I saw an article in one of Grant Peterson’s Rivendell Readers last year talking about the great old steel lugged mountain bikes of the 80s. I have a ’91 Stumpjumper Pro, and a ’96 Kona AA (aluminum), and always liked the Stumpy better – it’s on my restoration project list. It just felt more right for me than the Kona, and I think it was mainly due to a combination of its steel construction, good components (SunTour XC Pro), and it being my first MTB. The Kona always felt stiff, dead, and a bit unwieldy.
I have a friend who wanted to get back into biking. He was planning on picking up a new bike and indicated he had an older mountain bike from his school days. I took a look at it, and fell in love with the bike – it was an ’80s Jamis lugged bike, and I was inspired to try to resurrect it. After he picked up some new parts for the bike, I built it up for him in a few days. It turned out to be a good commuter for him. Originally his bars were too low for his back, but we got him a “dirt drop” stem and boosted them up quite a bit. He’s nice and comfy with the high bars, and is now even eyeing changing them to the Albatross bars to get even more upright.
After enjoying this build, I decided to find a nice lugged MTB that I could resurrect for myself – I figured it would be a great winter commuter. I ended up looking at a number of Bridgestones, an ’84 Stumpy, and an ’88 Miyata. The last one really worked for me based on price, condition, and parts. It was all XT, and the frame pump mount and clean, beautiful brake-less seat stays (u-brakes) made it a no-brainer. It was very similar to my friend’s Jamis, but had a bit of extra clearance so I could easily fit Schwalbe Big Apples. Wow – comfy!