Eric’s Raw and Rusted 1985 Bridgestone MB-2 Wigsplitter

I found this Bridgestone MB-2 as a complete on Marketplace in December of 2021. It’s January of 2023 and I’ve just wrapped up the build. The time in between was spent having some frame modifications made, aging the frame, making custom head badges and acquiring various components. Once I had my parts, the build should have only taken about a day but stretched into a week as I inched along with minor changes. The final outcome, though, is better than I could have hoped!

The inspiration for this build came from a desire for a bike with wide tires and drops. I appreciate the old Bridgestones and thought one might make a good platform and started scratching around. The bike I found was stock, straight out of the 1985 catalog, except for the hideous saddle and the tires. My friend Justin picked it up for me in Maryland. Perhaps sacrilege to some, but I removed and abandoned all of the parts and decided I needed to make some light modifications to the frame.

Rob Gassie at Bing Bicycle changed the cable routing on the top tube and added a modern cable guide to the bottom bracket shell. He added hourglass rack mounts to the fork and seat stays along with a pump peg on the seat tube. Rob also adjusted the rear spacing to 135mm, added a third bottle boss to the downtube and two bottle bosses to the underside of the same. Finally, he stripped all of the paint for me and delivered a raw steel frame.

I love a living finish, particularly on brass and copper. The subtleties that can develop with time and weather result in some of my favorite surfaces. I’ve used bits of brass on other bikes in the past, for this one I decided to go a bit further. Rather than use reproduction decals, I had the notion to have brass head badges made with the old Bridgestone logo. These were done by a quick prototype shop from sheet brass and cut with a laser. The delivered product was a bit rough, but with some sanding, I achieved an acceptable surface. With a homemade bending jig I was able to bend a decent radius using dowels and a lead plumbing nipple.

Along with the head badge, I picked up some brass bolts from McMaster-Carr, brass spoke nipples from Sim Works, brass ferrules from Wheels Manufacturing and cable ends again from Sim Works. Some I weathered with vinegar, others with a more intense patina and others I left raw.

I’ve noticed a few wild and weathered frames here on The Radavist and Scott’s Stripped and Raw Crust Romanceur was the one that convinced me to try a raw finish. Arya’s Tour Divide Little Romeo, Sal’s Trek 9xx and Ron’s Clockwork COOL MTB) were also in my head while I was getting this all together.

To get the deep rust, I hit the frame with a few rounds of acid and used a propane warming torch to heat the frame. I finished it with a coat of clear satin lacquer and then waxed the frame. This is my first outing with a raw steel finish and I’m looking forward to seeing how it holds up.

For some contrast with the rust, I opted for a straight silver finish on all of the parts. This meant de-anodizing and (haphazardly) polishing two sets of Paul cantilever brakes and a Shimano XTR RD-M952 rear mech. My other selections were silver from the start. In a nod to the first Stumpjumpers, I went with TA Specialites Cyclotouriste crankset. The Paul neo-retro brakes recall the Mafac tandem cantilevers also issued on the Stumpjumper but with some added adjustability. Paired with Hunter Nugz, I can really get ’em dialed in.

I’m a big fan of the old SunTour components for their beauty, their economy and their underdog status in the world of componentry. SunTour changed shifting when Nobuo Ozaki invented the slant parallelogram. They made the best stuff before the advent of indexing, the expiration of their patent on the slant parallelogram and a re-valuation of the Japanese yen in the late 1980s (Check out Frank Berto’s essential article “Sundown for Suntour” for a great read, reprinted in Rivendell Reader #14). I was able to pull together some classic SunTour road components (Superbe levers, Bar-Con bar end shifters) and one of the seat posts from their MTB line.

The pedals are a resurrected version of the old Suntour XC-II pedals that were standard equipment on the first Stumpjumpers brought back by Blue Lug and MKS. The WTB Grease Guard headset is dead stock that I purchased directly from Charlie Cunningham and Jacqiue Phelan.



The bars are the Crust Shaka, 54mm wide and made by Nitto in Japan. I picked these up used because they have long been out of stock. They’re wrapped with some white Newbaum’s tape that’s coated with a blend of amber shellac and dirt from my garden. I paired the bars with a tall Nitto stem to get as much height as I could as it can be tricky sizing old MTBs. My 21” frame would probably have a larger sweet spot if it was 23” instead.

I purchased the front wheel secondhand directly from Rich Lesnik at Rivendell; it’s a Velocity Atlas with a Kasai dynamo hub paired to a Schmidt Edeluxe II. Dynamo for life. The rear wheel is another Atlas laced to a secondhand XTR M900 built up by Andre Randolph at Bike Works with raw brass nipples from Sim Works. The wheels are clad with some fine-thread rubbers from Rene Herse, 2.3” slick Rat Trap Pass in the back and Humptulips Ridge knobby in the front.

I had a lot of help with this build, from the builders and mechanics mentioned above, the other riders over on the RBW Owners Bunch, and fine artisanal bicycle shops Crust Bikes, Blue Lug, Circles, Peter White Cycles, South Salem Cycle Works, Ocean Air Cycles, Rene Herse Cycles and Hunter Cycles.

Overall the bike turned out better than I’d hoped after spending over a year living in my head as I refined my build list and ideas about components and finishes. Thanks for having a look.

Build Specs:

• Velocity Atlas 26″ 32/32 wheelset
• Rene Herse Humptulips Ridge, extra light
• Rene Herse Rat Trap Pass, extra light
• Shimano XTR M900 rear hub
• Kasai 32H front hub
• Schmidt Edelux II polished headlight
• Busch + Müller light mount
• Crust x Nitto Shaka handlebars, 54cm
• Newbaum’s cotton bar tape, white
• Suntour Bar-Con shifters
• Suntour Superbe levers
• Paul Neo Retro cantilever brakes, front
• Paul Touring cantilever brakes, rear
• Hunter Nugz barrel adjusters
• Dia Compe yoke hangers
• Fairweather x Nitto stem-mounted cable hanger
• Nitto Technomic 6cm stem, 26.0 clamp
• WTB New Paradigm Grease Guard headset
• TA Specialities Cyclotourist crankset, 48/42/28, 170mm
• Shimano 115mm square taper bottom bracket
• Shimano 9 speed 12-36 cassette
• MKS XC-III pedals
• Suntour AR front derailer
• Shimano XTR MD-952 rear derailer
• Suntour XC Pro seat post
• Campagnolo seat post clamp
• Brooks Conquest saddle
• Wheels Mfg. brass housing ferrules
• Sim Works x Nissen brass cable ferrules
• Sim Works x Nissen brake and shift housing
• Sim Works x Hoshi raw brass spoke nipples
• M5 brass socket head screws
• Shovel Research M5 brass slotted screws