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  1. #1
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    Question About Vintage MTBs

    The general consensus around vintage mountain bikes seems to be that they are fun, but basically obsolete compared to modern bikes. What I would like to find is a vintage bike that has the value and cool factor of an 80s/90s bike, but with the capability to handle moderately technical singletrack. From what I understand, early 90s bikes like Trek Singletracks and Bridgestone MBs are unsuited to this type of riding due to their aggressive angles and no suspension optimized for XC competition. Modern bikes have more relaxed angles and longer wheelbases (and suspension, of course), but there has to be a middle ground between the rigid early 90s bikes and modern FS trail machines. Did geometry start to change in the late 90s for more stability? Would a 1995+ bike with front suspension fork be a good compromise?

    Early 80s bikes had more relaxed angles and longer wheelbases, but are also considered obsolete for reasons I don't fully understand. It seems to be the 80s bikes would at least be a better choice than the 90s racing bikes since the geometry is closer to modern.

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    Basically I'm wondering if there are any vintage mountain bikes from the late 90s with modernish geometry and a decent front suspension fork.

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    Short answer is no. Virtually every mountain bike built in this timeframe was centered around 71HTA and 73STA, 16" CSL and 11"BBH. I cannot think of one, especially hard tails that deviated much from this paradigm.The beauty of these bikes IMHO is that riding them will make you a better rider. They force you to practice fundamental skills of balance, bike/body separation, position, etc. And on many less technical trails, they're much more fun than today's long low slack rides.
    Also, they are so much simpler than many of today's bikes so maintenance and the amount of special tools and parts is much less demanding.

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    The geometry might not have shifted much, but there is a significant difference between a rigid 1990 Trek Singletrack and a 1998 Trek 8000 with a SID up front.

    A nice later 90's hard tail (Specialized Sworks M2, Schwinn Homegrown, etc) can handle moderately technical single track without a problem, the question is whether or not you can handle it. I am hardly the best rider out there, but in group rides where I am the only one riding a 26er, I don't feel like I am at a disadvantage on singletrack at all, especially the tight-twisty variety.

    Now whether or not the examples I listed actually qualify as a Vintage MTB is a whole other story, probably one that should be avoided in these parts.

  5. #5
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    Trek

    72.5 degrees parallel

    I'd ride one today with a dropper no problem. to me, a dropper (hite rite) was all I needed bitd when things got sketchy....still would have the 150mm stem too
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    Quote Originally Posted by 127.0.0.1 View Post
    Trek

    72.5 degrees parallel

    I'd ride one today with a dropper no problem. to me, a dropper (hite rite) was all I needed bitd when things got sketchy....still would have the 150mm stem too
    Looking back, the stem length always bothered me. I can't count how many times I was trying to get behind the seat entirely on some sketchy super steep downhill section with no chance of unclipping in that position if something went wrong.
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    There might be some in the 2002 - 2008 or so range that sort of bridge the slack geometry with the more upright. By around 2010 or 2011 or so, most everything was moved into slacker geometry, just still on 26in wheels. But, my current go to is still a single speed 1997 voodoo djab even over my newer geometry FS, you just can't replace the feel of connection to the bike with anything new. On the older stuff you're riding with the bike, on the newer stuff you're riding on the bike.

    But I think SC and Salsa and maybe a few mainstream ones were trying out some intermediary geometry post 2000 if my memory serves me, it's possible it doesn't though, definitely nothing I can think of before 2000.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by c0rbin9 View Post
    Early 80s bikes had more relaxed angles and longer wheelbases, but are also considered obsolete for reasons I don't fully understand. It seems to be the 80s bikes would at least be a better choice than the 90s racing bikes since the geometry is closer to modern.
    Hmm. Not sure if this is a theoretical discussion or looking for practical advice, but the 90's actually had racing mtbs, whereas most of the 80's was "I'm going to race this mountain bike".
    I think you can get used to anything and that unless you're constantly measuring yourself against riders at +- 5% of your level, you probably won't notice a huge difference.
    I've noticed that early-mid 80's bikes are generally more "isn't it nice to be out today", more upright, less sketchy descenders, more predictable. 90's race bikes were much lighter, had better (if ultimately less reliable) shifting + braking and really excelled at hauling ass where fitness trumped technique.

