Here is where you’ll find details on the bikes we used to ride.
1992 Trek 9200
This is a very well preserved old bike – but that doesn’t make it a good one. The rear shock is just a stack of elastomers with no damping at all. I haven’t taken it out on the root-y singletrack yet, so I don’t know truly how bad it is, but, the chain feels like it’s made from a rubber band.
The fork offered no resistance when I bought it, but I pumped air into it, and it held it, so that was encouraging. Getting all 63mm of that travel is important.
I really enjoy this feature; the left side of the swingarm is a different colour than the right side. No, that’s not a feature, it was just left out in the sun that long. Amazingly, the sun didn’t destroy the tires.
I’m sure you’re wondering why I bought this bike since I seem to dislike it so much. Well, it was $50. And it’s 99% original. All the parts are in very good condition, so rather than being ridden hard and not maintained like my Dekerf, I think this bike was just plain not ridden. At very least, I have a complete set of parts for some other VRC frame I might find for only $50.
Also, I wanted to buy an old suspension bike because the widely available full suspension bike has been with us for 20 years now. I thought it might be cool to compare this bike against my Altitude 29, or Dr.Stu’s Norco, to see exactly how far suspension has come.
One summer I decided I had to have a 29er. And I guess it had to be a singlespeed too, though I don’t recall for sure only looking for SS frames.
It was a great bike; really light, great fun to pedal around on. It was probably really good off-road too, but I don’t know for sure, because riding off-road on a singlespeed really does suck. Or at least it does for someone as heavy as me.
2001 Rocky Mountain Vertex
When I was at Redbike, I determined that I needed a singlespeed mountain bike. If you’ve ever worked at Redbike, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Really, this is how you build a bike. You get yourself a good frame (the Easton Vertex from ’01 was a very good frame), some good wheels (White Industries ENO SS rear and Dia Compe Tsali front on Sun rims), a good fork (crazy light Kinesis aluminum), and then just no-name parts bin everything else.
This was probably one of the best bikes I’ve ever put together.
Did you know that Kawasaki made mountain bikes? I probably didn’t when I bought this. I’ve seen their name on some really bad department store bikes in recent years, but this was slightly better than department store grade.
I honestly don’t remember if I bought it as a frame, or as a frame and fork, or as a complete bike. All I really remember is what you see here.
I used a pair of Mavic adapter plates – these moved the brakes up, so that they could work with larger road wheels – and ran Shimano road wheels. I raided the parts bin, put a squeaky cow on there, and off I went.
What I miss most about this bike was the Vredestein Perfect Moiree tires. They had a reflective strip on them, and a chevron shaped tread pattern that made a great sound on smooth pavement. They were very heavy, but also puncture resistant. And sadly, no longer made.
This is v.3 of this bike, with a GT Zaskar LE frame. It had the Team paint at one time, but was pretty severly beat once I got it. Usually you can take the paint off of old frames, but a good 20% of this GT paint absolutely refused to come off.
I still have this frame, but I believe it’s broken.
There was a v.4 of this bike too, on a Klein frame, but for some reason, I just never took any pictures of that bike. It was much upgraded with RaceFace cranks and SRAM shifters. But, it was stolen and I haven’t revisited the hybrid concept since. But I should, because all of these bikes were awesome.
1998 Specialized FSR Comp
This is a tale of a bike gone bad. Maybe it wasn’t that good to start with, but it really should have been better than it was.
It’s a Specialized FSR – thousands and thousands were made. Some with the pretty cool MAX Backbone frame, mine was the cheaper, less cool model, but it did still feature monocoque frame fabrication. I bought mine used and proceeded to build it with parts from my Stumpjumper.
Here you see it with those parts, but I never rode it with that Palmer edition Manitou because I figured it didn’t have enough travel to match up with the rear suspension. This was the dumbest decision I ever made with a bike. Looking back at it, I’m sure it would have been fine. The Manitou was nothing heroic, but it was a damn sight better than what I ended up with.
I traded that Manitou for a double crown model, that would have been a great match, if it had fit. The steerer was too short. I probably should have made more of an effort to find a replacement, but I wasn’t willing to wait on it as it was my primary bike. I tried to get someone to weld an extension on it.
And it gets worse.
I traded the Manitou for a Judy XL. This was easily the worst fork I’ve ever owned. There was no damping. The springs were barely heavy enough, and every ride I went on was a terrible experience. Not even skateboard stickers could save it.
I may not have owned this for 6 months even.
All the parts went back on my Stumpjumper and I tried to forget about this bike entirely.