Friday, November 11, 2016

1991 Otis Guy #138 OG

The Bike: 
I'm a big fan of Otis Guy. He's one of mountain biking's early pioneers, humble and a wealth of knowledge. While other NorCal luminaries tend to get more of the spotlight, Otis built fine handmade mountain bikes and (unofficially) the fastest man down Repack.  The story goes that a dog jumped across the trail at the end of his downhill causing him to scrub speed on a run that would have eclipsed Gary Fisher's top time (conveniently CK wasn't there the day Gary got that top time...).  One thing he was not, was prolific as a builder.  He just didn't build many bikes. Sadly, a lot of his later work fell victim to the dreaded Beamer platform!  Needless to say, finding an early 90's double diamond Otis Guy frame with roller cam mounts is something very special to me.

The story on this frame is that it came out of a VeloSwap SF nearly a decade ago. Scored by a friend of mine who tragically pillaged it for parts, gave it the worst PC job ever, and sold it. Went to Australia for a number of years before going back on the auction block. I remember losing that auction. As it were, it went to another buddy who is local to me who also sat on it for a number of years. When he decided to punt on the project as well, I finally got my hands on this brutally neglected Otis Guy.

The frame was riddled with pin sized dimples and dings. There was a pin hole. The PC job was so shoddy, they didn't even bother to remove the plastic cable guide. Overall, this thing was questionable at best. Clearly it was worth spending the time and money to restore.
I took it to my trusted local frame builder Dale Saso for the once over. He extended the steerer on the extra FB'ed OG fork to match the original RC mount Koski. Dale did a slight realignment to the frame, filled some of the larger dings, filled the pin hole, chased all the threads (cable guide, rear der, bb). He checked for rust and any structural issues and it was given a clean bill of health, though a lot of the pin dimples remained.

When I'd pulled the cable guide off, the original color was underneath...which happened to be one of my favorite colors. Dark green!
My buddy Hollister and I took a trip up to Maas Bros to pick out paint for a number of projects. I probably spent close to 20 mins trying to match the original green. It was pretty hard to get it just right and in the end, the color was a deviation from an exact match, but still decently close. At first I wasn't totally thrilled with it, but it grew on me. I'd originally wanted black decals with the white outline, but Otis Guy offered to send me a complete set of decals with what he had left...which was gold. It was free and from Otis, we don't complain about these things. As it turns out, this complemented the frame and really brought out the green in a cool way. Those water transfer decals are a bitch though. So fragile.

Had most of the parts on hand. Paid the most I ever have for a clean black WTB Toggle Cam. Hollister built the wheelset. Got hung up on needing a brake booster, which gave me time to get dumb and buy a bunch of titanium bolts. Minor changes here and there. Slowly hanging parts, trimming housing, dialing in brakes/gears. The end result was so far above my expectations visually. It is a subtle, classic, early mountain bike through and through.

As picked up.

Back from a check up.

No need to remove that plastic cable guide before power coating.



Mock up begins.

Getting close.


Dimples remain from a former hard life.

The Build:
Frame: Otis Guy, fillet brazed
Fork: Otis Guy, fillet brazed
Rims: Mavic MA40 CD
Hubs: WTB Classic
Quick Release: Ringle Titanium
Tires: Panaracer GF Fattrax 2.2
Pedals: Shimano XT M737
Crank: Shimano M730 XT (Titanium Crank Bolts, Chainring Bolts)
Chain: Sram
Rear Cogs: Sachs Maillard 12-32
Bottom Bracket: Shimano UN71 XT
Front Derailleur: Shimano M735 XT (Titanium Pinch Bolts, Limit Screws)
Rear Derailleur: Shimano M735 XT (Titanium Pivot, Nut, Barrel, Jockey, Pinch, B-Limit, Limit Screws)
Shifters: Shimano M732 XT (Titanium Pinch, Pod Mount Bolts)
Handlebars: WTB Titanium, 9* Sweep
Grips: Grab On MT-2
Stem: American (Titanium Quill, Pinch Bolts)
Headset: WTB/Chris King
Brake set: Dia-Compe 986 F/WTB Toggle Cam Rear (Titanium Brake Boss Bolts)
Brake levers: Dia-Compe SS-5 (Titanium Pinch Bolts)
Saddle: Selle Italia Turbo Super
Seat Post: Suntour XC (WTB Pump inside)
Paint: Medium Green Metallic
Size: 18.5"
Serial #: 138 OG
Place of Origin: Fairfax, CA
Other: 25.06 lbs. Total basket case restoration.

The Ride:
I tried not to have high expectations for this bike, but I like my 85 Otis Guy so much, it was hard not to have elevated hopes. The formula was there. It was done right. All reliable, usable, tried and true parts. My first ride was pleasant with open fast single track and bombing fast fire road. No issues.  My second ride, however, resulted in disaster.  The old tires shifted under hard braking and ripped a valve stem.  The tube gave loose on a open straight away where I was at about 20mph. I was thrown to the ground shoulder first.  The result was a Grade 3/borderline Grade 4 AC joint separation, a long 2 mile walk back to the truck, a challenging load up and trip to the ER, followed by 5 months off the bike.
Fast forward to after my injury healed, I ventured out on the bike again with short, conservative rides.  One that ended up with triple flats and another of shame.  I swapped to brand new tires and ventured back to the place where I'd separated my shoulder to conquer to earn confidence in myself and the bike back.  It was on this ride that I realized what I thought was uncertainty and poor tire choice.  The front end pushes in corners. I rode again in Santa Cruz with single track abounds and suffered the same undesirable behavior. I think the issue is a stem that's too short combined with bars with a lot of sweep.  It's a very shallow cockpit for a vintage mtb. I need to source a longer stem appropriate for the bike and make one final effort to see is this bike can live up to the bar set by my 1985 Otis Guy.  For now it hangs.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

