Two Ridgebacks


Senior Retro Guru
Tired of all those high end builds? The monotony of gleaming XT, titanium, boutique brands and desirable top end models. Well, here's a sight for sore eyes.

It was some time last summer when I locked up my new-ish mountain bike at a supermarket and just stared at an old nineties Ridgeback locked up next to it. My bike must have been worth ten times as much money but that Ridgeback just had something about it I liked - the blue paint job, the geometry, they just looked right. It was a 602 from 1993 or thereabouts I later discovered but, lowly or not, I liked the look of it. And there began my Ridgeback quest.

Now, I was very busy over the summer and various suitable Ridgebacks came and went on eBay, usually for silly, low prices, but I just didn't have the time or energy to put in the driving time to collect one. But I kept on looking . . . Until the end of August, when a 705RS appeared and sold for around £40 about 165 miles away. That bugged me! In a fit of frustration, I made a much shorter journey and splashed out a whole tenner - yes, last of the big spenders! - on a 1991 603GS. I'd told myself that I would never buy a low end bike again but I wanted a 90's Ridgeback and I got a 90's Ridgeback - and this, the 1991 catalogue says, was the top of the mountain series. The only problem was that the top of the mountain series is not very high in the grand scheme of things.

This was it:

But it was heavy, very heavy. And nothing much on it worked. And it needed lubrication, cleaning, rust-free braking surfaces . . . I went back to re-spraying an old Hardrock. Don't ask me why. It's a case of I've started so I'll finish, I think.

Anyway, when I was once again bored of re-spraying, I turned to the Ridgeback again. I stripped off every component, wondering what on earth to do with it and the closer I got to just the frame and forks, the more I liked it. The old zero-butted Tange tubing wasn't so bad after all. When it was down to just the frame and headset cups, I weighed it on some not-especially-accurate Asda travel scales: about 2.25Kg.

It could be worse. Now the rebuilding.

The 200GS derailleurs were not, actually, any heavier than some LX ones I had spare. Unfortunately, it turned out that the front one would switch from rings one to two, or two to three, but one all the way to three was too much for the poor old thing. In politically correct terms, it was 'laterally challenged'. The rear one, on the other hand, was all too happy skipping multiple gears. The LX derailleurs went on. The rear wheel was fine; the front got a no name but serviceable wheel. The original bars and stem weighed a whopping 840g together; they were replaced with some spare Halfords ones that weighed a total of 340g. Half a kilo gone, just like that. The 200GS chain set was very heavy, and ugly - on went an LX replacement. Anyway, what went on was what was lying spare - a mish mash: SD7 brakes, cheapo Shimano rapid fire shifter pods, City Jet tyres. And before long the old Ridgeback could ride again and it looked like this:

And it weighed about 12.3Kg according to the not-especially-accurate Asda travel scales. At a guess, 2kg-3Kg was lost, but the only original parts left attached to the frame and forks were the headset, bottom bracket and rear wheel. (Note: the 1991 Ridgeback catalogue says that the bottom bracket is protected from rust by a rubbery inner sleeve. In reality, it doesn't help; you just can't see the rust as easily!) It's not a bad ride: pretty quick, a little on the firm side but with some springiness noticeable. As a commuter, it's OK. And it's seen some dirt and rain.

And then I found another Ridgeback but that's for the next post . . .


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Klein Fan
I like it. Sort of. :D
Reminds me of my first mountainbike, Wheeler 302 I think. Also had a 200Gs for a few months. That got swapped to LX and XT as the GS parts failed...

I'd swap the stem (and maybe the bar) for something silver thou. Or remove the black from this one. I think the bike would look a but better balanced colourwise... :D


Retrobike Rider
Gold Trader

Defo have a soft spot for late 80's to early 90's Ridgeback after many hours gawping at the Freewheel mag bitd. :cool:


Orange 🍊 Fan

brocklanders023":10547qeh said:
Defo have a soft spot for late 80's to early 90's Ridgeback after many hours gawping at the Freewheel mag bitd. :cool:

Massive soft spot for these old Ridgebacks brocklanders023, I blame those Freewheel mags too!! ( Still Gawp at them now!! :cool: )

19889 / 1990 to me are the pinnacle years for Ridgebacks for me... even the lower mountain series bikes were specced well and had great graphics. They got good reviews in MBUK and MBi too.

