Make lots of popcorn and grab a chair, this build is going to take a while.
Today I took delivery of the frame. The origins haven't been confirmed yet, but everyone seems to think that it's the real deal. I'm going to build it either way.
I took some pics and will post them with comments.
First up some general pics to show the welds.
Note : the caps aren't tensioned in this picture, which explains the gap between the cap and swingarm.
As you can see, it's all a bit rough. I mentioned earlier that I suspected this to be a Verlicchi-built frame, but their welding is of considerably higher quality.
The only other company that I know was involved with Quinn and Sbike prototypes, was Yeti. So I might have to get in touch with FTW.
I'm a bit concerned about the welding on the piece that holds the shock. This little piece needs to hold the bike + rider's weight. Scary ...
What do you think, should I have the other side of the plate welded as well for added support?
The swingarm mounting system :
The bearings indicate that it is not just a mock-up frame, but was intended to be used. However the production versions have bespoke rubbers between the swingarm and the bearings, which makes this a crude setup.
Therefore I assume this predates all the full suspension models, which makes this a 1990 or early 1991 frame.
This could very well be the first full suspension Sbike frame ever, and will most likely become the last one ever finished. (unless another half-built frame pops up at some point)
Another picture of the swingarm, indicating that this isn't a DIY job.
If you can afford the tools needed to create that, you could have bought the company to begin with.
Few more details, explanation below each photo :
No serial number on the BB (the place for steel Sbikes) or on the bottom of the main spar inside the triangle (the place for alu Sbikes).
Also, there are no mounting holes for a bottle on the front support tube.
Neither is there a mounting hole for a front mech's pulley wheel, which is slightly more worrying. I can either use a top pull mech or let someone modify the frame to take said pulley wheel. I'm afraid the latter option is the better one, as Sbikes usually used bottom-pull mechs.
The colour on the indide of the BB and headtube makes me think that it could be an aluminium frame, but that only confuses me more. Why does the outside look so different in colour and structure than the bare alu of the 828? Has this frame been exposed to the elements for years?
Contrary to my initial thought, the headtube angle is ok. It looks like the seller simply took bad pictures. If anyone wanted to bid but was put off by my comment in the "marketplace watch" section, you have my sincerest apologies.
Then again, if I hadn't been so worried about its origins and that headtube angle myself, I'd have put down a bid in excess of £1K anyway.
The geometry looks identical to the broken 828 I'm cannibalizing, but the height of the main spar is a lot smaller than that on the 828. The CroMoly frames had the same main spar dimensions as this frame.
The 828's spring will fit perfectly ... if I ever manage to get it off the 828's swingarm. No idea how these are attached, but I suspect I'll either need a hammer or an angle grinder to get it off.
Above : the 828's swingarm. Below : the proto's swingarm.
Once again, the proto looks a lot more crude than the production version, both in terms of welding and fitting.
Above : the Proto. Below : The 828
Just showing the difference in colour and texture. Could this really be an aluminium frame? Guess I'll have to buy a magnet to find out.
A couple of (unfinished) stems that came with it. These need top caps, the bottom piece and a front cover. Guess I'll have those machined, as the shape of the stems matches the main spar.
Included in the sale was this Answer Manitou fork, which appears to be in excellent shape.
However high-end Sbikes usually came with a Rock Shox Racing fork, and I happen to have one of those in near-perfect nick.
If anyone could PM me with instructions on how to turn the crown around, I'd appreciate it. Perhaps I can use it on another bike or sell the Manitou altogether.
First I'm going to get in touch with Sbike's former CEO. He might be able to shed some light on this or at least tell me who would know this frame.
Then I'll have to save up some money to get the frame finished. It needs canti bosses, cable stops and the mount for the pulley wheel. Oh, and the bridge across the front of the swingarm as well.
That sounds quite expensive, and my budget is quite limited at the moment. I think it'll take 2 months before I can send it to a frame specialist.
While waiting for the info and money, I'll be building my 729 with the Deore XT kit that was on that 828. I guess it'll become a 728 then.
I'll also be looking up what the proper components would be for this bike. Tricky, because it's a model that was never built to begin with.
I'm thinking along the lines of 1990 or 1991 XT and a Selle Italia Flite saddle.
As for the tyres, I'm afraid those will be modern. I have a pair of 1993 Panaracer Smoke Lites here, and can pull the carcass threads out of those by hand. I wouldn't put 20 year old tyres on a bike that will actually be ridden, even if I won't do heavy off-road stuff.
Purists may howl, but I'd rather have modern tyres than write off the bike because they disintegrate just when you really need grip.
Same with the brakes, I just don't trust old pads.