Richard Cunningham is one of the pioneers in the mountain bike industry. He used to build parts for cars and motorcycles, and for some reason he got involved in making bicycles. His first bike was basically a road bike with 26 inch wheels for more comfort, like the old European racing bikes from the 1950s. The roads were so bad that the bikes had to have way more comfort than we are used to these days, so Cunningham had that in mind when making his first bikes. After some tweaking of the geometry he ended up with shorter chainstays and sharper turning than the other makers from Marin County from that time.
Mantis Bycycle Corporation was founded in 1981. This particular one is from 1983 when there was 3 models - the Sherpa (fillet brazed), Overland (tig welded) and the XCR (fillet brazed, racing geometry). This was the last year Richard Cunningham produced 3 quite traditional models, from the 1984 model line up the XCR was changed to a aluminium bike with a steel rear bolted on.
This model is quite typical set up. Shimano Deer head groupset with Magura levers, Shimano 600 Starfish headset, Phil Wood hubs and Araya rims. Mantis stem and handlebars is neat, but it’s a shame that the original fork is long gone - but the chrome unicrown is quite ok.
The handling is what makes this bike smile the most. To me this is a real looker, but more important is it that it really handles well. Here in Norway most terrain is quite technical and a bike that handles this well and have a nimble handling is what we want. This bike follows the trail perfectly and the wide bars and high front gives it a quite comtemporary feel and - I feel I say this too often - it feels way newer than it really is.