Catalogues here - viewtopic.php?f=9&t=370228

Keep up the good work! :D



Bin Monkey
BoTM Winner
PoTM Winner
GT Fan
200GS never fails. No known reports of it failing either, maybe because when it did, the poor riders were at the bottom of water filled ditches or ravines

Dead men tell no tails

200GS never fails

<fades in to the dusk>


Senior Retro Guru

Thank you for the kind comments. 200GS might well have seen someone at the bottom of a ravine: it sucked!

Back in the 90's I had no interest in mountain bikes, so all these (now) retro bikes passed me by. I was happy with my red Raleigh racer, and before that a five speed Raleigh Arena - I did 80 miles commuting a week on that in my summer holidays! Loved it then; would probably despair if I rode one now. Anyway, the 603GS has convinced me that there is a place in my life for a retro mountain bike. I'm not fulfilling a teenage dream, or building a collection: my bikes all have a use or they're up for sale. However, I wanted a higher end model and the 705RS I'd seen still bugged me. Furthermore, on anything over an hour's ride, the 603GS gives me back and neck pain: the bent over, looking up, posture was fine in my youth but no longer. (The top tube is 57cm on the 603GS - quite long for me.)

Last week, I spotted a 704TX on eBay, and less than 30 miles away. I won the bidding (a mere £28 :D ) and collected it at the weekend. It's the same 0.9, 0.6, 0.9 double butted tubing Ridgeback used on many bikes in the early to mid nineties, including the 705RS, and the geometry is more relaxed than on the '91 models (54cm top tube on this one). The groupset is STX rather than the 705RS's LX but that's not a big issue. It's been well used and then neglected - pretty much all original, including a saddle cunningly designed to apply pressure in all the wrong places!

According to the not-especially-accurate Asda travel scales, it weighs 12.5Kg, as bought: more than the current weight of the 603GS. If I can get the 704TX below 12Kg, I'll be happier.

The initial plan is to make it rideable, touch up the damage to the paint, and just ride it. If, as I hope, it's all the retro MTB I want, in the future it will probably get the full respray, etc. treatment.

The rust came at no extra charge:


I suppose 'well used' is a good sign:

I'll update when there's progress; at the moment, it's a frame and a box of bits.


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Senior Retro Guru
I do not do a lot of high end builds I have done one or two but love the mid lower end builds love the bringing back to life these old steeds


Senior Retro Guru
Two Ridgebacks: 704TX Update

Since I'm snowed off work today, I thought I'd post a quick update on the 704TX. This was unrideable when I bought it. Since then, it's been completely stripped, cleaned and re-greased - and reassembled/botched into a rideable bike. The only parts I haven't touched so far are the shifter/lever pods which seem to gunked up with sawdust.

Anyway, the frame weight (with just headset cups attached) was a pleasing 1.5Kg, with the usual caveat about the scales.

Then it was slung back together, with a temporary use of, er . . . cable ties to keep the rear brake cable in place and taken out for test riding.

It's light, nippy and surprisingly stiff - seems like a keeper. The goal is to get a good balance between speed and comfort, and generally set it up to my liking, so some of the stuff on it at the moment is very much temporary. I've got a quill stem on order, with a bit of rise (not cattle-prod style) and some SRT-600 grip shifters, which I'm not usually too keen on but they're better for the tendinitis in my thumb than thumb or trigger shifters. And eventually, I think it will get the full re-paint and new decals treatment (if I can get the decals). I'm not sure about eventual colour at the moment - possibly close to original, possibly metallic British racing green, possibly gunmetal grey. It's going to get a lot of riding and tweaking the set up first, though.


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