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Old 08-22-04, 10:10 PM   #1
ManBearPig
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Mountain Bikes -- changes and advances in past 5 years

My first mountain bike was in 1992, and it was a Gary Fisher SuperCaliber I built up with every last penny I earned. My next bike purchase was a Marin Juniper Trail in 1997, and for less than half the cost I felt the bike performed pretty much as well. Now it's 2004 (I think, I lose track), and I just started looking at mountain bikes again. They seem to have changed more in the stretch from 97-04 than they did from 92-97.

Is it just me, or:

1) mountain bikes have gotten heavier and "heavy duty"?

2) the tires are bigger and fatter (extending more outwardly from the rim)?

3) they overall resemble motorcycles more now than they did before?

I don't want to turn this into a "what mountain bike should I buy" post, as those are probably too abundant here as they are in the Road forum. However, from a conceptual point of view, it looks like I'd get much better performance from $650 worth of Specialized (ala Rockhopper) than I would have from a $2000+ Fisher in '93 or so. Is that true? Or will I still run into the same old price-point issues, like poor shifting from lower-line components?

Long, broad question, answer however you like...
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Old 08-22-04, 11:07 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Towlie
My first mountain bike was in 1992, and it was a Gary Fisher SuperCaliber I built up with every last penny I earned. My next bike purchase was a Marin Juniper Trail in 1997, and for less than half the cost I felt the bike performed pretty much as well. Now it's 2004 (I think, I lose track), and I just started looking at mountain bikes again. They seem to have changed more in the stretch from 97-04 than they did from 92-97.

Is it just me, or:

1) mountain bikes have gotten heavier and "heavy duty"? In response to the "freeride movement" The styling is more aggressive but they weigh about the same in "most" instances

2) the tires are bigger and fatter (extending more outwardly from the rim)? See above

3) they overall resemble motorcycles more now than they did before? Dunno on that one

I don't want to turn this into a "what mountain bike should I buy" post, as those are probably too abundant here as they are in the Road forum. However, from a conceptual point of view, it looks like I'd get much better performance from $650 worth of Specialized (ala Rockhopper) than I would have from a $2000+ Fisher in '93 or so. Is that true? Or will I still run into the same old price-point issues, like poor shifting from lower-line components?

Long, broad question, answer however you like...
Yeah the performance advances would allow you to make that assumption. But the high-end stuff (as in road) is almost always better than the lower price stuff.
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Old 08-23-04, 01:18 AM   #3
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Ok I am knew to this sport in regards to you (well a lot of people) but to answer all of those questions simply I will say this

Since 1992 the sport has become heavily segregated. In 1992 (from what I have seen and heard) you guys would do 'dh' and xc on the same bikes. Now there are 2 (possibly 3) distinct sectors of the sport. Xc is still the way you describe. Light bikes, even suspension is light, lockouts etc etc...speed under full manpower all the way. Dh today is signifigantly different from those I have seen in old mtb movies and quite a bit more technical (strictly from talking to old dhillers and watching old vids) The sport itself has evolved so the bikes are heavier, tires bigger and more suspension. However for a short history lesson, suspension has shrunk. We are actually seeing a decline in the size of suspension as I believe companies kind of found a sweet spot and are developing better shocks instead of suspension designs. We are also seeing dhillers shrinking their tires. For a short time 3" tires, 9 in rear and 10 in front was the golden bike. But we have moved backward to the point where it isn't unheard of to see shorter more 'efficient' forks on the front, shorter travel shocks and lighter built bikes in general.

Ironically, big boy forks (there are still a couple for the big boys and guys who go HUGE)are based on motorcycle tech. The original monster T's stole EVERYTHING from motobikes. The cartridges and size. But I would say a very small number of people use them and a smaller number need them. But yes...these do look like motor bikes

Speaking of roll down in size, I do believe we are seeing a roll back in need. Freeriders for a few years were trying to break the 50 ft mark for a drop (not succeeded) and a few were hitting 40's consistently. I believe that this has toned down and riders realize 40ft is just about the limit, so now, riders are dropping the size to a reasonable 30 ft (hahahaha reasonable sheesh) and doing tricks like bmxers. Backflips, barspins, can cans etc etc...

Quote:
1) mountain bikes have gotten heavier and "heavy duty"?
Yes, but only in dh and fr. Xc is still light and lean. Trail bikes range from heavy xc to light freeride bikes (the spanner between the two extremes) If anything suspension is lighter than ever and more efficient making todays bikes better in performance than older xc race bikes. But, to clarify, I don't do much xc and even doing xc I ride a big bike so I really don't know much beyond heresay on that topic specifically.

Quote:
2) the tires are bigger and fatter (extending more outwardly from the rim)?
Better traction at the speeds of dh, better traction for freeriding especially on shore stunts, but not entirely as xc tires are still skinny Endless supply of reasons....less air needed etc...

