More tweaks to the Crested Butte

The followers of this blog (all three of you) may remember that last month I decided to try out the CST Metropolitan Palm Bay tires on the Crested Butte. I loved the look, I loved the fatness, but realized they were just too damn fat for this bike. So last week I picked up another set of Rubena City Hopper tires in the 26″ x 2.0″ size. (52-559) But this time I went for creme color, which adds an air of classiness. And since I got rid of the creme Delta Cruisers from the Raleigh Wayfarer, I needed to have at least one bike with creme tires, no?

But now, another wrinkle: when I was installing the front wheel/tire, I realized that there was a broken weld on the Blackburn MTF-1 front rack. Damn. I contacted Blackburn and am getting a replacement (thank you, warranty), but I decided to do something crazy, instead: swipe the Wald Giant Delivery Basket from my roommate and install it on the Crested Butte. I had been jonesing for the Giant Delivery Basket for some time. I had one on the Univega I owned a few years back and loved it. (The basket on the Worksman Cycle Truck was similar in size.)

And of course, I love how it looks on the bike. It truly pushes this 80’s mountain bike into “cruiser” category, which is appropriate, as the frame geometry of the Crested Butte is based on the “Schwinn Excelsior” geometry. This was because the Marin County (Repack) proto-mtbers of the 70’s (Gary Fisher, Joe Breeze, et al) bombed down Mt. Tam on old cruisers, and based their custom frames on them, then production mountain bikes followed suit. So I’m bringing it back to its roots, no?

Of course, not only is the Giant Delivery Basket a pain to install due to all it’s fiddly bits (I spent at least 90 minutes, then again, I am no pro bike mechanic.) And man, it’s a lot of basket. All steel (so hopefully won’t break,) made in the USA. about nine pounds unladen. It can carry a lot of shit, but yes it does affect handling. But if Bud Clark could rock an early production mountain bike with the Giant Delivery Basket, why can’t I?

I still need to get the dynamo lighting working again, especially since the front light needs to be remounted to the front basket. But that should happen soon. After that, I hope to not have to fiddle with this bike for a long time.

11 thoughts on “More tweaks to the Crested Butte

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  1. I think we ALL need at least one classic-looking bike with creme tires,my friend,CB is looking sweet,loving the basket 😀

    The DC

  2. The Butte is looking good!

    I tried out bike baskets for the first time last summer (partly because of reading your blog).The Wald Giant hauls an impressive amount of stuff, but when I took it off my 1990 MTB for the winter season I also liked how much livelier the bike became. Not sure if I’m going to put it back on this season.

    1. Yeah, I realized that the basket would compromise handling, especially since I’ve had that basket before. I’m seeing the Crested Butte as a “nimbleness be damned” kind o’ bike for now.

  3. With all of the tire options in the market, it’s cool to see you went back to Rubeno City Hoppers. The brown ones (without the puncture protection and reflective stripe options) for my Raleigh Elkhorn) are holding up great for commuting (9 miles each way). I even took them on a vigorous mixed surface 30 mile ride (Monte Bello to Page Mill, in Palo Alto), and they did beautifully on the paved, twisty climb, dirt cross-over, and fast asphalt descent.

  4. I own a 21″ 1984 Raleigh Elkhorn Mountain Tour bicycle with modern upgrades. I love the way it feels underneath me when I ride; a lot better than that 2008 Surly Long Haul Trucker that I used to own that I thought was my dream touring machine to be. I love the relaxed geometry of the frame/fork.

    I have not gone a long distance loaded bicycle tour at this time. In your honest opinion, would you believe that my Elkhorn have no problem in handling the front and rear loaded panniers (Arkel GT-18’s front and Arkel’s GT-54’s rear) weight for such a bike tour ? My frameset/fork are made out of Raleigh’s 502 Chrome Moly tubing.

    I would enjoy hearing your feedback.


    1. Good question, and I’ll break it into two parts:
      As for whether or not a Mountain Tour could handle the load, I would say yes, for sure.

      As for would it handle good? I don’t know. I like the relaxed “cruiser” geometry for around town riding, but I don’t know how that would translate to long distances. For me, I want something with drops or similar to do a long distance ride. The problem with the Mountain Tour series is it has that really long top-tube which would make drop use problematic. As it is, I have pretty swept back bars and still feel a tad stretched. I’ve done some good climbs with my Crested Butte. While the geometry is the opposite of optimal for climbing, the low gears make up for it. But still there is quite a bit of front wheel flop in climbs, especially under load.

      I think if I could optimize the Crested Butte for touring, I would try it. As it is, the angles/geometry of my XO-3 is making it my “go-to” bike for touring this year.

