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  1. #1
    Tad
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    Clark Kent frames anyone?

    Does anyone have any info or pics of any Clark Kent frames?? I've heard of them, but hardly seen any pics of them. Rarer than hen's teeth, even on this forum. So I amazed to see one on my commute tonight! If I had had a camera with me I would have taken a picture.

    The one I saw was an fs aluminium frame (maybe with a steel rear) with a rear suspension unit like a softtail. Even stranger still was that the seat stays were not tubing, but something like an i-beam. I only caught a glimpse, so I couldn't get the details.

    Anyone know anything about it??

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tad
    Does anyone have any info or pics of any Clark Kent frames?? I've heard of them, but hardly seen any pics of them. Rarer than hen's teeth, even on this forum. So I amazed to see one on my commute tonight! If I had had a camera with me I would have taken a picture.

    The one I saw was an fs aluminium frame (maybe with a steel rear) with a rear suspension unit like a softtail. Even stranger still was that the seat stays were not tubing, but something like an i-beam. I only caught a glimpse, so I couldn't get the details.

    Anyone know anything about it??

    I recall C/K making a ti front end mated up to the Scott 'suspension' rear end. It was pictured in many a MBAction with T-disk and F-16 sitting in the background.

    Is that what you saw?
    -eric-

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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tad
    Does anyone have any info or pics of any Clark Kent frames?? I've heard of them, but hardly seen any pics of them. Rarer than hen's teeth, even on this forum. So I amazed to see one on my commute tonight! If I had had a camera with me I would have taken a picture.

    The one I saw was an fs aluminium frame (maybe with a steel rear) with a rear suspension unit like a softtail. Even stranger still was that the seat stays were not tubing, but something like an i-beam. I only caught a glimpse, so I couldn't get the details.

    Anyone know anything about it??
    I know little of Clark Kent. I once heard a rumor that they did production frame building for Bontrager. This was the only time I ever heard of Bontrager outsourcing the races and racelites.

    Matt Chester also seems pretty down on them. He refuses to do any modifications to the ti frames they built so as to not catch blame for their poor workmanship if the frames should fail. I think they are the only tim frames he mentions by name that he won't touch.

  4. #4
    bonked
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    Wow, that's pretty bad.

    The only thing I remember about Clark Kent was that a few of the "Huffy" bikes that the old 7-11 road team used were built by them and others by Ben Serotta.
    Quote Originally Posted by banks
    That is one big f'n dude!
    Yes I am!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tad
    Does anyone have any info or pics of any Clark Kent frames?? I've heard of them, but hardly seen any pics of them.
    You don't see many because most of them broke at a weld. I have a Lemond Road bike that was made by Clark Kent - it's still in one piece... but that probably because I never ride it....

  6. #6
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    Wasn't one of the two guys involved in tax evation or some other scandal of sorts?
    -eric-

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  7. #7
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    They went Chapter 11 and then disappeared around 7 years ago.

  8. #8
    Doesntplaywellwithmorons!
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    there's a local who was flogging an ebay link on a local mtb site for his lemond ti frame and basically bragging about it being a clark-kent made frame. That was a couple weeks ago. He had a $450US opening bid and a reserve, and got a single bid and it didn't make the reserve.
    I don't post to generate business for myself or make like I'm better than sliced bread

  9. #9
    Tad
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    I recall C/K making a ti front end mated up to the Scott 'suspension' rear end. It was pictured in many a MBAction with T-disk and F-16 sitting in the background.
    It could have been ti, but the down tube was very fat. I don't think the rear suspension was a scott, but I could be wrong.

    You don't see many because most of them broke at a weld. I have a Lemond Road bike that was made by Clark Kent - it's still in one piece... but that probably because I never ride it....
    From here: http://groups.google.com/group/rec.b...&rnum=19&hl=en

    There were several welders. The two best known are Ivo Vinklarek and Don Herr.
    Both of these guys are as good as anyone in the business, IMHO.
    So there must be a few good frames lying around if these guys are any good.

