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Amsterdam, Netherlands
Welcome to my BLOG about my pasion for retro mountainbikes and everything around that. I love to read your comments in the GUESTBOOK (on the right side) or email me : basads (at) gmail (dot) com thanks for reading, Bas

Monday, 29 June 2009

Kirk precision

Yesterday i was walking form my home to the Albert Heijn and found this on the side of the street.
Something special: A Kirk Precision.
It's not a bike i am specially fond of or anything but certainly is special and not something i was expecting to see parked on the side of the road, especially equipted like this with the original time period correct parts like the Spengle Wheels and Syncros parts.

I remember seeing this in the shopwindow of a bikeshop in Broek in Waterland long time ago, also white, never seen 1 since so it might be this one
BITD there was a story that the frame was made out of seawater.
I have searched the internet looking for info about this bike/brand and this is what i found:

Extract from an article in The Boneshaker 165 Summer 2004 (written by Gerry Moore) - The Kirk Precision bicycle frame was the brainchild of Frank Kirk, a gifted design engineer with many years experience in the automative and aerospace industries. He had seen the possibilities of casting technology whilst working as a designer for Ford Motor Company at Dagenham, Essex. The company was producing large mouldings for car bumpers and he saw the potential for using such a system to produce other products. He had had previous experience of magnesium casting, when working for a company making components for Jaguar fighter aircraft and high performance cars. By the 1980s, he became convinced that he could put his moulding and casting knowledge into the production of a cheap and durable bicycle frame.
Magnesium alloy is one of the lightest metals by volume though its modulus of elasticity (its rigidity) is much lower than steel. It is at the same time cheap and environmentally friendly. A cubic meter of seawater contains enough magnesium to make a bicycle frame. But to turn the magnesium salts into metal requires large amounts of electricity hence Norsk Hydro's later involvement. The frame design was carried out using what was at the time a very sophisticated computer, producing mathematical models analysing the criteria of production, stress, ride, performance and styling. He aimed to match the most advanced conventional steel frame.

(Picture of the Magnesium melting)

To his surprise, Kirk found that computer-aided-design (CAD) could not improve on the standard double triangle concept, nor on the positioning of components in relation to one another, as in the traditional bicycle frame design. What the computer did achieve, however, was to design a frame unhampered by the limitations of tubing. In an interview for Bicycle magazine Kirk claimed:
"...the section that represents the down tube on a conventional frame is able to almost exactly follow the axis of torque, about which the whole thing potentially twists, and which accounts for most of the increased stiffness. We were able to use CAD for small fine tuning adjustments and for refining the aesthetics. The computer could predict just what we could afford to change, and what we couldn't."
The frames were to be built by blasting molten magnesium into a mould under force.

They claimed that the whole process of producing a frame took only 8 seconds. It has been difficult to discover where the first factory was located. The earliest leaflet gives the company name and address as Kirk Precision Ltd, Unit 4, Hornsey Square, Southfields Industrial Park, Basildon, Essex. At this time there was only one model on offer, a road frame and only one colour, white. There was also only one size available, approximately 22in. The claim was that the frame design would accommodate riders of heights between 5ft 5in and 6ft 2in, using varying lengths of seat post and handlebar stem. Steel inserts were incorporated in both head-tube and bottom-bracket; billed as being replaceable. An aluminium sleeve was fitted to hold the seat-post, but whether these were replaceable or not is unknown. Carbon fibre seat-post clamps and front and rear gear-change hangers were fitted. Kirk suggested that due to the unique construction, every frame would be identical, allowing the only true test of a racing cyclist's ability. He would demonstrate the strength and durability of the frame by driving his Mercedes car over it. The frame would survive unscathed.


