In my last post I mentioned Kent and Kyle Radford, the owners of the Recherche brand name. A few days ago I got the following email from Kyle:
Hey Dave, years ago while visiting your shop I remember two distinct mystery bikes. I wonder where these are today? The first was a Mountain bike you had built.
I remember you letting me ride it around the parking lot. After about 30 seconds, I thought holy cow, this thing rips!!
It made every other mountain bike I had ridden seem like a banana slug. It performed like a crit bike with knobbies. At the time you told me not to tell anyone you had built it.I think it safe now,all these years later!
The second "mystery machine" was a time trial bike. If recollection serves me right you could convert it from 700c to 26 " wheels? I remember something about the rear brake bridge where you could un-bolt and flip it to accommodate the different wheel circumference.
I don't remember what you did with the front fork. Anyway, thought it might be fun to share with your readers and satisfy my curiosity! Thanks, Kyle.
The first bike mentioned is no mystery really, it was the Fuso Mountain Bike, (Above.) and the reason I probably wanted to keep it quiet at the time was because I was about to debut it at the 1987 Interbike Show. I built around 50 of these in the years that followed, and there are still a few around.
The second bike you mention was one of a kind. I have no idea where it is today, and I would love to know. As I have no picture I will do my best to describe it. Around the late 1980s the smaller 600c wheels became popular for a short time.
The thinking behind the smaller wheel was less weight and faster acceleration. I built a few track frames for these wheels and had good reports on their performance. The bike you mention was a Time-Trial/Triathlon bike. It was again built for one of the Interbike shows.
It was an interesting design, in that it used a 600c (26in.) wheel in the front, and had the option of using a 700c (27in.) wheel at the back, or a 600c. There was a special bolt on adapter to lower the rear brake bridge when the smaller wheel was fitted. This adapter was made from aluminum plate, and bolted on to the normal brake bridge and on to two brazed on threaded bosses on the rear seatstays.
The front fork arrangement was also interesting. A smaller wheel means less trail, the head angle was steeper at 74 degrees, also meaning less trail. So to compensate, the fork only had a very slight bend, and a 1 inch (25mm.) offset or rake.
The reason behind this scant fork rake was this. When the bike was set up with two same size 600c wheels the frame was level, and the front fork was set up in the normal way.
When the larger 700c wheel was used in the rear, it lifted the back end and made the frame angles steeper, including the head angle, and it was intended when the larger rear wheel was used, for the front fork to be turned backwards, like a “Stayer” bike.
The front fork was drilled in such a way that the front brake could be bolted on from either direction. This combination of angles and fork rake were chosen to acheive ideal handling with either set up.
As I recall it was a 58cm. frame and so was too big for me to ride. My apprentice Russ Denny rode it and reported that it handled like a dream, with either rear wheel set up. My thinking behind this design was that a rider could choose a different rear wheel set up for different courses. The smaller rear wheel might be better on hilly or more technical courses, for example.
The bike had a lot of lookers at the Show, but it was a little too radical to bring in any orders. As I remember it, after the show the bike was sold to a bike store in Del Mar, on the coast just north of San Diego. I never saw or heard of it again, and have no idea where it is today.