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Vintage Bikes Are Compounded Stories: John’s 1980 No Serial Ritchey

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Vintage Bikes Are Compounded Stories: John’s 1980 No Serial Ritchey

Every bike has a story, but some intrinsically harbor more nuanced lore. As you might have noticed, over the past few years, I’ve acquired a few Ritchey frames from the 1980s. We’ve previously covered my Everest and the story of Tom’s early Bullmoose designs; I also have a 1985 Annapurna, and this no serial number 1980 Ritchey, which might be the best build yet.

This era of mountain bike design and development is my favorite. In the late 70s, guys like Joe Breeze built beautiful bikes inspired by balloon cruisers and klunkers. Tom Ritchey, inspired by the frenetic energy of the mountain bike genesis, began making fat tire frames in the late 70s. From 1980 through 1981, several bikes left Tom’s shop, including the fabled ‘chicken coop’ bikes, and a few were built void of any serial number.

This bike is the latter, and boy, does it have a story…

John’s Rivendell Hunqapillar 29er Klunker: AKA the Klunkapillar

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John’s Rivendell Hunqapillar 29er Klunker: AKA the Klunkapillar

Cruiser, Klunker, ATB.  These terms get thrown around a lot and yet they represent pretty much the same thing: a rigid mountain bike. For me, the granularity of these denotations is intriguing. In modern times, these words have people debating about the proper nomenclature for each of these bikes, and there are opinions on every side of this argument. For those curious, I understand that a Cruiser is a coaster-brake bike with no gears and no hand brakes. A Klunker is a rigid mountain bike with gears and hand brakes. An ATB is simply an “all-terrain-bicycle” and was historically used to refer to a mountain bike with flat bars. “ATB” was used to denote a new, increasingly popular form of cycling at the time: “off-road” riding. AKA, riding on dirt, not pavement. Since the genesis of the term “ATB”, it has been co-opted to mean drop bar bikes as well. Being the trend-setter he is, once Ultraromance dubbed these bikes “ATB,” everyone jumped on board.

Time is a flat circle, like a wheel, so what was once a pariah in the cycling industry is bound to become the savior at one point. That’s kind of how mountain biking started, right? A bunch of misfits took the hills of Marin and the mountains of Colorado and began riding inappropriate bikes inappropriately.

Then, thirty-odd years later, Grant Petersen of Bridgestone and Rivendell fame designed the Hunqapillar, a true-to-form Klunker. I first rode one back in 2014 and immediately was drawn to the bike’s capabilities and unique ride quality. Yet, for some dumb reason, I didn’t buy one and missed out on every opportunity to own a size 62cm until recently. So why did the guy with too many bikes buy a Hunq? Well, read on below to find out.

From The Pro’s Closet: Steve Cook’s 1980 Cook Brothers Racing Cruiser

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From The Pro’s Closet: Steve Cook’s 1980 Cook Brothers Racing Cruiser

We’ve all heard the term “Klunker” before, but as a modern misnomer in cycling, it’s been used to refer to coaster-brake actuated cruiser bikes. This, my friends, is a true-to-form klunker, using gears and brakes, but it was built upon a cruiser chassis. For today’s From The Pro’s Closet story, we have Tasshi from Vintage MTB Workshop sharing the story of Steve Cook’s personal Cook Brothers Racing Cruiser, so read on for all the nitty-gritty on what makes this wild bike so unique and how it would shape the future of mountain biking…

Catching up with Karl: Bikes for Buddies and his Rusty Trucker Mountain Cruiser

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Catching up with Karl: Bikes for Buddies and his Rusty Trucker Mountain Cruiser

Back in 2020, Cjell Monē and I wrote about our friend Karl Artis‘ eclectic bike collection and his collaborative “Bikes for Buddies” fundraiser with Matt Whitman, which raised enough money to purchase fifty bikes for youngsters in need. Since then, Karl has added even more bikes to his personal cache, including an enviable custom mountain cruiser, and finally found a home for the youth bikes after months of pandemic-induced hiccups. I recently met up with Karl and a crew of other friends – who were fresh off a weekend of building and donating bikes – to check out Karl’s new cruiser and enjoy some metamorphic chunder on the trails of North Phoenix.

The Radavist’s Top 10 Readers’ Rides of 2021

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The Radavist’s Top 10 Readers’ Rides of 2021

2021 was an exceptional year for our Readers’ Rides series, which we first began posting back in 2011. Last year’s readership-submitted bikes ran the gamut, much like our Top 10 Beautiful Bicycles, but Readers’ Rides is 100% audience-submitted. We love receiving submissions each week so if you were on the fence about submitting your ride, perhaps this list will motivate you to break out the camera. This list was compiled by web traffic and comments. Let’s check out the Top Ten Readers’ Rides of 2021 below, in no particular order…

The Radavist’s Top 10 Articles of 2021

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The Radavist’s Top 10 Articles of 2021

This year’s retrospective includes a look at our highest traffic pieces. These articles really blew up, bringing in a lot of comments, backlinks, social media posts, and traffic. While it should come as no surprise, most are bike reviews but a few of these galleries are seminal bits of Reportage. In this list are nine Reportage articles and one Radar, so let’s jump right in!

The Radavist’s Top 10 Beautiful Bicycles of 2021

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The Radavist’s Top 10 Beautiful Bicycles of 2021

I hope your winter break was refreshing and that you got some miles in over the Holidaze. We’re back in 2022 with the first of our 2021 year-end recaps, beginning with everyone’s favorite: the Top 10 Beautiful Bicycles of 2021. Like years prior, I compiled this list by traffic, comments, and social media/backlink chatter, also omitting bikes from Open House/Expo style showcases. There are some real gems in here, so let’s get to it!

