1994 Bridgestone MB-1: A Dank Daily Rider

1994 Bridgestone MB-1 drive side view

1994 Bridgestone MB-1 drive side view

More pictures and parts list at the end of the article!

It has been said that “steel is real.” Indeed, one can walk up to a steel bike, touch it, and feel the real steel. Many companies in the 1980s and 1990s made some pretty impressive steel frames. Those that were made in the US or Japan at that time are considered the best by some and works of art by others. There may even be one located in a garage or barn nearby just waiting to be resurrected and ridden.

For a daily rider, a bike should have a comfortable geometry and be made from a metal that is responsive, with just the right amount of stiffness. For me, nothing is better than a well-crafted, lugtastic steel bicycle frame with excellent design provenance and amazing tubing. The 1994 Bridgestone MB-1 certainly fits the bill.

Not all of the Bridgestone models from this time period were made like the MB-1 (or MB-2s and some of the 3s, for that matter). That doesn’t mean that they aren’t good bikes. Many of the lower-end models of the MB-, RB-, and XO- lines are still awesome bikes. Any frame-up build of one of those would result in a great daily rider. However the MB-1 (and for some reason, the MB-Zip) holds a special place in the hearts of riders and collectors.

1994 Bridgestone MB-1 Brooks head badge detail

1994 Bridgestone MB-1 Brooks head badge detail with lugtastic lugs!

The US division of Bridgestone Bicycle Company was run by Grant Petersen. As Sheldon Brown (rest in peace) recounts:

Bridgestone is an enormous multinational company, one of the largest tire companies in the world…and a fairly small bicycle company, with its own factory in Japan. In the late 1980s and early ’90s, its U.S. bicycle division was run by Grant Petersen, a brilliant, talented and idiosyncratic designer.

Petersen, a hard-core cyclist, marched to a “different drummer” than most of the industry. He introduced many innovations to the market, and also strongly resisted other trends and innovations that he didn’t approve of.

As a result, the Japanese-made frames of this time were beautifully constructed (lower-end models were made in Taiwan and did not use lugs and were TIG welded). Made from the highest end of Tange Prestige tubing, these frames are not only desirable, but ride extremely well. Many of the features on the -1s and -2s are evident in the construction of Petersen’s current venture, Rivendell Cycle Works. His Bridgestone legacy also continues in other bikes as well: Handsome Cycles uses the same lugged construction and geometry of the Bridgestone RB-T in their Devil model.

How one acquires such a frame through trade or favor is another story (especially the favor part). This particular build uses some of my favorite components from various bikes that I have ridden and build up a really nice-but-not-too-nice bike for my daily rider-slash-errand-slash-bar bike.

The wheels are my own creation, using an old but smooth Shimano Parallax 100 (LX) hub for the front and a Shimano XT 9-speed hub in the rear. I laced them using DT-Swiss Champion 2.0 spokes on 26-inch Sun Ringle Rhyno Lite rims. Though not entirely period correct, they look great and are super stiff. Wrapping them with classic-look Kenda K-Rad gumwalls, (yes – they exist!) completes the road contact with style.

1994 Bridgestone MB-1 shifter detail

1994 Bridgestone MB-1 shifter detail

The drivetrain is a Shimano XT 3×9 with a Deore triple that came stock on my 2017 Kona Sutra. I realize that a lot of folks are leaving triple chain rings to history these days, but I am using Shimano Dura Ace bar-end shifters mounted on Paul Components Thumbies to give me that slightly-updated classic feel to my shifting. It works great and a friction-front shifter is not only nostalgic for me, it allows for more accurate trim adjustment.

For the connection points, I chose SimWorks Fun 3 bar with Paul Components Canti Levers (connected to their Neo-Retro cantilever brakes), held by the SimWorks Gettin’ Hungry quill stem. I managed to salvage an older Shimano XT headset to use as well. The saddle is a Brooks B-17 that is older than the frame itself, connected to a classic Race Face XY seat post. Pedals are the awesome VP-001 in a fitting, and no longer available Rivendell gray.

Now that I am done patting myself on the back for building one of the dankest rides ever, I just want to say that I am humbled by the history of these older bike frames. It has been a while since we have seen a company put a lot of money and materials into such care and precision on a mass-market scale. Remember though, there are many frame builders out there who are running amazing businesses and creating phenomenal bikes. They have learned from these old frames and their designers and are building on their legacy. I would love it if I could ride them all. Alas, with my curious lack of thousands of dollars for a new frame, riding a classic will do just fine.

