1987 Diamondback Arrival
A Diamondback Arrival all-terrain bike from the late ’80′s.
This was a terrific “American” mountain bike that was almost entirely produced in Japan.
Outfitted with the latest in mountain bike equipment, this Arrival is a showcase for the cutting edge of technology from the time. There’s the 7000 series aluminum frame, the Tange cromoly steel rigid fork and Nitto aluminum cockpit components. The bike has the new Shimano Deore XT component group, which means it has the new indexed “click” shifting, a U-brake mounted under the chainstays, a cassette style rear hub instead of a screw-on freewheel, a seat quick-release lever and oval “Biopace” chainrings.
Mountain bikes weren’t shuffled and dealt into categories in 1987. Unlike today, there was no need to sort the models into Cross-country, Enduro, Downhill, or Freeride piles. It was easier just to pick among the good, better and best bikes (and those labels were usually just related to price).
The best bikes available seemed to be Cunningham, Klein and American aluminum bikes as well as custom steel offerings from guys like Tom Ritchey, Joe Breeze or Ross Schafer. The better group included the Arrival along with upper-end models from Specialized, Bridgestone and Panasonic. And the merely good (and not-so-good)? Any European brand that decided they should try making an off-road bike model. Colnago, Peugeot and Gitane come to mind.
This is the same model all-terrain bike that I rode as a teenage bike racer. It was my “downhill” bike (hit 48mph through the speed trap at the Mammoth mountain downhill), it was my “cross-country” machine and most definitely my “ride to the video store or arcade” bike. Most mountain bike festivals at the time included dirt criteriums, observed trials and even orienteering events in addition to the main cross-country race, and one bike usually did it all.
So I’ll share some of the family photo album with you. See the photo (you can click on it to enlarge it)? That’s me before the start of the 1988 Chequamegon 40 mountain bike race in Hayward, Wisconsin.
The distinguished gentleman standing to my left is my grandfather, Helmer “Blackie” Johnson. Helmer wasn’t much of a rider but he was a hell of a great bike racing fan.
Those are my two bikes, a yellow 1987 Diamond Back Arrival (on the car) and a black & yellow splatter paint 1988 Diamond Back Arrival.
These bikes were part of the first sponsorship deal I ever had, getting a subsidized price on the bikes and my race entry fees paid by Erik’s Bike Shop.
The bikes were stolen out of our garage a month or two after the photo with my grandfather was taken. Thirty years later, with a little luck and some help from Ebay, here is the replacement for the yellow bike. Couldn’t be happier. It’s just as much fun to ride as I remember.