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  1. #1
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    The History Of Mountain Bikes - Friday Fun

    A little typing practice and reminiscing about almost 30 years riding mountain bikes.

    Let's see if I've got the history of Mountain Bikes right – and I'm not complaining.

    At first there was, The Mountain Bike. Twenty-six inch wheels, if you were lucky 1.9" tires, thumb-shifters, cantilever brakes, and that was about it.

    Next came Bio-Pace chain rings. Next the Scott UniShock and the Manitou elastomer forks. Headsets were still one-inch. Soon there was Ti replacement bolts and ano everything. About this time along came the Trek 9000 full suspension, and the Mountain Cycles full squish with disk brakes – DISK BRAKES?. Rockshox forks and suspension seatposts. You'd returned your Marzocchi fork for service dozens of times because it kept blowing seals. XT and XTR. Manitou sexy full suspension frame. YETI Cycles had ALL the top riders and made all their frames in the U.S. You wore glasses that had "Thermonuclear Protection".

    A few carbon handle bars started to show up, Paul Components made really cool looking rear derailleurs that didn't really work. Cook Bros. cranksets and Klein frames with huge oversized tubesets and day-glow colors. By this time SPD had been around, but now there was Onza and a few others. There was a Tioga disc rear wheel and Shimano air shifters. Nine speed? Who needs that? Free wheels were gone and cassettes ruled. Chris King still pretty much only made headsets, and you bought your first Camlebak.

    As uncomfortable as it was to pull on lycra shorts years ago, now you had to find baggies that fit and didn't bind up. Saddles started to appear that had "love grooves".

    You ditched your HT for FS and looked for tires that were 2.1 or bigger. Air or coil fork? Thirty two, and now 36mm forks. FOX IFP tool, TALAS, motor oil in my fork? You bought a new frame that had bearings instead of bushings in the suspension and the cartridge style BB was gone. Bikes got bigger and heavier, and you didn't care. Four inch would really be plenty, but six inch! Bikes that looked like, and had as much travel as motos was what you dreamed of. Some company called SRAM thought they could rule the way Suntour thought they could years before. Seatpost dropper? Why would I want that? GoPro let you shoot yourself dropping that huge 12" to flat and post it on the web.

    Four inch was too cross country and six or more was too friggen big! I want to be "All Mountain", five inch is the sweet spot. Who the heck are these crazy guy ditching their FS for 29" wheeled HT? Oh, that'll never catch on. Where will they get tires? Man, we need lighter bikes! Five inch travel, made of carbon, yea that's what we need! Oooh, the best thing since sliced bread… check out this cool anodized stuff, all the crazy colors, I'll bet no one ever thought of that?!?!? Thousand dollar 5" forks, $300 Ti springs…. Air is better, no coil is…. CCDB is the BEST! Oh wait, now they make an air version, that must be REALLY THE BEST! 650B? What is that?

    Kids riding fixie street bikes with handle bars about 12" wide.

    I envy that dudes ENVE wheels!

    Time for a new bike. What? You only make it in 27.5 or 29? Oooh, but I can get a 5" 29er or a 6" 650B, so that's cool. Eight grand for a mountain bike that is "made in China"? Well I guess a $500k Ferrari is made "over seas" too?

    Time to ditch that open framed XC helmet for a more "moto" looking one, but not full face.

    Fat bike. I thought I already road a fat bike? No, that’s a mountain bike, not a fat bike. Huh, a heavy non-suspension 26" bike? Should I put 1x11 on it? Dude, that's so old skool, you need a 29+ fat bike! What about suspension though? No, that's why you run 4 PSI in the tires…. RockShox Bluto!

    Hope you get out on your bike this weekend!
    .
    "...when your ride is nearly over, it seems to have lasted but an instant..."


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  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    The History Of Mountain Bikes - Friday Fun

    Ah...memories

    In started riding in he late 80s in Colorado Springs. I was the first in my group to show up with rapid fire shifters.

    The hard core riders thought I was nuts.

    I then went with an oversized aluminum frame. A Cannondale

    The hard core riders thought I was nuts.

    I then went with a suspension fork. Oh my god! Think about how much that thing weighs!

    The hard core riders thought I was nuts.

    Onza elastomer clip less pedals? Nuts.

    I've since watched guys sell top of the line 26" full suspension bikes to buy mid-range 29er HTs and then a year later by a 650b that's 10 lbs heavier than the original 26"!

    You guys are nuts
    Last edited by KevinGT; 04-13-2014 at 12:25 PM.
    I live with fear and danger every day. And on the weekends she lets me go mountain biking.

  4. #4
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    My first bike was fully rigid (Raleigh Technium), but later I got an AlpineStars Cro-Moly and while it was originally rigid, I got something that should be mentioned in your history of suspension. It was, after all, my first suspension....

    The Girvin FlexStem!

