Here’s another candidate for the mythical Mount Rushmore of Vintage MTBs that I mentioned in the Yeti post. Klein wasn’t there right at the beginning like Ritchey or Charlie Kelly, but his bikes today are held in very high regard.
Gary Klein’s bike building career actually began at MIT in the mid 70’s, but Klein the company didn’t start selling bikes until 1985. Very few other builders were using the large diameter aluminum tubes that he was. And what further made his bikes stand out from the rest of the pack was his paint.
Klein’s had bright fades early on like everybody back then did. The Top Gun in red, white, and blue was particularly nice. And later, his paint jobs got crazy. Backfire, Painted Desert, Rainforest, Team Storm, Gator, and Dolomite. I haven’t been able to find a good gallery of all of them, but this website has most of them.
Klein Adroit (rainforest)
They were loud as hell, and some “important” bloggers didn’t like them. But I don’t really like some “important” bloggers, so whatever.
I’ve wanted to talk about Craig Gaulzetti’s operation for quite some time now. (As usual, it takes me forever to do anything on this blog. Ideas take longer to formulate in my head than beer takes to brew. This post alone has six revisions according to WordPress.) I don’t take a lot of interest in new bike builders here, but his work is intriguing. It has a vintage feel, as you’ll soon see.
A few years ago, one of the magazines declared that aluminium was back. Carbon had taken over as the material of choice for high-end bikes, and even though there are still very expensive aluminium bikes, if you wanted to compete, you needed that mystery black stuff.
But, based partly on Cannondale continuing to improve it’s Alu bikes, and partly on newcomer Gaulzetti, Aluminium was making a comeback as an option for the highest levels of road bikes. Further aiding in Gaulzetti’s rise to prominence was the revelation that American building godfather Richard Sachs had bought one.
Sachs is very much the traditionalist, building steel framed, curved fork, parallel toptube bikes. They are beautiful, but the polar opposite of an aluminium race bike. Add to that the general perception of Alu as a cheap bike material, and this was news.
The Tinko-Saxoff team announced last year that they were ending their run with Cannondale, and instead going with…..
Anyway, today pics of the team bike were released;
As you can probably see, it features a carbon fibre frame, stem, wheels, bar, slamthatstem.com, not chainstay brakes though, and most importantly, it’s called “Venge.”
Now, I imagine they want us to pronounce that like the word “revenge” because that’s sinister and aggressive and all that. But much like the high end Trek anagram bikes (Madone, Domane, Emonda), I feel like with made-up words, I’m free to pronounce it anyway I like.
So, when I see Venge, I think…
Venge pic from Global Cycling Network
I’ve thought about which four manufacturers you’d put on the Mount Rushmore of Vintage MTBs, and narrowing down to four would be very difficult. Do you go with the fathers of the sport like Ritchey and Breezer? Or maybe the ones that really ran with the ball like Klein or GT? It’s a very tough call.
Yeti would have to get serious consideration.
Tomac’s 1990 FRO
Why? For starters, they were big into racing. I think they were the first team to show up at races with a big box van, rather than a regular passenger van. Yeti was run by John Parker and he saw early on the value of racing to his brand. And not only were they a big presence at NORBA events, their teams features some of the most well-loved racers in NORBA history.