quite irreversible and very detrimental to my overall well being.

So, with that in mind I've decided to set some realistic and achievable goals for the 2018-2019 timeframe. I didn't think I could just drop it all, nor do I really want to, but a drastic cut is necessary. While this would be the first calculated and purposeful reduction, it's not the first in general. Getting ready to leave LA (and shortly after arriving in MD) prompted me to sell off a few bikes I wasn't really riding, or in one case that I had a better version of and that I felt would find better homes elsewhere. Among that list were a couple heavy hitters including, 1983 Mantis XCR, 1989 Yeti C-26, 1985 Yeti #1, 1990 Bradbury Manitou, 1986 Yeti FRO, 1989 Yeti Ultimate and a 1990 Fat Chance Yo Eddy.

After these cuts my personal collection numbers about 25 bikes and I've decided that a manageable goal should be 10 or fewer vintage mountain bikes by the end of 2019. With a list that includes a two WTB Phoenixes, a Cunningham, couple Kleins/Merlins/Manitous and a few others notable mentions cutting any single one feels like a daunting challenge. The fact remains that some of these bikes rarely get ridden and simply keeping them around to collect dust doesn't seem like the right approach from my perspective. So, I've set two goals for myself to try and get things under control. The first objective is to get down to ten or fewer personal bikes by the end of 2019. The second is to reduce and focus the work I undertake as Second Spin to five or fewer bikes a year and make sure that they are bikes that offer a unique experience from both the technical execution perspective of a restoration but also gain the opportunity to ride some unique bikes and explore the boundaries of technology in the early days of mountain biking. A third goal is to expand my involvement in the broader mountain bike community via engagements like my new column in Dirt Rag and a few other channels I've been working on including a brand new website aiming to document history of the bike brands I've grown to know and love over the past ten or so years.

In support of the first, and to be honest primary objective I plan on pushing forward to complete remaining personal projects, dust off a bikes I've owned for a while and which haven't seen much use and lastly update reviews on my favorite bikes and see where they all rank and stack. In the near term I'll be redoing photo shoots and ride reviews on a couple bikes which have been a staple of my riding fleet but maybe have received some upgrades or modifications and are due for a refresh or update.

Hopefully many of you will follow along (look for the #ThinningTheHerd hashtag) with me as I try to  manage this process and make some arguably difficult decisions. Personally I'm looking forward to a renewed focus, some introspection and hopefully a lot more free time to engage on new and interesting pursuits related to vintage mountain bikes and their history.


  1. I think you know you're spoilt for choice when THESE are the bikes you want to offload. Holy crap! I'm wondering if I could afford (and fit) on that 86 FRO.....if it's still up for sale....

  2. Wow. I wish you the very best in undertaking a task that many vintage/retro/classic MTB admirers and collectors simply could not fathom. I’m certain that you’ll receive much sympathy and many offers of ‘help’ along the way.
    I recently heard of a guy who’d picked up a C-26 and a couple of Hams within the past year or so and wondered how on earth he’d located such coveted and rare machinery. It never crossed my mind to think that they might’ve come from your stable, if indeed any of them did, so I guess with those heavy hitters (as you refer to them) being ‘culled’ from the collection, everything should follow relatively easily. Perhaps?
    I look forward to reading more as you embark upon this task.
    Best of health.


    1. Thanks Regan. Things are not dire by any stretch, just want to tidy things up and refocus on a smaller and more manageable collection. There were three C-26s that traded hands last year including one of mine. Also a couple Hams were sold, but not including mine... so yeah movement all over the place!