Before founding Rivendell Bicycle Works in 1994, Grant Petersen was marketing director for Bridgestone Cycle (USA). During his 10-year tenure, he created some highly innovative bikes, much to the consternation of the Japanese management, that are highly sought after today. The XO series, for instance, was designed to grind gravel long before gravel grinding were buzz words. This XO-2 is a perfect example of why Grant’s designs and direction are so well respected.
The XO series was basically a lugged, Japanese-made road frame with 26″ tires and touring accoutrements like rack mounts and a pump peg. It was athletic, nimble and competent off-road. Petersen was loathe to call it a hybrid as, contrary to modern bikes that are slotted into that marketing genre, it actually could do everything it set out to do — very well. One thing it couldn’t do, however, was rescue the bottom line of Bridgestone Cycle (USA), which was subsequently folded in 1994.
This XO-2 was bought new in 1992 by Gerry Robson, who rode it for 10 years. It sat in the garage for another 10 years, before Gerry’s son, Geoff, began restoring and riding classic steel road bikes — inspiring Gerry to dust off the XO-2 and spruce it up. “After coming to appreciate that I owned a bit of the legendary Grant Peterson’s contribution to cycling,” Gerry tells us, “I was even more committed to doing a nice rebuild. I was also to be influenced by the aesthetic of classic French bicycles.
“Although I retained the full original Shimano Exage drive train, I’ve pretty well upgraded everything else. To begin with, I somewhat reluctantly dropped the original XO signature mustache handle bars in favour of Nitto Albatross bars on a Technomic stem, resulting in a more age-appropriate upright riding position. Shellacked cork grips, silver bar-end shifters and Shimano brake levers finish off the cockpit. The original canti brakes were replaced with new Shimano models with Yokozuna pads.
“A Brooks B-17 Special sits atop a NOS Shimano seat post that my son tracked down for me in the UK. I re-radiused (by hand) a set of genuine extra long Honjo fenders to perfectly conform to the Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tires which are mounted on the original 26″ Ritchey wheels. Other finishing touches include VO Metallic Braid Cables, MKS Touring pedals, a Pletscher Twin-Leg kickstand, a Nitto Mini-Front rack, and matching Nigel Smythe TrunkSack and Saddle Bag.”
A timeless classic indeed, although it still looks ready for serious adventure, just like it was intended. Special thanks to Gerry Robson for the story and Geoff Robson for the fine photography. Head to his flickr stream for more shots of his dad’s Bridgestone.