With hundreds of high end used bicycles gracing our shop’s inventory every month, it’s easy to get desensitized over all the high end carbon the covers nearly every inch of our warehouse. As a collector of all things vintage, the bikes that really get me excited are the same bikes that I remember drooling over while flipping through the latest edition of Mountain Bike Action back in the early 90’s. Whether its was an over the top paint job on a old Klein, any one of Ringle’s anodized components, a Tioga Tension Disc, or a frame covered in Yeti’s team turquoise… it was on my wish list.
Archived MBA scan courtesy of Retrobike.
Fast forward 23 years to a couple weeks ago when one of the rarest bikes to come out of that era landed in our stands, a John Tomac Championship Edition Ti Raleigh. With only about 70 in existence (10 made by Merlin and 70 by Litespeed) and an original sticker price of $6000 back in 1993, the infamous Signature edition Raleigh is one of the most sought after holy grails for any vintage mountain bike collector.
Vs. The main frame is wrapped with Carbon Fiber C9 tubing from Easton while the titanium lugs and rear triangle were made in this case by Litespeed (confusing given it has the green decals that were given to the frames made by Merlin).
“It wouldn’t take much for your grandmother to get on the bike and suddenly start hammering the singletrack, mouth agape, mimicking Johnny T’s famous air scoop attack mode! The bike plain hammers” – Mountain Bike Action Feb 1992.
The bikes of the The Pro’s Closet leave as quickly as they come, this bike was no exception. In today’s collector’s marketplace, this frame carries a price tag that was a little too rich for our blood. It’s easy to get sentimental over these fine pieces of machinery but I need to keep reminding myself that I get just as much pleasure out of having these bikes come through our shop as I would owning them. It’s not about accumulating these childhood dreams, its about documenting a piece of our sport’s history.
“Like the boat Columbus sailed on, or the shoes that Neil Armstrong moon-walked in, Tomac’s Raleigh will find it’s place in history” – Mountain Bike Action Feb 1992.
Now that I’ve checked Tomac’s Raleigh of the treasure hunt hit list, the quest for Yeti’s infamous C-26 begins!