John’s Restoration of a 1983 Ritchey Everest With a “Touring Package”

Forever tinkering with his bikes, John recently wrapped up a complete restoration of the 1983 Ritchey Everest that we looked at last year. Remember? The gray one? The bike appeared to have been subjected to a sloppy respray at some point in the early 2000s, and John wanted to restore the bike to its formal glory. 

He pinged Rick at D&D, the guy who has painted more Ritchey frames than perhaps anyone, to respray the Everest in Imron Bright Gold paint with the uber-rare Palo Alto Ritchey decals to finish the look. The Everest also had a “touring package” added when Tom built the frame in 1983. Since John acquired it, the Everest has always felt a bit naked without the proper racks…

We know John’s posted a lot of vintage projects over the past few years, but this might be the best yet! Let’s check it out below…

Scans from the Vintage Bicycle Database

1983 Ritchey Everest “A” Bike with a Blackburn Touring Package

I won’t go into the history of the early 1980s Ritchey MountainBikes here. If you want an in-depth look at the “A” and “B” bikes, check out these two posts:

In short, the “A” bikes featured better tubing and better finishing and were overall the best bang for your buck to leave the Ritchey workshop. The only bike that was higher-end than the Everest was the Competition.  The “B” bikes were still marvels of the time and were priced much lower. In modern pricing terms, a complete Everest, or “A” bike in 1983 was $1,656. Adjusted for inflation, that comes out to roughly $4,865. Which is still a bargain by today’s standards. A Mount Tam, “B” bike complete was $925, or $2,717 in today’s pricing. 

One popular add-on was the “Blackburn Touring Package” which included front and rear Jim Blackburn racks and a Blackburn water bottle cage. To make the bikes compatible with the racks, you had to pay a $20/$35 upgrade fee for fork and frame rack bosses. On top of that, the racks were $29 for the rear and $31 for the front. At that time, the extra hardware would set you back just over $110, or about $325 in today’s market.

All in, you’d most likely cut a check for over $5,000 (adjusted for modern inflation) for a bike like this in 1983.

1983 Everest Before and After

When I first took delivery of this Everest, it was grey and had a sloppy respray, most likely in the early 2000s. It came from a beach in Florida and had surface rust everywhere. I did my best to touch it up with steel wool and sandpaper, but I wasn’t really stoked about the overall condition. It looked good from afar, but far from good up close.

Luckily, the bike had a bottom bracket drain hole drilled in, so if any salt water did get into the frame, it had a way out. Yet, there were still some rust bubbles in that area, so I sanded that down. Rust never sleeps!

Around this time, Rick at D&D had just finished repairing my Yo Eddy!, so I reached out to ask him how much it would cost to respray the Everest. After we agreed on his rate, I began to scheme how I wanted the “new” 1983 Everest to look. Tasshi at the Vintage MTB Workshop has a gold 1980 Ritchey in his “collection,” so I took inspiration from that.

I believe that bike is now owned by David Harrison, the fella who sold me my 1980 Ritchey.

The color is Imron Bright Gold, and it features the “Palo Alto” decals. Knowing the tenuous relationship with Tom and the Fisher Kelly MountainBikes store, I wanted to give this bike a proper “Tom-approved” restoration. Plus, these decals look so much better than the MountainBikes decals, which were literally printed on clear vinyl and looked like bumper stickers.

As the restoration came together, all the parts were installed, and eventually, I was just left to wait on the bags…

While all this was happening, I came across a 1980 stub Bullmoose bar from a collector. It was a “low rise and long” model, which made the fit perfect on my Everest. I then took the “high rise and long” Bullmoose and sent it off to get nickel plated for my 1980 Ritchey.

Since the 1980 Ritchey’s top tube is a full 2″ longer than the 1983 Everest and slopes slightly downward, this Bullmoose swap worked out perfectly. I cannot emphasize how hard it is to find a stub Bullmoose (these bars clamp directly to a “stub” that is brazed into the steerer tube, like an early threadless stem), much less one that is from the early 1980s. Overall, things were looking good on the Ritchey restoration front.


A Touring Package, but What Bags?

I lucked out with a lot of NOS, or new-old-stock, parts for this refresh. Most of these parts had been acquired over the years, and I was just waiting patiently for the perfect project to give them a home. I got a set of 175mm NOS Sugino AT cranks at a swap meet years back, a NOS Shimano Deer Head group from a shop liquidating its inventory on Facebook, a NOS Avocet saddle from eBay, NOS Silca pump, NOS grips, NOS Mafac touring cantis from a friend, NOS racks and bottle cage (they all had the tags still installed!) I bought NOS “moto” cables and housing from a moped shop, with step-down ferrules, and I soldered the brake cable ends.

I even had some lightly used Phil Wood hubs serviced and converted to bolt-on by Dustin the Wind in San Jose, California. Finding these parts in a condition that matched the newly re-painted Everest really made this restoration project come together. I’m a fan of frames with patina and like the parts to match the condition, but once you respray a bike, it’s important (to me) to have the condition of the parts be consistent with the frame’s finish.

