Marin Eldridge Grade 1994 Build Thread

AlexJ33

Dirt Disciple
So the story of this bike begins about 8 years ago in Edinburgh, where I lived at the time, when I rode a 15" Marin Eldridge Grade (the fluoro pink year), and was very impressed by the ride, unfortunately at 5,9" it was just too small for me. But I always remembered it and kept it in the back on my mind that I would own one some day.

A few years later my bike was damaged in an attempted theft (they failed to cut the chain but their levering had crumpled the top tube) and I tried to find a Marin frame as a replacement. In Brussels, where I now live, Marin's have never been imported in any quantity and they are very hard to find, so I turned my eyes back home.

Eventually I found one, Mike the Marin Man (check out his Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/themarinman/) in North Wales was selling one at a very reasonable price. I could have picked up the complete bike with original components, but I didn't want a 7 speed drive train or calliper brakes, so I asked, and he stripped it down for me (I know this may be anathema to many patrons on here 😬, I want the bike to be the way I want it to be). It was going to be almost 6 weeks until I was going to return to the UK to pick it up, but I had time and a thesis to write so that was fine.

I then heard that Eurostar was no longer taking bikes because of Covid (how does that make any sense), I figured I'd work something out and did some shopping for the parts I'd need. Luckily three of the crucial components I'd need were in Wales so I planned an epic, all day drive across the beautiful mountains and then north along the coast to pick up the frameset, a fancy wheelset and a suspension fork.

Around came Christmas and with it Omicron, the UK government mandated pre and post travel PCR testing (at your own expense and blooming expensive it was too, thanks to the innovative market based solution that was implemented, cheers conservatives). I had set up the pickups for the third day of my return, so after getting tested on arrival at St Pancras, I crossed my fingers and waited.

Luckily, I was negative, so I set out at 8.30 am Saturday December 18th for the border, 4 hours later I arrived at Mikes house where you can see me grinning like a cheshire cat with the frame in the picures. The wheelset and suspension fork subsequently acquired, I arrived at my parents home about 18.00. Now it was time for Christmas although I already had what I really wanted this year.

That's it for the first instalment, will follow up with the innovative packing solution I settled on and more detailed images of the frame and components tomorrow.

Cheers,
Alex
 

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marinmike80

Retro Newbie
So the story of this bike begins about 8 years ago in Edinburgh, where I lived at the time, when I rode a 15" Marin Eldridge Grade (the fluoro pink year), and was very impressed by the ride, unfortunately at 5,9" it was just too small for me. But I always remembered it and kept it in the back on my mind that I would own one some day.

A few years later my bike was damaged in an attempted theft (asshole failed to cut the chain but their levering had crumbled the top tube) and I tried to find a Marin frame as a replacement. In Brussels, where I now live, Marin's have never been imported in any quantity and they are very hard to find, so I turned my eyes back home.

Eventually I found one, Mike the Marin Man (check out his Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/themarinman/) in North Wales was selling one at a very reasonable price. I could have picked up the complete bike with original components, but I didn't want a 7 speed drive train or calliper brakes, so I asked, and he stripped it down for me (I know this may be anathema to many patrons on here 😬, I want the bike to be the way I want it to be). It was going to be almost 6 weeks until I was going to return to the UK to pick it up, but I had time and a thesis to write so that was fine.

I then heard that Eurostar was no longer taking bikes because of Covid (how does that make any sense), I figured I'd work something out and did some shopping for the parts I'd need. Luckily three of the crucial components I'd need were in Wales so I planned an epic, all day drive across the beautiful mountains and then north along the coast to pick up the frameset, a fancy wheelset and a suspension fork.

Around came Christmas and with it Omicron, the UK government mandated pre and post travel PCR testing (at your own expense and blooming expensive it was too, thanks to the innovative market based solution that was implemented, cheers conservatives). I had set up the pickups for the third day of my return, so after getting tested on arrival at St Pancras, I crossed my fingers and waited.

Luckily, I was negative, so I set out at 8.30 am Saturday December 18th for the border, 4 hours later I arrived at Mikes house where you can see me grinning like a cheshire cat with the frame in the picures. The wheelset and suspension fork subsequently acquired, I arrived at my parents home about 18.00. Now it was time for Christmas although I already had what I really wanted this year.

That's it for the first instalment, will follow up with the innovative packing solution I settled on and more detailed images of the frame and components tomorrow.

Cheers,
Alex
Best of luck Alex 🙌🏼
 

marc two tone

Retrobike Rider
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Oh, pink 1992 eldridge?

Its a tough ask to get any 92 with good paint. So, i can see why you've moved up a few years to get something presentable.
Are you going shimano LX and with restoration in mind, or just throw whatever works at it?
Good start anyways with the proper stem and bars. 🚲.
 

AlexJ33

Dirt Disciple
Oh, pink 1992 eldridge?