Parts List (prices are at the time of this writing):

Shimano XT-M772 rear derailleur – $64.99 (from various dealers)
Shimano XT-M781 front derailluer – approx. $25.00 (if in stock anywhere)
Shimano SL-BS77 9-speed bar-end shifters – $90.00 (from various dealers)
Paul Components Thumbies – $95.00
Paul Components Canti Levers – $146.00
Paul Components Neo-retro cantilever brakes (x2) – $121.00
SimWorks Fun 3 bar – $55.00
SimWorks Gettin’ Hungry Stem – $88.00
Brooks B-17 Standard Saddle – $145.00
Raceface XY seat post – between $12.00-$77.00 (!) on eBay
VP Pedals 001 – $65.00 (from various dealers)
Shimano Parallax 100 front hub – approx. $30.00 on eBay
Shimano XT FH-RM70 rear hub – Approx $20.00 on eBay
Rhyno Lite 32-hole, 26-inch rims (x2) – $45.00 f(rom various dealers)
Kenda K-Rad tires – $34.99 (from various dealers)

Steel is Real: Stinner Frameworks Open House

Stinner Frame Works Open House

Stinner Frame Works Open House

Free beer? Costco pizza? Yes please.

I knew it was coming but I’d somehow thought that I was busy Saturday night. It wasn’t until towards closing the shop at the end of the day that I’d realized a lot of the other Velo Pro bros were heading to Stinner Frameworks open house out by the airport. I felt like kind of a douce driving my car out to a bike event so close to home. But it was night time and F didn’t feel comfortable with the idea. I made it clear that we couldn’t miss it, so after we closed up the shop, I rode home and F and I got in the car and headed out to far Goleta.

I first ran into Aaron Stinner a few years back at the 2nd Annual San Diego Custom Bicycle Show in 2011. It was in a huge conference hall in downtown San Diego and there weren’t quite enough booths to fill the space. So it looked disappointing almost from the outset. There were, however, some pretty awesome booths. Serotta, Soulcraft, and Velo Cult (when they were still  in San Diego) were all repping their skills. After taking loads of images and trying to keep my then girlfriend from getting bored, I decided that I needed a beer or two. On the way out, I noticed Stinner’s booth and (much to the chagrin of my GF) went to go check out his stuff. He had a couple of frames on display and his booth was unimpressive by trade show standards. However, his steel frames were sitting there, easily competing with everyone else’s. The workmanship was phenomenal. I noticed that there were no lugs (pretty much every custom frame in there had lugs). While nice, lugs are super time consuming and have a significant effect on the cost of the frame. In my opinion, I can take them or leave them. Seeing his frames, I decided that I could leave them.

I seriously doubt that he remembers, but I chatted with him for about five minutes. He’s a great guy. I plan someday to get a custom frame made for myself. Now that he is in my neck of the woods, having something local would be epic. Looking at what he offers in the way of custom frames, the whole range is there: mountain, road, cyclocross and custom projects are all offered. You can even design your own paint scheme and graphics. The shops workflow and layout looks solid. The current projects on display were out of this world. If you’re in the market for Santa Barbara steel, look him up. It’s a true small shop with a friendly staff. Check out the gallery below for more pics.

2014 Annual Fiesta Cruiser Run

2014 Santa Barbara Fiesta Cruiser Run

Bicycles are family here in SB. A common thread.

The first Sunday of August is usually sort of a relief to locals. It marks the last day of Old Spanish Days Fiesta. A 90-year-old celebration of Spanish and Mexican tradition and culture here in Santa Barbara. It’s a great draw for tourists to spend their money and college kids to get drunk. Most of the locals tend to steer clear, only taking advantage of the food stalls and the barbecue opportunities. May of us Santa Barbarians like to call it Old Spanish Days Fiasco. Despite pretty notable things like featuring the largest equestrian parade in the United States, most locals are left wondering what the hell it is all for. Sure, we get to learn who Saint Barbara actually was and watch white people dress up like Mexicans for a day. It’s a big five-day city-wide party. But we are still left with millions of pieces of confetti lining the gutters and the subtle effluvia of horse shit.

