Thursday, September 13, 2018

This could be yours

This stem, custom made in the early 1990s for a guy who is about 6-foot-14 1/2 inches tall, has been abandoned by its owner as part of a weird mutant bike built at the family compound on an old Sterling frame. He scraped off a bunch of the family's old junk on us, most of it early '80s road bikes with enormous frames.

They're a tall bunch.

The whole bike isn't worth much, but it has a couple of parts that could be useful for a home mechanic who wants some solid components from before The Great Cheapening. For instance, it has a forged crank, 74-110 BCD. Probably 175mm crank arms, so it's too long for me. And the derailleurs  are made of actual metal. It has top-mount, indexed thumb shifters with friction option. Early production mountain bikes were practical. They had indexing for convenience, but could be switched to friction if the indexing went out for any of a number of very possible reasons. The earliest models didn't even have indexing, because the first crack of dawn of the mountain bike era arrived just as index shifting was starting to make its way onto road bikes.

Plenty of room to mount your electronics on that long stem. Hell, sling a hammock.

They had this first-generation Rock Shox hanging around. A full inch and a half of travel! Ooooooh! Pump it up to about 12 psi. The first shock pumps used plastic syringes. The air valve was a rubber plug like you'd find on a basketball. And shock forks had to have a stop for the bridge wire of cantilever brakes. Check those crown bolts before every ride! You don't want the fork legs falling off, or the fork suddenly shortening so the tire hits the fork crown.

This bike has to handle very weirdly. That stem is totally crazy. I had a 150 on one bike, during the long stem era. Lots of mountain bikes had short top tubes, long stems, and narrow bars. Frame design evolved in the mid '90s, to longer top tubes and shorter stems. As evolution continued, stems got even shorter as bars got wider. I just packed a Karate Monkey for a guy who had sold it to someone on the west coast. Its handlebars are 31 inches wide. That's just ridiculous.
Too bad they're 31.8s. They would make a great combination with the crazy long stem.

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