Of all the bikes I have, probably the one that I feel most attached to is this 1999 Dekerf Team ST. There's something special and timeless about it, and it probably has more soul than any other bike I own. (Okay, actually, it's a toss-up between this and my old Hardrock, but I digress...)
Two days ago, it was reborn with a mix of newer parts alongside classic 8-speed XTR (this is the third build in its 12-year lifetime).
The frame is Reynolds 853 with titanium chainstays. Although the frame looks almost black in photos, it's actually "metallic forest"; in the sunlight, it's a deep sparkly green, like pine trees. I like the fact that it's an uncommon color. As you can see, I've kept a rubber boot around the soft-tail, so it's always stayed smooth and it's literally maintenance-free.
In addition to the pretty base color, I also added my own personal touch...after I bought the frame in '99, the first thing I did (after applying some Frame Saver inside the tubing) was take it to Russ Pickett of AirArt, in Chico, California (home of Sierra Nevada beer) to do the custom flame job. Russ is a legendary airbrush artist who does custom work for Mountain Goat bicycles, as well as Sycip designs of San Francisco. His lovely work speaks for itself. (I do recognize, however, that the world is divided on flame paint jobs; I hear from folks who love mine, and from others who don't. We can all agree it's a question of personal taste.)
Some comments about the build:
- I am relatively conservative about parts. I've always placed a high value on durability and relative simplicity, hence the coil Fox suspension instead of air suspension, mechanical disc brakes instead of hydraulic, etc.
- The Fox Vanilla fork is set for 100 mm...certainly on the low XC end of modern fork travel, though still slightly longer travel than a period-correct fork...but a decent compromise, I think, for a plush fork on '99 geometry...I didn't want to get all religious about hunting down a 63 mm or 80 mm fork. I trust that all but the most fervent diehards among you will understand.
- Chris Dekerf can add disc tabs to older frames, and I made inquiries about this, but a full disc conversion would have required new cable guides on the frame and the distinctive flame job likely would have been lost...which I wasn't willing to do. I prefer to simply run a classic Avid Arch Rival in the back. I'm delighted at how perfectly matched the front/rear brakes feel...I'd never know they are different.
Needless to say, the best thing about this unique steel Dekerf is the way it handles and the way it feels on the trail. There's a reason certain things are rightly called "classics"...they are always good, no matter the year.
Shimano M951 XTR shifter/brake levers, 8-speed
Shimano M951 XTR cranks & BB, 46-34-24, 8-speed
Shimano M951 XTR rear derailleur, rapid rise
Shimano M739 XT front derailleur
Shimano HG70 cassette, 11-30, 8- speed
Shimano IG70 chain, 8-speed
Fox Vanilla RLC front suspension - 100 mm
Avid BB7 disc brake, 160mm rotor - front
Avid Arch Rival brake - rear
Easton Monkey Lite carbon bars, low-rise
Cane Creek S-3 headseat
Thomson Elite stem, 120mm
Thomson Elite seatpost, 27.2
Charge Spoon saddle
Mavic X717 rims, black, DT swiss spokes
Shimano M756 XT disc hubs
WTB ExiWolf kevlar tires, 2.1
Shimano M535 pedals
Yeti Speed Grips