It’s no wonder that many of the locals have created their own event to look forward to. The annual Fiesta Cruiser Run, now in its 32nd year, is an unsanctioned (illegal) ride that started out with a few cruiser/klunker riders riding north from Santa Barbara to Goleta on the beach. It soon evolved into a massive cluster of thousdands of riders taking over the streets, hitting liquor stores and beach parks along the way. Indeed, it has become so popular, that the police have shut down many of the rest-stop festivities. But that doesn’t stop the majority of Santa Barbara true bloods planning all year long and building bikes especially for the ride. The preferred conveyance is the straight-bar cruiser decked out in BMX/klunker livery. Chris King headsets and SE Racing Landing Gear forks are ever present. But the best ones are the restored original Mongooses, Gary Littlejohns and Cook Brothers bikes. It is a veritable history lesson in single-speed legacies.

Christina (and Georgena Terry)

Rides a 1990s Georgena Terry bicycle. Shot on State Street in Downtown Santa Barbara, CA

Rides a 1990s Georgena Terry bicycle.
Shot on State Street in Downtown Santa Barbara, CA

There are bicycles in this world that we have forgotten. There were the first tandems, the penny-farthings, the recumbents, mountain bikes, triathlon bikes…the list goes on. But what about the women’s-specific bikes? For a long time, mass-produced bicycles were made only one way. If a woman wanted to ride a bicycle that fit her body, she had to get something custom designed especially for her. It seems that the industry lacked any sort of basic anatomical knowledge: women’s bodies, where it comes to leg and torso length, are pretty much opposite that of a man’s body. So if both a man and a woman could stand over, say, the top tube of a 56cm bicycle, the woman would have a harder time reaching the handlebars than the man would. Men have longer torsos than women do. So not only does this make for an uncomfortable fit, the force that a woman could apply to the pedals would be of a different efficiency than that of the man.

Enter the women’s-specific frame. Generally, they have a much shorter top tube length for the same seat tube height of a man’s bike. Georgena Terry has been building women’s-specific bikes since 1985. They bill themselves as the “Original Women’s Bicycling Company.” I’ve got to say, I like bikes that are a bit unusual…especially for my body. With a 650c front wheel and a 700c rear wheel, these bikes just look cool. Even a well-ridden one like Christina’s deserves to be remembered…it is representative of a company, and indeed a woman, who filled a niche market (a big niche, mind you) and kept going until the others followed suit. Well done. You can still buy a custom bicycle from Terry with SRAM Red(!) and all sorts of other goodies if you have the money. Well worth it to buy a legacy. See gallery below for more images!

Serena (and Wednesday Bike Pron Vol. 9)

Serena and her 1961 Schwinn 24" bike.

Rides a 1961 Schwinn Typhoon 24″ bicycle.
Shot on State and Ortega Streets in Santa Barbara, CA.

Cruisers used t o be the big thing in Santa Barbara. Indeed, there was a time when everyone had one and they were all trying to emulate the Cook Brothers or Gary Littlejohn style. Today, everyone is gravitating towards fixies leaving the cruiser market to the true enthusiasts. What goes around comes around. At first, the cruiser set was unique. Then they weren’t so. Now they are again.

There’s lots of reasons: trends change, fixies are cheaper and faster, Santa Barbara is the bike theft capital of California so having a really nice bike can be risky. In fact, the guys who are true to their cruiser roots are riding either authentic Gary Littlejohns and Cook Brothers, or they are having frames custom made by Rex at Santa Barbara Cruisers. Santa Barbara is a beach town and cruisers are here to stay.

Please see below for some more pics of Serena’s Typhoon.

Hugh (and Wednesday Bike Pron Vol. 8)

Trying out a bicycle photo gallery! This is Hugh. He rolled into Santa Barbara a little while ago and I just about fell over when I saw his bike. Rivendell Bicycle Works. Well what can I say? For me, and many others, it is the ultimate in handmade bicycle nirvana. Based, headquartered and just being plain awesome in Walnut Creek, CA, Rivendell sells just about everything you would need for cycling before you die. These frames are hand built. An entire bicycle can be had with all sorts of awesome stuff like Paul Components levers and brakes, Soma tires, they even do quite a bit of 650B randonneur-style stuff. If you have the scratch, the cabbage in your pocket, the green to invest, I say do it. Look at this! It’s a daily rider and he’s hauling water and things!

