Mountain Bike

There have alway been Thursday mountain bikes, and like the BMXers and other dirt-oriented stuff Thursday kicks out, they have gone through a few changes as well. I like a sharp-handling bike in the dirt, no matter the situation and that goes for mountain bikes. You have to start somewhere. Where I started was by ripping off, a-a-a-h I mean getting inspired by the bikes Keith Bontrager was building 30 years ago - light, fast-handling, BMX-like bikes that stayed together in tough conditions. I built a few and kept one to ride. I've still got it and I ride hell out of it. It was long and roomy but with fast, (in fact, kind of evil) handling.

Then came the long travel forks, supersteels like Reynolds 853, better tires, and faster trails. I kept building a few frames every year, through all those years you couldn't even give away a steel mountain frame.

Read on:

No way to fight the majors for a scrap of the mountain bike market, I concentrated on getting the BMX bikes right and using what I learned on the stinging insect series of slalom/extreme dirt bikes. More and more I was hearing from young riders who were using 'bees and H*****ts on their favorite singletrack or for urban assault, getting big air and taking big drops.

I fell in with some strong riders on a tough ride in North Idaho about ten years ago, and realized my old hardtail was too long, the balance was wrong and the seat was in the way for that kind of riding. All I could think, "Man I should have brought a 'bee."

It took until 2006 to get back to the design problem.

Once upon a time in England there was a New Model army that kicked butt for 15 years. This is a New Model mountain bike. It takes the basic elements of the BMX and slalom bikes and puts them into a lighter, more compliant frame designed around a 120mm-travel single crown fork. And of course you get a full mountain gear set. .... The bike has clearance for 2.5 inch tires, even with the rear wheel slammed in. And you can set it up with an ISO-mount chainguide if that's your desire.

IT'S ADJUSTABLE!!... It has horizontal dropouts that allow for adjusting chainstay length from just under 16 inches to about 17 1/2 inches. It uses the 2005-7 vintage Shimano Saint derailleur, which mounts on the end of the axle through-bolt, instead of the dropout. This is a kind of messy solution, but it works and doesn't come loose. Thursday has a stash of these derailleurs, NOS. What do you do about adjusting the disk brake when you move the axle? NOTHING!! Drawing on my experience putting disk brakes on BMX bikes I just mount the caliper in the right place, align it properly, and it works. Period.

The New Model bike is designed for the new model rider - you! You like to rip down a dirt chute, just coming up for air once in a while, right? Or dance through the technical stuff, then bunny hop onto the picnic tables back at the trailhead. The New Model is for your kind of riding.

The New Model has definitely gotten wrung out. What is new for 2016 is the advent of Plus-size tires. The reference tire for the New Model was the excellent, lightweight, high-volume WTB Mutano Raptor 2.4, a tire that is no longer being made. What have become available are lightweight tires in a 3-inch width. The New Model gets clearance for these. That means among other things, going to an 83 mm bottom bracket shell in order to maintain the short chainstay length that makes this bike work. Yeah, you can still order it set up for narrower tires.

That's the story, this is the bike.

A prototype, with Breezer vertical dropouts

A closer look at the rear dropouts and derailleur. The rear axle on this demo is set to about 16.5". The Saint derailleur is a pretty rugged setup.

I've got the NEW MODEL pretty well nailed by now. The bike you see here has been ridden hard for a couple years. I talked to a lot of riders, especially about the combination of fork travel and steering angle. Well, you know what happens to your steering angle when the front suspension is doing its work. Your steering gets fast just when you want it slow, like on a bruising descent. We tossed around 70, 71, 72 degrees, even thought about the high 60s. In the end I decided on a max of 120mm fork travel to keep things from getting too squirelly on a descent, but still have reasonably fast handling on the flats.

In the years since I built the first few of these New Models, the majors have all come up with their take on the "hucking bike." All the ones I have checked out are around 68 degrees at the steer tube. There is a reason for this - the majors are building to the lowest common denominator of rider skill. 71 degrees worked pretty well for the 'bee, so that's what the New Model got. I will say, combined with slamming the rear axle, that gives you wicked fast handling. If it's too much for a client I can knock it back to 70 or even 68. For now the new Model is being built one at a time, so order it with your choice of steering angle, no extra charge.

A word about climbing: This is a bike you are gonna have to get all over it to ride. That's why it is designed that way. This is never so true as in climbing. Two approaches: you can use body english, put as much of your weight as far back as you can without looping out. Or you can stop, break out your allen wrench, loosen the rear axle and set it back to 16 1/2" or 16 3/4" for that big climb. If you try to climb sitting down with the axle slammed, you won't get anywhere. Word. Maybe you should take a look at the Eclipse cross-country bike if climbing is an issue for you.

COMING SOON! Plus-size! One of the things that made this bike work for me was the great, high-volume, low pressure WTB Mutano Raptor 2.4 tire. You could drop the pressure and those tires would literally glom onto anything and you could ride up the side of near-vertical surfaces. Finally we are getting fairly light 3-inch tires and forks that will accomodate them. The "New Model" will be available set up to take plus-size 26-inch tires, soon as I have time to wring out a prototype.

A closeup of the rear wheel..

Wringing it out: I loved taking the New Model out on a nasty Pokatello trail called the 911. The trail runs in and out of a gully eroded deeply into a mountainside west of Poke. The bike is "point-and-shoot" jamming this trail. This is not a bike for novices - it is too fast, and an unskilled rider could easily get in trouble. The production models will have horizontal drops standard. I've found that setting the rear wheel out to about 16.5" chainstay length slows things down a bit, making the bike a little easier to handle at sub-warp speed.

A big surprise was the ride. The bike is well under 30 pounds and with the seat put up, you can sit on it and ride in a nice upright position. In fact, with its frame geometry, it would make a good woman's bike. The horizontal dropouts allow setting it up as a woman's frame, say 16.75-17 inches rear end. You could buy this bike for your significant other (assuming she' a woman) and use it for hucking around if you could get it away from her.

The base frame is welded chrome moly with the same tubeset as the Vida Loca BMX bikes. Optional is a fillet brazed frame with Columbus Zona tubing, or special order 853 or equivalent. Cable routing is standard Thursday, triple stops under the top tube, with a top-pull front derailleur.



Heat treated Chrome-moly top and down tube 1 1/4" & 1 3/8", .9-.6-.9mm
1 1/4" .9-.6mm seat tube, reinforced Columbus 1.6mm head tube, heavy duty Euro (English thread) bottom bracket
Aircraft-grade seamless straight gauge chrome moly seat and chain stays, 3/4" (19mm) x .035 (.9mm) wall
Horizontal dropouts
rear disk brake mount standard

Standard fork: Thursday has had pretty good luck with White Brothers (now MRP) and Marzocchi. The prototype had an older 150mm-travel Bomber, very plush ride. The White Brothers Fluid 120 works quite well on this bike. But hey, if you can find a nice Bomber in decent shape, I can build to it.

Go here for a more complete list of equipment options and pricing

Available options include:
1 3/8" butted top tube and 1 1/2" downtube
alternate cable routing
Alternate bottom bracket (2" "American" or mid-size BMX BB and you can use Profile cranks if weight is no problem for you

internal brake hose routing
canti mounts
custom sizing
ISO chain guide mount

Headtube: 71 degrees
Seat tube: 71 degrees
Chainstay: approximately 15 3/4 to 17 1/4 inches ( 40-43.8 cm)
TopTube: 21.8 inches C-C ( 55.4 cm)
Front centers: 24.4 inches ( 70.0 cm)

2020 base price: $1450 any color in stock