1990s MBK Trainer

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  • Disclaimer: This will be my first geared build. Any guidance / opinions would be most welcome!

    I've always admired any MBKs that I've seen in passing, and having spotted this on ebay I threw in a bid and ended up winning it for 45 quid. The pic below is from the ebay listing, frame is due to arrive next week.

    Initial thoughts were building it up as a quick conversion for a bash about on. Another option was transferring wheels and groupset from my partner's unused hybrid, making it a geared with risers roadie. However, I've come to the conclusion that neither of these options will really do the frame justice. Geared with risers is still a possibility, but not with the hybrid components - I reckon a triple chainset and quick fire shifters would be a bit cack.

    So. I'm still undecided between sourcing a vaguely period specific 1990s groupset or slinging something more modern on. Also unsure if I should stick with the silver seat post / stem or go with all black components. I'm hoping to source remaining parts for the build for <£200 - is that even realistic?

    The only thing that feels pretty certain for now is that I want to pair the existing saddle with black bar tape followed by some loudish, brightly coloured cable outers and bottle cages to make this build a suitable road dwelling pal for my raleigh montage MTB.

    Any pointers or opinions would be most welcome. I expect there will be many more questions to follow, and mishaps too - so please go easy.

  • I really like those handlebars on there. Same it's not going to be fixed as they look awesome. V clean. Colour goes well with frame.

  • Possible groupset option Shimano Exage 300EX as seen here.

    and here

  • Exage 300EX was shimano's entry level road group in the late 80s early 90s: http://www.velobase.com/ViewGroup.aspx?G­roupID=30cbf1f1-9637-45e3-b0a3-a61ff2614­223

    I figure the MBK Trainer was an entry-level model as well so I wouldn't bother trying to build it to original spec. Especially since exage 300 has a lot of plastic bits and generally a rather poor finish. It's still a nice basis for a build, I'd keep an eye on the classifieds or post a wanted ad for some shimano 7/8 speed 105 or 600 stuff. It's bomb proof, can be mixed and match and is easy to adjust. Price-wise sub 200 is absolutely doable if you look for good deals. My work horse also came with 300EX and I have since changed all parts to a mix of 105/600.

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  • thanks for the tip - and nice bike! i spotted some shimano 105 for sale on here this morning as it happens - although i guess that wouldn't leave me with much change for wheels.

  • There's plenty of 105/600 stuff floating around, no need to get it from outside of the EU imo. That particular group looks almost nos to me, hence the premium. You can get it for cheaper in used condition which usually isn't a problem since the stuff is bombproof (except for the chainrings which are obviously subject to wear). Before you engage in further build plans, maybe think about what type of riding you want to do with the bike. If you want to go on longer tours outside of the city, I'd recommend dropbars and brifters with a traditional double chainring setup. For city riding, a single chainring in the front usually suffices. In my experience, 'geared beginners' sometimes have problems with downtube shifters, especially when they're not indexed. It's more convenient to have the shifters on the bars, especially when you ride in the city so you might want to consider a set-up with flatbar shifters in that case.

  • I have an exage 300 groupset I'd happily part with if you do decide to go down that route. Frame looks ace, agree with keeping the bars

  • Thanks so much for the help @Sig_Arlecchino and @velohobbit for the exage 300 offer. Sorry for the delay replying - the frame has arrived but I've been super busy with work and had problems with my leaky flat so I haven't had chance to take some photos of my own and do a proper update!

    Between mopping up water and firing off angry emails to my property manager this last week I've had a think about what I want from the build as suggested. In terms of experience with geared road bikes I have an old Peugeot Course with friction downtube shifters (which I hate), as well as a rather plain Cannondale CAAD8 that I use for longer weekend rides. I tend to use the Raleigh Montage mentioned at the beginning of this thread for commuting.

    I'm going to build up the MBK with gears and drop bars and I'm hoping to go for a 105 groupset using brifters and traditional double chainring set. Firstly because I'm curious about understanding how it works and how to fit it all together properly, secondly (and selfishly) to give me an alternative to the CAAD8 when I fancy it for longer rides. It's likely that once the MBK is built up I'll be flogging the Peugeot!

