Correlation between cars and bicycles
I've been thinking about my choice of mountain bikes and cars and how they correlate.
When mountain bikes first came along, they were 'beefed up' versions of regular road/cruiser bikes. This era reminds me of the cars from the 40's- older business models with flathead engines that were tuned for racing. Crude but effective.
MTB from 87-93. Full steel with components beginning to show signs of performance and relaxed frame geometry made for off road use.
Relates to late 50's and early 60's cars. Models being made for designated purposes, some performance features and designs for the modern world.
MTB from 93-98. Suspension wars, aerospace materials, comprehensive R&D, performance engineering.
Reminds me of the Muscle Car era- horsepower and how to increase it, fuel and tire technology, safety products like seatbelts, durability of components.
MTB turn of the century to present- "pro-sumer" bikes dominate the market and a general homogenization of mtb begins. Originality gives way to cloning. Car industry follows- fuel economy, car size shrinks, emissions robs horsepower, cars begin to look alike with only subtle changes.
I grew up in a drag racing family. My father ran 'BS/A' in his 68 Hemi Roadrunner for 30 years. Also showed it in the World of Wheels circuit back in the 80's. Learned how to work on many mechanical devices and components and watched technology change at the racetrack.
I witnessed the 1/4 mile speed record of 200, then 250, then 300.
I street raced a 68 Charger and a 66 Coronet 500 for many years.
Somewhere along the way, I became a fan of the early Kleins and mid 90's FS bikes because they remind me of my childhood fixing mechanical components on my fathers race car.
I have a different take on Detroit; the auto industry was to some extent held hostage by the UAW, and a fairly large percentage of profits went into the pockets of the UAW. There wasn't as much attention paid to innovation and emerging technology. Your Hemi Roadrunner used an immense engine and brute force to launch a fairly heavy car down the 1/4 mile in about 12 seconds as delivered from the dealer floor. Without looking it up, I'd estimate your dad's car could make it into the low 10's and still stay in B/SA, but that would take a lot of your help to remedy what Detroit couldn't or wouldn't do for you. If you're into other car competitions, the principle seems the same...you couldn't grab a new Camaro or Mustang in, say 1970, and be competitive at a SCCA event.
I'm not really picking a fight here: I had a 1969 Buick Stage One that ended up being an immense money-pit and time-sink. As it had been for the original owner! But I loved it while I was doing it. For 99% of of us, bikes were something you rode until you broke, then replaced parts with better parts or got a better bike. The bike peddlers were far quicker to respond to market demands than Detroit was, and I think it was because of 3 reasons:
A) smaller, more nimble
B) most of the smaller, more nimble bike companies were owned by and employed people that generally loved bikes and bicyclists. I'm purposely leaving companies like Schwinn out, that were unable to respond to market demands and internal demands at the same time.
C) the auto industry has been largely prorietary; an alternator or transmission from your car won't fit mine. But a crankset from your bike may fit. This encourages makers like Shimano, Sram, even Campy to innovate faster to keep up with each other and the small bike companies (and you and I) benefit.
I've never been all that interest in the industry of "mountain bikes". To me - and I think this speaks to the age at which I bought in - they're just a little too punk rock, too personal performance oriented and too DIY. If Colin Chapman had been Henry Ford, then I think this line of inquiry would have some serious legs.
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