Pardon the cross-post. This will be more useful posted here than left to drift into obscurity in the What Bike to Buy forum (original post & replies here: '03 vs. '04 Iron Horse Hollowpoints, Changes ).
I was surprised to hear Performance is now carrying Iron Horse bikes in-store, including the new 2004 Hollowpoints. Big change from last year, where the nearest store to me would have been a 400 mile drive into SoCal.
So I wanted to see what really changed between '03 and '04, besides the parts spec. I took some photos of the '04 on the bike store floor and here are some of the differences.
Probably one of the biggest complaints of the '03 bike was the minimal tire clearance. The redesigned rear triangle seems to have addressed that problem.
2004 w/ 2.35" Maxxis versus 2003 w/ 2.1" Panaracer Trailblaster (not the stock tire).
The dw-link appears to be unchanged (which is a good thing), with 4.5" and 3.75" travel options. However, besides the addition of the Manitou Swinger on the '04 bikes, the linkage has been stiffened up with a block between the plates (note the empty holes on the '03 are in use on the '04). Not sure what, if any, issue this addressed. (note: someone on hcor.net replied after the fact that this was added to reduce flex)
2004 dw-link w/ reinforcing block (shock in 3.75" position) versus 2003 w/o block (shock in 4.5" position)
Some of you might recall a few Hollowpoint frames were warrantied last year due to the yoke brace hitting the backside of the seat tube, supposedly a manufacturing goof that affected a small run of frames. That guilty yoke brace has been eliminated, replaced with this bolt-in brace that sits in front of the seat tube. Very creative!
2004 relocated yoke brace in front of seat tube versus 2003 w/ brace welded behind seat tube.
Due to the highly sloped top tube, the HP seat tube is reinforced with a large brace. On the '03 bikes it kinda looked like an afterthought, tacked on as a last minute addition (it wasn't -- it's actually got some internal structure to it). Well, on the '04 bikes they spruced the brace up a little with a cutout and gave it a new shape.
2004 brace w/ cutout versus 2003 brace with... nothing.
Another look at the redesigned yoke. The 2004 makes use of two separate tubes that make a graceful "V" from the chainstay pivot; the 2003 used more of a "Y" shape (the midpoint of which was the low-clearance spot for the tire). The '04 still has a tire clearance restriction, but much improved. (note: another after-the-fact poster pointed out that this resulted in a .2 to .3" decrease in chainstay length)
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