1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
mtn. biking 101
2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    What's changed in the last 8 years?

    So, I was pretty hardcore into riding 2003-2005. I have an '03 Specialized Epic. I am starting to get into riding again and was wondering what might have changed over the last 8 years that I have been MIA? I know that 29ers are becoming a thing now, what else?

    Thanks!
    Adam

  2. #2
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    Materials, frame design, suspension, gearing, brakes, handlebars, tires, wheelsets, hubs, thru axles, bearings, headsets, forks, rear shocks, hydration systems, helmets...you know, the usual. Some changes have been dramatic and some incremental.

  3. #3
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    ^^^ This. Also, prices continue to go through the roof.

    I would say that the only thing that hasn't changed much is Stems.

  4. #4
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    Standards multiplied and filled the Earth.

    Everybody started making new standards: partly because they saw a need, and partly because the first guy patented his
    Bottom Brackets, Headsets, steerer tubes, axle designs and sizes, brake mounting.... wheel sizes (I'm sure 36" is not for me, and I'm not really interested in 650b aka 27.5" either).

    There's no law against riding an old bike, though, and you can still get parts that suit standards that existed 8 years ago.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Primus462 View Post
    So, I was pretty hardcore into riding 2003-2005. I have an '03 Specialized Epic. I am starting to get into riding again and was wondering what might have changed over the last 8 years that I have been MIA? I know that 29ers are becoming a thing now, what else?

    Thanks!
    Adam
    Really the biggest issues is wheel size. 29" and now 27.5"/650b. Plus 10 speed drive trains with 2 front chainrings instead of 3 and latest of all the 1 x11. 11 speed rear and single front chainring. Also carbon is pretty common now.

    Otherwise there is a new market segmentation.

    XC
    Trail
    AM
    FR
    DH

    XC today is pretty much race stuff, but also general riding. Trail is strange since it really just we we used to call XC back in the 95-2005 period. Not "trail" is for bikes that have some travel, but can ride everywhere, but are not light race bikes. AM is all mountain and really just DH bikes that can be pedaled up hills and then down the other side. The climb ok, but are made with longer travel to really attack the downhills. FR is freeride where you take big terrain and not typical routes. DH is just as it was, but with longer travel and greater speeds due to it.

    Overall the 03 Epic should still be good ride. I have 03 KHS hardtail and it still a good even if it does not have any of the new coolness. I pretty much stopped riding in 2004 due to family obligations and got back in pretty good about 18 months ago. I have not found a need to change my bike to keep up with the times. Alot has changed, but also very little has change since you still need to get it done on the trails. Old bike or new bike... it just the same.
    Joe
    2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail - XC, All mountain, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  6. #6
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    Re: What's changed in the last 8 years?

    The marketing has really improved as bike have become more golfified. The pricing has gone through the roof. The manufacture are cleverly continuing to changing standards which force more upgrades when parts break. They are able to sell 2nd bikes to lot of owners of perfectly good bikes with the myth of 29er.

    Status symbol parts have really taken off, hollow forge spokes, carbon frame, Thomson stuff.

    In terms of real performance. Multiple rubber compound tires like the schawlbe evo line. Much improved hydraulic brakes. Full Suspension design. And 1 speed fronts have become widespread, which was started by some experimental individuals here.

    Some Chinese brands are now vetted and respected. Check out the threads in the $400 carbon frame and carbon wheelset.

    Through axles stiffer but heavier, meh for me. Tapered forks? My straight had never given me problems.

    Its funny that we actually went backwards on shifting. Some of the highest end SRAM are twist shifters because some smart consumers learned to ignore the marketing and concentrate in what's important, weight. Of course,

  7. #7
    fly on the wall
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    Prices for complete bikes have skyrocketed like college tuition over the years.

    It used to be that buying parts individually and building a bike up from the frame was more expensive than buying a complete bike. These days the cost of a complete bike seems to be negating that. Maybe it's all in my head...since I haven't added up the cost of individual parts vs a complete bike recently to compare the two.

    Strangely enough, prices for individual parts don't seem to have grown as drastically.
    ~Always avoid alliteration.

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  8. #8
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    I would like to add geometry. Bikes have slacked out the front ends. They have generally added more travel to bikes. They do this with any combination of bigger wheels and / or more travel.
    This creates a really long wheelbase bike so, they shorten up the seat stays, chain stays and top tube length.

    Now your riding off the back more so a seat post dropper becomes more of a need item.

    This creates a really fast bike, so bigger and more powerful brakes are needed.

    All that being said, I still like my 2003 bike and 2012 bike.