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    My singletrack choice is my ‘96 Stumpjumper M2 Comp with a lowly Judy XC and my buddies on their newer rides can’t keep up. Despite this, they tell me I need a modern bike. Pffft.

    Granted, I’ve been riding singletrack with this bike since I bought it new 24 years ago. I’m sure it has a lot to do with my familiarity with the bike and the trails, but on a technical climb, there’s no chance they keep up. Some of them catch me on the descents but I can still go faster than many of them are comfortable with. This bike will ALWAYS be in my stable. Always brings a smile, no matter the ride.

    Point being, ride what you want and ride the hell out of it, even if it isn’t the “right” bike.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by c0rbin9 View Post
    The general consensus around vintage mountain bikes seems to be that they are fun, but basically obsolete compared to modern bikes. What I would like to find is a vintage bike that has the value and cool factor of an 80s/90s bike, but with the capability to handle moderately technical singletrack. From what I understand, early 90s bikes like Trek Singletracks and Bridgestone MBs are unsuited to this type of riding due to their aggressive angles and no suspension optimized for XC competition. Modern bikes have more relaxed angles and longer wheelbases (and suspension, of course), but there has to be a middle ground between the rigid early 90s bikes and modern FS trail machines. Did geometry start to change in the late 90s for more stability? Would a 1995+ bike with front suspension fork be a good compromise?

    Early 80s bikes had more relaxed angles and longer wheelbases, but are also considered obsolete for reasons I don't fully understand. It seems to be the 80s bikes would at least be a better choice than the 90s racing bikes since the geometry is closer to modern.
    MOderately technical singletrack? Fat Chance wicked w/ a rigid fork is the perfect bike for that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by colker1 View Post
    MOderately technical singletrack? Fat Chance wicked w/ a rigid fork is the perfect bike for that.
    No, go with a Klein Mantra. You get the feel of a hardtail on the up and the added fun of the bike trying to eject you on the down.
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    People rode moderately technical singletrack in the 80s and 90s... The bikes can still do it.

    Plenty of mid to late 90s bikes that will accept a more modern fork. Many late 90s full suspension designs are acceptable performers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phantoj View Post
    People rode moderately technical singletrack in the 80s and 90s... The bikes can still do it.

    Plenty of mid to late 90s bikes that will accept a more modern fork. Many late 90s full suspension designs are acceptable performers.
    Yup, we ride the same trails we did in the 80’s. Actually we learned on trails that are more technical then todays trails. Those trails are now closed to mt bikes, too much erosion and traffic. The difference is you can go much faster now, and not be as picky on line choice.

  14. #14
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    Try the vintage Cannondale hardtails, with Headshok fork. The 1998-2002 models were light and really inspired confidence. Great bikes...
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    I'm surprised there are still late 90s C-dale and Stumpy M2s that are in service and haven't cracked. Fun bikes bitd, but people used to go through those frames like popcorn around here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    I'm surprised there are still late 90s C-dale and Stumpy M2s that are in service and haven't cracked. Fun bikes bitd, but people used to go through those frames like popcorn around here.
    Was thinking the same thing. Were those the metal matrix stuff on the M2?
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    Quote Originally Posted by jestep View Post
    Was thinking the same thing. Were those the metal matrix stuff on the M2?
    Yup. Very brittle. Lasted longer than the beer-can C-dales, but not by too much.

    If I were looking to get anything from that period and actually planned to ride it regularly, it would be steel for sure.
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    I have actually been riding my Trek Multitrack 750 on the singletrack trails (is that allowed?) mentioned and it does fairly well as long as I avoid the big dips. In fact I've been having tons of fun rediscovering the kind of biking I did as a kid and exploring all the trails. The Multitrack works great for the mixed riding I do (pavement, gravel, and singletrack in equal amounts all in the same ride), though I would still like to have a bike to just beat on and not worry about bending a 700c wheel or chipping my precious original paint. So still on the lookout for an 80s/90s mountain bike, but with how well the Multitrack with 35mm tires does I'm not as concerned about this geometry vs. that, as I'm sure either will be fine.

