die Downhillwaffe der 80's!
owner: Stefan Scherzinger
Ziel von Brian Skinner war die schnellste Shreddermaschine für die Kalifornischen Fireroads zu bauen. Die hintere Federung wurde als wichtiger eingeschätzt als eine Federgabel, da man das Vorderrad über Hindernisse steuern kann und das Hinterrad alles gnadenlos abbekommt. Natürlich hätte er auch gerne eine Federgabel entwickelt, aber dafür fehlte das Geld.
Dieser Descender wurde 1985 beim Baukran- und BMX-Hersteller Champion geschweisst und stand im Keller vom Schweizer Bike Importeur der 80er Jahre himself - Butch Gaudy, er brachte ihn auf einer seiner Reisen mit nach Europa.
Da der Rahmen selbst 1987 noch eine Innovation war und Butch das Bike mit an die WM nach Villars de Lans nahm, wurde es mit einer Shimano M730 XT Gruppe aufgerüstet. Diese wurde im selben Jahr
erstmals offiziell vorgestellt. Die Datumstempel auf den Komponenten zeigen September 1986, es ist also eine der allerersten. Auf der vorderen Bremse fehlen sogar jegliche Gravuren. Kann gut
sein, dass es sich dabei um Vorserien Testkomponenten handelt, da Brian Skinner Testpilot von Shimano war.
Im Rahmen von Butch's Garage Sale fand dieses äusserst seltene, total verschärfte Bike den Weg zu uns.
frame: Mountain Cross Racing "Descender" welded @ Champion
fork : Champion
rims: Araya RM 25
hubs: Shimano XT M730
spokes: DT 2.0
tires: Farmer John's Cousin & Farmer John
pedals: Shimano XT M730
rear cogs: Shimano Uniglide
bottom bracket: Bullseye BMX
front derailleur: Shimano XT M730
rear derailleur: Shimano XT M730
shifters: Shimano XT M730
stem: Redline Forklifter
headset: Tange MX-125
brake: Shimano XT M730
brake levers: Shimano XT M730
seat post: IRD 26.8mm
quick releases: Shimano XT M730
colors: black / yellow
size (c/c): ....
serial #: none
Es gab drei Generationen des Descenders.
Den ersten Prototypen baute Victor Vincente of America, ein befreundeter Rahmenbauer und Race-Organisator. Dieses Bike wurde dann im Juli 1983 im BMX-Action Magazin als "Fire
Road Racer" vorgestellt. Daraufhin kamen bereits die ersten Bestellungen. Doch VVA hatte keine Kapazität um weitere zu schweissen. Von denen gibt es also nicht viele.
Die zweite Generation wurde zusammen mit Dan Hanebrink optimiert und von ihm geschweisst.
Im Motorsport kamen damals gerade die Gasdruckfederungen von Fox auf, doch die waren sauteuer! (genau wie heute ;-) doch der Vorteil des niedrigen Gewichts und die einfache Einstellbarkeit auf das Fahrergewicht, sprachen klar dafür. Also suchte Brian Skinner eine Alternative und fand die Konkurs gegangene Firma Motosports, von denen er den ganzen Lagerbestand an Gasdruckfederbeinen kaufte. Die sind bis auf die Aluminium-Innereien komplett aus Stahl geschweisst und geschliffen. Nach einem Service kontrolliert das 1.37kg schwere und beinahe 30 Jahre alte Öl-Luft Federbein die 6" Federweg am Hinterrad wieder souverän! Eine solche Performance findet man im Bikesport erst 10 Jahre später wieder.
Da Brian Skinner zu dieser Zeit von SE Racing gesponsert wurde, wollten sie den Descender unter ihrem Label vermarkten. Dan wollte mit SE zusammenarbeiten und Brian mit MCR selbständig bleiben. So trennten sich ihre Wege und Dan baute von nun an den
...und Brian überdachte die Federungskinematik nochmals neu und übernahm das Konzept von seiner perfekt funktionierenden, brandaktuellen 1984er Kawasaki KX250 und passte es etwas an.
Den ersten Prototypen der 3. Generation liess er bei John Parker schweissen, der vor Kurzem Sweetheart Cycles gekauft hat, woraus dann später "Yeti Cycles" entstand (klick).
Die weiteren Rahmen und Gabeln wurden bei Champion geschweisst. Die bauten Baukräne und BMX Bikes. Insgesamt entstanden etwa 100 Descender. Unser Bike ist eines der ersten aus dieser Serie.
Seit 1983 testete Brian Skinner für Shimano deren Mountainbikekomponenten und half bei der Entwicklung. Deshalb waren alle Descender mit Shimano Teilen bestückt. Gerade als das MCR-Business 1986/87 so richtig in Fahrt kam, wollte Shimano seine Stelle als Entwickler offiziell machen und er musste sich entscheiden. So entschied sich Brian Skinner für Shimano und verkaufte 1987 seinen Anteil an MCR-Mitgründer Mike Waldman. Von da an gings bergab und bald war der Descender Geschichte.
MY STORY AND HISTORY OF THE MCR DESCENDER
by Brian Skinner
How it all started:
Back in the 80’s mountain bikes were just getting started, and I loved the whole idea. You see…a lot of us Southern California kids used to ride the trails from the top down on our BMX bikes. After we saw the first MTB; we all switched over to the balloon bikes so we could ride up the trails to ride down—down hilling was what most of us loved.
