From clunkers to a global phenomenon, Wired takes a look at the history of mountain biking in the USA.
Check out more information on this exceptionally-illustrated book at La Légende Dessinée
When Giancarlo Brocci imagined what would become the now world famous L’Eroica vintage bicycle homage in 1997, he surely never thought that rubber would crunch on gravel all the way at the Southern tip of Africa, in honour of his humble concept. Giancarlo saw the first L’Eroica rides as a way to bring attention to, and thus encourage the preservation of, the beautiful ‘strade bianche’, or white marble gravel roads of the area around Gaiole in Tuscany. At the same time it was a way for him to honour and remind others of the perfect peak of the sport he loves so dearly – the heady, fiery days of Anquetil, Poulidor, Coppi, Bartali, Merckx… (more…)
Working at a shop like Bicycles of Ojai can lend itself certain opportunities. With its walls covered in vintage components, frames and memorabilia, you can spend hours digging through this veritable treasure chest, assembling one unique build. Now, imagine working at that shop, constantly bombarded with literal bicycle porn and I’m not even going to talk about the basement!
Tyler used to work at Bicycles of Ojai. In his time there, he was always on the hunt for something that would fit him. He’s a tall lad, of about 7’8″ and he rides a tall bike, making it hard to score vintage frames usually, especially in the middle of nowhere like Ojai. Yet, the owner of the shop has long ties to Southern California racing and amidst all the crashed 62cm frames, laid this beauty, rumored to be a custom Paramount for a local track and crit racer.
Now, this “Paramount” has been drilled for both brakes and has had what appears to be a derailleur hanger cut off on the track end, at least proving that yes, maybe this bike was indeed raced in local road crits. Who knows? Who cares? It’s a mystery machine and it’s Tyler’s get around town bike when he’s in Los Angeles.
A porteur rack, Specialized Globe cruiser bars and a handful of vintage Italian components make this bike not only one of the more interesting shoots, but classy enough to sway anyone who’d scoff at the rack and bars. I mean Ofmega pista headset and a 135mm 3TTT stem? Why not!
Martin from Second Spin has quite the vintage MTB stable and at last weekend’s MWBA Pancake Breakfast, he brought out his grail. Growing up worshipping Klein, Yeti and Mantis, Martin was able to own various Yetis and Kleins, but never a Mantis in his size. When a trade presented itself, he jumped on the deal for this Valkyrie.
The build spec is period correct, down to the Campagnolo skewers, which many mountain bikers used on their builds. The Cook Brothers crank and Ti bottom bracket have Specialized chainrings bolted on. Martin went with a WTB theme on this particular build with WTB roller cams front and rear, with WTB classic Grease Guard hubs. A Cunningham stem with internal cable routing holds Cook Brothers bars, M730 shifters and four finger calipers.
Even with this nice mix of parts, nothing takes away from this bike’s stance. It’s confident in its funkiness yet still elegant in its form. Having never seen a Mantis in person before, I now understand why Martin was so attracted to these frames.
Vintage mountain bike collectors will swoon over this one, but that goes without saying.
Mavericks were always a special kind of funky, especially with their inverted forks but I’ve never seen one this rad!
Cool as in color. As in how pristine this bike is. As in how rad is it that this Ritchey 1990 P-23 is still being ridden in Southern California? Cool as in look at all the Ritchey Logic parts, or those uber rare PAUL skewers. Cool as in those skewers were the first component PAUL made. Cool as in, yeah this bike is cool.
Carmella has a cool bike with an even cooler backstory, which I won’t even go into here because it’ll turn into a cool mess. Or hot mess. Ok, whatever. Here ya go.
So, apparently this bike was a custom order from a Santa Barbara native who raced the national circuit, which is where he met John Parker, the founder of Yeti. As the old owner tells the tale, Parker had already formed Yeti in 1985, but the whole teal color wasn’t a “Yeti thing” quite yet. After Parker saw this bike, however, he complimented the color and began using it on his own frames.
Now, a quick bit of fact-checking might shoot holes in this local lore. For instance, the P-series MTBs didn’t come out officially until 1990 and Yeti was formed in 1985. I’m pretty certain that Yeti used their iconic teal color prior to 1990. Which, as Mombat shows, was featured in a 1989 ad. However, as numerous sources recall, Ritchey apparently worked on the P-23 in 1988 and even seeded out a few frames to select racers… BUT the racing frames were fillet brazed and made by Tom, not tig welded. Unless a small batch of production frames went out to select racers beforehand. Which, if that’s the case, or even if there’s some slight wiggle room in the dates, it might actually be a legit story, not just local lore.
At any rate. This is a cool bike with a cool bit of lore attached to it and some sick skewers. It’s easy on the eyes and during its heyday the P-23 was one of the lightest chromoly frames on the market. Weighing in at only 23 pounds! Hence the name.
At first glance, I thought this was an old Molteni team car, yet at closer inspection, that’s not orange at all! Seen first at Team Dream, but you can also see these photos at the Mavic Facebook.
Wanna see what one of the first production remote-operated dropper posts looked like? Nice one, River City!
The Pro’s Closet always brings such great interviews. This time with two-time National Downhill Champion Greg Herbold, who takes us through the technical aspects of his race winning bike as well as the the challenges downhill racers faced in the early 90’s…like hard-tails, tension disks, and peddling uphill!