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    Funny. I have two M2 Stumpies in the fleet right now. One, I’ve been riding since I bought it new in 1996 and I’ve not been gentle with it. Moab, Tahoe and a host of rocky trails here in the Midwest. I’m no lightweight either. I’ve weighed between 190 and 200lbs the entire time I’ve had this bike. It just keeps on going. The other, an early M2 frame, looks like it has lived a rough life (picked up the frame last summer) and is currently a singlespeed around-town bike. But no cracks! I do find myself enjoying steel these days though. Recently built a gravel bike out of a steel Rockhopper Comp. Nice ride and the one I put the most miles on these days.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    Yup. Very brittle. Lasted longer than the beer-can C-dales, but not by too much.

    If I were looking to get anything from that period and actually planned to ride it regularly, it would be steel for sure.
    My experience w/ specialized M2s says the contrary: tough and long lasting.
    Anything can break incl. steel and titanium. In the end frame material matters very little; it´s how it´s designed and built that warrants longevity and riding quality.
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    Quote Originally Posted by c0rbin9 View Post
    The general consensus around vintage mountain bikes seems to be that they are fun, but basically obsolete compared to modern bikes. What I would like to find is a vintage bike that has the value and cool factor of an 80s/90s bike, but with the capability to handle moderately technical singletrack. From what I understand, early 90s bikes like Trek Singletracks and Bridgestone MBs are unsuited to this type of riding due to their aggressive angles and no suspension optimized for XC competition. Modern bikes have more relaxed angles and longer wheelbases (and suspension, of course), but there has to be a middle ground between the rigid early 90s bikes and modern FS trail machines. Did geometry start to change in the late 90s for more stability? Would a 1995+ bike with front suspension fork be a good compromise?

    Early 80s bikes had more relaxed angles and longer wheelbases, but are also considered obsolete for reasons I don't fully understand. It seems to be the 80s bikes would at least be a better choice than the 90s racing bikes since the geometry is closer to modern.

    General consensus has no "cool factor".
    Value and cool factor... exists only in someone´s head.Old bikes is mostly a sentimental thing. You are either attracted to it or you are not.
    Capability to handle... is up to the rider most of the time. Yes, some bikes make it easier and new is more evolved.
    Unsuited to riding... no.

    Get a bike and try it. Go from there.

    Or get a new bike.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by c0rbin9 View Post
    The general consensus around vintage mountain bikes seems to be that they are fun, but basically obsolete compared to modern bikes. What I would like to find is a vintage bike that has the value and cool factor of an 80s/90s bike, but with the capability to handle moderately technical singletrack. From what I understand, early 90s bikes like Trek Singletracks and Bridgestone MBs are unsuited to this type of riding due to their aggressive angles and no suspension optimized for XC competition. Modern bikes have more relaxed angles and longer wheelbases (and suspension, of course), but there has to be a middle ground between the rigid early 90s bikes and modern FS trail machines. Did geometry start to change in the late 90s for more stability? Would a 1995+ bike with front suspension fork be a good compromise?

    Early 80s bikes had more relaxed angles and longer wheelbases, but are also considered obsolete for reasons I don't fully understand. It seems to be the 80s bikes would at least be a better choice than the 90s racing bikes since the geometry is closer to modern.
    I would recommend a late 80’s/ early 90’s Fat Chance or if you can find it, a 1990 Yo Eddy Team. Don’t know of a cooler bike with 69 degree head angle that can fit 2.5” tires with a nice fat and stiff fork.

    http://www.retrobike.co.uk/gallery2/d/2155-4/1988.pdf

    http://www.retrobike.co.uk/gallery2/d/2159-4/1990.pdf


    As for things to consider...

    Whether you get a bike from the 80’s or 90’s, if you want to ride semi-technical trails look out for how big a tire the bike can fit and how stiff the fork is. I have 2 singletracks from the early 90’s (90’ and 91’) and 88’ MB1. The singletracks are far, far more capable on semi-tech than the mb1 because of tires and the forks. I wouldnt even consider the MB1 for anything slightly technical, but the singletracks, all day long. The mb1 is a fantastic bike for other types of riding and far more comfortable than the singletracks.

