Monday, October 20, 2014

1985 Mountain Klein

Over the years I've had the opportunity to buy several mountain Kleins, but like most Klein fans (I assume) I was only drawn to the big fork, wild paint job, 90s Attitudes/Adroits. However over the past year I've grown to appreciate the bike. I mean, this bike largely represents genesis for every other Klein I've ever owned or wanted to own. It's where it all started.

So, a couple weeks ago when this stunning Sky Blue 85 Mountain Klein showed up on eBay I decided to go for it. The bike looked stunning, a perfect time capsule. I was very excited to have won it, and for a rather reasonable price. I think the rack and the jacked up stem shown in the eBay listing helped keep the bike under the radar.

A couple minutes in the stand and the real bike emerged!

The build is as follows

85 Mountain Klein frame with matching fork (medium)
Suntour XC Stem
Specialized Aluminum rise bar
American Classic 27.4 seatpost
Avocet Touring 2 saddle
Shimano FC-6206 cranks
Shimano M700 rear derailleur
Suntour XC shifters
Suntour XC front derailleur
Shimano Dura Ace hubs and quick releases
Suntour Roller Cam brakes
Shimano M700 brake levers
Grab-on grips
Specialized Ground Control tires

Cunningham designed stem. Interestingly, Gary used Charlie's early stems on a few of his early road bikes, so it's nice to see he chose the licensed version of the stem for his early mountain bikes

Double down tube internal cable routing for the rear derailleur and chainstay mounted roller cam rear brake. The very early MK prototypes had a beautifully sculpted cable entry for the rear derailleur. Although very nicely executed on this bike, it's crude compared to Gary's first MK.

This is the only MK I've seen with a front roller cam brakes. Although not many are accounted for in my registry 100% have cantilevers in the front. Even the prototypes and MK001 have cantilevers in the front. In fact Gary's prototype has cantilevers front and rear. The RCs on this bike are the early design with drilled out arms, as opposed to the later dimpled versions. No expense was spared to build this bike back in the day.

Dura ace hubs were commonly used on mountain bikes of that era, but were not common on MKs. I've only seen one other MK in my registry that came with DA hubs from the factory.

6-spd rear cluster was the pinnacle of technology at the time.

The sovereign blue color is simply stunning. The welds just disappear into the paintwork, this bike may be rapidly becoming one of the favorite Kleins in my collection.

The Biopace chainrings on this bike are a bit new (date coded verify 03/86 production) so the bike received some cutting edge parts when it was built.

One of the more recognizable traits of a Mountain Klein are the square chainstays with internal cable routing for the rear derailleur. Gary started out with running the rear derailleur cable on his first prototype for the Mountain Klein and continued that design for the first two years of production. Sometime around late 86 early 87 he switched to an external cable stop and and a more conventional routing on the outside of the chainstay.

The junction between the BB and the chainstays is definitely overbuilt. It makes for a very stiff braking platform and provides some nice shielding for the roller cam brake. Unlike the prototype the welds here are clearly visible, although still very nicely done. Tire clearance is tight and I think you'd have a hard time getting anything over a 2.1 tire in there. Crank arm clearance on the other hand is pretty good and there is no discernible flex under hard pedaling.

Beautiful welds were something not seen on any sort of production mountain bike before the Mountain Klein came along. The welders at Klein were true craftsmen and produced some of the most beautiful and well riding machines on the market.

More beautiful welds.

Shimano 600ex headset fits this bike perfectly and looks amazing coupled with the polished Suntour stem.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

1986 Cunningham Racer

This bike is hardly news to anyone, but at least it finally got a proper set of photos. This is my personal 1986 Cunningham, aka. Kirby (named after it's previous owner). 

For those of you following along you might remember what Kirby looked liked when I picked him up just about a year ago.

Overall the bike was very complete with spare parts to boot and in overall very good shape. It had been sitting around for a few years and was a little neglected, but the foundation was there. It didn't take much more than a toothbrush and some patience to get it back up and running.

The build is for the most part the same as when I received it. Gone are the Shimano 6206 cranks (180s and showing minor cracks), Dia Compe brake levers, Avocet touring saddle along with the bar ends and rack. I decided to keep the Shimano M730 grouppo as the previous owner performed that upgrade while he had it, so I felt it was fitting to keep it that way. The build is as follows

Cunningham Racer frame 
Potts Type 2 fork
Cunningham - stem, bars, modified Hi-e hubs, roller cam brakes, oversize seatpost with Campagnolo adjustable head, steering angle limiter
Dura Ace freewheel with 600ex cogs
Specialized flag cranks with Specialized chainrings
Shimano M730 shifters, brake levers and derailleurs
Chris King headset
Unicanitor saddle and machined down Magura grips

In my opinion the end result looks great, while maintaing a nice level of original patina.