  10. #10
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    Yep, they were the one's with the tax evasion problem, that, and other business issues that I'm not qualified to speak on led to their demise. I'm a local Denver wrench and at that time (mid 90's) worked at a shop who's manager was a buddy of Dean Clark, nice guy. I built some frames up for them and got "paid" by getting to pick a frame off their wall, I got a beautiful ti Lemond road frame that needed the head tube faced. One of their welders was a guy named Ivo who laid the beautiful beads on my bike which has been riding sweet for 10 years now. I just replaced a worn out Record 8spd drivetrain and put on a nice Easton carbon/Campy Chorus/Ksyrium grouppo. I've never seen a broken CK in my 10+ years wrenching here in Denver, I expect a lot of their bad rep comes from the odd business practices and rightfully pistoff employees.
    That bolt together ti front alu I-beam rear was one of their odd designs that went into production. I didn't like the idea of the I-beam rear, looked brittle/harsh like that freaky white magnesium frame from the UK.
    I really mean it when I say this road frame has some beautiful welds, I'll try to post a pic too. Rides no-hands for miles so its straight and ti just sings when you get it up to speed.
    Mark

  11. #11
    indigosky
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    Quote Originally Posted by Straymark
    I'm a local Denver wrench and at that time (mid 90's) worked at a shop who's manager was a buddy of Dean Clark, nice guy.
    What shop did you work at?

    By the way, it's Pat Clark and Dean Kent, not Dean Clark. Pat was the un-reputable one that sank the company. Beautiful welds, too bad they didn't argon back-purge. I've seen lots of cracked C/K's. I've got a beautiful C/K ti stem sitting on my desk at work. I won't ride it, because I prefer my teeth ~in~ my mouth.

  12. #12
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    thanks for the name correction

    Quote Originally Posted by indigosky
    What shop did you work at?
    By the way, it's Pat Clark and Dean Kent, not Dean Clark. Pat was the un-reputable one that sank the company. Beautiful welds, too bad they didn't argon back-purge. I've seen lots of cracked C/K's. I've got a beautiful C/K ti stem sitting on my desk at work. I won't ride it, because I prefer my teeth ~in~ my mouth.
    That sounds more like it, thanks. It's been a bunch of years since I heard the names. I met Pat, not Dean, he bailed before I moved here.
    For one summer, I worked at the Premier on Wadsworth and 1st, then moved to a ski/bike shop. How did you get to see so many cracked ones and even save a souvenir stem? Hope you weren't hurt by the shady business going down at CK.
    I'm surprised to hear about the lack of argon purging, I saw another brand frame that someone said wasn't purged and it was discolored around the welds, kinda purple. Does anyone know if there is any other physical indications since mine doesn't have that puple tinge?
    They were in the ti business for quite a while, I'd be surprised if they didn't do it. I saw Deans, I think some Sampsons, and a few others they private label manufactured. It's funny that I've never seen a broken one since two other local guys here have seen so many.

  13. #13
    Doesntplaywellwithmorons!
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    There's a canadian store with a housebrand called Eclipse which sources their Ti frames from russia, and their first version which had a polished finish also didn't have the back-purging done and hasdthe rainbow discolouration inside the tubes... which is the ol' tell-tale sign of oxygen contamination of the welds.
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  14. #14
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    We the people ...

    a friend had a F16 (18?) titanium frame around 95. man that thing was soooo flexy. with magura raceline brakes onboard you wouldnt believe it was possible for a seatstay to bow out that much

  15. #15
    indigosky
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    Quote Originally Posted by Straymark
    For one summer, I worked at the Premier on Wadsworth and 1st, then moved to a ski/bike shop. How did you get to see so many cracked ones and even save a souvenir stem?
    Hey cool on working at Premier, I worked at the Denver Spoke on and off from 87-95. I was over at Mountain Bike Specialists on Alemeda (the Denver Spoke warehouse and Clark Kent production facility) about 3 times a week picking up bikes. It was always cool to be able to see the early prototypes of the work they were doing (machined brakes, pinapple hubs, etc.)

    The whole thing went down poorly from what I remember. By that time I was living in Boulder, and didn't get down to Denver too often. Basically they had so many warrantee frames, that they couldn't afford to fix all their problems and went out of business.

