Mike Rust Built Klunker
Friends, this is one of the coolest bikes I have ever seen, I ran into it and Wakeman at a bike swap in Denver earlier this Spring, and it’s my absolute joy and pleasure to bring it to your attention. As I am way out of my depth when it comes to the early stuff I’ve asked Wakeman to explain why this bike is so cool and all the interesting mods it possesses.
Words by Wakeman Massie:
This machine hails from the very earliest days of the activity that we now call mountain biking. At the time, there weren’t any mtb-specific parts to buy, and there wasn’t any one way to build a bike; Pieces and parts from vintage American cruisers, BMX, road, touring and tandem bicycles, and even motorcycles were brought together in a way that hadn’t been done before.
This particular machine was assembled by one of the earliest and most notable pioneers of the genre, Crested Butte resident Mike Rust. The bike came to be uncovered by Mike Allred in Kansas. Mike was looking for a cool old Klunker to bomb around on, answered a classified ad, and wound up taking this one home from a former resident of Crested Butte who relayed her story of relation to Mr. Rust. I was fascinated by the bike and became its caretaker for a time, though it has recently moved on to new owner Austin Weaver, noted Klunker aficionado and current orchestrator of the annual Pearl Pass Klunker Tour.
With regards to the build, I’ve been asked to point out some of the specs and the trickness this crude but pioneering machine is oozing: The frame itself is an old Colson or Shelby with a generic BMX cruiser fork. Custom Atom drum brake hubs – Flanges are re-drilled and chamfered by hand to accept relatively lightweight 14 gauge spokes, as opposed to the 12ga these hubs were originally designed for. Rear hub spacing has been narrowed considerably by removing 8-10 mm from the drive side of the hub (actual removal and re-machining of the freewheel threads) which creates a more compact hub. This lessens the amount the frame must be spread to accommodate the 5-speed gearing, and it provides for less dish and therefore a much stronger wheel. These hubs, the “improved” braking they afford – along with their modifications – really provide the basis for the rest of the build.
Custom fork dropout spacers – these spacers reduce the fork spacing to accommodate the narrower Atom drum brake hub, serve as a means to mount the brake backing plate stop, and strengthen the dropouts. Short (162.5mm) TA cranks are used to minimize pedal strikes on account of the frame’s low bottom-bracket height, and also provide access to very wide-range gearing options. Spread rear triangle. Custom brazed-on derailleur hangar. Shimano Crane GS wide-range rear derailleur.
The Suntour XC-1 pedals have had portions of their cages removed to add further pedal clearance. Cages are also modified to accept toeclips that are currently not present. Cook Bros Racing BMX bottom bracket. Araya 7c hoops. Magura motorcycle-based brake levers. Custom chrome-moly seatpost cut from raw aircraft stock. Front hub axle is drilled and tapped in the center to conveniently mount the front rack, never seen this mod before…
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