Editor’s note: This story first appeared in Dirt Rag Issue #157, published in July 2011. Words and photos by Jeff Archer.
Much of the early mountain bike action was taking place in and around Marin County, California, but there were pockets of activity around the country. One such place was Steamboat Springs, Colorado, home of Moots Cycles. Moots began bike production in 1981 with road bikes, but by 1983 they were making the Moots Mountaineer mountain bike. In 1987, they introduced the YBB (Why Be Beat) softtail. By the early 1990s, Moots began switching from steel to titanium as their frame material of choice.
This Mountaineer has a serial number of 383, which makes it the third bike produced in 1983. The bike has many of the Moots options that might have made it a show bike or an employee bike. Frame features include the beautiful biplane type fork, two-tone paint and a Moots stem.
There’s a portage pad, for the times you need to carry the bike; a number plate braze-on, if you were feeling “racy”; and four water bottle mounts, if you were feeling “toury.” One of the unique options offered by Moots were the “Moots Mounts” brake mounts. As opposed to traditional brake bosses brazed to the frame or fork, the Moots Mounts were clamp-on brake bosses. This allowed the brakes to be moved up and down to accommodate different wheel diameters. This bike currently sports 24 inch wheels, but will accept 26 inch, 650b or even 700c wheels. This gave the rider the ability to have one bike instead of a garage full of bikes. With all of these options, this bike would have retailed for about $1,500 in 1983.
Shimano introduced the new Deore XT components late in 1982 and they quickly became a popular option. This group featured the first purpose-built mountain components from Shimano. The M700 series parts are often referred to as the “deer head” XT since a small deer head appears on the derailleurs as well as the packaging and advertising.
The group included high-flange hubs, shifters, derailleurs, brakes and brake levers while the crank, bottom bracket and freewheel were from the 600 series of parts. A new Deore XT group is on the way for 2012 and will mark the 30th anniversary of the XT series.
One of the early Moots catalogs had quotes from Mountaineer owners: “My other mountain bike was really high tech, but the Moots compares to it like a Saab turbo to a VW Bug,” “Whimsical slow speed accuracy on steep trails” and “I put my race wheels on it—with the adjustable brakes—and road raced: finished second.”
This bike can be seen at the Museum of Mountain Bike Art & Technology in historic downtown Statesville, North Carolina. If you can’t visit in person, check out the collection at www.mombat.org.