  9. #9
    Bicyclochondriac.
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    One big change has been the widespread acceptance of dropper posts. 8 years ago most people just laughed the few folks who dropped $250 on a Gravity Dropper (which I think was the only one available at the time). Now folks are tripping over each other to get a dropper post and $250 is on the cheap side.

    As far as the bikes I think the main thing is the geo getting lower longer and slacker. And of course the proliferation of 29ers.

    Oh, and bar ends are now totally in again.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  10. #10
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    Last time I bought a bike:
    3x8 was where it was at, 3x7 was being phased out.
    (just built a 1x9, 2x10 is standard, and 1x11 is upcoming)
    What's tubeless?
    (now it's pretty standard)
    "26in" and "mountain bike" ment the same thing.
    (26, 27.5, 29, 650b)
    Shimano was king and SRAM was crap.
    (now shimano stuff is finicky and SRAM is rock solid)
    cromoly was ok, tripple butted cromoly was good, aluminum was awesome, and carbon was for racers with sponsors.
    (they sell aluminum at walmart now)

  11. #11
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    over all, still just a simple machine with wheels, pulleys, levers.. if it's a mechanical disc brakes the incline plane... Now it's just a more complicated way to make it all work at a much higher cost driven by modern economics.. . no more sought after $60 Schwinn Stingray's of the 1970's ..
    '11 Jedi
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  12. #12
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    An ability to justify leaving more money on the counter.

  13. #13
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    Re: What's changed in the last 8 years?

    I stepped out for a while too. Much had changed but I'm not sure why people are saying prices have gone up? Looks the same to me... Hell, tech wise a $800 bike today destroys a $1,200 bike from 2004.

    Lets see... I recently built up a new bike from scratch so I got to really get a heads up on what has changed. My last bike build before a year ago was around 2002-2003 so I was as lost as you are now.

    Since 2004...

    -Steel and carbon fiber is IN.
    - there's now a bike for everything (as stated.. Ex. XC, DJ, AM, FR, DH, Road, Touring...)
    - fixies are IN
    - dropper posts (everyone wants one)
    - tubeless is practically standard
    - internal geared hubs
    - Hammerschmidt crank set (I had to buy one... Heavy but so awesome).
    - 26, 650b, 700c, 29...
    - Bike shoes that look like normal shoes.
    - Air forks (fork tech in general is ridiculous now)
    - 5+ inches on single crown forks (back then this was unheard of!) and marzocchi has lost its way. Rock shox is back, fox is hot.
    - POC helmets!
    -Enduro and super D races
    - bikes in general have cut a lot of weight - Lots of bike options from quality small manufacturers

    ... Hmm I'll be back if I can think of anything else.

    But lastly I will say.. Bikers have got it made now... Before we had to be innovative with our bikes and bike parts. There simply just wasn't a bike for every genre. We were jumping XC bikes slacked out with 4 inches of travel back then. I remember I had a trek 8000 with a dual crown fork, MRP (those metal ones with orange rollers), rhyno lite rims, pro taper bars, Kore B52 stem, nokian tires... Hahaha... THAT was my urban assault/AM/DJ/FR bike back then. How ridiculous.
    Last edited by cheezy; 05-29-2013 at 11:57 PM.

  14. #14
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    steel is in?
    '11 Jedi
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheezy View Post
    I stepped out for a while too. Much had changed but I'm not sure why people are saying prices have gone up? Looks the same to me... Hell, tech wise a $800 bike today destroys a $1,200 bike from 2004.
    Prices are all relative to your time-frame of involvement

    My first bike cost $20 used, and the second cost $100 new ... Both were by Schwinn, and they were entirely U.S. made back then.
    And yes,
    The technology has drastically changed since the 60's/70's

    Rims came in steel, and there were only a select few French, Italian & Asian designs that featured aluminum rims.
    No one wore helmets ... They hadn't been invented, yet ... And few died because they didn't wear one.
    And terms like BMX and MTB were still a bit into the future.

    Sounds like you had a nice bike, for the time-frame.

  16. #16
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    Re: What's changed in the last 8 years?

    Quote Originally Posted by shwinn8 View Post
    steel is in?
    Oh yeah. Steel is real.

    The most desirable AM hardtails are made of steel. Transition transam and Stanton slackline come to mind. If you can't afford Titanium, steel is the next best thing. My touring bike (salsa Fargo) is also steel and damn that's a bad ass bike.

