1992 Manitou FS

One of the first full-suspension bikes to hit the World Cup circuit

Words by James Huang, Bike Radar // Photos by The Pro’s Closet

Travis Brown 1992 Manitou FS Mountain BikeTravis Brown raced this custom Manitou FS on the World Cup circuit in 1992

You didn’t think full-suspension XC bikes were only recently being raced at the top levels of the sport, did you? This month’s Throwback Thursday feature, a 1992 Manitou FS, is more than 20 years old, but it’s still in original condition – and offers a stunning snapshot of the early days of mountain bike full-suspension technology.

The idea of a full-suspension mountain bike was still in its infancy back in the early 1990s but that didn’t stop Manitou founder Doug Bradbury from making one that could keep up with the best hardtails of its day. The simple design mimicked the basic profile of rigid frames but with reconfigured suspension fork legs in place of the usual seat stays, plus the requisite pivots behind the bottom bracket shell, above the dropouts, and up at the seat cluster.

The minimal travel, basic elastomer internals, primitive seals and simple pivot designs might not fly by modern standards but back then, it was not only state-of-the-art but an object of lust for mountain bikers worldwide. Even just a couple of inches of travel felt like a couch compared with fully rigid machines, and Bradbury managed to provide that with minimal weight penalty thanks in part to the then-revolutionary Easton Vari-Lite ProGram taper-butted aluminium tubing.

Travis Brown 1992 Manitou FS Mountain Bike      Travis Brown 1992 Manitou FS Mountain Bike

This particular example is no garage queen, either: it belongs to former pro – and currentTrek mountain bike tester and brand ambassador – Travis Brown, who raced the Manitou FS during the 1992 season. The drivetrain is worn, there’s a patina of dust and grime, and like many FS frames, the head tube is cracked (in five places).

Travis Brown 1992 Manitou FS Mountain Bike      Travis Brown 1992 Manitou FS Mountain Bike

“I knew Doug through [fellow Trek employee] Scott Daubert, who was a friend and training partner of mine at the time and he was riding for Manitou,” says Brown. “After Worlds that year [1991], we talked again and I thought that it’d be awesome to ride for a Colorado company. Being an independent frame builder, he didn’t really have the resources to go pro racing but it’s what he wanted to do. He finally got funding for a race team from his Japanese importer – which is where a lot of his bikes were being sold at the time – and eventually said, ‘I got a budget; let’s go racing!'”

Travis Brown 1992 Manitou FS Mountain Bike      Travis Brown 1992 Manitou FS Mountain Bike

As it turns out, Brown’s career evaluating and developing mountain bike product started long before his days at Trek. Bradbury first provided a Manitou HT hardtail to try out for sizing, and said he could incorporate any changes he wanted into a custom design for his FS.

Brown indeed had some ideas, which included 50mm of additional top tube length relative to the stock geometry, paired with a short-for-its-day 120mm stem. Though Bradbury thought Brown was crazy at the time, the idea would ultimately work its way into the mainstream.

“It was very stable and that was something that I intentionally wanted so the bike would go straight when you were slobbering and tired.”

This one-off also incorporated an extra-wide rear end with a drivetrain that was pushed outboard by 10mm to create a zero-dish rear wheel – an impressively forward-thinking concept that would resurface roughly two decades later for the fat bike market. The design necessitated a custom Shimano XTR rear hub with 145mm spacing (which Bradbury made himself), special asymmetrical dropouts, and a longer bottom bracket spindle to keep everything properly aligned.

Travis Brown 1992 Manitou FS Mountain Bike

According to Brown, the zero-dish wheel and wider spacing yielded a noticeably stiffer rear end.

“It had a lot of stiffness for that reason. [Doug] had an intuitive design sense and was willing to try things. He was a super smart dude.”

Complete bike specifications

  • Frame: 1992 Manitou FS w/ custom geometry and 145mm OLD rear spacing
  • Fork: Manitou 2
  • Headset: Chris King, 1 1/4in threaded
  • Stem: Manitou custom, 120mm
  • Handlebars: Answer Hyperlite w/ Scott ATNZ-LF Short bar ends
  • Tape/grips: Answer Aggressor
  • Front brake: Shimano XTR BR-M900
  • Rear brake: Shimano XTR BR-M900 w/ Madison Aztec pads
  • Brake levers: Shimano XTR ST-M900
  • Front derailleur: Shimano XTR FD-M901
  • Rear derailleur: Shimano XTR RD-M900
  • Shift levers: Shimano XTR ST-M900
  • Cassette: Shimano XTR CS-M900, 12-32
  • Chain: Sachs Sedis
  • Crankset: Shimano XTR FC-M900, 175mm, 26/36/46T
  • Bottom bracket: Adjustable cartridge bearing
  • Pedals: n/a
  • Front rim: Ritchey Vantage Comp, 28h
  • Rear rim: Ritchey Vantage Pro, 32h
  • Front hub: Bullseye
  • Rear hub: Shimano XTR FH-M900, custom 145mm OLD spacing
  • Spokes: Wheelsmith 14/15 double butted w/ aluminium nipples
  • Front tire: Mitsuboshi Hilltop 5100 FL, 26 x 1.95in
  • Rear tire: Specialized Ground Control Extreme S, 26 x 1.95in
  • Saddle: Selle Italia Flite
  • Seatpost: 31.8mm aluminium shaft w/ custom machined Ringlé Moby head
  • Accessories: Ringlé bottle cages, Ringlé Cam Twist wheel and seatpost skewers
  • Weight: 11.41kg (25.15lb, without pedals)