    The two main reasons for this difference is the singletracks can fit high volume, chunky 2.5” tires, while I can barely fit a 1.9” on my MB1. Look at the pics below to see why this is probably the most important factor to consider. For the forks, the singletracks have beefy, stiff forks that track excellently in the rough while the mb1 has a much more compliant and forgiving fork that get noodly in chunk and hard to control.

    As for putting a modern sus fork on a late 90’s bike, it is not as easy as you might think. First off, you will need a 1 1/8” steerer. So, either a new bottom line, entry level fork or an older used fork. Second, the travel will most likely be way too much as most 90’s bikes were designed around 40mm to 60mm of travel. Sure this will slacken out the head angle, but with the short front centers of older bikes, longer stem needed and slack seat angles, the bike may end up with some odd handling characteristics. Also, raking out the front end more than originally intended on an old bike and riding it in the rough may lead to frame failure especially on some of those older aluminum bikes where there was too much focus on making the frames light.

    For cool factor, as mentioned already, most of it is in the eye of the beholder. However, the I hardly ever get comments about my singletracks, but my MB1, Bontrager Races, Off-road/Proflexs, and my wife’s fat chance get noticed all the time.

    Hope this helps.

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    Get out of the gutter and onto the mountain top.

  23. #23
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    and the vrc bikes I have that get noticed...

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    Get out of the gutter and onto the mountain top.

  24. #24
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    @singletrackmack

    Interesting observations about the Trek Singletracks versus your Bridgestone MB. They are both on my short list of interesting frames from the late 80s/early 90s XC era and I have heard the MBs tend to be more compliant. I'm surprised to hear your '90 frame doesn't ride closer to the Bridgestone since that was the last year before they went to the large-diameter tubing.

    I have compiled a list of rigid, 80s/90s production mountain bikes to look for in my usual FB/CL searching and came up with the following:

    MTB Rigid Early:

    Specialized StumpJumper (pre-1987)
    Specialized RockHopper (pre-1987)
    Diamondback Ridge Runner (relaxed)
    Schwinn Cimarron (pre-1987, 70*HT/70*ST)
    Schwinn High Sierra (pre-1987, 70*HT/70*ST)
    Bridgestone MB-1/2 (pre-1987, 70*HT/68*ST)
    Trek Antelope (pre-1987, 70*HT/71*ST)
    Miyata Terra Runner (relaxed)

    MTB Rigid Late:

    Specialized StumpJumper (1987+)
    Specialized RockHopper (1987+)
    Bridgestone MB-1/MB-2 (71*HT/73*ST)
    Schwinn Cimarron (1987+)
    Trek 950/970/990 (1989-1990 small tube, 1991-1993 large tube) (71*HT/73*ST)

    Nothing but respect for Fat Chance bikes, probably a little too rare/expensive for my taste though. Right now I ride a 1990 Trek Multitrack 750 which has 700c wheels and geometry similar to the Trek Singletracks. Maybe I'm crazy for riding it on mountain bike trails, but it does fine and can fit 45mm tires.

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    Quote Originally Posted by colker1 View Post
    Value and cool factor... exists only in someone´s head.Old bikes is mostly a sentimental thing. You are either attracted to it or you are not.
    This.

    I can take out one of my old bikes and some riders will stop to check it out and think the bike is cool and it's great to see it still getting ridden as intended.

    Others will look at it and think "well I guess you're getting out, good for you" with some patronising pity that an old guy is out on a bike that is steel, 26", 3x7 and rim braked. Then they ride off lest they end up involved with a medical emergency when I have that inevitable coronary. Those are the guys that you just have to pass.

    Grumps

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    Need for help

    The Decal is not the original. The serial number is M5G00004. Maybe it;s Sekai. The frame is similiart to Bigfoot or another MTB (Full Lugged) 26" with a fork crown. Is there anyone who wants to help me to identify my bike?

    Thank You very much.

