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Help ID - Rocky Mountain Sherpa (touring bike)

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Help ID - Rocky Mountain Sherpa (touring bike)

Old 08-08-09, 06:31 PM
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dubesor
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Help ID - Rocky Mountain Sherpa (touring bike)

Hi,

I've got a nice Rocky Mountain Sherpa today at a garage sale (only $20). Has "transport 10" sticker on the top tube and "SHERPA" stickers on both seat tube and downtube.

Can someone help identify what tubeset this is (could it be Reynolds 853?) and year of manufacture based on the parts listed & picture below?

Frame color: Silver
Frame Serial #: M3C16953
Shifters: Shimano SIS SL-MY21. These look more like an MTB's shifters (possibly put in by the previous owner)
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Light Action
Crank: Sakae
Stem: SR
Brakes: Dia-Compe
Wheels: 27" with 27" x 1 1/4 Kenda Nylon tires

I'm thinking of taking this bad boy touring along with my Centurion & Sekine, they'll make a nice looking team

Last edited by dubesor; 08-08-09 at 08:13 PM.
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Old 08-08-09, 06:38 PM
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Picture?

Location of the bike during the hours when you aren't home?
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Old 08-08-09, 06:48 PM
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Picture?
On the way ...
Location of the bike during the hours when you aren't home?
he-he you wish
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Old 08-08-09, 07:05 PM
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Can't wait to see the pics, but $20 for one of those is a steal.

This sounds like an older one, but the current Rocky Mountain Sherpas are Reynolds 853. You can see the specs here.

Rocky Mountain generally makes beautiful bikes. I'm not sure of the details of this one but in general these bikes are very, very nice.
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Old 08-08-09, 08:06 PM
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OK, have a look for yourself.

Here's a couple more details I noticed while I was giving this bike a little half-hour clean (it had LOTS of gunk on it):

* Back rim is Araya brand
* Bontrager 2014-T6 "race modified" aluminum alloy bars - these might have started their life as drop bars, as at least the right side looks kind of sawn off.
* Oury grips

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Old 08-08-09, 08:40 PM
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Are you sure this is a Rocky Mountain and not a Sherpa brand? The RC Sherpa was an early ATB model, while this is a road bicycle. The serial number indicates a 1973 or 1983 Japanese or Taiwanese frame. The components points more towards the latter, though I'm not certain, as it looks like a Frankenbike. Definitely not 853! My guess would be straight gauge Tange or Ishiwata at best. What's the seat post size?
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Old 08-08-09, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
Are you sure this is a Rocky Mountain and not a Sherpa brand? The RC Sherpa was an early ATB model, while this is a road bicycle. The serial number indicates a 1973 or 1983 Japanese or Taiwanese frame. The components points more towards the latter, though I'm not certain, as it looks like a Frankenbike. Definitely not 853! My guess would be straight gauge Tange or Ishiwata at best. What's the seat post size?
Not sure - will check into it when I adjust it. I couldn't find anything about "Sherpa" brand bikes so just kind of guessed this was the Rocky Mountain Sherpa model ...
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Old 08-09-09, 05:31 AM
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It's a Sherpa (brand) Transport 10. Started life as a road (touring) bike, and has been converted to a flat-bar road bike; complete with cheap saddle with the clamp on backwards. The rack is probably era-correct, though; so I would guess 1970s.

It's a cool old bike, but - unfortunately - not a Rocky Mountain.
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Old 10-06-20, 11:51 AM
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I thought for a moment about whether it was better to reanimate this zombie thread or start my own, but there is the start of the answers here, so better that it all be together...

I have a Sherpa Transport 10 that when I bought it used was told that it had some relation to Rocky Mountain bicycles and their origin (they started running out of a Vancouver, Canada LBS: West Point Cycles). My bike is very close to Dubesor’s (described in post 1 and pictured in post 5), in fact the serial numbers are only 9 frames apart (mine is M3C16944) – they are siblings! My bike has a 26.0mm seatpost, and neither of the these two bikes has any indication of tube sets nor country of origin. I am not confident that any of the components are original for this bike – the brake calipers are not matched, the handlebars and brake levers are not from the same period as the frame, and I am not even sure if the wheels are the same as when I bought it.