1987 WTB Team Trek

The Bike:
A Trek is not usually on the list of bikes I want to own. This one would be an exception.
The first time I saw this frame, was ten years ago on a lucky visit with Mark Slate.  It was a surplus Team frame along with a few others, languishing under a house...dirty, dusty, but otherwise NOS.
Fast forward a decade and I was fortunate to be connected with one of these frames through a mutual friend. In addition to the frame (this particular one painted by Steve Potts), was an ex-Team Trek Potts/Cunningham Type II fork (a fork that saw actual race duty back in the day).  Sourcing the exact parts for this kind of bike can be exceedingly difficult and/or cost prohibitive. I had to make some concessions on the build spec in order to make this a running, usable bike. Early 'Swiss Cheese' Roller Cams and a FASP are tall orders, so reasonable replacements were used.
I'm excited with the final product. A classic mountain bike whose purpose might go unnoticed without closer inspection. 

As initially unearthed ten years ago (2nd frame back).

As received (just needed a wipe down).

Steve Potts paint fade.

Type II detail.


The finished product.

Type II & WTB Speedmaster Roller Cams

The Build: 
Frame: Trek Aluminum
Fork: Potts/Cunningham Type II
Rims: Araya RM-20
Hubs: Shimano 7400 Dura Ace
Quick Release: Shimano Dura Ace
Tires: Specialized Ground Control
Pedals: Suntour XC Compe
Crank: Specialized Flag (the good ones)
Chain: Sedis
Rear Cogs: Shimano Dura Ace
Bottom Bracket: Press Fit
Front Derailleur: Shimano M730 XT
Rear Derailleur: Shimano 600
Shifters: Shimano M730 XT
Handlebars: Salsa Moto
Grips: WTB
Stem: Steve Potts fillet brazed
Headset: Specialized
Brake set: WTB Speedmaster Roller Cam
Brake levers: Shimano M730 XT 4-Finger
Saddle: Selle Italia Turbo
Seat Post: Suntour XC
Paint: White/Blue Fade (painted by Steve Potts)
Size: 19"
Serial #:
Place of Origin: Waterloo, WI
Other: 26.6 lbs, Surplus NOS WTB/Team Trek issue frame.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

1991 Breezer Lightning Flash

The Bike:
One of my more recent builds is a 1991 Breezer Lightning Flash.  Serial number JB0094.
1991 was the first year Breezer went (back) to steel frames since the original Series bikes.  The Lightning was the top of the line bike with the Lightning Flash being a limited edition Fillet Brazed version made by Shitamori. Based on the info out there, approx 100 of these were made, one year only. If that S/N isn't random, that would make this one of the last of the batch.

For someone as important to mountain biking as Joe is, he's entirely humble, approachable, and appreciates these old bikes.  Having chased (and been chased) by Joe on a few downhills, I relate to his riding style. I'm a fan of Joe and his work and really wanted to have a Breezer because of him. The American Breezer project I did looked killer, but I just didn't care for how the bike rode. This bike checks the boxes of a bike I want to own. Fillet brazed steel, NorCal roots, limited production.

I found this 19" Flash in an old thread on the MTBR VRC and randomly PM'ed the owner who'd posted it several years back.  It was pretty beat and missing the fork/stem but he was open to selling it. At the same time, another VRC lurker had a 16" version with matching brazed stem and fork. you're already guessing...I had to buy both frames so I could pirate the fork and stem from the small frame and pair it up with the bigger frame.  This also required me to extend the steerer to fit the larger size frame. Ah the things we do to make a project come together.  The end result is 85% catalog spec with a few tasteful period correct deviations and 100% rider.

As found.

As Received.

91 Breezer Catalog Shot:


The finished product.

The Build:
Build spec:
Frame: Breezer
Fork: Breezer
Rims: Ritchey Logic
Hubs: WTB Classic
Quick Release: Salsa No Logo
Tires: Ritchey Z-Max 2.1
Pedals: Shimano XT M737
Crank: Ritchey Logic
Chain: Sram
Rear Cogs: Shimano Dura Ace
Bottom Bracket: Shimano UN71 XT
Front Derailleur: Shimano M735 XT
Rear Derailleur: Shimano M735 XT
Shifters: Shimano M732 XT
Handlebars: Ritchey Prolite
Grips: Ritchey True Grip
Stem: Breezer
Headset: Shimano M735 XT
Brake set: Ritchey Logic
Brake levers: Ritchey Logic
Saddle: Selle Italia Turbo
Seat Post: American Classic
Paint: Bright Blue/Moonglow Pearl
Size: 19"
Serial #: JB094
Place of Origin: Fairfax, CA
Other: 24.5 lbs, one of aprox 100 made.

The Ride:
It's hard not to compare this bike to others in the same category and I would say it rides most similar to my Salsa Ala Carte. Which is to say, it does everything really well and no stand out negative trait.  It's a comfortable bike to manage and not as much of a handful at speed as, say, a Ritchey P-Series or Bontrager.  Overall I've been enjoying it a great deal and will continue to rack up miles in the foreseeable future.