    For most genres carbon fiber has taken over.. Personally I'm not fully a believer yet. For my kind of riding I just don't trust a carbon fiber frame yet. I will say I am thoroughly impressed by carbon fiber technology today. I run the rock shox revelation WC on my transam and the carbon fiber crown looks and feels solid. It's starting to make me a believer unless it breaks on me....

    Aluminum... I'll never own an aluminum frame again.

  17. #17
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    from that statement the letters on the computer screen read to me that you had a cheap aluminum frame and either the welds failed or you tried to do something the bike wasn't made for and the thin walled aluminum folded on you?
    '11 Jedi
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    '01Rocket88< ran over it.. always do a full walk around!
    '00 Homegrown

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by shwinn8 View Post
    from that statement the letters on the computer screen read to me that you had a cheap aluminum frame and either the welds failed or you tried to do something the bike wasn't made for and the thin walled aluminum folded on you?
    Or because he is riding a hardtail?
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  19. #19
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    Re: What's changed in the last 8 years?

    Quote Originally Posted by shwinn8 View Post
    from that statement the letters on the computer screen read to me that you had a cheap aluminum frame and either the welds failed or you tried to do something the bike wasn't made for and the thin walled aluminum folded on you?
    Not exactly. Steel just has more pros than cons over aluminum. Unless you are a roadie on a budget I see very little pros going for an aluminum frame. The parts since 2004 has shaved a considerable amount of weight making aluminum frames kinda of a wash considering the rougher ride. Yes, aluminum was big 10 years ago... Not so much anymore.

    And yes, steel is great material for a hardtail.

  20. #20
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    What's changed in the last 8 years?

    The guy's been out since 2005, not 1995, guys

    I was on a similar hiatus, and while there have definitely been some changes in the past 8 years, a lot of the 'new' tech was around back then, it just wasn't as mainstream

    For me, the biggest changes were:

    - 29ers, etc
    - SRAM owns half the component industry
    - Marzocchi has pretty much dropped off the map
    - 10 ring cassettes instead of 9
    - carbon frames are way more mainstream, even on fs rigs
    - longer 'standard' suspension...100mm is standard for XC instead of 70mm, for example
    - tubeless is a mainstream thing

    Lots of incremental changes, which always happens. Standards always change but for me, other than 29ers, I didn't feel like the sport had transformed drastically


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk 2

  21. #21
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    Thank you cheezy, [comment deleted for inappropriate content regarding the age old saga of steel vs. aluminum]
    Last edited by shwinn8; 05-30-2013 at 07:51 PM.
    '11 Jedi
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  22. #22
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    Re: What's changed in the last 8 years?

    I'm skeptical of steel. Always careful of any technology that has that exclusivity factor. What's the weight difference between a quality steel vs aluminum frame? How does added compliance compare to high volume less pressure tires

  23. #23
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    I personally cannot imagine the difference in steel vs aluminum for off road use. Key word there being "imagine", but that is drawing on my experience with steel vs Al road bikes. Each of those road bikes had the same respective metal in their seat posts and handlebars, so the machine - human interface was also steel vs aluminum. Just like bob13 suspects, I found each bike could be harsher or softer based on the tire pressure. I don't doubt the steel bike would have felt more "muted" if they both had the same pressures, but frame material itself is not the end of the story. Now apply that to mountain bikes with voluminous tires, and the affects are even larger. That said, I wouldn't mind trying a steel hardtail mountain bike to see how different it really is. Never had a chance to try.

    One great part about steel frames is not worrying about it ever stress fracturing from having achieved its infinite duty cycle. That's good peace of mind.
    ~Always avoid alliteration.

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  24. #24
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    I just built an AL hardtail after riding steel for years. I didn't notice a lick of difference. sorry.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob13bob View Post
    I'm skeptical of steel. Always careful of any technology that has that exclusivity factor. What's the weight difference between a quality steel vs aluminum frame? How does added compliance compare to high volume less pressure tires
    Back when I got into riding in the mid 90's, most bikes were ChroMo steel, and the better ones were double and triple butted.

    Aluminum was for the more expensive or "exotic" bikes.

    Times have just changed, and steel and Al have reversed roles. Even entry level bikes are Al now, and people will pay the premium for steel.

    There's nothing "exclusive" about it, it's just fallen out of favor for mainstream use, for whatever reason. I'm thinking more cost effective shaping and welding techniques were developed in the late 90's to early 2000's.

    When I got out of it in 97 or so, steel was everywhere. When I bought my next bike in '05, I was surprised to see that everything was now Al. I was actually less than thrilled that I couldn't get an entry level steel bike.

    Now I really don't care either way. Carbon is what I'd prob stay away from, at least for offroad use.
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