How could we not take a closer look at the Retro Show and Shine Winner's bike from the Malverns Classic
? Mick, who won the event and is the custodian of this little bit of mountain bike history, didn't want the piece to be about himself but about the bike and I think that's fair. I did, however, want to thank him for all his help with the article and most importantly for taking such good care of such an important bike.
With only 10 frames made, the John Tomac Raleigh Signature is a very rare bike. This is, in fact, is one of John's frames as the platform was for racers only and was never available to the general public. The frame itself is constructed using the similar manufacturing techniques to some modern brands with machined titanium lugs made by Merlin Titanium bonded to Easton carbon tubing. It truly is a thing of beauty. The frame has a 72.4deg head angle, 74deg seat tube. The bottom bracket is a press-fit paragon titanium grease guard bottom bracket for XC but was swapped to a Tioga 134mm Steel for DH as it needed 56T chainring clearance.
Group-set wise we find a Shimano XTR M900 fitted in a 8 x 3 with a 12-32 cassette in what would have been the XC setup. Along with the classic XTR groupset, there is a set of Shimano Deore XT SPD 737 pedals that look like they are still in full working order. The other obvious feature of the back of this bike is the Classic Tioga Disc Drive, a cutting-edge addition in 1991 when this bike was built up.
The cockpit is a full Tioga set up with a T-Bone stem to which a set of FL 2000 flat bars are mounted. These are only 580mm wide, which is tiny in comparison to today's handlebars.
Mounted to the bars is a set of XTR M900 brake and shifter combined levers. This series of components marked the birth of the XTR range for Shimano and was driven by the needs of racers at the time. In this case, the RAPIDFIRE PLUS shifter was an advancement on what Shimano had already done on their Deore XT range.
The Shimano levers operate a set of Grafton Maglite cantilever rim brakes, which to us now look terrifying but in 1991 these were cutting edge. Finishing off the cockpit is a classic set of ODI Tomac Attack grips that still have plenty of life in them despite their age.
Wheel wise, there are some classics here. The wheel size is of course 26" with some Mavic rims laced to Shimano XTR hubs: a classic combination. The stand-out feature for me on the front wheel is how shallow the rim is, yet another reminder of how far bikes have evolved since this beauty was at the top of the sport.
Out back, like we touched on before, we have the same Mavic 231 26" rims but this time laced up to the Legendary Tioga Disk Drive. This is not simply a cover for the spokes but instead the plastic and kevlar lattice system, known as geodesic webbing, was designed to be slightly compliant and offered some suspension and extra grip for the hardtails of the day. It also sounded pretty cool going along too. The Disc drive on the back of this bike is in amazing condition considering it's been ridden hard by one of the greatest riders in history.
Suspension is handled by RockShox and a set of Mag 20s. The lowers of the fork legs bear one or two battle scars from the racing they have seen - this is a bike that has some battle stories. It's interesting to see that even this early there were some adjustments on the fork crown for the damping but even the most featherweight of modern xc forks look like a downhill fork in comparison to these Mag 20s. It's amazing how well John Tomac rode given the era in which he was riding and the technology he had available!
Lastly, the bike is finished off with a Tioga Carbo seat post and a Selle Italia saddle.