The Kirk Precision was launched at the New York Cycle Show in May 1986. Kirk could afford only a small stand at this prestigious event, but the appearance of his neat, girder-like frame caused a sensation. The first European outing at the Cologne show, in September that year, was no less rapturous. What admirers did not know was that the supposed magnesium frames were in fact made of sand-cast aluminium (Note: according to Frank Kirk they were high purity magnesium). Apparently Kirk was experiencing production problems with the magnesium casting technique. To meet the show deadline he was compelled to compromise. The two shows were outstandingly successful. Agents from both sides of the Atlantic fought to represent the new company giving Kirk a real problem. He was aware that despite the heavy financial investment in research and development and in setting up the new factory, time was still needed to perfect his novel method of production. To add to the problems, he had a full order book. As an engineer he must have been screaming for time to perfect the process, but financial investors demand a return, so, despite misgivings, he allowed the frame on to the market. It won several design awards and patents were granted in the United Kingdom, Europe, USA, India, Pakistan, Japan, South Korea, Canada, China, USSR, Thailand, South Africa and Australia.
The first frames were built-up into bicycles and marketed in the UK by the Ron Kitching organisation. Kirk engaged the British professional and Olympic rider, Steve Poulter, to ride a Precision frame with top equipment. He also supplied frames to the Dutch TVM team for the Tour de France. In the USA, the address for the company was given as Kirk Bicycles USA Inc, PO Box 866, Menlo Park, California. This suggests that orders were being handled from the UK. By 1989 two models were available in the USA, for road racing and touring, frame sizes were given as 21in and 22.5in, with two alternative paint finishes; white with red accessories and light blue with blue accessories.

(picture of to "taiwan" frames in the KIRK factory, and according me the left one is not Taiwanese but looks a lot like the Koga Miyata Ridge Runner)

It appears the demand outstripped the capacity of the Basildon factory and Kirk was forced to seek outside financial investment. Probably late in 1989, or early 1990, the massive Norwegian company, Norsk Hydro, became involved. They were, and remain, the world's largest producers of magnesium, and they saw the Kirk bicycle as an outlet for their product. Agreement was reached and three factories in South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, were leased. Little is known about the actual frame making process, but apparently a thousand tons pressure locked two halves of a mould together whilst molten magnesium alloy was injected in less than a fiftieth of a second. Robot handling was used in what was the largest system of its type in Europe.

UK marketing was put into the hands of Dawes Cycles Ltd and whilst the Kirk brand name was retained, a new range of models was introduced. The old Precision frame was tweaked, painted cerise, and renamed Genesis. A so-called street bike was introduced in aqua named Ranger. The newly emerging market for mountain bikes was catered for by the introduction of a model called Revolution, with raised chain stays, finished in fashionable black. The American market was offered the same three models renamed Competition (Genesis), a touring bicycle Touring (Ranger) and a mountain bike name City/Trail (Revolution). These models were available in a range of seven colours; white with blue logos, white with red logos, yellow end with grey base, two tone blue, sunburst, dark blue end with white base and Ferrari red ends with white base. Whether the frames were painted in the UK is unknown, but it seems likely that they were shipped to the USA unfinished and sprayed to order there.
(picture borrowed from the internet)

For a while the new set-up seemed successful. The design concept was good; manufacturing, financial backing and marketing were now in the hands of an experienced company, so why are they no longer making bikes today? Probably a combination of factors conspired against them. The time delay between concept and production had been too long, problems with the early models were not easily resolved, and the expectations of Norsk Hydro were not fulfilled quickly enough after their massive capital investment. And there were definite reliability problems - a Bath shop sold about six of the MTBs in 1992. All of them came back with broken frames. By 1992 Norsk Hydro had pulled out. Dawes soon cleared their remaining stocks, and practically the only Kirk bikes now seen are those on Veteran Cycle Club rides.
So what was the Kirk magnesium frame like to ride? Early frames had a reputation for breaking. Lever bosses fell off and bottom-bracket inserts worked loose. These problems were sorted out and later models were ok. The item that caused the greatest problem had nothing to do with the frame at all. It was the forks. The first models were fitted with Cro-Moly forks with forged dropouts. These increased the overall weight of the bicycle and were soon replaced with Vitus 979 Dural forks, these in turn were so flexible that they made the bike lethal. Many owners changed to Reynolds 531 forks, to cure the problems. The Tour de France team that rode Kirk frames used Reynolds 753 forks, so it seems to confirm that there were problems with the Dural models. It seems that if carbon fibre forks had been available when the frames were in production, potential fork problems would have been eliminated. In spring 1989, in New Cyclist, Mike Burrows reviewed the Kirk touring model. His critique was not unkind, the main complaints were that the magnesium frame was no lighter than a steel one and the bottom bracket had quite a lot of deflection. After test-riding if for a while he said 'I have grown quite fond of its chunky feel and looks...'. Surfing the web for Kirk Precision brought forth the following concerns from the USA. Magnesium frames will corrode if exposed...the Dawes Kirk suffered badly from corrosion and frame fatigue...If the Kirk was exposed to heat, it would burst into flames!

