1993 Marin Team Titanium F.R.S.
The Marin Team Titanium FRS, a dream mountain bike from the early ‘90’s.
25 pounds all together, including two water bottle cages and the handlebar ends that we left off of this display bike.
The Team F.R.S. Moniker stands for Front and Rear Suspension (in this case, Doug Bradbury suspension designs made by Answer-Manitou). This “Team” is the deluxe version with the straight gauge titanium tubing in the main frame. It came equipped with Shimano’s new XTR parts, a titanium handlebar and a super-light saddle topped off with a light sprinkling of purple anodized parts and accessories.
1993 was still the early days of mountain bike suspension. Rock Shox made the first real mountain bike suspension fork and that RS-1 fork had only come out in ‘89. Entering the mountain bike market around the same time, Answer Products had only offered their Manitou fork for a couple of years at this point… The point that I’m trying to make is that the suspension on this bike was an early attempt and shouldn’t be judged to harshly.
But “Harsh” is a good description.
The Manitou fork has a four inch long rod with elastomers skewered like vegetable kabobs inside of each fork leg. These elastomers were selected to give just enough controlled spring action to give just under two inches of fork travel when you hit a bump in the trail.
The really novel thing about this bike is that after modifying the front fork just a bit, they were basically able to make the same Manitou fork work as the seat stays on this frame, with a simple pivot under the bottom bracket and a couple of bushings above the rear wheel dropouts to keep the whole system from binding too much.
In 1993, the inch and a half of travel that you got out of this design felt plush, but at the same time it left you wanting more (which was good. Bike suspension has come a long way because of that). Unfortunately, elastomer suspension doesn’t age well. The front fork elastomers had turned to goo over the past thirty years, while the pieces in the rear unit had crumbled to dust. The guts of the whole system has now been replaced with Suntour XCM fork springs that we hacksawed to fit. It rides pretty well now.
Oh good gravy! Almost forgot about the parts! Shimano’s newly introduced XTR components were absolutely spectacular. The shifters function flawlessly even today, as long as the levers aren’t obstructed by grips that are too thick and they aren’t crowded too far into the center of the 22” wide bar by the bar-end extensions.
The color-coordinated purple quick-release skewers, bottle cages and stem? Still awesome.