Though saying that makes me feel pretty mean. Like insulting an orphaned child… After all, this sad, abandoned mountain bike was rescued from a bin and brought home to be resuscitated.
Something in me just can’t leave a bike in a bin, even if it does have a purple and pink-spatter paint job that I could never imagine being seen riding on.
My wife is (unsurprisingly) unsupportive of my “addiction”…
The initial light hose-down revealed the bike to be in decent condition. No major rust, no bottom bracket wobble, true rims, no major dings in the paintwork. The seatpost and saddle were missing, tyres were punctured, the front shift lever did not work and both derailleurs were not correctly indexed and limited. That’s it, pretty good going.
But it was still ugly.
Not much on the frame to indicate manufacturer, and as I have previously seen on some mid 80-90s bikes, the name of the components is shown on the top tube (in this case Deore LX STI), but not the bike brand. But I did see a partially erased decal which I deciphered as “Creation Kristall”.
Kristall is a small Swiss frame maker, based north of Zurich, in Kleindoettingen, near the German border. They have been building frames since 1945 and currently have a full range of city, road, mountain and electric bikes.
This one has a cro-moly frame (and is HEAVY), full Shimano Deore LX component group, Biopace triple chainring, STI shifters, cantilever brakes and fat (almost) semi-slick tyres. And apparently a custom paintjob.
I’ve been keen to ride a Biopace chain ring for a while, to see the difference an elliptical chainring makes. Though after a few weeks on this one, I honestly can’t feel any difference to power delivery, or ride...
However I’m surprised to report that I’m pretty impressed with the cantilever brakes. It’s the first time I have ridden a bike with them, and I fully expected them to be inferior to the v-brakes which replaced them. Nonetheless, these have great stopping power, good modulation and inspire enough confidence to ride pretty hard, and in some pretty bad weather.
For a 25 year old brake system, and at least 10 year old brake pads, that’s pretty impressive.
Also, it’s got a Deore XT shark fin, which is designed to keen mud off the tyres and stop chain suck. Though I can’t imagine this bike ever been ridden in such conditions that this would be an issue.
The Deore LX component group dates this bike as early 90s, and is described by Velobase as replacing “Deore DX, ranked below XTR and Deore XT”.
I previously wrote a post on repairing the front shifter, which would shift up but not down. I made the schoolboy error of dismantling the entire shifter when simply a bit of spray lube in the mechanism would have been enough to return full functionality. Lesson learned!
The tyres are Vredestein Mont Blancs, and honestly seem better suited to cruising a Pacific coast beach than a mountain. If they ever ended up on Mont Blanc, they’d be in serious trouble. A Californian in swimming trunks surrounded by snow.
Either the tyres or the geometry give this bike generally a real “cruiser” feel. Slow and measured acceleration and steering, but comfortable at speed. Definitely not a true off-roader.
As this bike has a great set of mudguards and fat tyres (and as my other mountain bike has a worn BB) I put the Kristall to work as a winter “beater”. I’ve added reflectors, a seatpost and saddle from another bike, as well as front/rear lights. To be fair, it’s doing a pretty good job at winter commuting.
Some say “life’s too short to ride ugly bikes”. I’ve obviously completely misunderstood the essence of that here. Thus far nobody has pointed at me laughing while I rode past, but then the Swiss are generally polite. And it does get dark early at this time of year…
There’s a couple of neat little touches on the frame, like the rear brake cable guide and the internal cable routing through the stem.
This is probably the roughest “crystal” the world has ever seen, but I’m sure it’s happy to be ridden again after a few years of neglect.
Maybe I’m being a bit harsh. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
But just look at that paintjob…