Alex Earle currently lives near Berlin, but some years back he was resident in Colorado. While there in 1990 he bought this Manitou hardtail, built by Doug Bradbury himself. Bradbury had been building his unique Manitou frames since 1987, so by 1990 it was quite refined. The suspension fork, though, was a very new thing, shortly to be made famous by John Tomac.
By 1992 Bradbury had licensed the Manitou name to Answer Products, and some of the more leftfield design elements were dropped in the interests of component compatibility – Alex’s 1990 bike has 115mm front dropout spacing, 145mm rear dropout spacing (and an offset back end to allow a dishless rear wheel) and a 90mm BB shell (a dimension that, 20 years on, is making a comeback).
As well as the custom hubs that those unique frame dimensions demand, Alex’s Manitou also sports the distinctive original machined billet stem. And that anonymous headset is a Chris King unit that’s been in the frame since it was built. Two things that aren’t original are the seat tube and the polished finish. The original seat tube cracked and was replaced by Bradbury, at which time the red paint was stripped off. The red was actually the second paintjob – the bike was originally metallic blue.
Unsurprisingly, Alex’s Manitou has had all sorts of parts bolted to it over the years, but recently he restored it to close-to-original condition (the eagle-eyed will notice that a couple of bits are a bit later than 1990). The NOS Specialized Ground Control tyres are a great finishing touch.
Alex says, “Despite the 1in of questionable travel and elastomer bumpers that split open in the heat of Moab, this is easily the sweetest mountain bike I’ve ever owned.” Truly a classic…