Derek’s Early 90s Diamondback Apex

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Derek’s Early 90s Diamondback Apex

You know, sometimes a great bike is just a bike, and that’s enough. It could be your favorite bike of all the bikes you own or have owned. It could also just be the only bike you own. Either way, if you love it, then that’s enough for it to be good or even great. Derek loves this bike. For him, it’s a great bike, great enough to bring back from the dead and give it another life.

A Look at Cycles Manivelle and Wizard Works’ Concours de Machine 2021 Entry

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A Look at Cycles Manivelle and Wizard Works’ Concours de Machine 2021 Entry

We are Manivelle, a framebuilder based in Strasbourg, France. Here is our build for the “Concours de Machine” 2021.

Concours de Machine“, WHAT’S THAT?

The “CDM” is a historical event of the small French framebuilding world, born early in the 1900s, the golden age happened between 1934 and 1949 including Jo Routens and Rene Herse’s work. The Concours disappeared for a long time after the industrialization but is back to life since 2016.

A Downright Functional and Stylish Do-All Bike: Dax’s BTCHN’ Bikes Cruiser

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A Downright Functional and Stylish Do-All Bike: Dax’s BTCHN’ Bikes Cruiser

Last year I was visiting the BTCHN’ Bikes shop to shoot some process photos for the Sierra Explorer project and got stopped in my tracks as soon as I walked into the door by a different frame in a stand. This frame was totally unlike any design I’d seen before, and there was so much hard thought and problem-solving that went into making it a reality that I couldn’t even open that door of my brain and had to just stay on target with the bike I was actually there to shoot.

Elliot’s Homemade Klunker

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Elliot’s Homemade Klunker

I first met Elliot a few years back while I was leading a bikepacking trip with El Grupo, a Tucson based youth cycling organization.  Since then I had seen Elliot tinkering with all manner of frankenbikes, which are a regular, at the Grupo clubhouse.  Discarded and mismatched components of yesteryear handed down from the large cycling community here.  Their low-pro pursuit fixed gear with a 24″ bmx fork caught my eye awhile ago and I knew Elliot had that special eye for janky but fun clashing of parts.

Radar

We the People’s 27.5″ Avenger Has Old School MTB Vibes

Klunkers and Cruisers, the early mountain bikes, took to the fire roads of Marin back in the 1970’s. Klunkers had a derailleur and hand brakes while Cruisers had coaster brakes only. The disambiguation of these two terms doesn’t count for much these days, as just about any bike that looks like this will be dubbed a “klunker”. We the People’s newest bike, the Avenger, is a 27.5″ rigid MTB with klunker/cruiser feels and disc brakes. We’ll look at the predecessor to this bike, a 26″ version, in detail this week but this bike, with a coaster brake would be all kinds of fun! Or just ride it as is. See more on the Avenger at We the People and see more photos below.

Don’t Fake that Funk with Cjell Moné

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Don’t Fake that Funk with Cjell Moné

Don’t Fake that Funk with Moné Bikes

Words and photos by Spencer Harding

I first saw one of Cjell’s (pronounced like “shell”) bikes on a tour of Adventure Cycling’s headquarters in Missoula, Montana.  His lugged 29+ drop bar Great Divide rig hangs on the walls, in all of its patina’d glory.  Over the past few years, we have had a lot of near hangout misses, from a trip to Ecuador to being in Salida, Colorado the same day this past summer. But alas the stars finally aligned and after spending Thanksgiving in White Sands National Monument, my partner and I decided to make a stopover in Silver City for a spin in the hills and a dip in some hot springs. 

Wade’s Vulture Cycles Cruiser

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Wade’s Vulture Cycles Cruiser

Wade from Vulture Cycles is one rad atavist. While he and I had never formally met before, I’ve long admired his work. Last year, we saw his travel bike and this year while up in Bend, Oregon at the Chris King Swarm event, I met Wade formally and shot this Vulture Cycles Cruiser, modeled after a 1938 Colson Imperial. Now, cruisers are not supposed to be perfect, so turn off your detail-vision, and put on your shred spectacles.

Wade made this frame from Tange Ultra Strong MTB tubing, which he shaped and bent to fit his precedent. It was built around a Morrow hub that Cameron Falconer handed off to him years ago. Fresh Air Cycles, Travis from PAUL’s old shop, had the hub and Cam bought it from Travis, before handing it off to Wade. Remember Travis’ Falconer klunker-inspired MTB? The rest of the parts Wade had “laying around” like all builders and makers do, including the 1980’s Ashtabula forged steel cranks – who coincidentally made tons of components for Schwinn back in the day – and a S&M Redneck stem. The pedals are Suntour XC Pro and those bars are custom made by Wade. Oh and a Campy hub… just because.

Yeah, this bike just oozes cool, style, and the Vulture Cycles ideology. Wade’s a pretty cool guy too. We talked about Death Valley, core samples in Dry Bone Canyon, White Top Mountain, park rangers finding dead tourists and other tales from the desert. Exactly the kind of conversation I like having at a bike event. Party on Wade!

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2018 NAHBS: Groovy Cycleworks Jeff Archer Homage Klunker

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2018 NAHBS: Groovy Cycleworks Jeff Archer Homage Klunker

Rody Walter of Groovy Cycleworks was devastated when Jeff Archer from First Flight Bicycles passed away in 2016. Jeff and Rody were good friends and Jeff was loved by all, but especially by the mountain bike industry. Jeff always wanted a klunker, so this year at NAHBS, Rody made him one to ride in peace. This bike is an homage to a lost brother and is a symbol that good people never really leave us, just like classic designs and approaches to cycling. Rody put all of his time and energy into making this bike and his friends at Magura helped make it extra special. You see, the original Klunkers used Magura moto levers, so they gladly supplied Rody with some to make this bike extra special…