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Road Test/Bike Review (1982) Klunkers of Marin

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Road Test/Bike Review (1982) Klunkers of Marin

Old 01-14-20, 09:52 AM
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SpeedofLite 
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Road Test/Bike Review (1982) Klunkers of Marin

So as a somewhat acrophobic flatlander who took up mountain biking in middle age, I suck at it.
And if you don't want to take my word for it, I can send you a list of 20 friends across the Midwest US who'll testify I should stick to fire roads and bunny trails.
Not that you should believe any of those knuckle-dragging liars anyway, but that's not the real point.
The real point is I'm a bit anxious about posting this article because one of our own BF members @Repack Rider) wrote the accompanying "Off-Road Technique" sidebar, was photographed for this article, and was on the cover of the June 1982 issue.
Essentially, he was one those Marin guys making history.
So really, who am I to be posting anything about the rise of mountain bikes?!
Well, I'm no more than a conduit of vintage information hoping you'll enjoy this prescient article as much as I did. You can feel the sea change.
If so, then please take some time to view @Repack Rider's website (Charlie Kelly's Mountain Bike Hubsite).
You'll find this same article posted there and so very much more about the earliest days of mountain biking.
















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WTB: Slingshot bicycle promotional documents (catalog, pamphlets, etc).
WTB: American Cycling May - Aug, Oct, Dec 1966.
WTB: Bicycle Guide issues 1984 (any); Jun 1987; Jul, Nov/Dec 1992; Apr 1994; 1996 -1998 (any)
WTB: Bike World issue Jun 1974.













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Old 01-14-20, 10:54 AM
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pastorbobnlnh 
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Great article! I was in seminary at the time and completely unaware of the mountain bike craze sweeping the nation. We did similar riding with our one speed bikes in the woods while I was a kid in the late '60s and early '70s. However, like SpeedofLite I've sworn off MTBing beyond my local rail trail and dirt roads. Once over the handlebars (resulting in fractured ribs and a shoulder that didn't work well for six plus months) was enough! uch: Foolishly I was trying to keep up with my 15 year old nephew. I'll never do this again!

However, I have a very small tie in with the article from a freewheel I serviced in 2018. It was the original one for a very early Tom Ritchey Mountain Bike (SN-91). I describe the service it needed on its Suntour New Winner on my website. I wish the picture of Tom Ritchey's creation was bigger.


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Old 01-14-20, 05:40 PM
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Interesting to see Gary Fisher riding...
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Old 01-19-20, 03:11 PM
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I have a book about all this and a new website where I am showcasing my archive.

Fattireflyer.com

Check it out.

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Old 01-19-20, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Repack Rider View Post
I have a book about all this and a new website where I am showcasing my archive.

Fattireflyer.com

Check it out.

Don't forget the Klunkerz movie on Amazon Prime.
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Old 01-19-20, 04:37 PM
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[QUOTE=Repack Rider;21290965]I have a book about all this and a new website where I am showcasing my archive.
Fattireflyer.com
[QUOTE]

I have this book and love it so much. Two enthusiastic thumbs up.

I converted my 1933 Excelsior to derailer gears and drum brakes in 1979. Maxi-Car rear drum, 1950s Sturmey drum in front (NOT good brakes! ) TA Cyclotouriste cranks, light trail motorcycle handlebars and brake levers, Unicanitor saddle. At first I used a TTT flat city-bike handlebar, but I bent it down on both sides, by not clearing a ditch with my front wheel. Bent it all the way down until my right and left hands met in the middle above the tire! I was going fast at the time and couldn't steer -- it made me ride into Greenlake, to much amusement from the joggers and dog-walkers at the lake That's when I knew I need stronger bars.

I was skinny and fit (road racer) so I immediately started riding it as hard as I could, like up multiple (outdoor) staircases on the UW campus and city parks. Riding down staircases was easy of course -- riding up them required hitting them at 20+ mph to utilize the considerable momentum of such a heavy bike.

Didn't have a car, so its trips to the mountains were few, but after John Olsen started putting on Observed Trials meets, my X bike was used in Trials competition -- probably the worst Trials bike ever, but I had fun trying to find its limits. Rode lots of tight singletrack on Tiger Mountain. Not really great for that kind of use either... That Excelsior geometry sure is awesome for bombing down hills in the rough though. What it was born to do -- Repack style.

Made my first custom Reynolds 531 MTB (which was trials-oriented but still 26" wheels) in '82, and returned the Excelsior to mostly original parts, like the Morrow coaster brake. I think it's deserving to be conserved as a historical artifact. I did rebuild the original 1933 steel front rim onto a Schwinn "Fore Brake" (drum brake) that's a bit too new for the bike ('50s maybe?). Riding with no front brake just seems too crazy even for me...

Now as an over-geared 1-speed, and me so old fat and out of shape, it doesn't go up Seattle hills like it did in my youth. I used to ride it up all the steeps, including (for you Seattlites) 54th St from the bottom of Ravenna Park up to 20th Ave, which is over 20% grade. I pulled so hard I twisted the forged-steel handlebar stem, and bent the pedal axles -- not from crashing, just pedaling. Nowadays it doesn't get ridden as much as it should. Can't gear it lower because I can't find larger inch-pitch sprockets for the Morrow, and the "Sweetheart" chainring is important to the soul of the bike, could never take that off.

The only pic I have, sorry it's from the Left:

Check out the girder fork -- I can tell ya for sure it's really strong, because of how hard I crashed it. I know most forks without the extra struts in front would have bent. Also note the fork crown has forged-in extensions that reach out to the front struts. That's crucial. Many other forks tried to capture the "look" of a girder, but left out that connection to the crown, which means their struts are extra weight bolted on for no reason -- they do nothing structurally. Those designers never learned what Ignaz knew back in 1933. This Excelsior is a well-engineered vehicle, not a toy.

Mark Bulgier
Seattle
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Old 01-19-20, 07:12 PM
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Good stuff! 👍 I also missed out on the early days, but “kinda” catching up, in my late 50s, lol. They don’t have goat heads in California, do they? That’s the first thing you have to learn, in Arizona. 🙄😒😁
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Old 02-04-20, 12:07 PM
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Love reading these Road Test articles. Cue Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days."
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Old 02-04-20, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by StuckinPark View Post
Love reading these Road Test articles. Cue Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days."
Even the ads are full of awesome stuff.
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