Unmarked aluminum MTB handmade by master steel framer?
September 4, 2014 4:57 PM   Subscribe

I've been looking for interesting vintage-ish hardtail mountain bike frames, and found an ad on Craigslist for an aluminum MTB purportedly built by Colin Laing. Laing is known as a master steelworker who traditionally built beautifully-lugged track and road bikes in England and Arizona, so my hackles have been raised. It would certainly be a unique bike were it built by him. Would you be so well-informed as to confirm or deny the plausibility that this is a Neat Bike?

The story behind the bike, after a short phone interview with the seller, is that Laing only made a few MTB frames in his shop in Tempe. This frame was sent to a sister store (still in Phoenix metro area) run by a relative, and never sold. It sat in a warehouse behind the store since the late 90's. Seller acquired it sometime in the past few years after working at the shop, and built it up with years-old "top-shelf" components.

Based on the stories I've read on the internet by other Laing (and Colian and Le Colin etc.) bicycle owners this would be plausible. Many many frames were handmade and given as gifts or sold to shopkeeps who couldn't resist hanging it on the wall or storing it for their own personal disuse. The only differences being that every one of those frames were steel, most with excellent detail on the lugs and BB, and built to a road geometry—whereas this bike I'm looking at is aluminum and bears no markings whatsoever, not even a serial number.

One of Laing's sons has appeared on forums elsewhere as late as a few years ago, offering information and confirmation about various frames that have popped up over time. I have queries out in those locations, but (as usual) am sort of in a rush for info and was hoping a bike nut in this crowd had some more information.

posted by carsonb to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total)
Response by poster: I tracked down another mention of an aluminum Laing-branded bike. That post believes that the aluminum frames were built by someone else who either bought the name rights (which purportedly happened) after being trained by Laing or simply worked with him at the shop in Tempe.
posted by carsonb at 5:36 PM on September 4, 2014

I'm sending you a MeMail with contact info for a friend who is super knowledgeable about old mountain bikes.
posted by bedhead at 7:15 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have you thought of asking on the MTBR VRC forum? In my experience all of the most knowledgeable vintage mtb folks hang out there.
posted by miles at 8:15 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The seller contacted me with an updated, slightly different story.

Apparently the frames were made by another local in PHX/Tempe and traded to Laing for frames he made. Three or so were branded 'Le Colin' and sold through Laing's shop, but the deal fell through for whatever reason and the other three were left unbranded and sold bare to the shop the seller worked at. They got lost in the warehouse shuffle and he took one as payment at one point and built it up with unused old stock.

Someone on the MTBR VRC forum says that story strikes a chord in their memory, but as of yet no further confirmation. Still interested in who would have made those aluminum frames, but I'm slightly less excited by this story compared to if they'd actually been welded together by Laing himself.
posted by carsonb at 3:05 PM on September 5, 2014

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