My Sherpa Transport 10
I have a friend who bought a Sherpa Touring that remembers a similar story from when she bought hers new (sorry, I do not have pix of her bike), including her belief that it was made in Vancouver (which I believe is mistaken, as noted below).

Recently an ad appeared on the Vancouver CL that has a Sherpa Touring 2 and includes pix of the stickers that disclose this bike was made in Japan and from Tange 2 butted tubes. Here are a few pix from the ad (NOT my bike):


Not my bike

Made in Japan

Nicer tube set than my Transport 10
All of the Sherpa brand bikes that I have ever found pix of have the same silver paint, appear to use the same lugset, and have relatively high quality touring style dropouts, but no braze-ons for water bottle cages or rack attachment nor top tube housing guides (to me this screams 1970s). The Touring 2 is the higher model compared to the Transport 10.

So here is my (totally speculative) theory: Sherpa was a very short-lived house brand of West Point Cycles and these bikes were made in Asia. Based on the serial number from the two Sherpa Transports (eight characters MC3#####), I am inclined to Tmar’s indication above that these bikes are from 1973. The only Asian manufacturer with a matching format (eight characters starting with an “M” in this era – i.e., that the “M” is not for the year) from Tmar’s guide is Merida in Taiwan, but that seems a little surprising for 1973. Also, does it make any sense that these two models would not be manufactured in the same country – so following the sticker on the Touring 2 – Japan. But then has anyone ever heard of a Miki with an 8 character serial number... man, it would be so much easier not to care about these things!

-Will

Last edited by Random Tandem; 10-06-20 at 07:44 PM. Reason: corrected typo in serial number
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Old 10-06-20, 12:56 PM
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Miki made bikes are generally nice to excellent, if they made it. Of course it could have been bought new in Vancouver without any RM connection. Which it doesn't have.
Looks like a well made Japanese bike.
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Old 10-06-20, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by clubman View Post
Which it doesn't have.
Thanks for this assertion. What makes you think it is true?

-Will
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Old 10-06-20, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Random Tandem View Post
...Sherpa was a very short-lived house brand of West Point Cycles and these bikes were made in Asia. Based on the serial number from the two Sherpa Transports (eight characters MC3#####), I am inclined to Tmar’s indication above that these bikes are from 1973....

-Will
Hi Will, I was a mechanic at West Point in the early 80's (c83~c88), and distinctly remember the first Sherpa arriving in shop from the Asian factory. It was a big event for us because Westpoint - then under the management of Jacob Heilbron with pippin osborne assisting - commissioned the bike and it was our baby.

I don't know which factory in which country made the frame, but I can confirm the date to be around the mid 80's. Rocky Mountain Bicycles had already been incorporated at this time but weren't producing bikes under their own name. The Sherpa was primarily Jacob's project and IIRC, he referred to it as a Rocky Mountain product though Rocky Mountain only existed on paper at this time - no physical facilities existed, that would come a few years later.

Anyway, distant memories from a fly on the wall at that time.
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Old 10-06-20, 02:28 PM
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BikeForums is awesome!

Originally Posted by d_dutchison View Post
Hi Will, I was a mechanic at West Point in the early 80's (c83~c88), and distinctly remember the first Sherpa arriving in shop from the Asian factory. It was a big event for us because Westpoint - then under the management of Jacob Heilbron with pippin osborne assisting - commissioned the bike and it was our baby.

I don't know which factory in which country made the frame, but I can confirm the date to be around the mid 80's. Rocky Mountain Bicycles had already been incorporated at this time but weren't producing bikes under their own name. The Sherpa was primarily Jacob's project and IIRC, he referred to it as a Rocky Mountain product though Rocky Mountain only existed on paper at this time - no physical facilities existed, that would come a few years later.

Anyway, distant memories from a fly on the wall at that time.
THIS is why I love this forum! It answers 2 questions that I wondered about:

1. 1973 or 1983 - I guessed wrong, mostly from the lack of bottle cage braze-ons, but I am really glad to know better. Curious that mine has such low-grade components, but probably replaced before it was sold to me.

2. How Sherpa was connected to Rocky Mountain (only the common connection to West Point Cycles) and the stories that Sherpa was a "Vancouver-brand" (in some cases misunderstood as made in Vancouver, as RM would be).