How to Save a Search on eBay

8 Steps to Save a Search on eBay

eBay is a great source for buying…well…almost anything! The right tools and a little patience will allow you to find the right item at the right price! This post will walk you through setting up one powerful tool, “Saved Searches”.

1. The key to creating a “Saved Search” or “Followed Search” is to start broad, then narrow down your results. To start, enter a broad search topic. Today, we’re going to search for a vintage Klein Attitude mountain bike.

8 Steps to save a search on ebay

2. Browse through the results to see what types of listings eBay has found for you. In this instance we’re getting results from Calvin Klein so we need to narrow our results.

8 Steps to save a search on ebay

3. Select the correct store category. In this case “Cycling”

8 Steps to save a search on ebay

4. Next, select the condition, price, and location. For this bike we want a used bike and will look worldwide. We know this bike can be rare so it is worth paying international shipping to get the exact bike we want!

8 Steps to save a search on ebay

5. Advanced Tip: Use negative keywords to narrow your search even farther. In this example we can enter (-comp) to remove any Klein Attitude “Comp” models.

8 Steps to save a search on ebay

6. Refine by “Time: Newly Listed”. This refinement is crucial. Whenever you come back to this saved search, the newest items will be at the top of the page, saving you time in your search!

8 Steps to save a search on ebay

7. Finally, select “Follow This Search”

8 Steps to save a search on ebay

8. Now, you can easily view your saved searches through the “My eBay” tab at the top of your screen.

8 Steps to save a search on ebay



1995 Kestrel Rubicon Comp Kamikaze

Looking back at the early days of DH racing

Words by James Huang, Bike Radar // Photos by The Pro’s Closet

1995 Kestrel Rubicon Comp Kamikaze

It’s incredible to think of what the downhill riders of yesteryear were willing to do on machines like this. Nearly two decades later, you can almost still see the dust roost off of Kurt Stockton’s old Kestrel Rubicon Comp Kamikaze.

World Cup-style downhill mountain bike racing today is an awe inspiring display on courses that are both very fast and extremely demanding technically. The early days of the sport, however, more closely resembled downhill ski racing with one major goal: outright speed. And no event epitomised that period better than the Kamikaze at Mammoth Mountain, California.

The Kamikaze course is at its heart little more than a fire road that provides maintenance access to the mountain’s various features. Compared with modern World Cup courses, that thoroughfare was wide open and comparatively free of significant obstacles, which made for some staggering speeds. Top riders regularly crested 100km/h (62mph) – and as you would imagine, crashes at those speeds were less than pleasant.

1995 Kestrel Rubicon Comp Kamikaze

It’s amazing to think about how fast riders were going on bikes like this back in the day

Much as the discipline of downhill racing was in its infancy at that time, so, too, was the equipment that the racers used to hurtle themselves toward the bottom of the mountain.

Kurt Stockton was a US-based pro in the mid-90s racing for Kestrel – then one of just a handful of companies offering carbon composite frames. While Kestrel may have been considered to be ahead of the curve in many ways at the time, the Rubicon Comp chassis that Stockton used was a far cry from the highly evolved, purpose-built downhill rigs of today.

1995 Kestrel Rubicon Comp Kamikaze     1995 Kestrel Rubicon Comp Kamikaze

Chain retention was especially challenging in the early days of DH, especially given the lack of refined solutions

Kestrel designed the Rubicon Comp as a cross country bike, complete with about four inches of front suspension travel and nearly five out back courtesy of a modified high single pivot layout. A link connected the swingarm with the articulated top tube so that when the rear wheel went up, the saddle went down.

The angles were steep, the wheelbase was short, there was no provision for any sort of chain retention, and speed control came courtesy of two pairs of rubber blocks that were squeezed against the rim. Both wheels were attached with quick-release skewers.

1995 Kestrel Rubicon Comp Kamikaze     1995 Kestrel Rubicon Comp Kamikaze

The RockShox Judy DH was state-of-the-art in the mid-90s but few would consider it even for rigorous XC riding today

Not surprisingly, it wasn’t inherently suited for downhill racing.

The first modification made to get it to that point was to the rear suspension.

“We were playing around with that bike and I was looking at the linkage one day,” Stockton told BikeRadar. “I said, ‘You know, that rear link looks like the same exact length as the shock we’re using.'”