Bike Pron Vol. 7

Stem of a hand-built cyclocross bike by Gold Coast Cycles.

Stem of a hand-built cyclocross bike by Gold Coast Cycles.

So it has been a couple of weeks since I have been able to add a little bit of bike pron to tickle your funny parts. What gets in the way of this? Work. Designing stuff. Lynda.com (fascinating what you can learn there). But when I look back to see all the cool pictures I have, like close-ups of juicy bicycle parts, I feel lost. I feel like I could be giving you something more. I feel like all I see on the internets of the Google Machine nowadays are close-ups of juicy bicycle parts that I would never be able to afford. Which brings me to another dilemma I’ve been wrestling with lately. Grab a cold one and kick back for a second:

I have been wanting more photographic opportunities lately. Especially where bicycles are concerned. So I recently took it upon myself to research this year’s NAHBS. For those of you who don’t know NAHBS, it is less commonly known as the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. (Side note: is there a South American Handmade Bicycle Show?) Really, it is live bike pron. It is where thousands, nay, tens of thousands of cycling deviants go to look at hand-made bicycles and masturbate silently inside their own minds. It is a giant room filled with some of the most amazing bicycles you have ever seen. A lot of it can be called art. So my dilemma is this: do I buy a ticket to North Carolina and a hotel room? Or do I buy a new bike I’ve had my eye on for a while? Which would give me more pleasure? Taking pictures of polished lugs and hand-brazed frames? Or actually riding a brand new bike?

If you haven’t guessed already, the beautiful specimen of locally hand-crafted cycling specimen above was at last year’s NAHBS. In fact, just having a local connection, Rudy at Gold Coast Cycles, is kind of awesome. He built the geometrically awesome bike in the picture above. So I guess I could say that, with all the bike pron on the internets these days, I could just wait for someone else to take pictures whilst I ride my new bike. And out on my adventures, I can take my own pictures of other people and their bikes. There. It’s decided.

Bike Pron Vol. 6

Bruce Gordon 1

Bruce Gordon 57 cm hand-built lugtastic piece of awesomeness.

Sometimes the strangest things happen to you at work. So I am at my other job (the one that makes me enough money to live off of) and I start to fall asleep at my computer. So I decide to grab the camera and take a walk. Bicycles are always on my mind so of course I make a bee line to Cranky’s Bikes which is right near my established business area. Jim was in the process of getting this new consignment off the rack to photograph for his website. Yes…it’s a Bruce Gordon Cycles hand-made road bicycle with some of the most glorious lugs I have seen. So I decide to take advantage of the situation, and jump on Jim’s photo-taking bandwagon and start capturing the light glinting off the Campagnolo Shamal wheels.

Bruce Gordon 3

Seat post lugs. BG style.

It’s all about the attention to detail. This machine really shows that Bruce really put a lot of thought into this build. I suppose one has to actually envision the rider as the frame comes together. Amazing…

Bruce Gordon 2

Bruce Gordon lugs with trademark holes. Beautiful.

So this bike was casting its own aura. I had to restrain myself from doing something inappropriate to it. We were outside after all.

Bruce Gordon 6

Ba da ba ba bah…I’m luggin’ it.

So what would this set you back if you were to buy it? I think you might like the price. After all, it’s got enough Campy on it to make Italy scream. Cruise over to Cranky’s and talk to the guys there. You know you want it…

 

Rudy

Rudy

Rides a Gold Coast Cycles Cyclocross bike.
Shot on State Street in Santa Barbara, CA.
Cruising by to show off the bike.

I fist met Rudy at the bike shop. He rode in on some pastel-colored road bike he just scored for a ridiculous deal. We talked about the bike, punk rock, all sorts of other things. See, Rudy is a really cool guy. What I found out later is he builds bikes, too. Now, I build bikes. But I just gather parts and assemble them into what I think looks cool and rides well. Rudy actually builds the frames himself…brazing and welding and all that. His awesome skills make up Gold Coast Cycles. I remember the other day I ran into him in a FedEx Office and saw him producing the stencils for his head badges. Yep, he etches his own head badges on, get this, pieces of cut cymbals. How awesome is that? I really hope I get to photograph Rudy on some of his other creations.