Its a tough ask to get any 92 with good paint. So, i can see why you've moved up a few years to get something presentable.
Are you going shimano LX and with restoration in mind, or just throw whatever works at it?
Good start anyways with the proper stem and bars. 🚲.
I've had a 9 speed XTR 972 in my parts bin for years and a NOS 9 speed XT cassette waiting for use, so I went all in with this build..

Bid on and won a pretty epic wheelset at a price I could afford (luckily) and it matches the bike and components I already had perfectly.

Well over budget and not at all in period spec but I'm very excited to put it all together.
Build continues tomorrow.
 

AlexJ33

Dirt Disciple
The solution to getting the bike back to Belgium turned out to be more tricky than had been anticipated. Officially, luggage up to 80cm is allowed, but the frame measured 100cm, oops. I also had my large 70L travel Rucksack with all my clothes in and I was only allowed two pieces of luggages, so the whole bike had to fit into one bag, and also not look like a bike bag, since that wasn't allowed. I looked many places online for relatively cheap bags, but any bags that were long enough were not wide enough to accommodate the seat tube. In the end I borrowed a friend's old suitcase, wrapped the metal sticking out in a black bag and thought well I'll try it.. I don't have any photos of the finished bag but I got one wheel inside, strapped one wheel to the outside and pretty much everything you need to build a bike in there too.

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And luckily no one checked the length and thought it was bloody heavy to shift around London between stations, on one arm with a big travel rucksack full of whiskey (my other Christmas presents) on my back. In the end I managed to get it back to Brussels and to my flat. Still can't quite believe I got it all in there to be honest.
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As you can see, I decided to add a bit suspension with a gorgeous looking Marzocchi bomber Z2 super fly (weigh around 1.5kg),1999 vintage, the first Bomber air fork with a beautiful machined arch. It was originally intended to be used for XC, they have around 70 mm of travel, so not too much to upset the original geometry, thanks @Bob for that one! (Still need to properly seat the crown race)
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So, once back I took out the frame, its in pretty good condition given its age!
But, unfortunately while traveling, I'd knocked the headtube somewhere (in Eurostar I think) and scratched the original decal 😥. It survived 28 years and I'd owned it a week and scratched it!
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Wounder! Eventually I might hit up Gill for a replacement set of decals, but that can wait.
The rest of the frame looks nice though!
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A very few rust spots, but nothing major.PXL_20220117_165736012.jpg
Last but not least I'd managed to pick up a gorgeous set of 26" XTR wheels in great condition for only £110, bargain. They even had red spoke nipples to go with the original saddle rails and seat clamp. This is going to look amazing when it's all put together.
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Given that I was going to use a suspension fork, I could not use the original stem (even though it was a lovely red and in good condition) or the original headset, so out those came and in went a brand new Cane Creek Forty.
 
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AlexJ33

Dirt Disciple
It was a bit of a pig to get it in straight with my homemade press. I really want the proper tool to do this but since I only fit a whole headset every couple of years, I make do with repeated swearing and a small leather dead blow hammer, to square it up when it goes squint. At the first sign of not being properly straight, you have to correct it, if you let go too far, you risk damaging the headset or frame 😬.PXL_20220118_161705378.jpg

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Finally got both cups in after about two hours struggle. The threaded shaft is poorly machined and the bolts are really difficult to get on at the end, meaning I have to grip the shaft with pliers to stop it twisting while I get the nut on. Nightmare. Annoyingly the cups aren't perfectly matched, the bottom cup is slightly rotated to the right, but it was close enough, I'll try and forget it. Not worth the hassle of knocking the lower cup out, rotating it 1-2mm then spending an hour getting it in straight again.

Tomorrow, get the tyres on the wheels and attempt to get them up tubeless, which is something the tyres (Swalbe Billy Bonkers) were not designed to accommodate.. We'll see if some sealant is able to plug up the pores enough..
 
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AlexJ33

Dirt Disciple
Okay, Billy bonkers will not work tubeless without a lot of effort and probable mess. My local bike shop kindly let me mess around with their booster pump, which allows you to drop 11 bar in the tyre almost immediately. I had to remove the valve to get that to work at all, and almost immediately a lot of air bled out through the sidewalls. I think it would have made one hell of mess trying to get the tyres to seal so I bought a couple of 26" inner tubes and brought everything back home.
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Kept the peaty valve fastener because it has a rubber seal at the bottom so tightening them down won't scratch the rim. And I think they look trick too.
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Glad I got tanwalls, hard to find in a 26" variety these days and none that I could find that were tubeless. Not sure the thread pattern is going to work on the forest trails I've got in mind, but I've bought them now, so we'll find out!
Got the rear cassette on, a 9 speed 34-11 XT which is the max my intended derailleur can officially handle. I've exceeded this by a number of teeth before, but I've had this cassette for few years as a replacement for my commuter (although arguably it's too good for that anyway), so I'll use it on this.
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So I thought I'd end up having too much steerer, how wrong I was! It's not ideal, but I think theres enough in the stem to make it safe. What you guys think?
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This, and the next image are here to discuss the Chainline, I think the chainset wants to come in a bit.
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As you can see I set up the BB in the default Shimano set-up for a 68mm shell, two spacers drive side, one on the none drive side. Looking at it from the image (and in person) I'm tempted to move both spacers over to the non drive side. Maybe one would be enough. What do you guys think?
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It's looking pretty tasty already I have to say. I decided to use a set of halo skewers rather than the XTR, nice as they are, the red looks really nice (and they save 70g or so).
As you can see the derailleur is on now, a m972 I've had in spares box for at least 4 years. It's gorgeous, but I've heard the carbon cages are prone to being damaged, which is partly why I haven't used it. But since I picked up a well used M985 chainset (yes, that's the model with the ridiculous one off BCD of 88mm) I thought it's only right to use it on this. I just hope it will take a new chain. For €60 though, I couldn't say no.

