To have and to hold and to hoard, forevermore?

I’ve been reading (on Retrobike) about Michael Beach’s nut and bolt recreation of Gary Fisher’s 1970s first ‘mountain bike’ (itself a 1938 Schwinn balloon tyre cruiser) and it got me wondering about the bits and pieces of bike bits that people hold dear – and will hold dear in the future.

Michael admits he’s going to OCD levels of detail in trying to source new old stock (or ‘NOS’) bits for the frame he’s already bought. He’s found the correct models of rear mech, derailleur hanger, stem and even the grips and pedals have been sourced (at whatever cost) from around the world in order to rebuild a concours style replica of Gary’s bike as it appeared in the late ’70s.

This is very similar to the world of custom cars and hot rods, which I dallied with for a few years when I was younger (and when petrol was cheaper…) – those hot rodders of the 1950s were taking beaten up old Model A Fords from the early 1930s (1932 in particular) which could be bought for peanuts and putting more modern V8 engines in and hooning around in them.

Hot rodders today are still trying to create cars that emulate those golden days of the late ’50s, and dreaming of finding a mothballed car in good condition in a barn somewhere. However, not many people are currently planning on restoring early ’90s Ford Mondeos to their former glory. It seems that the retro appeal for cars stops somewhere between Mk2 and Mk3 Escorts. And I wonder if that’s how it’s going to be with ‘classic’ mountain bikes.


(In 20 years’ time, will anyone desperately have a need for a Boxxer bolt-on canti stud? Chipps hopes so…)

Will the restorers stop at a particular year of mountain bikes, as they seem to have done with classic cars? Or will it be a rolling age, so that any mountain bike over 15 years starts to come into the restorers’ sights? There are frenzies to snap up mind Klein Attitudes and Trimbles now, but will the same be true of, say, Giant’s first Anthem? Even though it’s a great bike, is it too well designed to have the kind of quirky lovability that older, more flawed machines have?

Which brings me to my table of knick-knacks. I have a fair amount of old mountain bike stuff, having been around the sport most of my life, but at what point do I have a clear out having decided that a) I’ve run out of room and b) I don’t really need half of this stuff. Restorers of older machines rely on untidy shops, hoarders and people with scruffy sheds piled high with bits and pieces in order to recreate their neo-classical masterpieces. If some shop hadn’t still got a pair of 1970s pedals (in the packaging) on a shelf ‘somewhere out the back’, then Michael Beach wouldn’t be able to get as close to his goal of a perfect restoration.

So, what do you chuck and what do you hoard? While white Porcupines were the obvious winner, I reckon it’ll be the slightly obscure things that’ll make it worthwhile keeping for 20 years. Odd things that you wouldn’t think will ever run out, like Bontrager replacement decals, or early 2000s XTR quick releases, or 27.2 seatposts and pre-oversize handlebars. One day, they’ll be worth something. And in the 19 years in between, you’ll have a shed full of scrap that your partner will despair about. Am I right?