1989 Merlin Mtn Titanium with Full WTB and "Rubber Fork"


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Here's a '89 Merlin Project I have just finished off.

It came to me free ... goofy set of circumstances there. It was complete with a XT 730/2 group and Fat Chance Box Crown, which I thought was just the coolest. This was not an uncommon setup for east coast merlins BiTD apparently. Overall, this one really just came together will a whole lot of chance opportunities and luck.

I am not really one for the WTB hype, but a group had made it's way into my hands and I thought this would be a fun bike to put it all on.

(Yes I have the rest)

I thought the box crown was a super cool option for the frame until this fell into my lap. This is a c1988-9 Titanium Merlin "Rubber Fork". Named for its flexy performance in early testing. Gary Helfrich, and Mike Augspurger both wanted to have a ti fork to go with their frames and other ti kit. Only a handful were made. As luck would have it (again), the fork was the perfect size for the frame with a CK headset. This one features a steel steerer spot welded/epoxied into in an attempt to stiffen it up a bit. I haven't had a trail test on it yet, but it seems no worse than my all Ti Dean/Litespeed fork bike. The dean was a a terrifying bike on fast single track so I suspect this thing will stay on the dirt flats.

The rubber fork has a stubby similar to a type II or early ritchey/fisher,. but because the ti tubing ID is greater than a steel steerer the stub is not the normal size. There would have been a custom ti stubby stem for this fork back in the day, but that's likely not coming my way. I had Mark Beaver (owner of Tamerack in Nova Scotia) modify the salsa stem I got with the bike to fit ... perfect job :)

It' done ... gotta get to pics.


Senior Retro Guru

You're a lucky guy.

Nothing wrong with WTB imho.

They put quite a lot of money into development.

The old stuff is particularly good.

Look forward to seeing how you get on with it.


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Yes, nice and sexy project.
Fat Chance Box Crown fits fine one that frame. Merlin and Fat were near and got Gary Helfrich in common history
But those ti forks ! :cool:


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Few more pics hiding on my phone ...

Salsa stem post plating with a good ol' silver canadian coin topper :)

And some other luck. Finding a '90 Kona Explosif in southern Ontario is always cool. Finding one modified by local bike dude Tony Beeks ... even cooler.

Finding the above with a OG WTB Rollercam on the rear ... basically unheard of lol. It now resides on the back of the Merlin.


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Here she is all done ....

Frame: 1989 Merlin Mountain Titanium

Fork: Merlin "Rubber Fork"

Headset: WTB Chris King
Stem: Custom Salsa
Handlebar: Merlin Titanium
Grips: ODI
Barends: None

Brakes: Marinovative Ti Decelerator Front, WTB Rollercam Rear
Brake Pads: Mathauser
Brake Cables: Shimano
Cantilever cable hangers: WTB/Shimano
Brake Levers: XT 733

Shifters: XT 732
Front Derailleur: XT 732
Rear Derailleur: Dura Ace 7400
Derailleur Cables: Shimano
Cassette: Sachs
Chain: Shimano
Cranks: Cooks
Crank Bolts: Shimano
Chainrings: XT 730
Chainring bolts: Shimano
Bottom Bracket: Merlin Ti
Pedals: XT 730

Hub Skewers: NOS American Classic Ti
Rims: NOS Mavic 231
Hubs: NOS WTB Classics
Nipples: DT
Spokes: DT
Tyres: Red Ritchey Z-Max Mega-Bites
Tubes: MEC

Saddle: Campagnolo Electa Titanium
Seatpost: American Classic Ti
Seatpost Binder: American Classic Ti

Weight: Def light, but not sure :)



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Disco Drive":p07h1hk2 said:
A very tasteful build- well done! Looks like it will ride very well?

It’s a rocket around the block lol. It’s a bit chilly up here in Toronto so I haven’t take it for much of a ride yet.