The rear rack was a cinch to install, just like a modern rack. Yet there’s an interesting design going on with the front rack. I’ve heard this design called a “reacharound” mount, meaning it mounts to the backside of the fork crown, not the front. To install it, you have to remove the fork, or the cantilever brakes, slide it over, and install it. What’s impressive is that this rack was designed for 700c touring bikes, but the profile and mounting hardware fit the 26″ fork perfectly down to the radius of the reacharound arms and the fork crown. With vintage restorations, this is considered a victory. All I had to do was hammer a 2×4 into the front rack struts to give it clearance for the 2.3″ tire, which was a common thing back in the early 1980s.

The only missing component to the equation was the bags. What bags should I use on this bike? Like tires and water bottles, I am not opposed to running certain modern parts on a vintage bike. Even bags. Let’s face it: they’re honestly superior in every way. I have nothing against old panniers for road touring. I think they’re great, but I once took a set of Robert Beckman panniers on an dirt road overnighter here in Santa Fe, and the only way they’d stay on the Bruce Gordon racks was by running an Austere Cam Strap around them.

Old bags usually have tired hardware and don’t want to maintain their ability to hold onto the rack. Let me tell ya, jettisoning a bag going 30 miles per hour down a fire road on a vintage bike ain’t fun!

San Util Designs Panniers

I just posted my review of these San Util Mini Panniers:

San Util Mini and Light Weight Panniers Review

When I’m on the hunt for a product, I look everywhere. First, I checked eBay for NOS 1970s/1980s panniers. Nothing interesting came up. Then, the forums. Nada. One day, I was uploading photos for a story on The Radavist and saw Spencer uploading his San Util Shop Visit. I looked at what Adam had been up to this year and saw his new Voile strap Lightweight panniers.

The rear bags would fit perfectly, but the front rack was much smaller, so I asked if he could make front bags with a slightly smaller profile to clear the cantilever arms. He obliged, and a few weeks later, he sent me some beautiful gold panniers made from Challenge Sailcloth. Adam, if you’re reading this, you knocked it out of the park!

Expect a thorough review of the panniers to come!

Wende Cragg on the cover of Fat Tire Flyer, March, 1985

Back in the 1980s, there were no ultralight down sleeping bags or down jackets if you went on a bike tour. Your camping stuff was big and bulky, and the panniers were often stuffed to capacity with bungees to hold everything down. These mountain bikers were touring singletrack and fire roads, and it was hard work to get a loaded bike up and over mountains. Ain’t no titanium cookware or Jetboil in those panniers! Seeing the old Pearl Pass photos with people on loaded bikes at the summit in 1981 is a real feat of human endurance!

Modern setups are considerably smaller, lighter, and much easier to pack. In these four panniers, I have everything I need for an overnighter and, thus, for a multiple-day tour. My sleeping bag and bivvy are in one rear pannier. My down pants and jacket in another with more clothes. Food and extra water in a front pannier, and all my spares, stove, inflatable sleeping pad, and camp accessories in another. What’s remarkable is even fully loaded, this bike still weighs only 42 pounds.

The only downside to the racks on this Everest is the front fork, since it’s acting like a truss, takes all of the lovely flex out of the fork.

Overall, I’m very pleased with how this restoration came out. I’m elated it was done in time for primo leaf peeping here in the Southern Rockies, and I can’t wait for the paint to finish curing (about six months total – three more months left!) so I can stop babying this thing! Part of the joy of these Vintage Bicycle projects is keeping them rolling for another forty years, and this Touring Package-equipped Everest is going to make overnighters all the more fun.

Parts Spec:

Year: 1983
Serial number: R207
Frame: Ritchey Everest
Fork: Ritchey Bi-plane
Racks: Jim Blackburn
Stem: Ritchey Bullmoose
Seatpost: Sakae
Seatpost QR: Suntour
Saddle: Avocet Racing I
Grips: Grab-On
Headset: Campagnolo Strada
Bottom Bracket: Phil Wood Cartridge Bearing “Press Fit”
Shifters:  Shimano Deer Head
Front Derailleur: Shimano Deer Head
Rear Derailleur:  Shimano Deer Head
Brake Levers: Magura Motorcycle “Shorty”
Front Brake: Mafac Tandem
Rear Brake: Mafac Tandem
Crankset: Sugino AT
Chainrings: Sugino 26,36,46
Pedals: Suntour XCII
Hubs: Phil Wood 36h Bolt-On
Rims: Araya 7X
Tires: Ultradynamico Mars 2.2″
Cassette: Shimano 6 Speed
Chain: Shimano

I’d like to thank Rick at D&D, Fergus at Ritchey, Tom Ritchey, Tasshi from the Vintage MTB Workshop, David Harrison, and Shawn Wilkerson! You guys rule!