As it turned out, Stockton was right and by replacing that rigid link with a second shock, the rear travel nearly doubled from its original 4.5 inches.

1995 Kestrel Rubicon Comp Kamikaze     1995 Kestrel Rubicon Comp Kamikaze

If one shock is good, two must be better, right?

That additional travel – and more importantly, the additional sag – also served to slacken the angles a bit for additional stability. A 63-tooth chainring was fitted to better suit the Kamikaze’s ridiculous speeds, a fully bespoke chain guide was made out of welded steel and machined nylon, the aluminium riser bar was reinforced with a bolt-on brace, and Magura hydraulic rim brakes made the most of the available friction. While Stockton mostly raced on Mavic rims, he at times also used HED’s ultra-rare deep-section carbon-and-aluminium rims laced on to Ringlé hubs, all shod with similarly rare (for the time) Michelin downhill-specific rubber.

Modern downhill gear is fully dedicated equipment while, despite the extensive modifications, Stockton’s bike was still ultimately an XC rig – and like many DH machines at the time, it performed accordingly.

“It was designed to be a cross country bike,” Stockton told BikeRadar. “We threw these two shocks on this thing and it laid back the angle a lot more but the head angle still wasn’t slack enough. In the steep stuff – and we did have some, not like it is now, but still – it was a big problem that we dealt with.”

Even the positions riders used differed massively from what would be considered typical today. Back then, the courses were much longer – some nearly fifteen minutes in duration – and there was much more pedalling involved. Stockton’s handlebar is just 620mm wide, the stem is 120mm long, and the XC-length seatpost sticks way out of the frame.

1995 Kestrel Rubicon Comp Kamikaze     Kurt-Stockton-Kamikaze-10

The bars would be considered unusably narrow by modern standards

“We were still looking at modifying cross country or even road positions for downhill rather than looking at it completely differently. I was totally skewed from racing on the road. We were still trying to run our seats high so we could pedal because there was a lot of pedalling on these courses.”

Then there were perpetual issues with reliability. Though the courses often weren’t insanely technical, there were still a lot of forces applied given the speeds.

“The equipment was road stuff that was being modified,” Stockton said. “It just wasn’t beefy enough. They got it to work on cross country bikes but for downhill, it wasn’t there. We were blowing shocks out, blowing forks out all the time, and that was it.”

Stockton’s frame was even fitted with a fully custom swingarm with additional plies of carbon fibre after the original one broke.

1995 Kestrel Rubicon Comp Kamikaze

The carbon swingarm is a handmade one-off

Even though the bike was essentially a beefed-up cross country model, it still wasn’t exactly light, either. As shown here, Stockton’s Kestrel weighs in at 15.34kg (33.8lb) and that doesn’t include the much heavier downhill inner tubes he used to use or pedals of any sort. For reference, Greg Minnaar’s current Santa Cruz V10 comes in at 15.08kg (33.18lb) complete.

Despite that extra weight, Stockton recalled that riding that modified Rubicon Comp was anything was confidence inspiring at those speeds and on that terrain.

“It was sketchy but it was like, we were all doing it. I remember going off the top of Mammoth and you’re going 50, 60 miles an hour. You just hung your ass off the back, kept your hand off the front brake and you just went. That was it! It was just, go for it.”

“At 60 miles an hour on a really nice road bike on smooth pavement, you’ve got to be attentive, right? We were riding down a bunch of pumice where you’re basically just floating on the marbles. It was all just kind of a controlled power slide the whole way down. As long as you kept air in the front tyre, it was ok.”

Complete bike specifications     

  • Frame: Kestrel Rubicon Comp w/ custom rear swingarm, dual shocks
  • Rear shock: Fox ALPS 4, Fox ALPS 4R
  • Fork: RockShox Judy DH
  • Headset: Chris King GripNut, 1 1/8in threaded
  • Stem: Ringlé Zooka, 120mm x 10°
  • Handlebars: Custom 3T aluminium riser, 620mm
  • Tape/grips: Pedro’s Blackwalls
  • Front brake: Magura HS-22
  • Rear brake: Magura HS-22
  • Brake levers: Magura HS-22
  • Rear derailleur: Shimano Deore XT RD-M737-SGS
  • Shift levers: Grip Shift X-Ray
  • Cassette: Shimano XTR CS-M900, 12-30T
  • Chain: Taya
  • Crankset: Ultimate Machine, 175mm, w/ 63T Avitar chainring
  • Bottom bracket: Ultimate Machine
  • Rims: HED Downhill, 32h
  • Front hub: Ringlé Super Bubba, 32h
  • Rear hub: Ringlé Super Eight, 32h
  • Spokes: Bladed stainless steel, 32h, 3-cross
  • Front tyre: Michelin Service Course DH, 26 x 2.2in
  • Rear tyre: IRC Mythos XC, 26 x 2.1in
  • Saddle: Selle San Marco Bontrager No-Slip
  • Seatpost: Ringlé Moby
  • Other accessories: Bullet Brothers chain tensioner, custom chain guide