Millfield Special #7 – The FSR-M

In October 2020, a customer brought this bike into the store for servicing. It’s a 1998 FSR Ground Control Extreme, and was the state-of-the-art downhill bike at the time. 100mm of travel, billet triple clamps, Shimano XT 3×8 drivetrain. What a weapon!

We tuned it up for the holiday season rides and out it went, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Two weeks later I rang the owner and offered him his pick of the new bikes on the floor as a swap for the FSR. He leapt at the deal and by late November ’20 it was ours!

We built some 26″ wheels for it and gave it a disc brake on the front. We updated the stem and bars, and swapped out the 3×8 for a 1×10 XT/Deore system with 11-42 Sunrace cassette. When we took it for a ride and found it was better, but not great. The suspension was functional but tired, and the steering head angle wasn’t slack enough for fast XC.
The other big issue is the bike was not very versatile for different sized riders because of the short seat tube above the shock. We had to have 2 seat posts set up with different lengths and swap them for different height riders.

Back to the catalogs for more bits!

To fix the head angle issue and improve the front suspension we had to gather some parts which was pretty difficult during COVID shortages. In December 2020 we installed a 29er RockShox REKON 100mm air fork and built a new front 29″ wheel, so the bike is now a 26/29 mullet.
We sourced a RockShox Monarch RL airshock and sent it off to our favourite engineer Christophe for custom top+bottom spacers, and upgraded the ‘bars to some sexy green Deity 787s, and found some green ESI Extra Chunky grips.

Now it’s a bike! We took it for a summer afternoon ride and were impressed by how nice it is. There’s a bit of stiction in the swingarm pivots owing to the nylon bush design so it feels like the rebound is slowed way down. It steered really well and soaked up the XC hits.

Go the mullet!

There’s one more thing to fix though…the seat post!

COVID supply issues slowed us down for a while, but finally we sourced and installed a FUNN Updown 150mm dropper seat post and our favourite Cannondale DownLow dropper lever. With a quick stem flip, the bike is ready to go for riders from SM to XL.

Time for custom paint!
In March ’21 we stripped the frame and handed it over to Paul Graber for a Hyundai metallic blue paintjob. The new customer decals were made by our friends at Sign Style Graphics right here in Cessnock.

The build came together in record time, and dressed up in the Autumn sunshine it looks great.

Do we ride it? Of course! This is our ‘charity’ bike, and any of our customers can ride it when we go out on a shop ride. They donate $10 into our charity tin and afterwards we wash it and hang it back on the wall in the shop.

We’re always keen to try new technology that will retro-fit to old bikes, and these Magura HS33 hydraulic rim brakes are as good as it gets.
The rear V-brakes on the FSR-M were a significant weak spot when riding conditions turned wet. The original seat stays won’t take a lot of braking force before flexing, but disc brake conversions are not feasible on some old bikes like this one.
We built a new a new double-walled 26″ wheel with a modern 34mm wide rim, and now this dual-brace Magura system has produced superb stopping power with great lever feel.
This (nearly) 25 year old bike now has modern brake performance in all trail conditions. It has a quick release mechanism for fast tube and tyre repairs, and is a cost-effective option for older bikes.

This wonderful old bike ready for another 25 years years on the trail!