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Best handling bikes with "Repack" geometry....

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Best handling bikes with "Repack" geometry....

Old 11-19-15, 07:22 AM
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corwin1968
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Best handling bikes with "Repack" geometry....

For a brief time, I had a 1983-84 Takara Highlander, a very early MTB with cro-moly main tubes and probably hi-ten everything else. I trashed the chainstays and it ended up on the scrap heap but I miss that old bike and would like to someday get a higher quality repack geometry bike.

I know that the early Stumpjumpers had longer forks than the Ritchey MountainBikes that inspired them and thus, slightly different handling characteristics. Did other early-to-mid 80's MTB's also share this characteristic? Based on experience, what are some of the better handling MTB's from this era? I'm not holding out for a Ritchey or anything of that caliber but I would like to eventually find a decent (ie, all cro-moly, preferably with a bi-plane fork crown but not required) mass produced frameset I can have powdercoated and then build up with mostly modern components. How long did the Repack geometry last? 1985? 1986? 1987?

I know that Specialized, Schwinn, Trek, Univega, Mongoose and Ross all made Repack style MTB's. Are there others I'm missing and can keep an eye out for?

Here's the Takara that I miss:


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Old 11-19-15, 07:37 AM
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Can you explain the term "repack"?
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Old 11-19-15, 07:41 AM
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Ditto - is it related to chain stay length?
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Old 11-19-15, 07:53 AM
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Sorry. "Repack" geometry refers to the first MTB's with geometry that was basically copied from the old Klunkers. Long chainstays, very slack angles (70 seat, 68 head, for example), 2" rake to fork, high bottom bracket, level top-tube, etc.. They are incredibly stable at speed, have a ton of wheel flop at slow speeds and are like a Juggernaut when they get rolling. Really fun bikes. Some time in the mid-to-late 80's, the geometry changed to steeper angles, shorter chainstays and less fork rake. I believe this is commonly referred to as "NORBA" geometry.
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Old 11-19-15, 07:58 AM
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Leaned so much already and the day has just started!
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Old 11-19-15, 08:10 AM
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The early mountain bikes used coaster brakes and were used mostly for down hilling in Marin County CA. The repack name comes from one fast down hill in Marin county and the grease in the coaster brake was gone and you had to repack it to do it it again. Roger
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Old 11-19-15, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by SJX426 View Post
Leaned so much already and the day has just started!
Ditto!
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Old 11-19-15, 08:49 AM
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My early 80's Univega Alpina Uno betrays its klunker heritage in its odd headset size: the head tube diameter requires a headset with 32.5 mm cups, the standard size for cruisers, klunkers, BMX bikes, etc. And it takes a 21.15 mm stem.
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Old 11-19-15, 08:51 AM
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Not that it's any sort of standard, but I refer to the "old MTB" geometry bikes as ATBs.

I seem to recall the "all terrain bike" term used in ads from the time- and truthfully, with all the rack, bottle and accessory braze ons-they were designed as "do everything" in "all terrain. "

I look at my 87 Schwinn High Sierra as the touring bike for all terrain- the original "ruff stuff tourer." An extra-long wheelbase with front low rider rack mounts, dual fork-end and dropout braze ons, dual bottle mounts... a lot of what makes a touring bike good. Combine that with 26" wheels and lots of room for wide tires and fenders with state of the art brakes...

Really cool bike
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Old 11-19-15, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by corwin1968 View Post
Sorry. "Repack" geometry refers to the first MTB's with geometry that was basically copied from the old Klunkers. Long chainstays, very slack angles (70 seat, 68 head, for example), 2" rake to fork, high bottom bracket, level top-tube, etc.. They are incredibly stable at speed, have a ton of wheel flop at slow speeds and are like a Juggernaut when they get rolling. Really fun bikes. Some time in the mid-to-late 80's, the geometry changed to steeper angles, shorter chainstays and less fork rake. I believe this is commonly referred to as "NORBA" geometry.
Would that mean that the MTB evolved from people customizing their everyday rides until they found a combo that worked? Then the companies started producing bikes based on these custom rides?
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Old 11-19-15, 09:00 AM
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With a title like this- we'll see if Charlie Kelly shows up.
@Repack Rider
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Old 11-19-15, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
Would that mean that the MTB evolved from people customizing their everyday rides until they found a combo that worked? Then the companies started producing bikes based on these custom rides?
I think it's more a matter of these old bikes being available as used bikes. Stingrays and racing bikes had become fashionable, and old balloon tire bombers, when you could find them, were dirt cheap. So some crazy Californians would use them basically as disposable bikes, coast down the hills a few times until the frame or fork were trashed, and move on to the next one.
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Old 11-19-15, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
Would that mean that the MTB evolved from people customizing their everyday rides until they found a combo that worked? Then the companies started producing bikes based on these custom rides?


