Contender Ten Best of 2021: A Radical Klein Attitude MTB
If one were to poll 100 people to see what they thought of this Klein Attitude mountain bike, I suspect that every single person would think positively. There is a lot of goodwill out there for Klein bikes, particularly their mountain bikes. That is because this Klein mountain bike - as well as his other bikes of the time - is the result of the pursuit of the best technology the era had to offer, without compromise.
This Klein Attitude is an excellent example of a dialed-in mountain bike of it's time. It uses hydroformed aluminum in a time when steel was still the go-to frame material. Alloy requires larger tube shapes to keep its stiffness, but there is no denying its performance when you look at the square-to-round chainstays that increase tire clearance.
Klein was unique at the time for using a smooth bottom bracket shell rather than a threaded shell that was conventional for the time. As a result, the bottom bracket bearings were pressed in, much as they are today. Further unlike anything else was the use of an inset headset bearing which allowed for the large alloy tubes seen here. All of this together saved weight, but also added frame stiffness that made the bike feel like a rocket in comparison to a contemporary steel frame.
Poke around and you’ll learn that Klein wanted a cockpit (handlebar and stem) setup that matched the performance of their alloy frames. The result was what they called Mission Control, a handlebar and stem that is welded together. Klein says it saves weight and improves steering precision, but this one specifically with its color-matched paint looks so heroic.
The rest of the build here isn’t as expressive as the frame and cockpit. Shimano XTR has always been a great choice, and the mechanical thunk between gears is incredibly satisfying. The Sun Mistral Chinook rims are also paired to XTR hubs, and while they aren’t anodized purple like some other rims of the era, they too are the best of the era. We’re particularly big fans of the Shimano XTR seatpost, the black anodized finish of which is easily-scratched but extremely light.
While mountain bikes at the time were all over the place, throwing all kinds of new technologies at the wall and seeing what stuck, it was Klein that really built a fan base. Each Klein of the era had incredible attention to detail, a desire to push the boundaries of what is possible, and an eye for the provocative. We could use a bit more of that today.
See the rest of the build sheet and photos below.
|Frameset||Klein Attitude alloy frame|
|Fork||Klein Attitude Unicrown, aluminum|
|Headset||Klein sealed bearing, integrated|
|Groupset||Shimano XTR M900 3x8|
|Crankset||Shimano XTR FC-M900, 175mm|
|Brakes||Shimano XTR BR-M900|
|Gearing||Shimano XTR 46/36/26t / Shimano XTR CS-M900 8-Speed cassette|
|Wheelset||Sun Chinook 26" rims / Shimano XTR M900 hubs / Wheelsmith spokes|
|Tires||Specialized Ground Control, 26 x 1.95"|
|Handlebar||Klein Mission Control one-piece - 600mm width|
|Stem||Klein Mission Control one-piece - 140mm length|
|Saddle||Selle Italia Flite Ti|
|Accessories||bottom bracket area chainstay protector|