Wednesday, January 9, 2019

1990 Bradbury Manitou

I love Bradbury Manitous, what can I say? I never really get tired of working on them and am always thrilled to find another one. However with only 318 ever made, and definitely fewer remaining it's not that often you come across one. This particular bike lived the past twenty or so years in Montana where it was awaiting restoration. The current owner bought the bike in the 90s from the original owner and rode it for some time and then it got set aside. Fast forward a few years and the elastomers in the early Manitou fork gave up the ghost, the drivetrain started faulting and the new owner decided to restore the bike. But as these things often go the project got hung up on the details and the bike got put away as a skeleton of its former self. After several years of false starts the owner decided it was time to let it go and somehow found me and offered me the bike. While at first it looked like a basket case with the fork disassembled, wheels bare without tires and the drivetrains mostly in pieces a little careful cleaning and organizing revealed a really well taken care of and preserved example of what is Doug's more evolved design. This 1990 version of the DBM is probably the most common as Doug really hit his stride in terms of number of frames built that year. While I've worked on nearly identical bikes before (links here, here and here) each one is still unique and interesting. What sets this particular bike apart from the others is the gray paintjob. I've discussed this before, but as a quick refresher Doug mostly left his frames as bare Aluminum and only had a couple small batches painted. The most widely known are the baby blue ones, but with the finding of this bike and a few others I've seen it's now apparent that gray, black, silver and clear coated were also made in small numbers. This is hardly significant, but it's a neat little fact and I enjoy piecing these things together along with the build log.

I just realized this, but this bike looks a lot like an early Yeti ARC to me. It's gotta be the color that makes it look that way. Check out the Johnny O'Mara ARC I restored a few years ago and imagine it without the 3DV components and the two bikes are not far off.

Tidy drivertain featuring polished Cook Bros RSR cranks and Shimano Deore XT 7-spd derailleurs, the front with a custom made 35mm band clamp.

While I really like the painted Manitous, the welds are a little bit smoothed out or filled in by the paint and it takes a little bit away from the look and feel of these bikes.

The other thing that struck me about this bike was the choice for the original owner to outfit the bike with IRD Switchback brakes. Doug was a fan of IRD components and his early bikes used IRD posts and u-brakes, but I had never seen one with this style of brakes. While I don't like them in practice they look great and are cool to see on a Manitou.

The first generation Manitou fork on this bike was just about the cleanest I have ever seen. A fresh set of elastomers and wiper seals brought it back to life and ready for trail time. I really like these early forks. On the one hand the crown and upper portion of the fork looks so beefy and then you have these spindly dropouts. Boost spacing (115) was the norm on these forks and to achieve it Doug had to build or in this case modify existing hubs to accommodate the unusual for the time spacing.

I was just thinking about this the other day, the Manitou stem might be the first of the mountain bike stems machined from Aluminum billet on the market. Doug started making these in late 87, and the Ringle trail stem which I used to think was the first didn't come out until 1989. I think Charlie Cunningham an WTB made some Magnesium and Aluminum stems early on, but I don't think it was more than a handful. I can't think of another machined Aluminum stem made that early. Hmmm... gonna have to research that some.

Matching black pulleys are a nice touch. Curious why only the rear brakes are like that.

I am really starting to like this gray.

It's a bit tough to see, but for some reason the head badge is on upside down. I have to assume it was an accident, but either way it's pretty funny. Also, who puts a Merlin Titanium bar on a Manitou?

All in all this bike was a very pleasant surprise and a rewarding restoration. Unlike so many I've had recently it was relatively trouble free, everything was there and mostly in good shape. The build had some unusual components that somehow all work together and the end result is very appealing IMO. Luckily these bikes have enough small differences that even though I've built close to 20 at this point they are still fun and enjoyable to work on, here's hoping for another 20!

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