My '94 Diamond Back Axis Pro 'Tribute' (& many thank you's)


Retro Guru
Hi everyone,

Just wanted to take a moment and acknowledge this community for being such a huge help with my restoration project. This is my only bike, I'm not a collector, and though I've owned and have worked on bikes as a hobby for 25+ years, I'm far from an expert. The people I have met here, and the information I have gotten in this forum, have been a huge part of the success of this build. So let's begin, shall we?

Pics of the bike, and the build, are here:

I also post about the bike and my adventures (sic) on Instagram:

This particular bike started out as a bare frame on Craigslist. I'd purchased it because months earlier, I'd gotten a '93 Diamond Back Response Elite (also on Craigslist) that I knowingly acquired despite the frame being one size too small. (I had been out of the hobby for 25+ years and was desperate to get back into it, and that bike was what I wanted - vintage steel hardtail, XT/LX, in great condition). I rode it for six months until I decided to upgrade the frame, because you can do that, contrary to popular opinion. :) I found the Axis Pro frame on Craigslist moved all the parts onto it in August 2020. I then rode it happily for several months while I started shopping for a full XT kit to install over the winter.

Before I go any further, I should say that this is NOT meant as a full RESTORATION (it's incorrect in almost every way), it's more a a TRIBUTE (and not even that really) since the real Axis Pro had full XTR M900. And, despite the fact I just HAPPENED to come into possession of MOST of an M900 group on an old Trek 8900, I decided against using it all. It was in rough nick, and so incomplete that I determined the cost of acquiring the missing bits would be too much. Plus I didn't care about bragging rights or weight reduction as this bike is a RIDER not a showpiece. So I sold those M900 bits to help defray the costs of this rebuild and kept on course with the XT build plan.

Bike specs (along with a tip of the hat to the folks here who provided parts or help):

Frame: Diamond Back Axis Pro (1994)
Material: TT-Lite Cromoly Steel
Fork: Marzocchi XC-51 [legs rebuilt by Retro Guru, thank you!]
Paint: Gloss Black Powdercoat by Sport Bike Powdercoating
Decals: Retrodecals [Thanks, gil_m!]

Headset: Shimano Deore XT HP 736
Stem: Zoom
Handlebar: Zoom 170 (580 width)
Grips: Oury

Brakes: Shimano XT M734
Brake Pads: Shimano XT M734
Brake Cables & Housings: Jagwire Mountain Pro
Brake Levers: Shimano XT M095 7 speed

Shifters: Shimano XT M095 [Right shifter courtesy of kipperthedog, thank you!]
Front Derailleur: Shimano XT M735
Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT M735
Cassette: Shimano HG-90, 12-28
Cranks: Shimano XT M730 [Thanks, RetroRider_IT!]
Chainrings: Shimano SG-X 46-36-26
Chain: Shimano HG-70
Chain deflector: Shimano Shark Fin M730
Bottom Bracket: Shimano UN55, 122.5 width
Pedals: Shimano XT SPD M737

Rims: Araya RM-20 36h
Hubs: Shimano XT M730/M732
Hub Skewers: Shimano XT
Tyres: Panaracer Smoke/Dart 2.1

Saddle: Selle Italia Turbo [Thanks, RetroRider_IT!]
Seatpost: Shimano Deore XT M730
Seatpost Binder: Shimano Deore XT M730

The process was EXTREMELY gratifying but not without frustrations. I won't admit how many times I bought THE WRONG PARTS and had to return or re-sell them on eBay. I also screwed up the decal application and needed to order a second set (more than that actually) from Gil. Nonetheless, the hours I spent working on it over this winter have been therapeutic and generally awesome. If I'd wanted a bike I didn't have to work on, I'd have bought a modern bike and probably saved money! But that wasn't what I wanted. To me the repair/maintenance (and interacting with great folks like all of you here) is as much part of the experience as riding it.

I know this bike isn't anything historically significant or all that rare. It's not valuable really, certainly not worth how much I've spent on it (I'm afraid to add it all up). None of that matters because I have what I want, something perfect for what and where I ride (at my age, I don't need to be bombing down hills at bike parks). No, this plain old 26'er is perfect for the trails I have access to, and is helping me stay in shape (I'm down about 45 pounds over the last year).

I'm stoked to be back into the sport and can't thank you all enough for your help and guidance!

Best, kj


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Double-E F

Gold Trader


Congratulations on completing this very nice build: well done :cool:!

The ups and downs you describe in the process leading up to this result sound very familiar, including applying decals wrong :).
I've stumbled out of the man cave on multiple occasions swearing 'not ever to set foot in there again' after screwing up a part I'd been looking for for ages, but eventually everything always turns out well, resulting in a nice retrobike that is awesome to look at and generally speaking fun to ride (if you take it easy, like I tend to do..).
I have been building much less recently, but riding a bit more; lockdown and Brexit are not making things easier with regard to selling and buying parts to and from Brits. Let's see how that evolves during winter and towards spring when temperatures rise again, days lengthen and COVID has less of an impact on daily life.

In the meantime: enjoy your awesome ride!


Gold Trader
rBotM Winner
Karma King
Dyna-Tech Fan
I must admit - that’s one good looking elegant machine!
Nice write up and very nice build!
Would like to see some pics of it out on the trails!


Gold Trader
Kona Fan
Awesome! These early diamond backs are iconic in my opinion. I had one, can't remember exactly which tbh. Really good looking bike you have built up.nice work and an interesting read to


Retro Guru
Double-E F: thanks! a kindred spirit to be sure, I too take it easy. I don't have anything quite the caliber of your keepers though! Even with all the ups and downs of doing our own work, it's still quite worth it.

ibbz: thank you! Very happy with it all. But when it comes to ride photos, I am the WORST. I see so many great compositions but just never want to stop. When I do, I get shots like this (not that inspiring): - I'll try to do better!

Magpiegifts: thanks, I very much appreciate the kind words, glad you enjoyed the writeup! It's what this place is for, am I right?


Retrobike Rider
looks mega buddy!!! they kinda lost their way abit imho towards the late 90s but the early stuffs great, id love a dual response, missed one early last day, ill look you up on insta too ;)


Retro Guru
Thanks longun! I had no idea of the history of the brand before I got the bike, but yes, I read how they had quite a fall from grace in the late 90s. Happy to have found (and built) this specimen from the better part of their past. See you on Insta!


Retro Guru
Very nice bike, I'm also a big fan of early DB's. I have an Ascent and a WCF right now, but wish I still had my Axis TT.