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  27. #27
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    I’m now a new school bike aficionado, but if I had to ride something vintage, it would maybe be an Eastern Woods Research or a Brodie Espresso, both of which I lusted after.
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    And then we eat them."

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    delete

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    Quote Originally Posted by singletrackmack View Post
    snip
    See below

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    Quote Originally Posted by c0rbin9 View Post
    Right now I ride a 1990 Trek Multitrack 750 which has 700c wheels and geometry similar to the Trek Singletracks. Maybe I'm crazy for riding it on mountain bike trails, but it does fine and can fit 45mm tires.
    I have not ridden that bike but believe it´s geo and wheels are not suited for rough singletrack. I may be wrong though. All used bikes became expensive recently. A couple mo ago you could pick up a 7sp deore xt specialized stumpjumper for 200 bucks and it´s of the all time all around best 26in xc bikes ever made.
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    YES, you can ride any of the 90's bikes on moderately technical trails.

    I did it in the early 90's no problem fully rigid. I still ride fully rigid old geo most of the time today. My current singlespeed is short WB, tall, and steep HTA. I think the old stuff is more fun to ride and 'feels' faster at the same speeds. If you are racing, they will be slower than the new stuff.

    I do know the Trek 8700 I had converted to SS would laterally deflect in hard climbing. Old Stumpjumpers are cool. I have to hold back when I see stuff on Craigs. I think prices have been rising recently.

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    Can anyone comment on between an 80s and a 90s MTB, which of the two would be less poorly suited to riding modern trails?

    We all know the differences in geometry (early bikes had longer WB, longer chainstays, slacker angles), I'm wondering about the differences in functionality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by c0rbin9 View Post
    Can anyone comment on between an 80s and a 90s MTB, which of the two would be less poorly suited to riding modern trails?

    We all know the differences in geometry (early bikes had longer WB, longer chainstays, slacker angles), I'm wondering about the differences in functionality.
    Decent 90's bikes are incomparably more suitable IMO. They often have steeper headtube angles, but the geometry was deliberate and are legitimately made for riding whatever you dare throw at them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by c0rbin9 View Post
    Can anyone comment on between an 80s and a 90s MTB, which of the two would be less poorly suited to riding modern trails?
    For me, I ride the same bush tracks that I have for 30 years. They don't get reshaped to become more contemporary, they don't evolve to meet the evolving capabilities of bikes, they just... are.

    Modern trails? I find that funny. But I do get what you mean.

    Grumps

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    Quote Originally Posted by c0rbin9 View Post
    Can anyone comment on between an 80s and a 90s MTB, which of the two would be less poorly suited to riding modern trails?

    We all know the differences in geometry (early bikes had longer WB, longer chainstays, slacker angles), I'm wondering about the differences in functionality.
    Modern trails? I ride our “new school” trail here with full rigid cross bike. If anything it seems “modern” trails are more suited to vintage bikes than our old really techy unflowy trails. Man, how did we ever ride these trails 20 years ago?
    Dont get me wrong, i have a long low and slack full squish that i ride on The trails and have a blast. Older bikes can ride everything save for big jumps and drops, just slower and picking lines, which can be fun too. I enjoy both.

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    Quote Originally Posted by c0rbin9 View Post
    Can anyone comment on between an 80s and a 90s MTB, which of the two would be less poorly suited to riding modern trails?

    We all know the differences in geometry (early bikes had longer WB, longer chainstays, slacker angles), I'm wondering about the differences in functionality.
    Commentary on bikes is a long list of meaning less cliches. Better, faster, corners on rails, looks fast standing still, sweet, solid etc..
    JUst build some and ride them. Have one of each. Then find out what comes from wheels or geometry or what lightweight does...
    A bike rides like a bike. There is a lot of hyperbole and gear talk that bare little consequence to actual riding.
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    Last Post: 02-14-2013, 08:49 PM
  4. worthy Italian vintage MTBs. I mean REALLY worthy!!!
    By even in forum Vintage, Retro, Classic
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    Last Post: 11-20-2011, 10:54 AM
  5. Moto guys take over MTBs --- KTM MTBs
    By NEPMTBA in forum Pennsylvania
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    Last Post: 08-16-2011, 11:21 PM

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