Can you comment at all on the notiion that all of the Sherpas were made at the same factory, so presumeably in Japan not Taiwan?

I am planning to sell my Sherpa Transport 10, but as I get it ready for sale, I wondered about its origins. The only bike I will every buy new, I bought from West Point Cycles in 1982 - a Norco Magnum (that was stolen a few months later...).

Thanks, DD for your addition to this history that is very hard to locate.
-Will
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Old 10-06-20, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by d_dutchison View Post
Hi Will, I was a mechanic at West Point in the early 80's (c83~c88), and distinctly remember the first Sherpa arriving in shop from the Asian factory. It was a big event for us because Westpoint - then under the management of Jacob Heilbron with pippin osborne assisting - commissioned the bike and it was our baby.
I don't know which factory in which country made the frame, but I can confirm the date to be around the mid 80's. Rocky Mountain Bicycles had already been incorporated at this time but weren't producing bikes under their own name. The Sherpa was primarily Jacob's project and IIRC, he referred to it as a Rocky Mountain product though Rocky Mountain only existed on paper at this time - no physical facilities existed, that would come a few years later.
Anyway, distant memories from a fly on the wall at that time.
Amazing! For those interested West Point is still around today.
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Old 10-06-20, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Random Tandem View Post
Thanks for this assertion. What makes you think it is true?

-Will
Well, Sherpa was and I think still is a model in the RM lineup. I was a big fan when they started out and they built nothing along the lines of these examples. The Sherpa was one of their first bikes around 83 and was fat tire, as was everything at the beginning and made in Vancouver. Or perhaps not, the wording is vague in their history here.
I think it was Deer head stuff hung with other Ritchey components. The 1st Canadian Mountain bike perhaps.


Last edited by clubman; 10-06-20 at 05:26 PM.
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Old 10-06-20, 07:51 PM
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I need to add one post so that this thread does not end with confusion.
Of course, no one thinks that a Sherpa Transport or Touring is the same as a Rocky Mountain Sherpa. As d_dutchison notes above (from his personal experience), the connection between Sherpa brand road bikes and Rocky Mountain is that they are both connected to West Point Cycles in Vancouver, as a common point of origin (and near contemporaries), and perhaps it is not entirely wrong to say that they are both "Vancouver brands". As the folks at West Point Cycles were thinking about expanding their business from retail, and involvement in bicycle production, Sherpa and Rocky Mountain were two of the expressions of this expansion - obviously Rocky Mountain has had more lasting impact. And some folks love mountain bikes.

tmar - if you can add anything regarding the asian manufacturer who may have been involved from the serial number format, I would welcome that contribution.

-Will
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Old 10-07-20, 01:14 PM
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My perspective comes as an employee at a bike shop, so bear in mind that I had little direct knowledge of the company organization or management. Happy to be proven wrong by anyone who knows better, and there are lots who would - Rocky Mountain history is delightfully contradictory

RM had no public face at this time, it served only as an importer and in-house supplier to a small group (three, I believe) of bike shops in BC and Alberta. A big seller at West Point at that time was the Nishiki International, and I believe the impetus behind the original Sherpa was to produce a lower cost/higher profit alternative to that bike. The Sherpa was conceived and imported by Rocky Mountain, but wasn’t labled as such (RM also imported Guerciotti's , Chas Roberts frames, and a few years later, Tom Richey’s).

The frames were definitely made in Japan, I don’t think Taiwan was even on the map as a bike building country at that time, though that would change very quickly when mountain bikes exploded onto the scene.

The Rocky Mountain Sherpa was a completely different bike, introduced some years later and being a 26“ wheeled MTB, not a 700C road tourer. I believe it was the first actual “Rocky Mountain” bike, a lower priced, lighter and much better handling alternative to the StumpJumper.

Last edited by d_dutchison; 10-07-20 at 01:30 PM. Reason: speeling and clarification
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Old 10-07-20, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by d_dutchison View Post
The Rocky Mountain Sherpa was a completely different bike, introduced some years later and being a 26“ wheeled MTB, not a 700C road tourer. I believe it was the first actual “Rocky Mountain” bike, a lower priced, lighter and much better handling alternative to the StumpJumper.
In some (ahem American ahem) circles thems fightin' words.
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Old 10-28-20, 07:12 PM
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Here is a Sherpa with the serial number M3C168xx. This Sherpa was originally sold from an in independent bike shop in Alberta.