    Girvin Flexstem Suspension Stem: 100mm Long, 25.4mm, 1" diameter, Used FREE SHIPPING over $150 USA

  5. #5
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Wow, you nailed it. Good to see Tinker and Ned still tearing up the trails after all these changes in the industry!

    How about the Panaracer Fire XC tires with colored sidewalls?! Ti Flight saddle...had to have it!

    Dart/Smoke combo was essential!

    How about cutting bars down to super narrow and now everyone is all about 730+mm bars?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydbyk View Post
    Dart/Smoke combo was essential!
    Smoke/dart combo was awesome, I saved up and put them on my first bike, a rigid Marin Palisades Trail with onZa bar ends (my first ever aftermarket purchase) in skinwall of course, and then it got stolen a couple of weeks later...

  7. #7
    Team Fearless Descender
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    Some great replies here! Ah yes the Smoke / Dart combo! How about the Onza Porcupine? Never had a Girvin FlexStem, but I do remember.

    OMG, my first was a '85 fully rigid Raleigh Technium. Deore thumb shifters, white frame! Ha! Who knew I'd still be at it, MTBing, loving it more than ever 30 years later!
    .
    "...when your ride is nearly over, it seems to have lasted but an instant..."


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  8. #8
    beater
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    The History Of Mountain Bikes - Friday Fun

    I had a Porcupine up front. Remember the Scott elastomer fork? A friend of mine had one. One of the magazines picked it as "most durable" because they opened it up halfway through a ride and dumped a bunch of sand in each leg. As, you know, normally happens on a ride.
    "Back off, man. I'm a scientist." - Dr. Peter Venkman

    Riding in Helena? Everything you need to know, right here.

  9. #9
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    Hmm,
    Fun read but avoid the VRC forum with the early part of your timeline. They will have you for lunch.

    Here is a good place to look for old bike beta. Be sure to open up the link called timeline in the T's:

    MOMBAT: History by Manufacturer
    Seek: Koski Trailmaster. Breezer Series 2, or 3. Fillet brazed Ibis Custom. Cunningham Racer. Otis Guy (but not that softride model). That's all I need I don't need anything else... except... except for an old Mountain Goat bar stem combo. And that's all I need. I don't need anything else. Except.....

  10. #10
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    fun read....didn't have the girvin, but did have the hite-rite which was the precursor to the dropper post on my Schwinn High Sierra with the gumwall tires...and bar ends

  11. #11
    Crop Dusting Magistrate
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    Haro Extreme fully rigid flying down the Kamikaze feeling my brain being rattled in my skull, white knuckle death grip on the bar, rim brakes didn't really work well.

    Smoking a joint at the top with Miles Rockwell.

    Scott UniShock seized after three rain showers.

    NEW Pro-Flex 752 with rubber baby bumpers, brand new clip less pedals at an XC race start line - fell over and took out 4 other racers.

    NORBA Big Bear races with the buddies throwing elbows to get to the singletrack first. XC Saturday, DH Sunday on the same bike! Tomac with drop bars and solid rear wheel. David Wiens saying "ride your own race, you'll be fine".

    Lusting for a Mantis Pro-Floater. Later lusting for a Foes LTS (with the big hole)

    Meeting people on MTBR for epic Sierra Nevada rides and White Mountain with Tom Kenny.

    What a long strange trip it's been, and loved every minute of it.
    It wasn't me

  12. #12
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    How about the smart fork? Had one on my K2 Carbon OZX flexy flyer, it was 9 volt battery powered. Ran it a season and when it worked it was great, but it didn't do that very consistently. After if shorted out twice and was repaired I sent it back and got a Girvin Fork. It worked pretty well but was hugley maintenance intensive. Every couple rides it had to be dis assembled and gereased, put back together and all the bolts torqued correctly or it would bind up.
    It was still a better fork than the very first suspension fork I ever ran, it was on my rigid Bianchi, a Rock Shox Indi C. It was flexy, bottomed easilly if warm out and on a cold day the elastomers would imitate the rigid fork it replaced.

  13. #13
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    RT Jansen was building 650B bicycles with triple cranks and heavy duty frames cantileaver brakes in the United States in the 70's These were copies of bicycles that were built in europe since the 30's. I used to publish this information and was called a troll. Now that 650B wheels are making a comeback the americans can no longer claim to have invented anything. 1979 R.T. Jansen Bicycle Catalogue
    "Dish is illogical." Spoke of Vulcan.

  14. #14
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    Polished Araya rims with canti brakes were sooo much fun. Blown 6 speed freewheels were a hoot. Those handlebars with the integrated Y stem thingy were stiff and reliable. Remember when you got a crank with replaceable chainrings and a BB with cartridge bearings and everybody was like "Wow dude!" What about 20 miles of backcountry horse trails on a 1984 Diamondback before we weren't allowed in Wilderness Areas?

    Good times...

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