Monday, 20 February 2017

My Retro 26" Mountain Bikes

While Carbon bikes, e-bikes and electric gear change are growing in popularity so are classics Retro Mountain Bikes. The Old School 26"

I think most people would agree "They don't build them like they use to" Bikes from the late 80's and early 90's where built simple yet durable. And owning a mountain bike for a bit of fun, for fitness and for something different then I would recommend buying yourself a retro mountain bike.

"For a feeling of nostalgia or just always fancied one"

ebay is the best place to start looking -You should find something for around a £100 and spend £100 on it!! There are also a lot of bikes out there that have hardly been used. But a bike that is around 26 years old maybe worn out and end up costing more.
Read are guide on buying on ebay

When we are talking retro from 80's and 90's we are talking steel frames, "Cromo" that don't rust unless left out in the rain or in a damp shed. If it's been heavily used on the trails, check the frame for any signs of damage or cracks. Bottom bracket area inside the frame is a place for rest and can damage the threads when removing the bottom bracket. Aluminium seat posts can corrode inside the seat tube and may never come out. Only way to know is inspect the frame first.
Tange double butted tubing

Getting the size correct is also very important. If you intend to take of road and use for XC then going for the smaller size, as back in the day these bikes where stronger with a smaller frame and the riders fitted extra-long seat post and handle bar stems. But if you going to use for the road and clear trails then go for what fits you. I am 5ft 11" and I have gone for a 19" frame to use off road.

"You don't need to have special equipment to ride"

As long as the frame is in good condition, which can always be repainted if badly marked. (If re-painted - Have the decals made first and send with frame to be fitted before lacquer, to give the best finish) All the other parts can be replaced if worn out. Chain rings, chains, cassettes bottom brackets, tyres, cables and most brake callipers can still be brought new. Also there are many NOS New Old Stock parts found on ebay. Buying used is the same as buying a used bike, might look and sound good on ebay, but you will be taking a chance if worn out, especially wheels and chainsets. The rims and hubs can be badly worn and unrepairable, known in the trade as US in-serviceable.

"You may end up buy two retro mtb's, as these bikes are fun, enjoyable to do up and end up restoring one to its original condition and one with high end modern parts" 

Look for a bike with a better quality steel frame - double butted chromoly tubing and fitted with Shimano Exage, STX, Deore, may have suspension but no disc brakes. Anything less will be poor quality and no difference at this price from buying a new poor quality mountain bike from Halfords.

Some retro bikes to search for:
  • Marin Bear Valley
  • Kona cinder cone race light
  • Trek
  • Scott
  • Gary Fisher
  • GT Zaskar, GT Bravado
  • Orange
  • Rocky Mountain
  • Specialized
  • Giant
Also look for:
  • Saracen
  • Peugeot
  • Muddy Fox
  • Ridgeback
Why not use Bike Courier to deliver your retro bike you brought on ebay for only £23.50

21" Marin Bear Valley 1989 £125.00

Front cantilever brake with cable pulley fitted to stem

Cantilever front brake and 26 x 2.1 brown wall tyre

Rear U Brake. Fitted under chainstay.  Note gear wire though brake boss.
Biopace chainset and fitted with uni-glide 6 speed cassette.

Kona cinder cone race light with front suspension 1995

Kona Lava Dome frame 1997, fitted with Project 2 forks

Retro bikes line-up. Ready for the Summit 26" Classic

Do you own a retro MTB or thinking of buying one? Let us know your favourite classic in the comments below.

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