    The thing that kills me is that on the stem I have and a C/K ti front triangle I still have, the welds are on par with Moots, i.e. perfect even, flat beads. They look impecable! Then you look inside and its purple, blue all over the place.

  16. #16
    Doesntplaywellwithmorons!
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    And if you look on the inside of say a raceface ti stem (which was made by litespeed), a ballistic Ti stem (welded up in taiwan) or HECK, a FatBottom Titanium stem (which was made in Iran of all places) and they all have nice clean well-purged weld zones without any discolouration of any sort.
    I don't post to generate business for myself or make like I'm better than sliced bread

  17. #17
    Phknbiknrid'n
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    Clark Kent Photos

    Hello all, I stumbled upon this thread by accident but since I'm here, I will post some photos of my 1.5 CK frames. The "whole" frame is a ti "wiggle" tube frame made near the end of CK. Just to debunk some of the rumors on this thread, I have never seen a broken ti frame from CK and this frame that I have has about ten years of riding on it with nothing but smiles!

    The other frame is the front triangle to one of the freaky bolt together fullsuspension bikes that CK put out (originally under the Scott name). It was a bad idea but I can't exactly fault them for trying since it was in the early days of full suspension.

    Straymark - you should contact me. We used to work together at Premier and I have been trying to get in touch with you. I'm in the book in Loveland.

    So, enjoy the photos and If you have a CK, enjoy the bike. They did not go out of business due to quality problems. Listen to straymark. They went under due to poor business practices, some of which I could only speak of in trusted company (you know what I mean Mark?)

    - Chris
    Chris

    "They've done studies, you know. 60% of the time, it works every time."

  18. #18
    Phknbiknrid'n
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    OK, having trouble with the attachments...

    Well, somethings wrong with my attempts to attach photos. I'll figure this out and post them later. You can also e-mail me if you want some.

    Later,

    Chris
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    Last edited by Singlecrack; 05-13-2006 at 10:31 AM. Reason: Photos
    Chris

    "They've done studies, you know. 60% of the time, it works every time."

  19. #19
    Doesntplaywellwithmorons!
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    Quote Originally Posted by cellmer
    Hello all, I stumbled upon this thread by accident but since I'm here, I will post some photos of my 1.5 CK frames. The "whole" frame is a ti "wiggle" tube frame made near the end of CK. Just to debunk some of the rumors on this thread, I have never seen a broken ti frame from CK and this frame that I have has about ten years of riding on it with nothing but smiles!
    How are direct quotes from people who's personally seen broken C/K frames as well as the evidence of their lack of argon-purging INSIDE the weld zones counted as "rumours" ?!?

    Nice pics of your frame, but if you're gonna take the time to show a picture of a weld zone, showing the INSIDE of the frame would have been better when its that area of the zone which shows the discolouration from the lack of purging, not the exterior which had argon flowing over it when the tig welder was working its magic.

    See that's the point to this discussion. When you weld with electricity, you heat the metal so hot and so quickly around the welds, that oxygen molecules in the surrounding air will contaminate the welds and you get those fun rainbow colours afterwards to show you that its taken place. That's why MIG/TIG welding is properly done with an inert-gas purging around the outside of the structure (where the torch is held) and the INSIDE also. Argon is the main inert gas used for such work, and not back-purging is usually a sign of cheapness (not that tanks of argon are that expensive but don't have to refill them as often if you're not back-purging the parts/frames when welding, and CK is already known to have had financing issues) or laziness.
    I don't post to generate business for myself or make like I'm better than sliced bread

  20. #20
    Phknbiknrid'n
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    Sorry to get your dander up...

    Sorry to get you excited about the topic here Dee eight. I do not claim to be an expert on CK's welding practices (you've figured this out by now) but the point I was trying to make was that CK did make some nice products. Although I can not personally verify this, I don't think there frame welding was entirely without the proper gas purging. Where you and I may find common ground is in the shady business practices leading to some short cuts in production process. We sold allot of CK frames and I still keep up with some people that have them. They are still in great shape and show no signs of cracking or other types of failure. (We warrantied countless numbers of broken Kleins and Stumpjupers bak in the day however.) I looked inside my head tube and seat tube and I can't see any of the signs you mention but it's 11 years old so who knows.

