Thursday, December 1, 2016

Full Suspension Throwback: Kestrel Rubicon

   I was over at The Pro's Closet a while back picking up some parts I got for a sweet deal, and saw this bike sitting in the front area. They have a great collection of bikes and this is a perfect example. It was even the subject of an in depth post of their own.

1999 Kestrel Rubicon

   Why read their post with their copywriter and professional photographer when you can read mine with speculative facts and camera phone pictures?
   This bike was designed with what was cutting edge when it was raced in the 90's. Here are some of the more noticeable features:

Monster Chainring
 One of the first things that stands out is the huge chainring. Downhill races back then usually ended with some kind of downhill sprint, and having a huge gear allowed racers to pedal at 40+ mph. It is a single ring in the front as there was no climbing needed. Clearance must have been a nightmare.

Chain wheeeeeeel

Rim Brakes
   This bad boy is also equipped with hydraulic rim brakes. These are still popular with trials riders for their superb power, but are inferior to disc brakes for modulation and heat dissipation. These things have power, but your rim would be white hot at the end of the race.

Magura rim brakes

Quick Release Axles
This bike has 9mm quick release skewers, state of the art at the time, but not nearly as strong or stiff as current thru axles. These allowed the wheels to come off easily, which may or may not be desirable on a downhill bike.

Two Shocks
Hard not to notice that the bike is sporting two shocks at opposite ends of a rocker arm. This is not factory, and is actually the brainchild of rider Kurt Stockton. He came up with the idea of replacing the link with another shock, increasing the travel from 4.5 to around 8". This did a lot to slacken up the handling and give more sag to the bike, something most bikes back then lacked.

Modified suspension set up

Original suspension set up

Custom Clutch Derailleur
   There is an arm hanging off the back of the bike with a spring connecting it to the derailleur. This is an early attempt at a chain tensioner. Modern derailleurs have increased spring tension in the guts, called a clutch that provides a stiff platform for shifting. This keeps the chain from slapping the chainstay like a wet fish. This mod tightens up the whole system, and keeps chain slap to a minimum at the expense of simplicity. 

Chain tensioner

   It is cool to see where technology has come in the last 15 years. Safe to say...

Here is a bunch more (professionally written) info on the bike:

Bike Radar review:

Blue Book page and value (not as much as you'd think):

MTBR Review:

Pink Bike

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