How do you ride a clunker?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    How do you ride a clunker?

    I just saw the movie Klunkerz - very inspirational. I could just feel that Bay-area vibe of the times. I lived in L.A. during that time period, and I saw a few Victor Vincente bikes, and I remember the first Stumpjumpers. I was mostly into road bikes back then, but I did buy my first mtb in about '85.

    I'm thinking about building up a clunker but I have a question about the ride. When I've ridden cruisers, I always felt like I was too upright and too far back to generate any power. I rented a cruiser for a few days in Sarasota once and it was a real chore to make the 3 miles from my hotel to the beach. The swept-back bars felt weird to me - my hand contact points were behind the steering axis so to turn right, I had to turn my hands left.

    How do you set up a clunker or a cruiser so you can generate power on the pedals? I might want one to cruise around on the local streets and singletrack.

  2. #2
    Klunker Kev`
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    Take those swept back bars off and replace them with something straighter...

  3. #3
    Retro on Steroids
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    There were only two riders in the film Klunkerz who rode with half-moon bars, Alan Bonds and George Newman. Alan later went to a less extreme bend, but he still favors a lot of sweep.

    If you are trying to stop a bike on a steep hill and a sketchy surface with just a coaster brake, you want as much of your weight as you can get on your rear wheel, a position that might give something up in other applications. Those bars are not reinforced like MX bars, and nowhere near as rugged for hard use.

    With the exception of Alan, on multi-speed modifications the klunkerz crew mostly used motocross bars, either BMX or motorcycle, with very little sweep. We were already getting the brake levers, cables and housings at the motorcycle shop, and they also sold handlebars.

  4. #4
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    Hope Alt. riding style

    Not to distract from the OP-My first ride down repack on 1960 Schwinn was full pitched sidways-boot drag to scrub speed-short sweep bars-scared silly-Up hill was a chore-


    Original Morrow Dirt Club member posted something like 'akin to telemark skiing vs downhill'

    sure know what you mean about push left to turn right with big sweep bars like these:



  5. #5
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    Gary Fisher rode cut down longhorns, he had them raked down. I guess it was his version of clunker drop bars. I had some nice Triumph T100 bars on my favorite bike until they broke. Regular longhorns (Wald or Torrington) would give you some panic on a steep downhill as it was near impossible to keep your hands from creeping down off the grips. On less of an angle the sweep would add leverage when hopping the bike. How to ride?? - standing. I also put the bmx bars (as Charlie is saying) on the bikes I sold. As I remember it the black 'motocross' style bars in all the photos came from the bike shops and it was the first Breezers that used magura MX bars. Everyone had a different take on what to use but most of the time the local bike shop was as far as we got. Most of us kept the schwinn style stem and to get a crossbraced bar through required bending it open OR using the type that was pressed flat at the weld points which came from bike shops. I don't see those bars anywhere any more since they all turned to rust 25 years ago. The closest representation of those bars are chrome and available from skull skates.com. You'll find their 26" cruiser bars let you ride like you want to. You'll need to massage that schwinn stem open to get the crossbrace through and then bend it back shut......don't do this too much to the same stem!!
    Last edited by repackpioneer; 01-24-2010 at 06:38 AM.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for all the information. I like those skull skates bars. Where I live, I see old Schwinn paperboy bikes popping up on Craigslist fairly often, so I'll keep a lookout. Here's one I just saw, supposedly a 1949:
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  7. #7
    horn doggie
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    I use a some euro mx bars on my bomber that I picked up from one of AB's friends in San Anselmo. They're made of alloy and have a cool cross brace like the old Renfros. They work great and are really wide so when I climb, I can can stand and really honk on the pedals using the bars as leverage, just like on my single speed XC bike. On less steep climbs, and with the saddle raised as high as a regular bike, requiring a much longer than standard post to get it that high, I sit and torque.

    Check out AB's website for tips on what works and what doesn't. That's what I did, and the eventual result was a race-winning klunker.

    Link to Alan Bonds website:
    http://clunkers.net/
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  8. #8
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    Scooderdude, you are an inspiration.
    Although I must say, you need to stop by the thrift store for some good flannel.
    Seek: Koski Trailmaster. Breezer Series 2 or 3. Cunningham Racer.

  9. #9
    horn doggie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aemmer
    Scooderdude, you are an inspiration.
    Although I must say, you need to stop by the thrift store for some good flannel.
    LOL !

