1982 Sweetheart Cycles Moto Cruiser

Now THAT was a bike

Words by Richard Cunningham // Photos by The Pro’s Closet

Sweetheart Cycle Moto Cruiser

Sweetheart Cycles’ 1982 Moto Cruiser is quite rare and it is also historically important for a number of reasons. The beautifully executed frame is representative of a time when pioneer mountain bike makers were combining aspects of road, BMX and motorcycle design to imagine how a mountain bike might look like. The frame tubes are straight-gauge, chrome-moly steel and TIG-welded – a joining technique that was rejected by established frame makers as too brittle and unreliable for lightweight bicycle construction. Its level top tube was necessary because the longest seat posts made were only 200 millimeters – the Strong post shown here is probably at its max height. Bicycle Bob made his own BMX-style handlebar and modeled its straight-blade fork from those used in BMX cruiser-class racing. The stem was a heavier-than-sin Pro Neck BMX model that was drilled to form a cable stop for the front brake. Road-style rear dropouts were the only ones made that had derailleur bosses.

Sweetheart Cycle Moto Cruiser-13      Sweetheart Cycle Moto Cruiser-17

The Moto Cruiser also shows us the limited palette of components that was available in the early 1980’s. French-made Mafac tandem cantilever brakes were the only options that would actually stop a bike and, unlike many early mountain bikes that used Magura motorcycle levers, this one features Italian-made Tomaselli moto levers. The drivetrain is the classic mix of European touring gear and budding Japanese mountain bike offerings. Its Campagnolo Rally rear mech, was probably not capable of taking up enough chain to manage all 18 gears. The Campagnolo Nuvo Record front changer was fussy to adjust, but arguably, it was the sturdiest one could buy at the time. The Cook Brothers crankset is reported to be original, but while single-ring BMX cranks date to the late 1970’s, spiders made to convert Japanese Sugino and Dia-Compe chainrings to fit Cook Brother’s cranks did not appear until later. The bike’s Simplex thumb-shifters are rare. Most bikes used early Suntour levers that were more primitively made and only right-handed – so builders had to modify them to create left-handed ones for the front changer. The portage strap was also a common accessory as tall gearing and the rarity of bike friendly trails often forced pioneer riders off their bikes on the climbs.

Sweetheart Cycle Moto Cruiser-8      Sweetheart Cycle Moto Cruiser-11

The Moto Cruiser’s Snake Belly tires and Araya 7X rims were classics back then – and while the narrow, skin-wall knobbies were winners on hard-packed BMX tracks, they suffered on loose and steep terrain. The rims, however, were prophetic – almost exactly the width that the industry has evolved to today after its religious adherence to the stupidly narrow and persistent-Bontrager XC standard. Keith Bontrager deserves heroic recognition for re-rolling 40-hole Mavic MA-2 tandem road rims into the first lightweight 26-inch mountain bike items, but the industry deserves a dunce hat for missing the point: Keith wanted stiff, lightweight rims, and was willing to suffer with skinny. The bike industry only copied the skinny part.

Sweetheart Cycle Moto Cruiser-7      Sweetheart Cycle Moto Cruiser-18


Our Sweetheart Cycles Moto Cruiser was brought to us by the folks at The Pro’s Closet, where it is on loan from the Vintage MTB Workshop collection. Reportedly, the bike spent 20 years in active duty in Tucson, Arizona, before being restored it to its near-original condition, as we see it here. The legendary tale about Sweetheart Cycles, as reported third-hand, is that “Bicycle” Bob Wilson started Sweetheart Cycles north of Los Angeles and, after allegedly being imprisoned on drug charges, sold the business to Yeti founder John Parker. (In defence of Bicycle Bob, California drug enforcement was draconinan in the early 80s – a time when life sentences could be dealt to offenders caught with an empty hash pipe and $300 in their wallets.) A close look at the Moto Cruiser reveals design aspects that transferred to future Yetis, most conspicuously, the one-piece seatstay/chainstay configuration. Many thanks to The Pro’s Closet for furnishing the images, and especially to Vintage MTB Workshop for allowing us the opportunity to share this historical treasure.

Sweetheart Cycle Moto Cruiser-3      Sweetheart Cycle Moto Cruiser-15

Sweetheart Cycles >> Yeti Cycles

Sweetheart Cycle Moto Cruiser

Yeti FRO 88-15

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