Thursday, December 21, 2006

klein bicycles -- more than pretty paint

Guitar Ted posted a pic of his old Klein Adroit from BITD, which inspired me to dig out some old Klein shots of my own. As many of you know, I had a great relationship with the people at Klein in Chehalis. That of course all changed when Trek moved the company to Wisconsin and pretty much everyone in Chehalis left the company. Talk about losing the soul of a company! But I digress.

So without further ado, may I present two of my favorite Kleins from my stable:

1990 Klein Team Attitude
Behold this pristine 1990 Klein Team Attitude w/full 1990 Deore XT. I bought this bike with the intention of keeping it in my collection for life. That dream came to an end when I somehow managed to buy a Ti Bontrager on ebay, and had to sell the bike to raise funds. The good news is that I made enough on the sale of this bike to both pay for the Bontrager, and recover the money I spent buying the Attitude in the first place. It ended up being a good deal.
The only problem with this bike, for me, is that it was so pristine that I was afraid to ride it for fear of putting a new scratch in the paint. It was like a trophy girlfriend -- beautiful, but not that useful in reality. I guess my aim was never to have a bike museum...

The bike below is the most "custom" Klein I've had -- a total one-off collaboration with their design team. It was built in the summer of 1999, when I was riding for Redhook/Klein, and was in regular contact with the K-crew in Chehalis. I had broken a stock frame, and made some suggestions to them on my ideal "rocky mountain race bike."

I worked with my friend Rich Batcheller, the former design engineer for Klein on the design of the frame. Designed to be the ultimate Colorado race bike, it had "super genesis" geometry, a thicker downtube and shorter chainstays than a stock Klein frame. The full custom geometry was good -- 25.5 inch top tube, 72 deg. ht angle, 74 deg. st angle, 16-inch chainstays, and to top it off, Rich sprayed it in a full-custom "desert sunset" paint scheme.

The incredibly long top tube and short stem combo made the frame super stable, despite the steep 72 degree ht angle.

Though the frame was designed for me, by the time it was completed, I had committed to riding for the Schwinn/Jamba Juice team in 2000, and someone at Trek decided it would not go to me after all. When Rich B. left Klein in 2001, he took the frame with him. He generously offered it up to me in trade for some used bike parts I had that he used to build up another frame in his possession. Even though I don't ride this frameset anymore, I'm very, very glad I have it. It's truly one of a kind.


redstone said...

Both of those bikes are dope. Bummer about the Adroit. That's why I'm glad my Zip already had a few scratches :)

debaser said...

Dude, if I had a trophy girlfriend I'd ride her hard and...

Lots of bikes are special. Some are good to keep for a long time, others for just a while. But all bikes should be ridden.

mw said...

yep. both are sweet. riding the attitude was trippy. i'm glad i had a breif chance on an urban assault we did.

mw said...

the bike gt had was dope eh?

mw said...

klien is credited with breaking the seat tube = top tube (unofficial) rule. well, maybe he was the first to really break that rule.

mg said...

ganzel, you ride everything hard. i just expect it from you. ;-}

dave, you're right about the zip. it's a much more practical collectible than that klein was.

but it had the stereotypically distinct ride quality that defined klein bicycles for a generation (the generation right before suspension). ride tuned it wasn't, really. they were still learning about how to tune aluminum frames to be comfortable.

g-ted's adroit was a damn fine ride. i wish i had a frameset from that generation. the fork alone (the true unicrown with out the 45-degree weld) is an absolute jewel.