Regular readers of The Spoken will immediately recognize the name of Paul Brodie, an engineering wunderkind and pioneer of modern mountain bike culture. He has astounded us for the past few years with his creations for the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, the recreation of an 1888 Whippet bicycle and the stupendous eBee.
His story continues with the unearthing of his 69er full suspension mountain bike from 1997:
“The Brodie 69er came into being because I needed some major work done on my house, and my friend Richard Parker wanted a custom downhill bike. That was back in 1997. We agreed to trade hour for hour, and we each did about 100 hours on the others’ project.
“Richard was an enthusiastic mountain biker, and had the distinction of owning Brodie frame #1000. He still works for a company that specialises in fixing leaky condos, and if you know how much it rains here in the Lower Mainland, you’ll realise he is never short of work. He is very good at what he does.
“He’s seen a design that used a Shimano 7 speed Nexus hub that also doubled as the swing arm pivot. There were to be 2 chains: one up to the Nexus hub, and the second one down to the rear wheel. If you kept the chains well adjusted, they would never fall off.
“A long travel rear coil-over shock was used with a rising rate linkage to give 7” of rear wheel travel. I decided to make the frame and swing arm out of 6061 aluminium, which was a little out of my comfort zone, but I would do it anyway.
“I did a full scale drawing and construction began. Two bearings were mounted at either end of the Nexus hub for the swing arm pivot. They were 1/4” wide, with a very large OD and a corresponding large ID. I remember they were quite expensive. When I finished Tig welding the frame and swing arm, they were sent out for heat treating. The head tube angle was 69 degrees, and that is how the bike became known as the 69er.
“Richard raced the 69er for a couple of seasons, and it started to develop a few very small cracks at the ends of some of the welds. We pulled it apart, I welded over the cracks, and sent it back out for heat treating. Richard raced it again, and at the end of the 3rd season, small cracks were once again showing up.
“It was time for the 69er to be retired. I believe it’s currently hanging above someone’s fireplace as a work of art. Richard then wanted something lighter, and with more wheel travel. In that way he was a typical racer. I built him the Brodie Missing Link, which is another story, coming out in my book sometime in 2015…
Very special thanks to Paul Brodie for the words and pictures. Stay tuned for news about his book.