Early 90s Morrison Sidewinder

Last time on the ‘Slap we looked at an all original 1983 Morrison Bikes Sidewinder (here). That particular bike had a very easy life and sits comfortably at my in progress museum along with other interesting rides I’ll share in future pieces. This week is all about a Sidewinder that hasn’t been quite so lucky during its years of service, although I love it even more than the museum piece.

The Morrison Sidewinder was manufactured from the early 80s up through the early 90s and is an iconic New Zealand bicycle. The one featured a couple weeks ago was a first generation edition had quite a good story attached to it and it’s no different with this gen II, Ratus Ratus. The chassis had been built up with one of those horrible Chinese two stroke motorized bike kits as an around town bar beater by long term Wanaka legend Callum Grant, owner of Wild Colonial Bikes. He eventually moved into the 21st century and went with an electric long tail for commuting and the Sidewinder wound up hanging from a tree in front of his house truck. I can’t really remember the circumstances at the time but he knew I wanted to do a rat build and he ended up giving me the Sidewinder as the base.

Safe as houses

Straight into the rack for a thorough clean and upon inspection discovered that the many years of two-stroke vibration had cracked the downtube almost the whole way through. I got a file, cleaned the area up best I could and very carefully spot welded around the crack. There is a particular name for this use of MIG welding and a very famous frame build used it often… but what it’s called fails me. I must have done a halfway decent job because it’s held up to a fair bit of abuse since then and that repair wasn’t the end of the nip tuck, tummy suck to the old girl.

White Industries laced to Mavic 521

A set of Mavic 521d rims laced around some oversized White Industries hubs I used to run on my lime green 1998 Santa Cruz Heckler were perfect although widening the rear end and realigning the dropouts was necessary for the hub spacing to fly.

The modified hanger positions the rear D so far back that the improvised chain tensioner was needed to pull the guide pulley away from the 34t low

A vintage XTR rear derailleur was going to move the chain around a 7 speed cluster so a hanger had to be modified and two small holes snapped in the frame.

Indexed XT 7 speed thumbies off a Bridgestone MB-1

An even more vintage XT thumb shifter pulled from a Bridgestone MB-1 makes the rear D do its stuff and feels crisp as winter morning. Cranks are DH specific Race Face rocking a 110 BCD and a 36 tooth ring with MRP sideplates holding it all together.

Old Renthal bar, chopped down from God knows to 820mm wide

Other touches include unbent (sort of) moto bars, Lizard Skins BMX grips, side pull brakes from an even older Healing, Dia Compe levers and a Selle Italia saddle to keep your butt comfy. The cherry on top are the fork truss rods pulled from a 1940s Columbia Superb cruiser which, given my penchant for bikes of that era was a perfect way to make the build my own.

A wedge of comfy saddle

It definitely rides like a rigid but what a rigid! The wider bar and double wall rims make a massive difference compared to the previous generation so the two can’t really be compared. I’d contemplated about cleaning up the weld and having the frame painted but then it wouldn’t be a rat and the whole process would need repeating with something else, and I can’t think of a more appropriate rat bike than this. So go out and find a Healing Mountain Cat or one of these, don your favourite pair of jeans, grab your beer sash and duck into the nearest wood for a Klunk.

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