KHS Montana Pro 1992 frame built into a tourer


Devout Dirtbag

This is my first proper post even though I've been buying things and commenting on topics here and there for a while. This build has been quite the lengthy one, and although it's in a solidly rideable position at the moment, it is not finished just yet. It is by-and-large a pre-1997 MTB, and is in spirit, but with some modern twists, additions and anomalies...

Last year my friend gave me a battered KHS Montana Pro 1992 frame that he had acquired for free after a colleague bought it in order to obtain the Rockshox MAG 21 forks that came with it. It was originally a midnight blue/black colour, but as it has chipped and rusted considerably, I decided to strip it and sand it back to eventually seal it as a raw metal bike frame.

I tried multiple sealing techniques including Halford's own clear coat (lol, began t show rust within two days of courier work), another higher end clear coat, and even rubbing vegetable cooking oil into the frame (also bad, just very sticky and smelled funny, fortunately it came right off with a sponge and washing up liquid). I eventually settled on boiled linseed oil to seal the frame which is doing the job so far, but I am always up for suggestions or improvements to make this a more lasting finish to the metal.

Another "fun" part of this build has been finding forks. The headtube is 1", but due to the nature of it having the Rockshox on it (with a ride a-c) of 403mm) it has been difficult to find good forks that are suspension adjusted and with a 1" steere that don't completely break the bank. I am still on the look out for some, so at the moment it is built up with some bloody heavy and crap steel forks that are definitely twisted and bent, but they're all I have.

Other than that, I have aimed for mainly XT components due to the durability and quality which is super beneficial for the touring I plan to do with it. However, this utility requirement has also led to me adding some modern components for both comfort and ease.

Also my wheels are mismatched and random, but they're doing a stellar job after I found out the front hub had 11 bearings on one side...


Frame - KHS Montana Pro 1992, True Temper OX II
Forks - Broken, crap steel ones

Headset - Tange Falcon 1" Threaded, cartridge bearings
Stem - ITM, positive rise 1" quill stem with canti stop hole drilled
Bars - Very wide, no name black risers
Grips - ODI Longneck, flangeless
Bar ends - Random ones my housemate said I could have

Shifters/Levers - Shimano Deore XT, ST-M737, unfortunately the small plastic pin that aligns the indicator with the ratchet in the shifter has snapped for the left-hand unit, so currently the indicator isn't working
Brakes - M737 cantilever brakes, with XT pads and holders, also using the Shimano straddles from this brake set

Front Mech - Shimano Deore XT, FD-M736, 28.6mm, top-pull
Rear Mech - Shimano Deore XT RD-M739-GS, with replacement BBB jockey wheels recently fitted

Bottom Bracket - UN72
Crankset - Shimano Deore XT, FC-M737, 42/32/22t, 42t and 22t are the stock Shimano rings, however I replaced the middle ring with a 32t Surly Stainless Steel one for longevity

Saddle - Fabric Elite Cell Radius, for upright riding position, very plush for touring wit positive rise stem and risers...
Seatpost - Shimano Deore XT, SP-M730

Front Wheel - Shimano STX-RC, HB-MC32, laced to Araya TM-16
Rear Wheel - Shimano 105 road hub, laced to Mavic D521, with Shimano HG41 cassette
Tyres - Schwalbe Marathon Mondial

Regarding wheels, I have a great pair of M737 hubs that I want to build up into a wheelset, but for the time being I'm holding out for a pair of 32h grey Mavic D521's for this purpose.

For touring I am going with the bike-packing route of saddle bag/framebag/handlebar bag/fork mounted cages.

As mentioned, there are a few items still on my wantlist:

1) 1" forks, 400mm+ a-c, ideally threaded but threadless would work with a new stem and headset
2) Indicator unit (or just inside of one) for ST-M737
3) Paid of Mavic D521 rims, 32h, ideally grey

I hope you enjoyed my build post, I would love to hear any feedback or improvements you may have, especially on sealing and treating the raw metal to prevent corrosion.

Thank you,


  • IMG_20200603_111842508.jpg
    2.3 MB · Views: 411
  • IMG_20200603_130457961_BURST004.jpg
    2.7 MB · Views: 410


Dirt Disciple

A bare frame on a touring bike, subjected to rain and various nicks and small scrapes, may look cool in a Mad Max kind of way but will probably corrode fast if you do use it.

For corrosion protection, I think a professional paint job is the best. For a DIY you could try some Zapon (clear coat varnish) but I doubt it would have good mechanical properties or durability, did not turn that well for me.

I used owatrol primer/thinner on rusty railings 4-5 years ago : did not budge since so their products seem OK. In their lineup there are primers, varnishes, etc : maybe have a look?


Devout Dirtbag

Yeah I have been considering a professional powder-coating, but can't quite afford it right now. My current plan is to ride it like this through summer, then maybe debuild it and get it painted in the autumn in time for winter.

Interestingly that company you linked do a colourless rust inhibitor, so I may look into that as well.

Thanks for the tips!


Dirt Disciple

Yes, Rustol. Useful as a paint thinner. Maybe use one coat rustol, one coat varnish? Or rustol + varnish in one go. Try on some small parts first, let them outside a few weeks, you'll see how it ages...

I think Rustol yellows a little, I'm not sure it is 100% neutral.


Devout Dirtbag

Ahhhhh ok sweet, so an initial rust inhibitor (that I guess reacts with the iron so it can't oxidise) and then a varnish to finish it. Thank you!


Retro Guru
Whatever you decide to do, please don't let it rust. I'll have the frame if you don't want it :)

I have two Montana Comps and a Team build is next on the list (the Pro and Team used the same frame, OX tubing with no pannier bosses, but XT vs XTR)