Sunday, January 22, 2012

Acquiring a Bridgestone MB-2

My husband owns one bike that he regularly rides. It's his commuter, touring machine, and all-around go-getter. In other words, it does it all. It's been that way since he bought the bike new. It's a 1992 Bridgestone MB-3. It even brought him around the world.

Eventually it became sun-faded, turning an awful shade of pink. I believe it was a failing of that particular metallic red color. My older, but equally used, Trek is still a brilliant red. 5 years ago The Hub had the Bridgestone's frame repainted and it's once again an attractive crimson.

My husband and his Bridgestone MB-3 in it's glory years.
Yes, that's a goat. They peruse the streets.
Photo taken in Malaysia, 1995.
While he loves this bike he also was searching for an alternative steed to ride. He was given a skinny tire racer, then an antique green Raleigh, and my brother's Peugeot—all beautiful—though he couldn't see himself riding any of those on a regular basis. He loves the stability and fat tires of a mountain bike.

I suggested he look for another Bridgestone—little did we know it would turn into a two year hunt. Bridgestone mountain bicycles were made from 1985-1994. At the helm in design, Grant Petersen created a rigid steel-frame style that was copied by other manufacturers. When Bridgestone pulled out of bicycles altogether, Petersen went on to found Rivendell Bicycles. Between bike guru, Sheldon Brown praising the MB line and Petersen's name becoming synonymous with a well made bike, the Bridgestone MB series became an iconic classic, fetching premium dollars.

Not exactly what we wanted to learn, but it confirmed the MB series was worth pursuing and—though my husband's experience was enough to satisfy him—he might pay more than he initially intended.

I follow Craig's List on a regular basis. I found a bike for my sister-in-law and I'm currently searching for a new girly bike for myself. When I spy the Bridgestone name I pass this information onto my husband. I located one last summer locally but the sizing was too small. He would've been happy with a mid-80s Specialized Rockhopper (he once owned and loved this style too), but those are rarer than the Bridgestones, at least in this region. Go figure. Two weeks ago I found a possible match and as a family we drove to the other side of Vermont.

And came home with this. It's a 1986 MB-2 in original condition, except for the seat, tires (they're new!) and possibly the pedals.

This photo best shows the unusual color.

Of course there are scratches, but that's to be expected from a 25-year-old bike.

Oh, those lugs! Beautiful. His current bike is TIG welded so this frame is new territory for him.

With Biopace chain ring—remember those? The oblong style was promoted to enhance pedaling efficiency, but the technology never caught on. With little wear, my husband will use the current set-up and only replace it when he has to.

That's the beauty of this particular bike. All parts are interchangeable and up-gradable.

I dig the black and red cable housing.
We love thumb shifters, especially because they are separate from the brake levers. This allows for customized hand-positioning. The frame color is one of a kind. The catalog describes the colors as earthy red and moss green. The only immediate drawback, according to my husband, is the wheels lack quick release. The sealed bearing hubs and rims are in impeccable shape though, which I view as a plus. The bike weighs 29 lbs, three more than his MB-3, but not of great concern as he regularly hauls panniers and a bathtub-sized toolkit.

Already he's cleaning the parts, accessing the condition—clearly he is smitten and excited at the prospect of an alternative bike and it's myriad possibilities.


  1. It's interesting to me, older mountain bikes are not very good for mountain biking unless you are into vibration and fatigue, but they are so good at being flexible for other riding, like commuting, grocery runs, path wandering, etc. With rack mounting points front and rear, I believe the builders intended them to be flexible in that sense. I own three older mtn bikes, though not a Bridgestone. Yet.

