Mantis Sherpa 1983

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.

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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. 

The stem looks like a praying mantis, and is said to be the reason behind the name of the company. Wire through the stem is neat and quite innovative. 

The stem looks like a praying mantis, and is said to be the reason behind the name of the company. Wire through the stem is neat and quite innovative. 

Campagnolo drop outs

Campagnolo drop outs

Campagnolo integrated seat post binder. 

Campagnolo integrated seat post binder. 

Pretty used, this bike have been through a lot I would think.  

Pretty used, this bike have been through a lot I would think.  

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. 

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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. 

Clark Kent F16 #039

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Clark Kent F16 1990/91 #039

 

Clark Kent bikes is named after the two founders Pat Clark and Dean Kent. They made both mountain bikes and road bikes, in both steel and titanium, and where located in Denver. They are probably most known for their Unishock fork that they made in 1989 that they licensed to Scott. They also made the pineapple hubs that especially were made for snowflake lacing. The idea was that the wheel would be stronger. Another famous bike of theirs is the dual wheel f/r “Fat” bike with elevated chainstay that can be seen in this article from pinkbike: https://www.pinkbike.com/news/now-that-was-a-bike-1993-mbs-clark-kent-fat-bike-2016.html

They had som really funky “let´s try it all” designs like the wiggly tubing and the Z-link as well. 

They made frames, forks, stems, brakes, hubs, cranks and more, but they seldom seem to pop up on the market. I have a front Pinapple hub and a “normal” prototype rear hub and the crank. I did however change the crank on this build since the CNC Clark Kent crank didn´t fit the build that well. But I of course kept the crank. 

 The company was dissolved in 1995/96 due to financial troubles. 

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The build: 

-Clark Kent titanium frame welded by master-welder Ivo Vinklarek

-Fork: Tange Prestige 

-Stem: Salsa

-Drivetrain: XT

-Headset: XT

-Seatpos: XT

-Pedals: XT

-Crank: CQP patent pending

-Brakes: Marinovative descelerator titanium 

-Grips: Odi 

-Tyres: Tioga

-Hubs: Clark Kent pinapple front hub snowflake laced and “normal” Clark Kent rear hub

-Rims: specialized xl 21 

Bike - Das Mountain bike magazine August 1995

Bike - Das Mountain bike magazine August 1995