KIRK related website:
-> Kirk Bicycles UK
-> Kirk-Gallery

other brand related topics:
-> merlin newsboy
-> EWR eastern wood research
-> klein mountainbikes
-> barracuda

Friday, 26 June 2009

The Serotta TiMax Decals

couldn't wait ;)

Serotta TiMax repaint

Today i was able to pick up the Serotta TiMax frame from the painter.
I think it looks great!
Now i want to clean it up, make the edges sharp and put the logo's on,..

previous Serotta post:
-> The Serotta with the Nuke And Fat
-> The TiMax decals from Ben

Monday, 22 June 2009

Nuke PROOF with ROND wheels

Now with the right wheels:
ROND hubs, mavic rims and DT Spokes

By clicking the pictures they will open in a new window high res

Previous Nuke Proof posts:
-> Nuke Proof with Spengle wheels

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Nuke PROOF TITANIUM finished (sort off)

I build this one up for my Girlfriend:
drove this for the first time just now and it is a joy!
And a great looker
Wheels I do not like, will replace these (who wants them? ;) )

Frame: 1995 Nuke Proof Titanium 17"
Fork: RS Judy with AC crown

Headset: Chris King
Stem: Syncros Ahead
Handlebar: XLite Titanium
Grips: Some old school style
Barends: none

Brakes: Control Tech (NOS)
Brake Pads: Kool stop
Brake Levers/Shifters: Shimano M950 XTR
Front Derailleur: Shimano XT
Rear Derailleur: Shimano XTR
Cables: Shimano XTR
Cassette: Shimano XT
Chain: Shimano HG
Cranks: Syncros Revolutions (temp)
Crank pully: Syncros Crank-0-matic
Chainrings: syncros and something else
Bottom Bracket: Shimano XT
Pedals: Onza Ho titanium
Hub Skewers: Syncros
Rims: Spengles for now
Hubs: Spengle
Spokes: Spengle
Tyres: Tioga Spycho II Amber (NOS)
Saddle: Flight titanium
Seatpost: Syncros
Seatpost Binder: Nuke Proof
Bottle Case: Ringle H2O
Bottle: Syncros (nos)

Found some technical details on the internet:
Nuke Proof builds each frame 100% in house, from the tooling design, to mitering the titanium, to laying the beads. The frame has oversized tubes and a sloping top tube to increase bottom bracket stiffness. The seat stays and top tube are situated offset to each other which alleviates a "whippy" feel in the rear triangle often found in other titanium frames. Each frame, weighing just 3.3 lbs., is designed with suspension-ready geometry. The attention to detail and time dedicated to each frame results in perfection! Bottom bracket height: 11.5", Chainstay length: 16.75", Seatpost: 27.0 mm, Headset 1 1/8", Top pull derailleur: 1.25", Titanium (frames): 3AL/2.5V, Titanium (dropouts): 6AL/4V, Frame size 20", Center to Center 18", Top Tube 23.5", Angles Head/Seat 71/73, Head Tube 5" (127mm).

Previous Nuke Proof post:
-> The Nuke together with the Serotta TiMax and Fat Chance

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Eastern Woods Research (EWR) by James "Utahdog"

A week without any posts from me, i have been very busy with something else then the OLD-METAL blog, can happen right ;)

On of the guys on RETROBIKE which always attracts my attention is James.
James (Aka Utahdog) has his own Blog which is one of my frequently visited blogs : UTAHDOG LIVES and is a big fan of Eastern Woods Research mountainbikes
These bikes are to my own humble opinion underrated and rather unknown in EUROPE (i have never seen one myself) so therefore i have asked James to tell me his side of the story, why the love for these pretty impressive frames from EWR and if the reviews and comments found on the internet a true, that these are one of the best handling bikes around.

James (UTAHDOG);

Most folks who slobber and drool over high-dollar classic mountain bikes will have you believe that the title of "Pinnacle of the Species" belongs to a brand like Ritchey, Cunningham, or maybe Potts. California builders with a design ethos angled toward the simple, durable and purposeful. I'm a big fan of durable, simple and purposeful, so I should be a lover of these fine brands. I'm not. There's a reason...

