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  • Writer's pictureRumpfy

Retrotec Dirt Craft Cycle (Cool Toob)

Cables, holes, skateboard elastomers. A wild creation from the mind of Bob Seals.


The Bike:

For as long as I've been collecting older mountain bikes, there are only two bikes I've ever sold and later bought back. This is one of them. What can I say, I'm drawn to oddball bikes. This one checks quite a few boxes. NorCal roots, low production number...cables. Other than my Slingshot, nothing is a conversation starter like this Retrotec.

I became (re)aware of this bike pruising old issues of Mountain&City Biking. That started my hunt for one...the first of which I lost out on to First Flight Bikes. But with enough patience and good timing, this particular Dirt Craft Cycle popped up on eBay. This was still at a time when vintage mtb collecting wasn't what it is now, so I was fortunate enough to win this bike without a huge outlay of cash. If was a bare frame with pretty worked over paint. I don't tend to rush towards a respray, but I had a vision for this bike and had a hook up for a cheap powercoat.

With parts collected, I built this bike in a monochromatic theme. It's sometimes difficult to pull off and I feel it ended up well balanced here. It's first iteration ran with a Bontrager Comp fork (which I'm not a fan of, but looked correct on the bike). It was otherwise a pretty off the shelf black M730/M732 XT build with bonus black cranks. I rode the bike. My buddy Sky (of VeloCult fame) was pawing at me for the bike...and at some point along the way in a moment of weakness I sold it to him. And soon regretted it. As luck would have it, a few more years down the line, Sky found another Dirt Craft Cycle frame and asked if I wanted to buy this one back. Hell yes I did. At that point I did some refining of the build, most notably swapping to a Yeti fork (not an AccuTrax, this one has Campag dropouts). Moved from white grips and black bar to white bar and black grips. It's since been to Keyesvilles, on display at The Old Cabin Classic, done a few vintage rides and checked out by Joe Breeze. For now, it's enjoying it's rotation with the riders.

The Build:

Frame: Retrotec Dirt Craft Cycle

Fork: Yeti (Campagnolo drops)

Rims: Mavic M231 CD

Hubs: Shimano XT M730/M732 32h

Quick Release: Ringle

Tires: Ritchey Z-Max 2.35

Pedals: Shimano XT M737

Crank: Shimano XT M730

Chain: Sram

Rear Cogs: Shimano XT HG90

Bottom Bracket: Shimano XTR UN90

Front Derailleur: Shimano XT M732

Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT M732

Shifters: Shimano XT M732

Handlebars: Answer Taperlite

Grips: Oury

Stem: Salsa Roller

Headset: Chris King no-logo

Brake set: Shimano XT M734

Brake levers: Shimano XT M733

Saddle: Selle Italia Turbo

Seat Post: IRD

Paint: White

Size: 18.5

Serial #: none that I could find (one of aprox 50 made by Bob Seals)

The Ride:

The concept of this bike, was that you could set the tension of the cables and as you lean into a corner, the fork (on the rear of the bike) flexes and allows the rear wheel to remain more upright, thus offering more traction. Maybe some passive muted suspension qualities. Welp...I hate to disappoint...but it doesn't feel like anything. Nothing groundbreaking or unique anyway. For the most part, it rides like a really normal mountain bike from the early 90s. Does everything pretty good actually. A bit forgettable as a climber, but it does well. Well behaved in twisty or technical terrain. Descends favorably, not squirrely. For as wild as it looks, it's equally 'normal' as a rider. Overall a fun bike. I should probably loosen the cable tensions to see if I can pull more flex out of the rear end.

The Photos

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