1981. Mt. Shasta, California. The first annual Whiskeytown Downhill.
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Old 11-19-15, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
Would that mean that the MTB evolved from people customizing their everyday rides until they found a combo that worked? Then the companies started producing bikes based on these custom rides?
You should check out the documentary "Klunkerz" and Charlie Kelly's book! He's pretty active on the MTBR forum but I don't know if he posts here.

Short version is that a small group of people in Marin county started riding old fat tire cruiser bikes off road and they then started modifying them with better brakes and derailleurs. Charlie Kelly then started a downhill race that occurred several times a year for a few years (where the "repack" term came from) and then people started building custom MTB frames that would accept new components. Joe Breeze was the major custom builder and then Tom Ritchey started making frames and Charlie Kelly and Gary Fisher started building them into bikes and selling them. These were basically cro-moly frames in the shape of a road frame but the same geometry (ie, repack geometry) as the old cruisers they had been modifying. Specialized basically copied one of the Ritchey bikes and made it the Stumpjumper and from there it just exploded across the world, in just a few years.
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Old 11-19-15, 09:40 AM
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Most early '80s mountain bikes you find will be like this. There are three Jamis Dakotas on our local CL right now that look like they'd be a match for what you want, but I'll bet anything you find from pre-'87 will do.
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Old 11-19-15, 09:46 AM
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Stick to pavement .. 1st Stumpjumper models sucked climbing .. its either wheel spin or wheelies ..

I have 1 as my winter bike... Studded snow tires .. as a street bike, its fine..
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Old 11-19-15, 09:51 AM
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Some Klunker tribute bikes I saw in Marin. These will probably never be taken off road. Schwinn Excelsior frames were popular.



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Old 11-19-15, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by thumpism View Post
Most early '80s mountain bikes you find will be like this. There are three Jamis Dakotas on our local CL right now that look like they'd be a match for what you want, but I'll bet anything you find from pre-'87 will do.
I'm not really interested in MTBing, but just how the bike evolved. It is an interesting thread like the old Hobbs bike thread. For some reason, this thread made me think of the Radio Flyer movie.

BTW, I am a RVA local like you. I'm out in Chesterfield County.
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Old 11-19-15, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
I'm not really interested in MTBing, but just how the bike evolved. It is an interesting thread like the old Hobbs bike thread. For some reason, this thread made me think of the Radio Flyer movie.

BTW, I am a RVA local like you. I'm out in Chesterfield County.
I'll have to dig up the pic of my old mountain bike build, back when these things were first coming out. I found a damaged A-D Inter 10 frame (all 531 with 73/73 angles) and stuck a CroMo cruiser fork in it. Shorter wheelbase and steeper angles than contemporary production mountain bikes and it handled great, and it predated the NORBA geometry by about 5 years.
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Old 11-19-15, 10:27 AM
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Add Miyata to the list. They had a few early/mid 80s models- RidgeRunner, TerraRunner, and StreetRunner. Varying tubing and component quality. They were all 34# tanks, at least starting out. Ive wanted a 23" Miyata/Ross/etc ATB frame for a long time...just never see one local and cant consider the ebay pricing when they sometimes come up.
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Old 11-19-15, 12:39 PM
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Here's my 1984 Fillet brazed Fisher Mt. Tam. Climbing anything steeper than a driveway is a chore, but I still love it.
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Old 11-19-15, 12:45 PM
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1984 with U-brake/roller cam under the chainstay?

Fillet Brazed bikes rule! I love the way the tubes flow into each other.
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Old 11-19-15, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by simpleton. View Post
Here's my 1984 Fillet brazed Fisher Mt. Tam. Climbing anything steeper than a driveway is a chore, but I still love it.
That's what I'm talking about! Do you know if it was personally built by Tom Ritchey, given that it's fillet brazed?
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Old 11-19-15, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by corwin1968 View Post
How long did the Repack geometry last? 1985? 1986? 1987?
"Best handling" and "clunker" don't really go together for me. In fact I didn't buy a mtb til the early 90s because I hated the sluggish clunker geometry--so until then I just rode my cross bike off road. The first mtb I liked that handled quick enough for me was the Mountain Goat Whiskeytown Racer, which I first rode in 1985 or so? Here's a 1984 version:



MOMBAT: 1984 Mountain Goat Whiskeytown Racer

These of course are pretty rare these days and not cheap.

I'm mildly obsessed with early/mid 90s Botrager frames which are probably some of the quickest handing mtb frames out there. So probably the exact opposite of what you are looking for.



Maybe an mid/late 80s Bridgetsone MB-1 or MB-2 would be good for you?
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Old 11-19-15, 01:14 PM
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Buy Charlie's book. Here:

http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Tire-Flyer...s+Kelly+repack

He is a remarkably good writer AND he kept really good notes BITD. Lots of fine photos, to boot.

The Fisher bikes were NOT built by Tom. They'd parted ways by that point.

This bike was built by Tom in 1981:



So was this one, in 1984:

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