Finding a fun all purpose bike for commuting, trail riding and bike touring is a nice niche.
Over the years of working on some of the latest and greatest technology trends including full suspension and carbon fiber developments I found myself valuing companies like Surly, Salsa, Kenda to name a few who continue to produce steel frame bikes with braze ons for racks and fenders with room for wider tires.
It goes without saying how popular the genre of bikes described have become. Sturdy, dependable quality bikes that can be used for just about anything more in line with utilitarian use than spandex clad weekend warriors.
“There are far more people using bikes now than fit into the types we associate with ‘bike culture.’” Nice quote from Blog "The Invisible Cyclist" and helps inform folks who are new to cycling or want to take up cycling as a life enriching experience, be yourself. I suppose that may seem obvious to some but there was a time not so long ago when a customer felt intimidated stepping foot into many of the elitist bike snob filled atmospheres of cranky, over worked, under paid bike shop workers. I know that still exists but to a much lesser degree and this information is empowering not only to myself but to folks wanting to simply get on their bike and ride without the associated conformist angst so prevalent with any so called expert groups.
These days as I continue to work at restoring, building and creating fun, unique "all rounder" type bikes the used bike market is a treasure trove of fun finding. What I have noticed is that well kept steel mountain bikes from the eighties and nineties are abundant and can be had at a very reasonable price. Particularly when the bike hasn't been well kept and is indeed serviceable and repairable I receive much satisfaction from extending a bike's ride quality.
So, when I found this early '90's Diamond Back Ascent EX for $50 I have been wanting to give it a "blog about". Not only does this bike have a nice long wheel base for a 26" wheel mountain bike it also has ability to fit 3" wide tires.. With braze ons for three water bottle holders and ability to fit racks and fenders with ease for panniers the frame and fork of this bike is as of good a quality as any similar bike on the market today. Perhaps even better when considering the high quality steel tubing made in the USA, good stuff.
With twenty niners and 650 wheels coming to popular attention, 26" wheels are still favored by expedition touring riders who are happy to find replacement spokes and other parts while traveling about on third world back roads and country sides. Also knowing that when a steel frame or fork becomes damaged when bashing around fully loaded that welding repairs are not an issue as compared to aluminum. Another reason for considering these older mountain bikes for trekking and touring. As Richard Ballantine said in his classic "New Bicycle Book":
"Personally, I love touring with a lightweight mountain bike. Tires can be mounted that are reasonably swift and fleet on pavement, but that can cope with dirt tracks and country bashing. I don't mind trading a bit of speed for the ability to go where I please."