I should have photographed with the yellow label GCEs, but this is the rider set and I didn't feel like taking them off one more time. I'm still learning how to properly dial in the Roller Cams and these earlier versions are a bit tougher. I may have to go back to using vintage brake cables as the 1.6mm modern cable slips through the cam.

The bike came with two sets of wheels. The previous owner was using the Grease Guard version when I got it, but the rims had some cracked eyelets and the hubs were in worse shape. Among the spare parts I found some replacement bearings from Charlie, so I cleaned up the original wheels used them instead.

While working on this bike I have really come to appreciate all the special touches that make these bikes so unique. The amount of work that went into creating each one of these machines is truly remarkable, and really stands in a class of its own.

Vintage Scott Mathauser brak pads front and rear, still do the trick! I may go all gradnma on this bike and put the roller cam boot back on in the rear. I end up doing a lot of creek crossings out here and it just kicks too much sand in there causing the brake to get a bit crunchy.

Custom Hi-e rear hub with large inner flange. Modified by CC of course, and I'm glad as changing bearings in those hubs is a huge PITA without these mods.

Beautiful work on the top tube gusset. I never get tired of looking at that.

I bit I still have to track down is an original CC made QR lever. The previous owner didn't like it and asked CC to replace it with the garish (by comparison) Suntour made lever.

Grease Guard bottom bracket, rear RC dirt shield, custom made cable routing... it's all so freaking cool!!

It's all in the details; beautifully filed down welds on the top tube gusset.

The business end. I still need to switch the brake levers around (I run moto routing on most of my bikes), adjust the reach and find a nicer cap for the stem. The Velox cap is not quite elegant enough for this bike, but it's better than nothing.

Custom made oversize seatpost utilizing a Campagnolo adjustable seat post head. CC had designed a very sleek fixed angle seatpost which was common on many Cunninghams in that time. The original owner wanted a little more flexibility so he requested that the bike come with an adjustable head post.

The bike came with a nice pile of receipts documenting its maintenance history at Pt. Reyes. It's not very common that owner keep all of that paperwork, which makes finding a bike like this all the more special in my book.

Water bottle mounts that appear to serve  double duty as brake cable guides, or at the very least ensure that the brake cable doesn't get pinched by a water bottle cage.

According to the letters that accompanied the bike (between CC and the previous owner), CC made up this steering limiter based off a sketch made by previous owner after an accident resulting in the brakes hitting the frame. Perhaps it's not the first time CC made this, but still a neat piece of history.

Monday, October 13, 2014

1985 Merlin Titanium

I managed to find some time to put on the finishing touches on this 89 Merlin. This is one bike that really fought being built. At nearly every step along the way some component or another put up a fight. What you see here is about the 3rd iteration of the original build plan. From a unyielding IRD switchback brake to a sticky Chris King headset this thing just would not go together. But finally it's done.

I decided to add a splash of color to this bike and painted the P2 fork yellow as a bit of a tribute to the first Titanium Fat Chance which ultimately gave rise to Merlin.

This bike is serial number #1850, which makes it the sister bike of my Merlin #1849. Kind of neat to have two consecutive serial number bikes in one places. Both Merlins came from Colorado and both are the same size. Very neat.

Cook Bros RSR cranks with Shimano SG chainrings. More often than not I chose black chainrings with black cranks, but the silver rings look pretty good in this built. They break up the monochrome theme too often found on Merlins of this time.

Shimano XT U-Brake may not be as sexy as some other options, but when setup properly it provides some powerful braking power, especially when coupled with Scott Mathauser brake pads.

Wheels are Bullseye hubs wrapped with Araya RM17 rims, coupled with American Classic quick releases and a Sachs Millard freewheel. Panaracer Smoke compe rear tire with a Ritchey Megabite front tire provide great drive traction with a good bite up front.

Custom top tube cable routing was an option available on Merlins during this time.

Shimano XT make for classic controls which just don't seem to go out of style and work great on the trails!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

1991 Klein Attitude Ultra Violet

This 91 Attitude is one of very few painted (that I've found so far anyways) in the Ultra Violet color. UV was mostly used on road bikes that year, but luckily for us a few mountain bikes escaped the factory painted in this lovely color. The frame itself is a very early 1991, it still carries the box crown fork and the Klein embossed headset seal. All artifacts from the 1990 production year. Put together with a silver 91 XT grouppo and the bike just shines!! I'm really happy with the outcome, and very sad to see it go to it's new home!!