    You mean like this shot from the first race, when I was still sporting the single Morrow coaster brake?

    Boy oh boy that was a handful that day. The rain and slick course didn't help with the confidence, much. After that first race, the bike got a new wheelset with dual drum brakes. More better, but still marginal at times.
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  10. #10
    horn doggie
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    BTW - the reason this photo is blurry was the photographer couldn't hear me coming. No chain slap, no squeeky discs, no clanking. I nearly nailed a spectator that day for the same reason.

    Every race thereafter I had my REI bear and AND fishing bells attached to the bike.
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  11. #11
    illuminaughty
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    great shots! thanx for sharing.
    :)

  12. #12
    hmmm.
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    That really is inspirational. How do you trust that thing to hold up with that kind of beating? Prayer before each race?

  13. #13
    horn doggie
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    Believe it or not, I did one shake down ride on it to my local cafe to make sure it functioned, and the next weekend was at the races. I first did a practice run on the bike I race in my Expert class at Toro (Specialized S-Works Enduro). Then I hopped on the klunker for the climb to the top.

    First practice run down the course I just uncorked it. I had never been at speed on it before. I just get in a go-fast mode and, well, go as fast as I can, tucking low in the speed sections to cut drag, same as I do on my other bikes.

    The only "oh sh*t" moment I had, and consequently, the only yard sale on it, was while on that initial run when I tried to slow from somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 mph, to about 5 mph to enter the first set of tight, rocky single track turns.

    I charged in deep, as I typically do when on a bike with twin discs, applied the rear brake, which, of course, locked up in the matter of about 2 seconds, and realized I was not going to slow enough to make the turn. So I pitched it sideways in hopes of scrubbing more speed, and save myself in the process. The rear caught immediately and I high sided, pitching me head long into a head first auger into, thankfully, soft dirt. I came up laughing, bruised and a little bloody, while pulling grassy dirt clods out of the front of my helmet.

    All subsequent runs were still done as fast as possible, but I braked much sooner coming into turns.

    This is why the very next race the bike sported twin drums. Good brakes are key to have fast times when all other elements are equal. I think GF had the same revelation way back when, too. :-)
    Last edited by scooderdude; 01-24-2010 at 04:26 PM.
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  14. #14
    horn doggie
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    Here's a shot from the finals in July 2009.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails How do you ride a clunker?-583226767_9yyxb-x2.jpg  

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  15. #15
    IVMTB & VMBEFG Illuminati
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    this is how i rock my 1930's Schwinn Excelsior Klunker.

    <img src="https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v245/vdubbusrider/mammoth3.jpg">

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by scooderdude
    Here's a shot from the finals in July 2009.
    That is a killer photo!

  17. #17
    mtbr member
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    It's not all about speed and big air..................
    (or is it).

    Seek: Koski Trailmaster. Breezer Series 2 or 3. Cunningham Racer.

  18. #18
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    depends on who you're riding with

  19. #19
    Strangelove
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    Another vote for Skull Krates Cruiser bars. I have them on my Excelsior. Bending out that Ashtabula stem to get the bars through was not fun though- a little heat helped, but be quick getting the bar in before it cools (and watch your hands!!)

    As for riding them, just like old vintage race cars you have to grab them by the scruff of the neck and go as fast as you can. They don't like going around tight turns slowly so go in way too fast, get your weight low over the bars, put a foot down and slide it round.

    They are great fun to build and ride. Probably one of the most beautiful bikes built too IMO. There is so much knowledge on here to help you, just ask the questions and let those founding fathers guide along the road to Klunking happiness!






  20. #20
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    nice purple !!

  21. #21
    Master of the Face Plant
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    Quote Originally Posted by Veloculture
    this is how i rock my 1930's Schwinn Excelsior Klunker.

    <img src="https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v245/vdubbusrider/mammoth3.jpg">
    Thats awesome. This thread is giving me lots of ideas for my Mercury.
    http://www.nbbikes.com/
    ^^^Best Bike Shop of MTBR 2008^^^

  22. #22
    boing
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    Excellent photos! Respect! Please keep the Clunk shots coming...

  23. #23
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    The steering is slower, so be prepared to use the rear brake to help you get around the turns.
    "Rejoice...Rejoice...We have no choice...But, to carry on" - Crosby Stills & Nash

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