      1. You and I have two different riding styles. I like and have enjoyed for years being stretched out on long distance bikes rides. I do not like to feel cramped in the cockpit of a bicycle. I felt that in my Surly LHT’r. I did not care for it one bit, even with a SR MTE-100 seat post with a Brooks B-67 sprung saddle. The top tube of the Trucker was too short. I relish and smile loudly riding my Lady Elkhorn.

        I stopped riding with drop bars about five years ago. I retired one of my favourite sports touring bicycles that had drops. I have grown older (I am in my late 50’s now) and have enjoyed the feel and riding upright with keeping for now the bullmoose handlebars. I may change them in the near future.

        I would have to load her up and go out and experience it for myself.

        For now, my Elkhorn is my “Lady” of all rides.


        1. Yep, different styles. I did like the fit of my LHT, it’s just a bit over-built for what I want to do now.

          Lots of people tour with upright bars, and I used to, but nowadays I like having a multi-position bar, whether traditional drops or a mustache bar. So if the fit works for you, I would say give it a go. Maybe choose a short trip first and see how it all works.

    2. What ‘modern upgrades” have you made to that Elkhorn? I have a 1985 Elkhorn frame that needs a new bottom bracket and I’m wondering what length to go with. Appreciate if you can let me know what cranks and bottom bracket length you went with. Thanks!

      1. Greetings, Matt,
        Thank-you very much for your inquiry. I appreciate it.
        The “modern upgrades” that I did to my 21″ 1984 Elkhorn Mountain Tour bicycle with Reynolds 505 tubing are as follows:
        First off, I had the rear chain stays spread open to accommodate a nine cogged freehub. I believe I need to take the bike back into my LBS and have it adjust out more so. I have to use a screwdriver to pry out the wheel from the drop outs, if and when removal is needed.
        I changed out the Shimano Deerhead thumb shifters with SRAM’s Attack 3×9 long twist grip shifters. I kept the original Shimano Deerhead brake levers. I like the four-finger feel. I also kept the original Shimano cantilevers. I switched out the brake pads for Mathauser pads. I have kept also the bullmoose handlebars.
        I bought a stem riser for the handlebars to get them high enough for an upright riding position. I had to modify the front cantilever yoke length with a longer front brake cable.
        I bought a new Brooks B-67 Honey saddle. I bought a Sakae Ringyo MTE-100 seatpost off eBay to find the most comfortable possible fit position with my Brooks ( Brooks saddle in the way that they are manufactured require a setback seatpost ).
        After buying a pair of slightly used Phil Wood hubs off of the IBOB LIST at a good price, I had a custom 36-hole wheelset build with a pair of MAVIC XM719 rims with some Surly silver skewers added. These wheels were made for my Surly LHT costing me $700.00; most likely the last wheelset I will have built. After selling it, these rims made a short and most happy journey over and found a new home with my Elkhorn.
        Currently, I have the some odd brand tires looking brand new with a brand name of “Invert” 26 x 2.0mm on those rims with intentions of buying some Schwalbe Marathons sometime in the future.
        As far as the drivetrain modifications are concerned, from a past purchase from Peter White Cycles, a T. A. Zephyr triple crankset ( out of production ) with 42-36-20 teeth setup. In the rear is a modern Shimano DeOre long cage derailleur with a 2003 Shimano XTR bottom pull front derailleur.
        The freehub is Shimano 13 to 34 T. I do not know off hand the model
        number. I would like to purchase from Harris Cyclery The Cyclotourist nine speed cassette 14 – 15 – 17 – 19 – 21 – 24 – 27 – 30 – 34 Teeth. It was specifically designed by Sheldon Brown. The cost is a bit much.
        My pedals are a pair of 2007 sealed grey KONA Wah Wah pedals. I really wanted to put a pair of Suntour XC II beartrap pedals on my crankset. However, there are problems of those darn plastic dust caps falling off. I was told to use beeswax to stop them from coming up missing. I have not found another pair to do so.
        I think that covers the modifications.
        To answer your other question about my bottom bracket, It is the same bottom bracket that was in my Surly LHT( I bought another one)…. Shimano UN55, Square taper interface. 68 x 118mm. No problems to speak of whatsoever.
        I welcome any further questions, comments and/or feedback that you might have. Love to hear about your personal componentry list and/or upgrades.
        Whereabouts to you live ?
        Why did you pick and/or find your Elkhorn ?
        Are you planning any tours with yours ? or doing off road riding ?
        Smiles to you,
        ….So happy that I found a production bike that I truly love to ride.

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