A Portland Sunday on a Bridgestone MB3

My winter/errand bike has been a well used 1987 Panasonic MC 7500. I bought that bike as a frame and fork many years ago, and then built it into a Portland workhorse. Rigid lugged steel vintage “mountain bikes” serve as excellent platforms for conversion to a sturdy errand/winter/commuter bike.

The Bridgestone MB3 frame sat in my shop for a few months, as I had purchased it only for its lavender Nitto stem to use on my newly built up Rivendell Appaloosa.  Well, sort of but not really.  The Bridgestone frame was in great shape, and it kept staring at me every time I loaded another bike into the work stand.  Finally, I gave in, transferring many of the Panasonic components, which I disassembled, over to the MB3.  The build was pretty straightforward, and would have been completed much sooner had I not decided to use Suntour cantilevers, whose set up required more time.  Finally, the bike was ready for a few assignments.

Denison Farms Organic Veggies at the Montavilla Farmers Market

A happy classical guitarist at the Montavilla Farmers Market

Veggies loaded into my Jandd grocery pannier.

First, I headed over to the Montavilla Farmers Market.  This weekly Sunday event features an extravaganza of luscious fruits and veggies, homemade honey, jams and jellies, along with flower bouquets, wines, breads and baked goods, and some mellow classical guitar to accompany your shopping experience.

“Fancy Cycling”

Up and over Mt. Tabor

After dropping the veggies off at my house to stay cool on this hot day, I pedaled over Mt. Tabor and headed down to my local Powell’s bookstore on Hawthorne.  While there, I discovered this 2013 reprint of a 1901 cycling manual by Isabel Marks.  Major score!  The book contains instructions and photos on how to do some “fancy cycling” by performing tricks on your bike.  It looks like I have lots of work to do, as my track stands are not done while seated backwards in the saddle, one of the many tricks illustrated in the book, with period photos as illustrations of each maneuver (more on this book in a subsequent post).

The Bridgestone frame is a bit different from the Panasonic MC 7500 in a few ways:  the Bridgestone has slacker angles, shorter chainstays, a shorter wheelbase, and a longer top tube.  The Panasonic is a classic diamond frame, whereas the Bridgestone has a slightly sloping top tube.  While the Bridgestone is made from triple butted Ishiwata tubing, the Panasonic’s Tange Prestige double butted tubing feels a bit more lively.  Even so, both bikes are comparable and nice to ride, never feeling bogged down while climbing.  Below are photos of the components I selected:

Vintage Suntour bar mount ratcheting friction shifters

Suntour XC low profile cantilevers.

I re-used the original Shimano Deore derailleurs and the 12-28 Shimano 7 speed cassette.

I discarded the Biopace crankset, and replaced it with this modified Stronglight 99 with drilled rings. The crankset was originally a triple 52/42/32, but I removed the big ring and converted it to a double 42/32. I used the original Deore bottom bracket and front derailleur, and it somehow all worked out well.

Original Ritchey Vantage wheels on Shimano Deore hubs.  The wheels needed re-tensioning and truing, and the hubs were rebuilt and now spin smoothly.

Northroad bars with Suntour levers and shifters. The Suntour levers offer easily adjustable brake reach – a nice feature for riders with smaller hands.  A Cardiff leather saddle is shown in the background.

The 1989 Bridgestone MB3 as converted to a Portland commuter

While I’m not sure yet whether I will replace my Panasonic MC 7500 with this bike, I have enjoyed my experience so far.  The bike received some nice comments today from passersby.  It’s a good looking bike, and as configured performs just as I would expect from a quality steel frame and excellent vintage components.

11 thoughts on “A Portland Sunday on a Bridgestone MB3

  1. I love the bike! I couldn’t agree more with you about solidly engineered vintage parts that last decades while shunning the latest trends with happy efficiency. On a side note: I once used a Biopace chainring on a single speed and despite what you might think it was actually not too weird to ride. I’m not a closet Biopace advocate by any means but I needed a chainring for a bike to flip and inflicted this eccentricity on another rider for the purpose of making a sale. I’m sure I would’ve pulled the crankset just as you did but it came to me while reading this post that sometimes we cyclists just adapt to what we have if the need arises. Cheers!

    • Thanks, John. I used Biopace chainrings on a Centurion Ironman, with no ill effects. Biopace got a bad rap, I think. Many cyclists prefer them, including Sheldon Brown, R.I.P. But, for this bike I wanted to use a different crankset with shorter crankarms – the original was a 175 mm Shimano, which I replaced with a 170mm crankset. Elliptical rings have been around for 100 years or so, and I do think that Shimano Biopace nailed the design pretty well.

  2. Very nice build! and no better place for a shakedown cruise than the farmers market! I just got a Bianchi Ibex lugged steel MTB that will eventually get the workhorse treatment so thanks for the template.

  3. Nola, have you ever tried downtube SunTour Power shifters? I had a pair on my Fuji S12-S LTD but upgraded them to shifters marked CHARGER.

    • Jonathon – the thumb shifters I used for this Bridgestone are Power Shifters. I think the “Power Shifter” name was just a bit of marketing. These thumb shifters operate similarly to Suntour “Barcon” shifters, both of which have a ratcheting mechanism so that the washer tightness only comes into play when the cable is slackened.

  4. I paid $55 for my 1990 MB3. It was really ratty, so I had it powder coated and did some other mods, including moustache bars and a Brooks saddle. I really like this bike. It’s been my commuter for about 5 years.

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