Along with simple and purposeful and durable, there's an equally significant factor in mountain bike design that gets often overlooked in conversations about the perfect bicycle. Regionalism.

Regionalism is very important. Specifically regionalism refers to the elements of a bicycle's design that relate a purpose built machine directly to the requirements of the terrain for which it was built. The earth is not covered only in the sweeping rolling hills, long switchback climbs, and vision-blurring descents of central California. Nope... there are variations. I don't live in California.

In the late 80's, east coast frame builders popped up and introduced bicycle designs made to tackle their local terrain. Mid Atlantic and New England states feature tight, twisty, muddy, rock strewn and aggressive trails that are very different from standard western state’s fare. Not better. Not worse. Different. Brands like Fat Chance emerged to take the simple proven geometries of the standard bearer cross county machines of the day, like the Bridgestone MB-Zip or Specialized Stumpjumper, and give them an aggressive tweak. From these builders, tighter geometry, shorter stays, higher bottom brackets and smaller wheelbases emerged, and the general concepts of East Coast Specific design were established. Major regional manufacturers, like Cannondale, joined the fray with SM600s and SM800s, and later the Beast of the East, solidifying the market for the regional style. For some, however, it just wasn't enough.

Pennsylvania, 1991. Local trials, downhill, cross-country and dual slalom rider Jay DeJesus organizes Eastern Woods Research and shortly finalizes the design for his first frame to be offered for public consideration. Designed to handle the rigors of the sloppy and technical east coast trails, and manufactured locally by Grove Innovations, the first generation Original Woods was born. The frame featured horizontal laser cut dropouts from Grove, short chain stays, a bottom bracket height of nearly 13", steeper head and seat tube angles that would put a Fat to shame, and 4130 straight gauge steel tubes through out. The down tube was manufactured in a distinctive mitered and angled design, which provided for additional drop-over clearance for technical riding as compared to a typical double diamond bicycle frame, and was triangulated to a seat tube strut for strength. To maximize the strength of the strut itself, the top tube was pierced and the strut fed through the top tube, and then butt welded to the mitered joint of the down tube. The top tube was fashioned such that it sloped sharply away from the head tube, and then met the seat tube strut at the pierce-point, under the nose of the saddle. Triangulation and strength in frame design is key. Each tube has a primary structural and a secondary reinforcement role in the design of the frame. The final design’s sloped top tube and intersecting strut also affords the Original Woods rider the security of knowing that body clearance is also enhanced. As Jay once told me on the floor of the Philadelphia Convention Center in 1994, the OWB has more “Ball Room to Dance!”

The first generation EWR Original Woods has proven to be everything that Jay intended it to be. Despite the increased weight attributed to the straight gauge steel tube-set, the aggressive geometry provides for a bike that rides much lighter than its frame weight would suggest. Quick to accelerate, blistering in the turns, able to be wheelied out of corners and muscled through tight twisties with good old fashioned muscle control and body english. Additional designs followed the Original Woods, first with the 4130 E-Motion, then a True Temper double butted E variant called the B2, a dedicated trials bike – the Mettle, and finally, after a ten year hiatus, the second generation Original Woods and OWB 29er.

To some, the first generation EWR represents the purest realization of Jay’s ideas, fully committed to the concept that a bike should be designed for its environment and if the environment is aggressive and no nonsense, then the bike should be too. It’s not sexy. It’s not sleek. It’s not meant to sit on the car rack trail-side to impress your friends. The EWR Original Woods has to be ridden to be understood. Like the folks at EWR say…”Pennsylvania designed and built mountain bikes for aggressive style”. To ride is to love.

Thanks James for you input, this was a really great piece
James' Blog can be found here : UTAHDOG
And more information about Eastern Woods Research (EWR) here: http://www.ewrbikes.com/

Similar articles:
-> KLEIN mountainbikes by Samu
-> Barracuda MTB's by Mark

Saturday, 6 June 2009

3 Titanium frames

But so different!

