We've come a long way when it comes to mountain biking. Gone are the days when the dudes from California converted their balloon-tired cruisers—or as commonly called, klunkers—to shred the dirt on fire roads down the Repack track at Mount Tamalpais, replaced with bicycles made from exotic materials equipped with long travel suspension, hydraulic disc brakes, electronic shifting, and gearing range that allows you to climb all the way to the moon.
Somewhere along the way, romanticism sets in. The need of a throwback, to return to the days where things were much simpler. Those kind of moments where you feel a bit nostalgic.
Omar Olly came to our shop only with a simple brief in mind: to have a BMX bicycle that will suit his tall appearance. The BMX reminds him of his childhood, and he wanted to incorporate it back in his daily life—as a means of transportation.
Although it wasn't entirely impossible, commuting on a purpose-built BMX could be cumbersome, mainly for their gearing and extra low seating arrangement. We propose him an alternative: cruiser-like bicycle that resembles some of the appearance of a BMX, but with 26" wheels and better gearing while retaining its simplicity. He agreed, and we're set to work.
Appointed as a donor frame is this non-branded, 26" steel mountain frame dated from the nineties. We picked it for its upright geometry, and for the fact that it was already equipped with all the necessities should he opted to reinvent it in the future: cable guides, derailer hanger, and fender/rack mounts. An ability to run fat tires is a very welcomed bonus.
The end result is a 26" bicycle with 2,125" slick tires that will absorb road imperfections, V-brakes on both wheels to give ample stopping power, and singlespeed drivetrain with 32/14T ratio that is both simple and provide suitable gearing for daily, urban use.
But to deal with futureproofing, we decided to built the wheels with a pair of Shimano 8-speed mountain bike hubs. The rear hub could be fitted with 8-speed cassette, even all the way to eleven. In the meantime the 14T rear cog is held together with a set of cassette spacers. The crankset is also taken from Shimano's catalogue, a triple with 44T and 22T chainrings removed. And since the frame is using vertical rear dropouts, we use halflink chain to maintain the tension.
To provide more upright handlebar position, we crossed to the other side and fitted a handlebar taken straight off a Yamaha DT80. Mounting was not an issue since the bar bore diameter is 22.2mm, which fits perfectly to every threadless BMX stem. The 1" fork steerer is converted into threadless system and shimmed to fit the stem's 1 1/8" clamp.
With fat tires and wide, cruiser-like stance, we're pretty sure that the Repack dudes would approve of this throwback.