In 1985 I was half way through nursing school and getting the itch to spend some of the $ I knew I was going to be making once I graduated. Specialized, Univega, Panasonic, and Ross were mass producing some pretty nice mountain bikes and the boom was on. I needed a second mtb. I wasn’t tired of my Lawwill Knight Pro Cruiser but I knew I was going to be moving from Richmond Va. where it’s pretty flat to the Blue Ridge Mountains of my home in Roanoke Va. The LKPC would still be my go to bombing bike but I needed another bike that climbed and went cross country better than the seven-year-old design of the Lawwill-Knight Pro Cruiser.
“…most of this was, on a mountain bike, exotic stuff.”
Two Wheel Travel in Richmond had always been my go to lbs. The owners and mechanics were smart, creative, two blocks away and everyone rode. The 1985 bicycle trade show was in New York and several of TWT’s staff went. They came back raving about the brand new mountain bikes from Klein, showed me some literature and I was hooked. Up to that point, to me, all production mountain bikes merely looked like beefy road bikes. The Mountain Klein was made of an aluminum/magnesium alloy, the tubes were all fat, ( Soon all bikes would be sporting fat tubes.) the chain stays were square, the cables were internally routed, it had the new Suntour? the roller cam brakes, Shimano Biopace elliptical chainrings, chainstay mounted rear brakes and was available in red or blue. Most of this was, on a mountain bike, exotic stuff.
This design spoke to me in a new language. Not the pidgin mountain bike language of Stumpjumper et al but in the language of pure purpose built mountain biking as opposed to some off road derivative of road bikes. Like Erik Koski’s Trailmaster and the Lawwill Knight Pro Cruiser, the Mountain Klein was a beautifully proportioned bike. Purely from an aesthetic standpoint, IMHO these are the three most beautiful early production mountain bikes. And I think an argument could be made that from about this point forward there never really were any pretty production mountain bikes.
I placed my order in December 1985 and the bike was delivered about six months later. I cashed in a life insurance policy to pay for it. By this time I had moved from Richmond, Virginia to Roanoke, Virginia. In the Blue Ridge Mountains, I was doing trail and fire road riding in addition to bombing. I rode this bike until about 1996 when I bought a Girvin Pro Flex 856, the Girvin fork of which was turned into a lamp base in about 2000. Squeaky junk. Don’t get me started about that bike.
My Mountain Klein sat pretty much unused but out of the weather until about 2005 when I made some tire and wheel changes to convert it to less of a trail bike and more of a dirt road, fire trail bike. In about 2006 I made a few changes to convert it to rail to trail touring. I’ve taken several multi-day trips on this bike and loaded with panniers it does fine.
The paint started bubbling up about 15 years ago. There seemed to be no pattern as to where the bubbling/blistering was occurring. If I flake a blister open there is a very fine white powder underneath. I’m not sure if this is a paint thing, a primer thing or a tubing thing going on. I’m hoping that it is not a tubing corrosion and weakening process because someday I want to strip and resto-mod this bike. As you can see in the pics it has now a mere hint of its former beauty. It deserves better. Maybe later.