Tuesday, April 07, 2020

A Bike From My Past

Thursday at work I was greeted by "an old friend".
When you've been working on bikes, enjoying riding on bikes, and have been in the industry of cycling as long as I have, there are so many bicycles that you have been on, or know about, it is mind boggling. I get that many people maybe have a few bicycles in their entire lifetime, so I am an odd duck when it comes to this sort of thing. I get that.

So the following story may not be remarkable to you, but it does bring together the extremes of the range- those that have had many and those that have had few- into one story. This story is about my 1992 Park Pre 925.

Park Pre wasn't a well known company, but it did have a wide range of bicycles available and those ranged from entry level to Pro level racing bikes and everything in between. A local shop where I traded, and eventually got my first job at, Advantage Cyclery of Cedar Falls, Iowa, sold this brand from about 1991-ish to 1993.

In 1991 I started looking for a new mountain bike as my 1989 Mongoose Sycamore was thrashed. Tom, the owner of Advantage, talked me into getting something really nice. That was all well and fine, but at the time, I had been married to my first wife who was into cycling as well and also wanted a new MTB. That meant I had to buy two really nice mountain bikes. I almost decided to lower my expectations and get two nice Park Pre MTB's and went so far as to test ride one. I almost did it, but my desire to get something really nice ended my search eventually on a Klein Attitude in 1992. And yes..... had to buy two of them. Anyway...... That's a different story.

By the time I was a wrench at Advantage I had become aware of Park Pre due to my earlier research. Advantage had moved on from the brand, but in 1992 they had their race team sponsored by Park Pre and the then team members were availed of pro-pricing on race bikes. Then team member, and former Advantage Cyclery mechanic, Tracy Thompson, bought a Team 925 and raced it, but afterward was going to be moving from the area and was wanting to sell the bike. I ended up buying it.

This was the bike that had a Specialized Future Shock on it, basically a rebadged Rock Shox Mag 21, which I rebuilt and modded. This was the bike I put a set of blue anodized Paul Motolite Brakes on and realized how much better brakes could be. I built wheels for this bike, and I learned how to do a lot of things that I take for granted today because of the stuff I did to this bike while I owned it.

My chief memory of this bike is riding up Vail Mountain in 1994 and then bombing down the World Championship MTB Downhill course on it. Those Worlds were held just two weeks after I had been there, and the course was set up for the athletes to practice on. I'll never forget that weekend and this bike.

I sold it not long afterward. I was buying a new Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper FS, and it was time to move on from this "antiquated" machine. I think it was a mistake to sell this bike though. It rode so well. That Tange CroMo tubing in that thin butted profile just was sooo good. I just did not realize what I had. Anyway, I sold it, and the man who bought it still rides it all the time. It showed up at Andy's Bike Shop where I work, and I was flabbergasted! I hadn't seen the bike in well over 20 years. I'd heard rumors of it still being in town, but had never seen it.

The Future Shock is long gone, and I kept the wheels and brakes. The owner changed out the stem and saddle, but otherwise it is all there. Even my custom chain stay guard I made which is half zebra striped and half checkerboard. I made it using electrical tape! That it has survived the decades is amazing! It was also how I was able to positively identify the bike as being my old one.

Anyway, a three owner bike there. Good to see that it is still loved and being ridden to this day!


Gravelo said...

Someone around central Iowa used to race a preppy-looking pink Parkpre with green graphics. Always reminded me of a Fat Chance. Cool experience to see your old bike, I'd be floored!

Guitar Ted said...

@Gravelo - Yeah, I was floored! Park Pre used to do some pretty far out color schemes. The definitely believed in Day-Glo! They also used to have a model called the Hammer which had a sort of Zolatone, car trunk from the 60's finish!

fasteddy said...

I remember two things about ParkPre. Day-glo paint, which included what must have been a labor -intensive splatter on some mid-level mountain bikes. And, how nice the higher-end frames were. That Tange Ultimate tubing along with solid geometry made for bikes that rode better than the price suggested. Made by Fairly if I remember right.
Thanks for reviving those memories with a great story of a bike lost and found. Great stuff.

Guitar Ted said...

@fasteddy - Thank you! One more anecdote: I took my Klein Attitude and this Park Pre to Vail that year and rode the Klein once for 20 minutes. That bike was waaaaay too stiff! The Park Pre rode like a dream there. I rode that 925 for the rest of the weekend spending many hours on it.

fasteddy said...

That makes me wonder if my memories of prior bikes would hold up if I rode them now. I remember certain bikes as exceptional - a Tom Kellogg Merlin Extralight; a late 80's Gitane Tour de France - would they handle as well as I remember?
I bet that Klein would still seem stiff. Thanks for the memories. -Nick

Skidmark said...

Wikipedia entry on ParkPre bikes mentions Mr. Yamakoshi’s son is looking to revive the brand.

Scott said...

Fantastic story! Thanks for sharing.

I'm wondering if you'd be willing go on a little bit of an MTB history tangent related to this early 90's Park Pre? I've always been curious about how the transition from quill to threadless stems came about. Was it basically just the introduction of early suspension forks? Or is there more to the story?

If you ever get a chance to visit Crested Butte in the summer you'll see an amazing assortment of 80's and 90's mtbs all over town being used as townies/cruisers. They are everywhere! There's also a ton of really old schwinn type klunkers.

Guitar Ted said...

@Scott - The first threadless stems/steer tubes in the 90's became standard because of manufacturing. Threaded forks were, by necessity, made to ft each size of bike in a model run. So, as an example, if a size run of a certain bike had six sizes, (XS, small, medium, med/large, large, and XL)the factory had to cut to length each steer tube and thread it. With threadless, the step of machining the steer tube was eliminated. Plus, parts suppliers now could buy one fork as an offering for replacement/upgrade, versus having to buy six different lengths of threaded steer tube forks in the same model over however many fork models they carried.

Simplification for manufacturing and for aftermarket was why it happened, but the customers benefited as well, because it truly is a more robust system. We rarely have to adjust head sets anymore, when back in the threaded steer tube era we were doing it on almost every bike that came in.