There is something to say about the fact that “Gravel Cycling” has grown so much over the past couple of years. Whether you race or just like to go off the beaten path for adventure and fun it is an indication that the sport of cycling continues to grow even though much of what the industry wants you to think of as new had clearly been done in the past.
Recently we were speaking to Tim and Sarah from Isambard Cycles, which is now based in Wales, about two rather nice vintage MTB’s which are clearly able to handle any advnture more so called modern gravel bikes could cope with.
In the 1980s and early 1990s Look produced some genuinely innovative technologies, some iconic bikes, and became synonymous through their association with the Mondrian-clad La Vie Claire team with one of the great colourways in cycling history. We’ve rebuilt this early 1990s frame for maximum adventure. Upsized 650B wheels and quick-rolling gravel tyres keep it whipping along on the road, but the MTB heart of this bike remains and it loves nothing more than to be pointed at rough and challenging terrain. A 48/34 crankset and wide range 9 speed cassette give options at both ends of the gear range, and 56cm dirt drops offer a low position to tuck in, but plenty of control when the going is technical. This is a bike that wants to be thrown hard at anything and everything, and responds as you’d want it to when you do.
Aeons before they went low-rent in every imaginable way, long before pioneering the ‘dated’ aesthetic of the mid-90s, and a good while before the still-dependable and much-loved Courier Comp of the turn of the (80s/90s) decade, Muddy Fox were early-adopters of nascent US MTB thinking, and turning out some proper belting machines, This, from 1985, is their Tange Infinity-tubed Monarch. Close to catalogue spec, with lots of Shimano Deerhead and Nitto Bullmoose bars, but with a touch of luxury for the contact-points (Brooks leather and Rustines gum) and a sturdy Pelago porteur-style rack up front. The build sacrifices neither form nor function to the other – staying true to the aesthetic and spirit of the original machine. A composite of continental parts: Italian gears (Campagnolo) and brakes (Universal), French crankset (Durax) and Bottom Bracket (TA), Belgian cockpit (Titan) and British saddle (Wrights). Wonderful original paint and chrome work; some marks commensurate with age.
If you love anything vintage or want to know more about these bikes head over to Isambard’s Cycles.