The bikes are:
- Serotta TiMax
- Fat Chance Titanium
- Nuke Proof
It shows the different philosophies form the builders
Serotta uses the oval tubing which is spectacular and extremely light
Fat Chance uses the external butted tubes with the amazing welded tubes
Nuke Proof is uber rare and build to climb hills so fast like a raped ape up the tree,..tubing is thicker then the other 2 build build to last

Also it is nice to see that they use different styles of cable routing:
Serotta -> rear brake on the left side of the top tube, shift cables on each side of the down tube and uses a down pull front derrailleur
Fat Chance-> All cables on the right side of the top tube with a cable re-router for the Front Derrailleur so it uses a down pull
Nuke Proof -> Shift Cables on the right side of the top tube , rear brake on the left side and a top pull front derrailleur

Rear stay
Serotta -> rather normal without a canti-bridge: they use the seatclamp for that
Fat Chance -> Mono stay with a nice cable canti stop ontop of it
Nuke Proof -> their stay is higher then the top tube

and here are some more pictures

Previous related posts:
-> The Nuke proof received
-> Serotta TiMax Decals (pre repaint)
-> Fat Chance Titanium Urban pictures

Friday, 5 June 2009


One of the most important brands in mountainbike history is KLEIN
Klein mountain bikes have always been a showcase for innovation, and attention to detail.
Gary Klein's experiments with aluminum frames started in 1973.
I can still remember the first time i was standing at the ferry in Amsterdam, me on my Scott Pro Only and on my left side a pretty girl on the Klein Attitude in the team colors (Green/White/Pink)
I was not only impressed by the girl but also the bike, my god what a pretty machine it was,..from that moment on i knew for sure,..it wanted a KLEIN
The next bike i bought was indeed a KLEIN, and i still have that one.
It's a pinnacle, the "cheap" one, because these Attitudes in the Dolomite team colours were so damn expensive BITD , and still are.. I still want that Attitude
In the meantime i have owned a Rascal, a Attitude 95 TEAM USA, and a ATTITUDE 92 HLF (Horizon linear fade)

1 of the best looking Attitude of the type i want is owned by Samu
Samu is from Finland and a total KLEIN nut, he has several KLEINS and even a dedicated KLEIN fan website

I asked Samu: why KLEIN?

"My passion for Kleins!

All began 1990 when I was 15years old mountain biker and saw beautiful Team Usa -colored Klein Attitude on local bike shops window.
It cost five times more than mountain bike I was riding.... so I could only dream about it.
Two years later that same Attitude came for sale as used and my best friend bought it. He used it for a while, but wanted to have front suspension.
He bought Klein Pinnacle with Rock Shox and I bought that Attitude from him.

That was heaven for me... Attitude was so light and super handling bike. I really loved that bike.
After two years I got selected Diamond Back MTB -team in Finland. I desperetly needed cash for new road bike and training camp so I sold Attitude away.

I have regret that all the time since then.

After that I raced more on road and finally many years on track.
I stopped racing couple years ago and started to search old Klein for me again...I never forgeted how wonderful that first Attitude was.

I found one -94 sea&sky Attitude from Germany and bought it.
Frame was too nice to ride, so I needed to build it as wallhanger, and keep on searching another one.

I finally found 1990 Attitude from Finland and bought it right away.
I use it as daily rider... and it still is as great bike than I remember from when I first had it.

Then my wife said she wants one also.... and I also wanted more... there iwas no stop for this maddness!
We got Adroit for my wife with big help of other Finnish Klein-fan, Archangel. And I got couple others also...

Now we have 1990, 1992, 1994 Attitudes and 1991 and 1992 Adroits.

It´s really hard to say what is my favorite... they are so different all.
My wife has 1992 Gator Linear Fade Adroit and she loves it, she also rides with it many times a week.

1990 Team Usa Attitude is so classic and one I have wanted most. 1994 Sea&Sky Attitude is almost NOS and so shiny!
Adroit is always something else... I have 1991 Backfire Adroit build up with full Campagnolo-group.
Frame and all parts are absolutely perfect condition, I must say this Klein is my crown jewel.

What I still want is Nightstorm -colored Klein. It can be Pulse, Attitude or Adroit.... that is what I´m now looking for, but so many other Klein-fan!"

Cheers, Samu

So you want to know more about KLEIN , pay his site a visit : HTTP://WWW.OLDKLEIN.COM
And also if you own a KLEIN yourself, send him a picture and he will put it up.

thanks Samu for the info and great pictures, you have a great collection!

Similar articles:
-> eastern woods research EWR by james (Utahdog)
-> Barracuda MTB's by Mark

My own KLEIN's
-> Klein Rascal

Thursday, 4 June 2009

When a handle bar breaks........

......and you hit the ground hard!