Blast from the past – Origin of the Specialty Files

In its present format, The Specialty Files is a recurring print column in Dirt Rag that is written by Jeff Archer, and features a vintage bike from his collection at the Museum of Mountain Bike Art & Technology in Statesville, N.C.

However, the earliest installments of The Specialty Files featured serendipitous discoveries that Maurice spied while jaunting cross-country, during the heyday of the Dirt Rag World Tour. Maurice leaned on Jeff to help provide background details on the unearthed rigs.

The Specialty Files first appeared in Dirt Rag issue #104, which was published on Nov. 15, 2003. It featured Dan Smith’s sweet 1987 Cannondale SM600, with its unique 24/26-inch mismatched wheels.


Dan is a Pittsburgh homeboy that was a regular fixture on the infamous Dirt Rag Thursday night ride back in the early 1990s. Some years ago Dan and his mountain biking wife Sara relocated to Salt Lake City.

As I re-read the original story, my mind got to thinking about that old bike. Did Dan still have it? Was it running? Did he hit any sweet jumps on it?

So I reached out to Dan The Man, via the magic of Facebook, and here’s what he had to say:


I do still have the bike. As you know Karl, every bike has a story, and I picked this bike up because my friend Jim Fraps bought a new one in 1987 and lent it to me for a whole summer in ‘88 to get back and forth to work, when we were cutting grass for the borough.

The bike was in a stack of 80-some bikes that a guy brought to the annual Salt Lake City bike swap in 2001. I swear—I walked in the building and a beam of light shined on this thing. I just ran over—dug it out—wiggled the cranks and paid the man $75 for it.

My friend Daniel Hall has an older version (with drilled out rollers cams) that is sweet. We did a retro ride on the Wasatch Crest Trail in Salt Lake City years ago, and Dan hooked me up with a NOS 24” rear tire to replace my slightly dry rotted one—so it’s good to go for the next retro ride. Well, maybe some pads.



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