RAD RIGS: Nick Giblin’s Balfa MinuteMan

This is a new section where we showcase interesting, unusual, rare, esoteric, custom and cool mountain bikes and delve into why and how these rad rigs came to be. We’re taking reader submissions, so if you have an interesting mountain bike to share, please email editor@spokemagazine.com. 

What is it and why this bike? 

I picked this Balfa MinuteMan up as a complete bike a year or two back in a well-ridden state. I’m interested in bikes I always wanted as a teenager but could never afford at the time and that are hard to find in New Zealand, so I had to grab this Canadian-made beauty. 

Balfa were always ahead of their time. Their 1999 BB7 was an early high-pivot idler-equipped bike and models like the MinuteMan fully embraced the freeride movement, pushing the envelope on what was ridable on a hardtail. As a testament to that, the MinuteMan is the only hardtail to officially compete in the Red Bull Rampage in 2003 under Russ Morrell. Morrell unfortunately crashed on his second run, but he was riding many of the same lines the riders on big bikes were hitting and the MinuteMan held its own. 

I learnt a lot building this bike: I got to do my first wheel build, my first complete brake overhaul (new pistons, all seals etc), and I also rebuilt the classic Italian-made Marzocchi Z1 fork.

I’m interested in bikes I always wanted as a teenager but could never afford at the time and that are hard to find in New Zealand, so I had to grab this Canadianmade beauty.

Wheels/tyres 

Bombproof Mavic 521 rims on polished Hope Pro2 rear hub and proprietary Marzocchi QR20 front hub. Heavy as all heck Maxxis DHF DH-casing tyres with the all-important red stripe.

Suspension 

2001 Marzocchi Z1 QR20 fork with 130mm of travel. The buttery, open-oil bath goodness felt surprisingly good pre tear down but even better after.

Controls 
Azonic bar and stem combo, the go to back in the day. The Brooklyn Machine Works end caps came from a  TradeMe box of parts pick up. They were are real find and a personal favourite. A set of Oury flanged moto grips complete the period cockpit. 

Drivetrain 

Sram XO 9-speed derailleur and shifter with a set of Kona Bulge cranks and a KeeWee Sticky Ring for local steez.  

Braking 

Hope old school polished M4 brakes, four pot for extra power and stress while setting up four brake pads per caliper. They look great and have plenty of power. 

Do you have an interesting, unusual, custom bike you’d like to showcase?

Email editor@spokemagazine.com with your submission. If we’re into it, we’ll publish it.