  2. I have a 1986 MB-2 sitting in the basement waiting for warmer weather so I can refurbish it. Identical paint. My guess is that yours also has newer handlebars and a different stem than the one it came with originally. I agree with John - these mid 80s mtn bikes make great all round bikes that are very comfortable.
    Denver CO

  3. Anonymous - You could be right about the handlebars. The original specks show Nitto stem and chrome bar. Follow the link above. The stem is still chrome but the bar is black. I do not see any identifying marks on either. I have no idea how to tell brand names on these things. What is currently on the bike looks very functionable at the the very least. My husband is very happy so far with it. He just bought fenders and is looking into placing quick release on the hub, that is, if it's as simple as replacing the axle.

    It's wonderful that there are other MB-2s with the same color. Send me photos when you're done (address is by my profile). I'd truly love to see them.

  4. I scored a 1994 MB-2 off my local craigslist for $25 and am now restoring it. Amazing bike, I feel very fortunate to find such a deal!

    1. Ooooh, please send an e-mail and attach a picture of your restoration. I'd love to see it. My address is near my profile, upper left.

    2. Sent... Feel free to add it here!

  5. I have an MB-2 I purchased new in 1986 and am still riding. I have three other bikes (two road and a mountain) but this is by far my favorite. As a matter of fact, I just took a break from cleaning and maintenance duties and ran across your blog when I checked the web for any info I might find on it since, in all the years I've had it, I've never done so.

    The MB-2 has been a beast. Kinda like the Sherman tanks of bikes and I think that's why I love it so much. I probably have 40K miles on it and have never done anything more than replace brake pads and tires, and keep things clean and lubricated. I'm still on the original chain and it still shifts smoothly if you can believe that. I went with a less aggressive tire than the OEM for a good cross between roads and trail riding since I used the bike primarily for commuting to work over trails and city streets and runs to the store. Now that I'm retired, I have plans to do some long-distance touring.

    Mine is the same two-tone red/green. It has bare aluminum - not black handlebars, the Bio-pace cranks and in every respect looks similar. The only negative in my case is that the frame is a little bigger than ideal but it was the last one the dealer had in stock and he sold it for a very good price. But, I've adjusted to it over the years and think it actually feels more comfortable as a touring bike than a smaller-frame would.

    As soon as I finish working on it, I'll take a few pics and send them along. I think your husband is going to enjoy his MB-2.

    Tallmadge, OH

  6. Hey Annie, I just picked up a 1992 Bridgestone XO-3. If you or your husband end up looking for another Bridgestone MTB again, the XO series is worth considering, as they were more of a road machine with wider tires, and many of them used 26" wheels. I've been enjoying mine...

  7. I used to have an MB3 with the front suspension that I off-roaded with for years, until one too many crashes destroyed the frame. However, I 'm proud to share that through my scouring of Craigslist here in LA, I found a woman selling a metallic green MB-3 that hasn't seen much use since 1994 (it still has the original receipt and handbook with it)...picked it up for $150 and I couldn't be happier :) Those Bridgestones are still out there, if you really want one keep the faith, People.

  8. I have a 1993 MB-2 I bought used some 15 years ago that I recently replaced the tires, cables, shoes, and chain on. It's quite rideable, and I really enjoy it.

  9. That MB-2 is gorgeous what a great find. A lugged steel MTB is on my radar as a refurb project, I think they would make a great bullet proof commuter - like your Ross- Came close to a Peugeot Montreal Express for $15.00 but missed out..Someday.

  10. I just found a Bridgestone MB-2. Paid what I consider a premium price, $300.00.
    The largest frame offered in 1986. Located in a "Rat Hole" bike shop, best bike he had in the shop. I worked at Bob's Bicycles, Pueblo, Colorado, while attending University of Southern Colorado. BEST JOB EVER! Hence the ability to pick out good bikes. I own a 1987 Miyata Ridge Runner, With an "Employee Discount". I am always looking for good lug frame bikes, Miata And Bridgrestone.

    Only Tires / Tubes on My Bridgestone have been replaced, missing hand grips.
    In comparison to your photos, your handlebars have been replaced.
    Good find for any one looking. There out there. Happy Hunting!

    1. Congratulations! You may think it's a premium price, but as you are well aware, it's worth it.


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