1986 Fisher Montare

Here are a few of my Top-Ten favorite bike models that College Cyclery carried during my 11-year tenure there. The mink blue Raleigh Professional- the first bike I ever pined for at the shop; Fuji Touring III’s, IV’s, V’s- those bikes were beautifully made and very well equipped. ..And then there were the 1985-1987 Fisher Montares. They were just, well, pretty.

Of course they were also nicely made and were sturdy, durable and dependable beyond all measure, but I was sold before I ever even rode one. Unfortunately, I could afford a $750 mt. bike about as much as I could swing a Porsche 911 back then so I was left selling them to other lucky people. Scott Clarke, one of the mechanics, had a green one, the lucky dog. The red Montares were ok, but I was over the moon for the green ones.

While pile hunting at the Reno Bike Project recently I ran across this 1986 Montare, the ultra-neato version with the rear cam brake. It was in rough shape, enough so that it had been donated, but of course I couldn’t see that at the time. All I saw was GREEN Montare. Needless to say, when it comes to old bikes I tend to miss the forest for the trees.

Back at home I discovered what I’d really gotten myself into; beyond regular wear and tear the bike had significant rust, mainly on the components, but pretty much everywhere. Even the sealed b.b bearings were rusted to the point where the cranks were frozen. The seat tube had a Pinole, Ca. shop sticker, so my detective brain told me the bike had indeed lived near (possibly in) the Pacific ocean.

Knowing when to quit is a sign of intelligence, but I convinced myself that knowing when to quit and then pushing forward is the truest form of dedication. More likely, it’s a sign of a obsessive-compulsive disorder, but that ship sailed many years ago. Far, far away.

So, here it is, rust be damned. It actually does ride really well and those new bottom bracket bearings are butter. Butter, I tell you!


1989 Univega Alpina Team

Mt. bikes seem to have been given short shrift here on the ol’ Buzz Bomb site. Nearly 9 years and 82 posts and I’ve never mentioned anything about any number of mt. bikes around here. Today it ends with a post about a more recent arrival.

While visiting¬†thedropoutbikeshop.com¬†about 8 months ago Chad had pointed out a Univega mt. bike that had been traded it. It had been updated with a few modern parts while also being “uglied” by its previous owner. The worst sin were a pair of Scott AT-4 mt. bike handlebars. I hated those things in the day and they’d never grown on me. I know form follows function, but honestly, those bars were too ugly to be useful. Because the bike was still pretty clean and also because I couldn’t stand to see it soldier on with those awful bars I decided I was going to buy it up.

I don’t recall having a flood of memories when I first laid eyes on it, but since then it’s caused me to reflect back on my Univega days at College Cyclery. By 1989 we were selling lots of Fishers and thus high-end Univegas were understandably taking a back seat. With so many beautiful Hoo Koo e Koos and ProCalibers in the shop, I don’t think we even stocked Alpina Teams by 1989. Looking at one nearly 30 years later I’m thinking the Alpina Team was a really nice bike for its day, though. It was light, using double-butted Prestige mt. bike tubing, the bike was relatively quick with its trendy straight fork, and finally, it was well appointed with Deore XT throughout. It also cost less than a similarly equipped Fisher.

Sure, the speckled paint job wasn’t the most attractive and today makes the bike look really dated, but even Fisher hadn’t been immune to the look, splatter-painting their Hoo Koo e Koos. I guess I fell for it twice because there’s one of each here.

I keep thinking I’ll take the Alpina Team out into the Sierra mountains just to the west of here. It might be fun to spend some time on a rigid mt. bike for the first time in many years. Then again, I’ve never been great at trail riding and the only thing that’s increased is my waistline. Sad as it sounds, this might be one of those times when nostalgia is better left in the shop.