New project, Marin Bear Valley SE 90s MTB

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  • Recently got this bike as a new project, a bit of a spontaneous buy.
    It will see use on the commute, and a trusty do-it-all-er. I would hope to keep it relatively low key in terms of look, let´s see how this goes.

    The condition is functionally very nice, everything runs smoothly and the gears shifts crisply.
    The front wheel was at one point replaced with Shimano LX and the brakes to Avid 20. However the headset need some overlook as it runs a bit rough.

    What I plan to do is:

    • Fitting mudguards, probably SKS Bluemels with big flaps. Gilles Berthoud is also a possibility.

    • New tires. While the current ones rolls pretty good, I´m aiming for lighter 2.00-ish ones with less threads. Maxxis DTH, Schwalbe Billy Bonkers, Conti Contact Speed or Schwalbe Marathon Supremes are all on the list.

    • Sort out the stem/bar/shifter situation. The original bars are very narrow, and straight. They will be replaced with some comfortably wide ones with plenty sweep back. I have a Sim Works Getaround bar that might fit the bill.
      And Im not a big fan of the "twisting" shifters, I might go for friction tumbies/barend.

    • There are some minor rust spots that would need to be overlooked.

    • The pedals are not in very good condition and quite small in size. Will be replaced with some wide and flat MTB-pedals, or something from the MKS-catalogue.

    • Had in mind a convertion to a 1x7 set up, as I don´t really use the upper/lower ends of the gearing. However as it all runs so well, I will leave it as is for now.

    As Im currently recovering from some wrist/hand issues, it will most likely be a slow project.

  • All these lovely new Marin projects make me very happy, and make me miss my Bear Valley SE a lot.

  • Thanks!
    Yeah, it seems like a sweet frame to base a build on. Fairly lightweight and seem to ride nicely!

    Regarding saddle options. I do like the look of a well used Selle Italia Flite, however I will most likely use a trusty Fabric Scoop on this build.
    My reasoning is I find them very comfy, the bike will see bad weather and I can accept the look.

    In other news I have been eyeing tumbies to replace the twist shifters, and I know nothing about them.
    Is the Falcon Tumbies a cheap and cheerful option or just a waste of time/money?
    There are some nice listings on eBay for vintage ones, is that a better route?


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  • Is the Falcon Tumbies a cheap and cheerful option or just a waste of time/money?

    I've used a couple of pairs of Falcon thumbies on different bikes, and they are pretty good, but they won't last forever. I got about 2 or 3 years of twice daily use from one set on one commuter, and the other set is still going, albeit on a less frequently used bike.

  • I've got those micro-ratcheting Falcon ones off Ali for much cheaper (exactly the same thing), it generally feels pretty solid, but there's noticeably play within a single notch, so it's not exactly precise. For 7 speed it should be perfect, it was wonky with 9.

  • Had a couple of these and they're great frames. I think this is my favourite finish/colour/graphics combo tbh.

  • A minor update, changed to Conti Contact Speed 26 2.00 and fitted a set of SKS Bluemels 60mm wide fenders. Mounted some MKS Lambda pedals as well.

    My initial impression is that the tires rolls very nicely, and they are quiet. Seem a very good value.
    The mudguards need additional flaps, at least in the front.
    The pedals has a nice size however a bit more slippery than i hoped. Might change to something else.

    Still waiting for a handlebar + grips, found a Nitto Albatross used at a reasonable price that I hope will be a good match.


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  • Lovely.

  • Still a bit of a waiting game for the finishing parts, so I spent the morning dissembling the drive train.

    Bottom bracket removed easily and is in nice condition, same goes for the threadings on the frame itself which is great news. There are some rust spots in the area and was a bit of a worry before starting.

    After cleaning and closer inspection it´s clear the chainrings are quite worn. So far it seem to run perfectly fine, so I will leave it as it is for now.
    I like the simplicity of a 1x conversion, but that´s a decision for later.

  • Just fitted Nitto Albatross aluminium bars, Falcon friction shifters and Ergon grips.

    The shifters works nicely, and I much enjoy them over the old "twist grips".

    Need to play around a bit with bar angles etc, reason the cables are on the longer side for the moment. Not 100% sold on the heavy sweep back bars, but I can see why people enjoy them. Will keep them on for now I think!

    Missing now is mudflaps, and then it should be all set.
    Might possibly add a front rack/wald basket as well.


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  • Bet that rides nicely. Trimming the mudguard stays...?!

    A basket on the front is so good for a cruisey town bike - you don't need to have panniers with you to throw some shopping or a jacket in.

  • Rides very nicely indeed, the frame has some "springiness" to it while still feeling efficient when pedaling a bit harder.
    Very impressed with the cheap and cheerful tires too. They just keep on rolling with a nice bit of plushness.

    Mudguard stays will be trimmed once the flaps are in place. :)

    A basket matches the use cases for the bike, so I probably just have to decide which one to go for.

    Walds are safe bet, and very affordable.

    This one from Soma seems also nice, good price point too.
    https://www.goldsprintshop.com/Soma-Luca­s-3-Mini-Front-Rack-black

    Pelago has a nicer and sturdier one, at a higher weight and price.
    https://pelagobicycles.com/rasket/

  • Think the fit is more or less dialed in.

    Been living in the 32t chainring the last days, leaning more and more to a 1x conversion.
    The Shimano SXT RC has this odd 58mm BCD so I might look for a new old crankset and a narrow wide chainring.

    The total cost for the project is 238 EUR so far. I think this bike is a good value for the money.


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  • This is rad, nice job. I remember wanting a Bear Valley SE as a kid in the early 90s!

  • Sweet build, my sort of ride.

  • They did finally arrive, the RAW mudflaps.

    Probably a bit overpriced for what they are, but at the same time not.

    Nicely finished, super easy to fit and (in my choice of finish) reflective in the dark.


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New project, Marin Bear Valley SE 90s MTB

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