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The Magnus Walker of Porsche bicycles?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Yes, I'll confess. I would like to be the Magnus Walker of Porsche bicycles. To achieve the "Outlaw" moniker you have to do something original and outlandish with outside-the-box thinking — all centered around vintage Porsche hardware. 

For those not familiar with Mr. Walker's work, he has reached icon status for taking vintage Porsche cars and turning them into unique works of art with stellar performance. 

Since moving to — and riding all over — the North Lake Tahoe area, I have come to appreciate the possibilities of modifying my near-twenty-year-old and historically accurate Porsche Bike S. 

The greater Tahoe area is perfect for mountain bikes. But with the many twisting and hilly paved roads and trails, a road bike can be very handy. 

So here's the dilemma: Do I ride a pure mountain bike and enjoy the dirt paths and suffer on the roads? Or ride a true road bike and stay off the rough stuff?

What would Magnus do (WWMD)? 

I think he'd build a Porsche outlaw bike that can do both. A bike with the rough and historical feel of a vintage Porsche but with the performance to excel in all conditions. 

So that's what I did. 

For starters, I needed a sturdy Porsche bike frame to deal with all of the rough-and-tumble Tahoe terrain. My 1998 Porsche Bike S fits that description perfectly. 

A nice sturdy frame does help both on rough trails and the beaten-up paved mountain roads. But cushioning is nice on those single-track trails. Heck, the roads around Truckee and Tahoe are often so broken up, having mountain bike shocks can be more of a necessity than a luxury. But too much cushioning doesn't help on the roads. So, I substituted the stock components in the front shocks with firmer after-market elastomers. I bought these online from a company in New Mexico — I don't think anybody else in the world makes them any longer. The front mountain bike shocks look original, but with the benefits of firm-enough damping for the road yet enough spring-action for the trails.

The original late-'90s Porsche Bike S came with Sachs Neos gears and shifters. Yes, Sachs. The same company that made the clutch in my 2001 Boxster. However, my outlaw bike has been upgraded to Sachs Plasma derailleurs. I also changed the grip shifters to the Sachs Power Grip Wavey after-market shifters. Sure, it's a funny name, but these allow for more adjustment between the front three gears. This comes in very handy when going up very steep hills, which seem to be everywhere in Truckee and Tahoe.

To add a little comfort on the ride and reduce weight I also changed out the seat, or saddle, as they're called in the biking world. I changed to the Fi'zi:k Tundra saddle. Another silly name, but this happens to be the same bike seat selected for the brand-new Porsche Bike RS currently sold at Porsche dealerships. I find this saddle to be very comfortable yet extremely lightweight. It is truly more of a road bike seat than one you'd find on a mountain bike. It works perfectly on my mixed-purpose bike. 

Lastly, I took off the giant, heavy, and studded mountain bike tires and replaced them with thinner, lighter, and smoother road bike tires. To emulate some of the originality, I selected the German-made Continental SportContact road bike tires. The stock Porsche Bike S came with German-made Continental mountain bike tires.

I can see some people thinking this bike is a bit of a Frankenstein — not sure if it's a mountain bike, a road bike, or a vintage Porsche bicycle. But when you live where I do, having a little bit of each is truly wonderful.

Now maybe my little place in the Porsche world pales in comparison to Mr. Walker's. But following in what I believe are his footsteps, I don't really care what others think. I'm just trying to build a bike that fits the right situation, all the while maintaining its true Porsche aesthetics, characteristics, and behavior.

However, to appease the purist in me, I actually have two of these late-’90's Porsche Bike S mountain bikes. And the other one is left completely original. I think this means we Porsche enthusiasts can have it both ways, even when it comes to bikes

In the documentary "Urban Outlaw,” Walker commented about his involvement with his favorite car manufacturer: "Porsche is a brand that's built on loyalty ... If they saw what I've built with their cars, I'd hope they'd be smiling."

I hope the same with the bike I've modified. 

If you see a Guards Red 1998 Porsche Bike S — half mountain bike, half road bike — on a road or trail in the Tahoe area, thank Magnus Walker for the inspiration. I know I do.

Click here to read more about Jim Hemig's Porsche Bike S adventures at his website.

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