  • Wheels arrived! So thought it was about time I got some (slightly) better pictures of the frame and the wheels too now they're here.

    Snapped up the wheels off ebay - 105 hubs with Mavic open SUP rims. Turns out the listing photos didn’t do them justice at all. The rim colour is more of a mushroomy dark grey rather than dark grey or black (RAL 7006ish). It's nice, I reckon!

    As many have already pointed out, the bars are lovely – I’m a bit worried the sweep will make the brifters sit a little awkwardly though?

    Speaking of brifters – 105 1055 groupset is on its way to me now too!








  • This is gonna be cool. You might struggle to get a decent position with the shifters on those bars though

  • I think you should do yourself a favour and grab a set of compact drops. Deda Piega are a good, cheap option. Can be had for like 15 pound. You'll be greatful for having decent modern bars.

  • think you're both right. i have some Bontrager SSR VRC bars on my fixie skidder - so could do a swap. they're black though unfortunately - reckon they'd do the trick as an alternative to the piegas?

    my other option in the parts bin is some ITM Road 300 bars but I'm not sure if they'd suit this.

  • Bontrager bars will work fine. If you want them silver just sand off the black in the middle (fine grade wet paper).

  • I did one up for my brother a while back:
    There might be some interesting information for you

  • thanks vince! is there any way I can access the pics to have a proper nosy?

    update: Box of 105 bits and pieces has arrived!


    I’ve been having a think about some coloured cable outers and tried to mock up some images for comparison. My faves are either the orange or the white (suspect the shocking pink/dark pink would be close but not close enough to some of the colour already on the frame) so better to go with something which contrasts.

    col 1col 2
    col 3
    col 4

  • Hell yes, 1055 is deffo one of my favourite groupsets of all time, it's indestructible! I'm old fashioned but I'd go with white cable housing.

  • I'm going to throw a curveball in here and suggest Jagwire celeste to match the logos

  • you mean this?

    i like it!

  • finally got round to putting (almost) everything together.


    ... thought I was going to have to give up after 5 minutes when part of the old bottom bracket cup sheared off. luckily it came out with some teasing of the few remaining millimeters of teeth!


    ... managed to add various other bits with no other troubles.


    I then encountered a couple of issues sadly - I could get neither the 26.0 mm bars I'd intended to use through the stem or some 25.4 bars either (even with wedging the clamp open a little bit). It seems the stem takes something smaller than 25.4 - I tried to measure the existing bars using a ruler but they seemed to measure closer to 23mm which seems pretty odd to me. unless the stem takes 23.8 bars and is therefore obsolete. I think I might be better off getting a new stem to match the bars rather than the other way around?

    I had a go finishing up using the existing swoopy bars with the intention of setting up the cabling temporarily before switching to something to more suitable, but decided it could lead to a nightmare in terms of getting cables and housings the right length. So in the end I resorted to adding the wheels and pedals etc to make it look slightly more bike-shaped until I get the bars / stem sorted.


    Disappointed not to get it put together in one session but on the upside, I found some deda bartape at the bottom of the parts bin that looks to be a perfect match with the decals, so I'm now even more tempted to splash out on the celeste jagwire cable set... or will that be way too matchy matchy?

    ... on the subject of cabling, the top tube has a groove on the underside allowing the cable to be semi recessed, which I really like.


  • Looks awesome if you ask me, I'd give them celeste cables a try. :)

  • hot pink cables needed imo!

  • thanks @vp1337! I did a very crude comparison of the jagwire celeste colour against the decals / bar tape and became worried it would be a close match but not close enough. I'd even emailed jagwire about a month ago for a RAL colour to make a proper comparison but got no response.

    so I've opted to go for something that contrasts - hot pink!

    If it's a total disaster I'll use the outers to jazz up either the raleigh montage (ref at the beginning of this thread) or my black and white CAAD8 which is in need of a bit of colourful cheer.

    In other news I've managed to find a 26.0 ITM stem for a very reasonable £2 which I should collect tomorrow.

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1990s MBK Trainer

Posted by Avatar for pizzarat @pizzarat