I would have put the brakes on, a set of XT M739's, but I've just come across a very cheap bike with a full XTR set up in the North of Flanders that I'm going to pick on Saturday. The brakes alone are going for more on eBay than I'm paying for the bike so I'll pick it up and decide which to fit.

Will I notice any difference between XTR and XT brakes? Anyone comment who's used them of that generation?
I kind want to use the XT brakes, they are really nice and shiney!
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AlexJ33

Dirt Disciple
So I acquired a doner bike, a Thompson Acid, the whole bike (bar the brakes), is up for grabs so just message me if your interested in any parts. There's an immaculate SLX triple (outer ring is worn, others okay), pair of Mavic Crossride 26" in very good condition, Deore 3x9 shifters, a XTR 9 speed reverse sprung RD, and a really cool looking rigid fork, and a very light alu frame. However, it might be a while until I'm able to post to the UK.
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Before I fit the brakes I wanted to show a little about how I cleaned up the seat post clampPXL_20220117_170047706~2.jpg
A bit grotty, apparently Marin only used this style of clamp for one year and I can see why, it's crap, who wants to carry around a 14 spanner on a ride. I found a quick release Marin version, in red, from later years, but I can't pick that up for a few months. So I'll rehab this one.
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I used automotive touch up paint for the job, smells like nail polish and it probably is, but for £2.50 for a red and a matt black pen I'm happy for these little jobs. Looks much better and when it chips I'll just reapply, colour is spot on as well.
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Skipped a few steps here, brakes are on, as is the chain, front derailleur and pedals. All cabled up, the fancy XTR cabling kit took a bit figuring out, there's stuff in there I had to look up what they were for 😂. Time to take her out for a ridePXL_20220124_140823762.jpg
Handles and shifts wonderfully, especially the front derailleur. It's a new part in this build, a brand new boxed XTR front derailleur, it's the only XTR part I've ever bought, and I only did so because it was remarkably cheap, £30 from a bike shop in the north of England 😲.

I was looking at used derailleurs, and for this type of build I would prefer to buy used, there's more then enough good stuff out there, but including postage they would have been the same price, if not more, and this one came with the range of correct fitting shims I would need, so I went for it.

I was a bit worried using a modern (I think 11 speed system) front derailleur, but despite it being used with 9 speed chain (which is wider that it was designed to accommodate) there was no chain rub in any but the most extreme gear combinations, which is normal anyway. PXL_20220124_141433391.jpg
At some point I may swap to some grips with red anodised clamps, but these will do for now.
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That machined arch looks beautiful to me, shame the brake calipers obscure it in a way but they're needed.
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Overlooking my local ponds after the first trail ride, in the sun, amazingly!

Total weight is 10.5 kg which isn't bad considering the frame weighs over 2kg and it's got suspension, which I'm glad I went for. I've never had any suspension before actually, and I'm pleased to say it's very supple and responsive. I don't anticipate doing very large drops in the future but 30-40cm stairs/curbs and the large amount of cobbled streets around here feel great so far.

I'm very happy with how she turned out, I think she looks great and she rides wonderfully, at least on everything I've done on it so far. The narrow bars will take some getting used to, but I'm sure it will be fine. Will be going on a gravel ride with the local club on Wednesday, which will be her first proper test. I think it's time to get her a bit muddy, at least I'll have these pictures of her new and clean.

And that's it, my highest end build ever, giving a new life to a Marin Eldridge Grade from 1994 😁. It isn't the original spec, which in some ways make it less authentic, but I wanted to make something I would enjoy riding and that I can learn new skills on my local trails, and imo the original parts would have made that harder. The only new parts on this build were the tyres, chain, cassette and front derailleur. Everything else was second hand, which meant I could afford to build this bike in the spec I did, but it's also how I think these builds of retro MTBs should be, as much as is possible.

I hope it was at least partially interesting, to someone looking to do something similar, or just looking at someone else bike build.
Cheers for looking Alex
 
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