The serial number is from frame manufacturer Miki in 1983. The component dates confirm the year 1983.

Some people think the serial number might be Merida of Taiwan. The Merida serial number format in 1983 was completely different from the Miki format in 1983, (or 1973).


Here is an RMB Sherpa with a Miki serial number from 1984. From the same bike shop in Alberta. The tubing label says MIKI. Note that it is not a mountain bike.


I do not own either of the above two bicycles.

I have seen another 1984 RMB Sherpa with a West Point Cycles, Vancouver BC sticker. Again, not a mountain bike.

I have seen another 1984 RMB Sherpa with a Miki Sekai label at the bottom of the seat tube.



Other Sherpa brands and models of bicycles:

RMB also had an MTB Sherpa model. I do not know the dates for that model but I am pretty sure that it was after 1984.

Dorado brand in the USA had Sherpa Trail and Sherpa Comp models. Dorado was a brand name sold through Costco.

There is a Sherpa brand name of MTBs in the USA. All of these Sherpa MTBs that I have seen were from Oregon.
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Old 10-30-20, 06:21 AM
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In one of their old catalogues, Rocky Mountain posted a picture of a first year (1982) Sherpa. While the image is not great, it's apparent that they had already established their iconic 'mountain peaks within a circle' logo, as used on their head decals. Consequently, the different decals on the 1983 Miki manufactured bicycles would appear to indicate another brand.

Sources, including former Rocky Mountain personnel, also state that prior to establishing their own frame building operation, Rocky Mountain bicycles were sourced from Toyo, who had a different S/N format then Miki.

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Old 10-30-20, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by bOsscO View Post
In some (ahem American ahem) circles thems fightin' words.
They may be fighting words but he is correct.

Pistols at 20 meters?
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Old 10-30-20, 11:06 AM
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The Sherpa reappeared as a touring bike in the Rocky mountain line in some years:
https://www.bikes.com/sites/default/...13_Can_Pav.pdf
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Old 10-30-20, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Hummer View Post
Here is a Sherpa with the serial number M3C168xx. This Sherpa was originally sold from an in independent bike shop in Alberta.



Here is an RMB Sherpa with a Miki serial number from 1984. From the same bike shop in Alberta. The tubing label says MIKI. Note that it is not a mountain bike.


I do not own either of the above two bicycles.

I have seen another 1984 RMB Sherpa with a West Point Cycles, Vancouver BC sticker. Again, not a mountain bike.

I have seen another 1984 RMB Sherpa with a Miki Sekai label at the bottom of the seat tube.



Other Sherpa brands and models of bicycles:

RMB also had an MTB Sherpa model. I do not know the dates for that model but I am pretty sure that it was after 1984.

Dorado brand in the USA had Sherpa Trail and Sherpa Comp models. Dorado was a brand name sold through Costco.

There is a Sherpa brand name of MTBs in the USA. All of these Sherpa MTBs that I have seen were from Oregon.
Call me a doubting Thomas but I think that's just a bike with RM decals. Someone who maybe bought the other Sherpa but wanted it to be RMB. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Last edited by clubman; 10-30-20 at 02:00 PM.
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Old 10-30-20, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by clubman View Post
Call me a doubting Thomas but I think that's just a bike with RM decals. Someone who maybe bought the other Sherpa but wanted it to be RMB. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Never let facts interfere with a dogmatic belief. I think you do a serious disservice to Thomas Aquinas by invoking his nickname in this way - he was famous for challenging dogmatic beliefs in pursuit of evidence to support them, not just holding ground against reality. The RM Sherpa posted by Hummer is not the first one I have seen in Vancouver.

-Will

PS - I do not plan to allow this thread to end with a confusing post denying history.
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Old 10-30-20, 02:24 PM
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Well I'm not dogmatic as a rule and I invoke no one but the memory of my Grandma who used that phrase often. I'm no philosopher king.
Really, I'm in agreement with your earlier post where you wrote 'no one thinks that a Sherpa Transport or Touring is the same as a Rocky Mountain Sherpa.'
It's an imported bike with some decals put on it by the distributors.

Last edited by clubman; 10-30-20 at 02:37 PM.
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