    I also will hold strong to my opinion that frame failure was not the reason CK went out of business. I know that both Don Herr and Ivo were experienced welders and my assumption would be that (as you stated) financial issues may have led to short cuts but not from the beginning. They really did make some nice products.

    But anyway, sorry again to stir things up. This is a dead end argument anyway since they are gone and nobody is really in the market for old CK frames.

    Later,

    Chris
    Chris

    "They've done studies, you know. 60% of the time, it works every time."

  21. #21
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    Still have mine...

    ...although it's been relegated to trainer and city duty. There were a few sold in Anchorage, both road and mountain, when Clark Kent was new. At least one mountain frame I know of cracked along the length of the top tube, running longitudinally, starting at the seat tube junction and cracking forward about three inches. It belonged to my friend Nels and although he had a weld bead laid on top of the cracked tube, the bead eventually cracked also.

    Mine hasn't been without problems. The welded on ears that pinch the seattube around the seatpost had to be cranked down so tightly to keep the post from slipping, that one of them eventually tore at its weld. I wound up cutting both ears off, filing the welds smooth, and slipping a seat collar on. While I was at it, I removed the brake housing stop on the seatstays for a cleaner look with V-brakes.

    Since the few Clark Kent frames that I knew of were so hit and miss for quality, I decided to prolong mine's life by mounting it on the trainer for winters, or mounting slicks on for city duty in the summers. It is a blast to ride still, so I hope it hangs in there for years to come. The welds are of a very even appearance, the ride quality is forgiving while at the same time transfers power well.

    Those of you that still own one, don't despair completely, I still know of two road bikes that have been completely reliable. If you are thinking of adding one to the stable, if it hasn't cracked yet chances are it won't. Here's a few pics, check out my custom stem touch!

    Rando
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    Deceleration Trauma is my middle name

  22. #22
    indigosky
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    Quote Originally Posted by cellmer

    The other frame is the front triangle to one of the freaky bolt together fullsuspension bikes that CK put out (originally under the Scott name). It was a bad idea but I can't exactly fault them for trying since it was in the early days of full suspension.

    - Chris
    Chris,

    I've got one of the same full suspension front triangles except with the "wiggle" tubes, like your complete frame. Same red decals, great condition.

    Any interest in trading front triangles? I planned to do some wall art/light fixture with it, and the straight tube front triangle lends itself better to the design in my head than the wiggle tubes. PM me if you are interested. Thanks!

  23. #23
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    Took a look at the inside of the seat cluster and head tube for any discoloration and there is nothing but a slightly darker ring, the welds look like they were purged. Here, hopefully, is a picture of the seat cluster welds with internally routed brake cable. I had a real hard time using this digital camera and will try my first pic upload.
    Mark

    guess i need a better photo host

  24. #24
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    Hey I've got an C*K F14

    I've owned a CK F14 since 1995. I restumbled across this forum when I regoogled Clark Kent. I think I got the most info from you guys after searching and researching about the company and the frames. Thanks.

    Anyhow my CK has treated me and continues to treat me well. No problems with it whatsoever. I weigh about 185 and I haven't been easy on her. Her and I have taken some very hard hits here in SE pa. Ivo's name is on my toptube and I don't think he would knowingly cut a bad corner. My welds look good from the inside. IMHO the bike is as solid as any 1995 Ti frame. The S shaped stays make it kind of wiggly, but that's a matter of opinion/preference. They haven't bothered me, but a rear brake booster has always been a necessity. I will try to post a pic of her. If anyone would like to talk about CK or drop me a line don't hesitate.

    -Charlie

  25. #25
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    i kidnapped one to europe...

    i have a F-14 frame from 95 in believe.
    bought the frame last year from a collector.
    frame is in very nice condition.
    frame has no brake housing stop,
    i so far just saw pictures of frames provided with that.
    maybe it was a quite late frame then.
    i built it up around x-mas time and started riding
    it some months ago.
    it's the best fitting / handling bike i've had so far.
    i really love it.
    ok, pictures:
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