Reviving the classic Proflex 855 and 955
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G’s Note: This is NOT one of the articles that I have written, rather it was penned by a friend Lenny, a.k.a ‘Fat Lenny’. I’ve put it here rather than loosing it to the ether of time and space, as it is one of the more popular articles from the blog.
I’ve often wondered where do old Mountain bikes go? We’ve all owned bikes only to sell them and sometimes wish we hadn’t. The thought had crossed my mind a few times as to how some of these classic old bikes would stack up today.
Fortunately, two bikes (well frames) I was never able to part with were the old Proflex World Cup frames from 1995, the 855 and 955. My memory of these bikes is of them being a great handling and fast XC machine. Comments from intrigued passers by always made me laugh as well. I never used mine for DH as others did which probably goes a long way to explaining why these two frames don’t have the trademark cracks that people look for when they see them. I did ride the bikes solidly up until around 2000 when time finally took its toll on the elastomer rear shocks. These yellow bumpers had a tendency to either go hard and brittle, or in the case of mine, literally melt and drip off the bike at room temperature.
Given the bikes had a strange shock mount set up for the elastomers, it effectively spelt the end of the bikes and meant no-one was interested in taking them off my hands. Since then the dinosaurs have basically sat dust covered under the house.
Fast forward to now, and the interest and will was there to get the bikes back on the trails.
I’ve decided to go down the path of building the 955 to near original using period bits where possible, the 855 will be a longer term project and I will be using modern bits and pieces to see how the frame stacks up to modern suspension designs and geometry. The only question here is if the rear swing arm will take the stress of disc brakes…….probably more thought required on that one.
The 955 is pretty much near complete, and original to when I first bought it. The keen observer will probably notice the Crosslinks on the bike are actually from 1997/1998. When I first had the bike built I actually chose to go for a set of Manitou Comps up front. They were nice enough until the elastomer stack eventually had had enough. A search of the net a few years back though turned up the Carbon Cross links and who was I to say no. The forks are interesting, and people seem pretty divided about their performance. Personally I find them to be a very nice fork for general XC riding until the trail becomes rocky and/or steep. In that instance the J-path of travel is very un-nerving and not at all confidence inspiring. Mind you, if you stay off the steep stuff they are a very nice fork.
So I can really get a review up here and comparison of how the bike compares to some modern forms of the mtb frame, I’ve had to get the rear suspension sorted. I normal shock will not just drop in and options are severely limited. Elastomers pop up on ebay now and then, but given the life of the last set I think this is a relatively temporary set up anyway, so I have decided to at the very least bastardise the old school vibe of the bike and try and fit a modern shock in. This has been no easy task but after a lot of trial and error a shock mount has been fabricated and just needs some final touches before the bike can ride. Tackling the rear end boing will be a Fox Float R. No propedal on this one as the original elastomers didn’t have this luxury. In theory the suspension design isn’t prone to pedal bob and my memory backs this up, although that could be compared to other suspension designs of the mid 90’s.
Rounding out the spec on the bike, most of which is original, but the non original bits will be eventually replaced by period bits and pieces.
• Mavic 236 Rims on the LX hubs
• XT cranks
• LX/XT mechs and triggers.
• Avid Arch Rival Brakes.
In the next month or so look out for a full review of this bike and how much difference there really is to new designs for the average punter.
Once the 955 is running work will begin on modernising the 855. With any luck I’ll get them a run at one of the upcoming VVC enduro’s before letting loose on the Mont24 in 2010.