VVA (Victor Vincente of America), was the Guru of MTB in Southern California at the time, and not only built “interesting” mountain bikes, but he promoted MTB races in Southern California. Not long after entering one of his events…and finding there was only a couple of events to race each year (this was about 1981-82 after the first SoCal event VVA put on called; Reseda to the Sea), I started MCR (Mountain Cross Racing) a company promoting down hill racing, and then cross country events since people asked for them.
At the end of 1982 heading into 1983; down-hilling was popular with 25 to 60 people showing up to race. Around that time, and being a disciple of VVA, he asked if I wanted to be sponsored for DH racing, and he would build a bike of my design to win races. Being a motocross guy, and feeling the difference between my MTB at speed and my motocross bike, I asked if he could build a frame with rear suspension. He looked at me oddly, but said he could, and we set to work making the first suspended MTB called the Descender (as seen in July 1983 BMX Action magazine "Fire-road Racer"). The name came after a brainstorming session with my friends. My buddy Mike Waldman came up with the name saying that the bike was meant for going downhill as in Descending, so I went with the Descender name.
Soon after the article "Fire-road Racer" appeared, I received many phone calls about buying one of these bikes so I decided to start making them in 1984. I had ideas on making it lighter and faster, but VVA did not have the capabilities to produce the bikes, and my good friend Steve Boehmke reminded me about Dan Hanebrink, and that’s how Dan came into the picture.
Dan had some great ideas to make the bike lighter, more compact, and that’s the bike design you see in the first 1984 Descender flyer from the mombat.org website. Later that year, I got sponsored by SE Racing, and they wanted to produce the bike, but Dan and I had sort of a falling out about the situation, so I struck out on my own with a new design back under MCR. Dan went on to produce that Descender design under SE Racing name briefly—then for him self I believe. So actually for a time there were two Descenders being produced?
The next and final incarnation of the Descender came a few months after Dan and I split. The new Descender was based off the 1984 Kawasaki KX250 suspension which worked well, and I loved how the KX 250 bike looked, so I copied the ratio, and dimensions from the KX and applied it to a bicycle frame. My father is a drafting wiz and drew up the blue print for me. A good friend of mine John Parker had just bought a bike company named Sweet Heart Cycles (soon to be renamed Yeti Cycles), and made the first prototype of the new Descender which later appeared in the 1984 issue of Mountain Bike Action.
Soon after that clipping appeared in MBA, I received a call from a company called Champion; they were a crane company that also made BMX bikes called—Champion! We met, and the owner Mike agreed to make the frame and forks for me. There were 75 frame-sets made in 1985. I also had to find a shock to fit the bike, and I was going to spec a spring shock, but realized I would need to stock multiple springs to fit riders. Gas shocks were a new concept back then, and Fox (a motocross company) was the only company making them, but were too costly. Fortunately I found a small company called MotoSports that was going out of business, and bought all of their stock of gas shocks—this solved my suspension problems!
There was a time of turbulence for funding in 1985. First my girl friend’s father helped out, then another friend bought him out, and there were problems until Mike Kumar; a close friend of mine jumped in and saved the day at the beginning of 1986.
As a side note; I had been contracted by Shimano to do product testing and R&D development for MTB parts during this time (1983-85), so when Mike and I got things going; all Descenders came equipped with Shimano parts. 1986, and 87 were good years for the Descender, and we started to gain momentum on sales, advertising, and articles. The bike preformed well at races with Kye Sharp winning Big Bear XC and DH events, and myself making it into the “Under 5 Club” at Repack Down Hill, among other accomplishments. I even talked with a good friend of mine named John Tomac who was just getting started in MTB to race our bikes, but were under funded to get him to on the team…too bad…I bet we would have gone huge!
Sadly in 1987 I had to make a decision; Shimano wanted to make my position “official”, but I would have to give up the MCR business “a conflict of interest” they said, so I felt it best in the long run to do so, and sold out to my partner Mike. From there things faded away, and soon the Descender became history, but MTB parts became what they are today. I guess in the big picture of MTB it all worked out well!
To my knowledge and credit for being inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame; the first Descender (1982-83) is the first ever modern-day suspension MTB to be made. It had six inches of rear travel contrary to two inches that many people think was available in the early days of MTB.
At the 1984-85 trade show in Long Beach, Ca. the Descender made its first consumer appearance. As a funny fact; Charles Kelly saw the Descender and was excited to see it. He grabbed his then partner Tom Ritchey to show him the bike. After seeing the bike Tom said: “I would rather put suspension on my legs than on a bicycle.” I was devastated to hear that from one of the founders of mountain bikes back then, but my how times have changed!
There were three concepts in the design of the Descender. First; suspension was needed to go fast and to smooth the ride of bicycles in the dirt at speed. I would have designed front suspension as I felt bikes needed that too, but was way beyond my monetary scope to do that. Second; I felt rear suspension was more important. My thinking at the time was the pivot is center of the bike. While riding at speed your weight was center to the rear of the bike, so if the front wheel hit an object the suspension would absorb some of the impact. Third; I also felt wheel size would play a roll in suspension bikes, thus the 26in front and the 24in rear wheels. I felt the 26 front would help absorb bumps, and handle rough terrain while aiding in activating the suspension if the front wheel hit big bumps. The 24 rear wheel was a stiffer wheel by design, so it could handle the extra load from suspension, and lateral load. It also allowed me more room to make the linkage the way I wanted. There were trade offs in suspension design to consider, and the last rendering of the Descender was the most economic for me.
Of course there are many innuendos to the story and time line, but to explain it all would fill a book. The above words are the best I can offer in short order, and lays out some of the events and timeline in a fairly accurate order.