1989 Merlin Mountain


BoTM Winner
Brodie Fan
I’ve previously said more than once “no more bikes”. This was mainly stated to keep the peace with my better half. Recently I got away with adding the RM Blizzard but when an opportunity to acquire a Merlin Ti MTB recently presented itself I knew I’d be selling a bike. I’m still in the process of parting out one of my bikes to help fund this latest acquisition.

I’ve never owned or even ridden a titanium bike before this Merlin but I’ve always known I wanted one. There were many worthy titanium frames made in the early 90s a collector would want to add to their stable but for me it had to be a Merlin. I mentioned this to @vintageman during a recent ride stop while knocking back a pint or two and we made a deal.

I’d have been quite satisfied with a younger Merlin frame but getting my hands on an early one (SN 1175) is pretty great. I’m not totally certain of the year but leaning toward 89’, 90’ at the newest.

It’s one of those frames that is essentially the same frame Kona marketed under the Bicycle Group umbrella seen in the 1990 Kona Catalogue as “Kona Titanium”. It still has the remains of a Joe Murray signature decal on top of the NDS chainstay.

As received:


@Retro_Roy purchased the bike from the original owner around 2012-14 and later sold it to vintageman who has sold it to me now. It was purchased from Tailwind Cycles in Richmond BC, a Bicycle Group retailer. The original owner selected the Kona Track 2 fork still present, a Kona Velocity stem (now replaced with a Salsa Moto) XT components & a sweet Brodie U brake booster.

The Syncros Ti seatpost was also added along the way along with a Merlin titanium handlebar.

Right away I had plans to swap out some parts. Namely: Tires, cranks, brifters & saddle. I’ve always loved the look of Cooks on a Merlin so these were robbed from my Cannondale along with the Cook skewers, wanted tan wall tires and while I’ve been using more Turbo or Turbo style saddles lately I think the Flite suits the build best.

So basically I swapped out these parts and got one ride in before starting the full dismantle.

This is basically the build gameplan:


I guess there are a couple schools of thought with vintage bike restorations. My riding buddies are less about restoring vintage bikes to showroom condition and embrace the patina to varying degrees. I am afflicted with the desire to shoot for more of a showroom quality build LOL. No right or wrong I think.

Plans? I’d have left the original decals but some of them are too far gone for my OCD. The remnants of the Joe Murray chainstay decal stays for sure. The Salsa stem is getting a repaint and new decals.

The Merlin bottom bracket bearings were toast. I was fortunate to find replacements at my LBS. I’ve dug up the original Merlin BB installation instructions and plan to build my own press spacers, etc.

I’m also planning to do the scotch brite brush (shoe-shine style) once old decals are removed.
Onto the Track 2. What a score!! Yes, I know all about the recalls. We all know how rare these forks are. This Track 2 has seen many miles of riding without revealing any issues so I’m not concerned with it failing on me. I have done a lot of digging though and some of my research pointed more toward the 1-1/8” second generation Track 2s failing, not so much the 1st generation 1” forks. The fork has 1989 stamped on the steerer tube.


As shown this Track 2 has more patina than I can handle. If there was less of this I could live with just cleaning it up. I had thought about a repaint with gloss black to match the stem. One buddy asking me “why don’t you repaint it black chrome?”. I though, “how the hell can I do that?” but it got me thinking. Canadian Tire sells Dupli-Color automotive rattle can paint, they have a Metalcast anodized coating that is partially transparent. I used in on my 76’ Schwinn repaint in blue combined with the Metalcast metal flake undercoat. One of my best respray results IMHO. They have a color called Smoke that is a dark grey. There was a layer of lacquer (or similar) on the Track 2 legs I removed first, then masked around the bigger areas missing color to build them up followed by three light coats on everything. I love the result.

They have a color called Smoke that is a dark grey. There was a layer of lacquer (or similar) on the Track 2 legs I removed first, then masked around the bigger areas missing color to build them up followed by three light coats on everything. I love the result.
The finish looks spectacular. Subscribed
Hey Canuck! Can you please do me a huge favor and measure the total length of the "Geometry by Joe Murray" decal? Please mind the edges of the decals. I think on the surface you can see the leftover edges and lines. Thank you so much! That is highly appreciated and solves a problem for me!

No problem at all, I just dug up this pic from Adrian's 1990 Kona Titanium build thread from a while back, this will help me be more accurate


Not a bad machine to be adding to your collection! ;) Good luck selling one to keep the peace!

Amazing job done on the Track Two Legs! Looking forward to another well documented and executed build. :cool:💪

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