From the Bontrager Vaults

Last year, I had the opportunity to photograph Keith Bontrager both at a Q&A session at Mission Workshop and his home in Santa Cruz. Between those two events, I was commissioned by Bontrager / Trek to document some of, as they described, Keith’s Relics.

Everything from early integrated bars to the first rolled rim, jerseys, musettes, hubs and yes, complete bikes. Normally, this would be a job any photo and bike geek would take their sweet time with, but my window was two hours, including studio calibration.

It was a blur but I got to spend some quality time with these products and I did my best to document their details and nuances. Remember, at this stage in the game, Keith was making these frames in a tiny garage in Santa Cruz…

Check out some of my favorite selections in the Gallery and please, feel free to add anything you’d like in the comments!

  • Tim Guarente

    That V-brake on the Kestrel sure looks like the Paul Minimoto. This is an awesome gallery! If KB started back into building bikes, I’d line up.

    • hans

      was going to say the same thing about that v brake. man, that kestrel is a weird looking thing!

  • Gabe DeFelip

    These pictures are amazing.

  • boomforeal

    great pictures john!

    and wow, kestrels still have the power to make my cringe

  • Peter Hanchak

    I’m not sure why but to my eye the switchblade fork always looks amazingly cool.

  • Kerry Nordstrom

    Duuuude, that Musette

  • Michael

    Such a cool opportunity, and as was already noted – that Musette!

  • mp

    Man, that 1994 WC bike is a dream bike for sure. It’s from around when I first started mountain biking and brings back a lot of memories. I used to rock that seat but the one w/ a kevlar cover. Thanks for sharing.

  • discount sushi

    Great pictures! I still have that jersey and a wheel with (supossedly) one of his rolled rims. I found a circa ’96 Bontrager in a bike shop in Oak Park in 2003 that I wish I could have bought.

  • btdubs

    So interesting to see your take on studio shots man. So cool! And from one photog to another, the fact that you knocked this out in 2 hours is nothing short of amazing. Hustle.

  • TrailYeah

    love seein’ vintage steeds! nuff said.

  • Jonathan Raspa

    Almost bought one of those ‘cross bike from Sky when Velo Cult moved from SD to Portland….Still regret it.

  • Namkrad

    Cool stuff! A local LBS has one of those chain set signs that´s signed by the man. Makes the shop ok in my book :)