Conan’s Silk Road 1989 Bridgestone MB-1
Conan Thai finished this year’s grueling Silk Road Mountain Race in about 14 and a half days… on one of the most unsuspecting bikes in the field. Find details about his 1989 Bridgestone MB-1 in this special edition, mid-week Reader’s Rig, in Conan’s own words…
Words and photos by Conan Thai (@everydaycult_)
Hello, Bikepacking.com friends! My name is Conan and I enjoy riding old bikes. I grew up mountain biking in the hills of Southern California but zipped on over to the rough and tumble dry spin cycle of NYC about a decade ago. Originally, I came out here to pursue photography but have lately stepped back into a more supportive role doing post-production work for other photographers. It’s given me the breathing room to climb more, ride farther, and sometimes bump a little too close to that s-1 ceiling when tinkering on bikes in the hallway.
“Run what ya brung because 26 ain’t dead!” This might just be the most common refrain whenever anyone comes across this 1989 Bridgestone MB-1.
This build is far from ideal for a race as demanding as the Silk Road Mountain Race but, after seeing the post-race reports last year, I was eager to throw myself into the fray when the application period opened up. Having ridden the first third of the Tour Divide route last year on a 1989 Trek 970 with a full XT build, I felt confident that the venerable Shimano M730 groupset would survive the rigors of beaten-up doubletrack. Square taper BB? Friction thumb shifters? Cantilever brakes? 26” wheelset?! Hell yeah!
In a groggy, half-asleep state earlier this year, however, I impulsively purchased this 1989 Bridgestone MB-1 when an eBay alert woke me up. The bike had come with an aftermarket entry-level Manitou suspension fork that was eventually swapped with a Bruce Gordon threadless fork gifted by a friend (thanks, Chris!). I updated the cockpit with a Gilles Berthoud Soulor saddle and Nitto Fairweather handlebars. The build came with a Shimano M730 groupset and I kept most of it except for the brakes which were replaced with the more easily adjustable Tektro CR710s. My main consideration was making sure that everything would be field serviceable with just a crescent wrench and a multitool. For a frame made before Grant Petersen’s tenure at Bridgestone (I think?), the geometry is quite standard for mountain bikes of that era.
- FRAME 1989 Bridgestone MB-1 Comp
- FORK Bruce Gordon
- FRONT WHEEL Maxxis Ikon 3C EXO 2.35”, SP PV-8, Mavic 517 Ceramic
- REAR WHEEL Maxxis Ikon 3C EXO 2.2”, Shimano HB-M750, Mavic 517 Ceramic
- HANDLEBAR Nitto Fairweather B903
- HEADSET Cane Creek Forty
- CRANKSET Shimano M730, 48/38/24
- PEDALS Shimano Deore XT PD-M8020
- BOTTOM BRACKET Shimano UN55
- CASSETTE Shimano CS-950 12-32t
- DERAILLEUR Shimano XT M730/732
- BRAKES Tektro CR710, Koolstop ceramic brake pads
- SHIFTER Shimano XT M730
- SADDLE Gilles Berthoud Soulor
- SEATPOST Nitto 65
- FRONT BAGS Revelate Sweetroll + Revelate Egress
- REAR BAGS Revelate Terrapin v1
- FRAME BAG Revelate Tangle, medium
- ACCESSORY BAGS Revelate Feedbag x2
- TOP TUBE BAGS Revelate Gas Tank + Jerrycan
- FORK RACK Velo Orange Randonneur Cantilever rack
Regarding the wheels, I had a set of ceramic Mavic 517s that needed some love. Those rims make all the difference in building confidence in braking power. The rutted, babyhead-strewn 7200’ fireworks-finale descent from Kok-Ayrik is the perfect test for any brake/tire combo and everything held up commendably. (Mavic, please make more of the ceramic 517s so I can hoard them!)
All in all, this bike is nothing fancy or rare – just Tange Prestige tubing and modern rubber. As a bit of a self-described retrogrouch at times though, I’ve yet to try out modern 27.5/29 builds or disc brakes. With all the innovations in the bike industry for the past 20+ years, maybe it’s best to not know what I’m missing? NYC apartments are tiny and I can only fit so many bikes in mine! Say hello and we’ll have some coffee outside if you ever come across me bopping around NYC, upstate NY, or New England.
Above bike portrait is by Rugile Kaladyte from her Silk Road Mountain Race finishers post. Be sure to follow Conan on Instagram @everydaycult_), and check out all of this year’s SRMR coverage at #silk-road-mountain-race.