Quote:
3) they overall resemble motorcycles more now than they did before?
Depending on the setup I can't disagree. My gf's bike setup as is looks like a motocross bike with no motor. Can't deny the look but we are moving more towards the size and style of MX riders and away from xc riding. We still (unfortunately) inherit many things from the old school xc guys. Small headtubes and small bottom brackets are a battle engineers have been trying to beat for the last 5 years as the sizes used on road bikes are tiny and weak not allowing for bearing sizes to except the loads given out by current day freeriders and dhillers.

Well...that was long. Cheers
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Old 08-23-04, 08:01 AM   #4
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Agreed with what was mentioned above, but want to add that the current trend is toward "all day" bikes.

Ultralightweight XC bikes sacrifice durability, FR bikes sacrifice weight, DH bikes are so specific, they sacrifice everything besides going fast in the downward direction.

The compromise between all has become the "Trail" bike. The broad description is a full suspension bike with 4 to 5 inches of suspension travel front and rear. Disc brakes, comfortable riding position and approximate weight of 27 to 32 lbs, depending on your budget and weight/durability concerns.

Tires have become a little wider as technology increases. i.e. tubeless tires can be run with lower air pressures for more traction without sacrificing pinch flat susceptability. Also, the rubber durometer (stiffness rating of rubber) has become heavily researched and tires provide better grip, durability and/or weight.

I think in the last 5 years suspension designs have stabilized. There are two or three basic designs with only slight variations of each. However, the suspension technology has increased. Meaning the shocks/forks have become much better with many more tuning options and "smart" suspension that only activates from bump input, not rider input. So, you have a full suspension bike that responds like a hardtail when hammering out of the saddle.

Bikes like the Specialized Enduro, Turner 5 Spot, K2 Lithium, Yeti ASR, Intense 5.5 XVP, Santa Cruz Blur.....etc.

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Old 08-23-04, 10:00 AM   #5
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ya i agree with maelstrom on everything espicially about mtb forks copy motocross forks, i saw the marz super monster and if that thing was upside down and a little beaffier it would look like it is straight of my kx 125
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Old 08-23-04, 01:40 PM   #6
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Thanks for the feedback so far, great insight.

For purpose of illustration, and not necessarily a "what bike to buy" question, where would you place the Rockhopper Comp in the above discussion? Is it a strict "XC" bike? Certainly not a freerider (a new term for me) nor a downhill?

It's fairly affordable at $650 actual sale price.

I think the "best" drivetrain component on it is an LX rear-der, which is cutting it close, at least from my 1997-98 view. The rear der has to be pretty good lest you fight skipping chains all day.

The bars have an upward U-bend - is that sissy, or common?
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Old 08-23-04, 02:11 PM   #7
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The Rockhopper would be considered a XC type bike. The U-bend bars are called Riser bars and are all the rage!!!! Puts you in a more upright/comfortable position.

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Old 08-23-04, 03:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Towlie
I think the "best" drivetrain component on it is an LX rear-der, which is cutting it close, at least from my 1997-98 view. The rear der has to be pretty good lest you fight skipping chains all day.
I disagree. Properly tuned, most rear derailleurs should shift quite similarily. Most of the differences are in weight. Now, I'm not saying an Alivio RD will ever shift quite as nicely as an XTR, but if adjusted properly you should have no problem enjoying a day out on the trails with a "lower-end" RD without fighting with the chain the whole time. Just my two cents.
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Old 08-23-04, 03:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Towlie
I think the "best" drivetrain component on it is an LX rear-der, which is cutting it close, at least from my 1997-98 view. The rear der has to be pretty good lest you fight skipping chains all day.
The rear derailleur is an RD-M570 DeoreLX as you say. This model of rear derailleur has remained relatively unchanged since around 1999. The rest of the drivetrain components are of M510 Deore quality. This group was introduced sometime around 2000 and borrows mostly from the DeoreLX in terms of functionality. There are minute differences in material (Deore is heavier) and some shortcuts were taken in construction (can't remove OGD from shifter pods for instance) but essentially it will have the same performance as DeoreLX.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Towlie
The bars have an upward U-bend - is that sissy, or common?
You may want to refer to this parallel thread for my opinions on riser vs straight bars.
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Old 08-24-04, 12:05 PM   #10
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I helped a friend buy a pair of Hardrocks recently, and was surprised how massively built they were, for what is not really a hardcore off-roader bike. The stem seems to be a billet of solid Al, and the front end was really heavy.
Im sure that Specialized marketing dept are as tuned-in as any, so light-weight must count for very little when selling MTBs at this level.
Their Rock-hoppers seem to be much better bikes designed to appeal to people who actually ride.
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Old 08-24-04, 07:30 PM   #11
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Just l@@k at the People's of today, and it wouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why companies are having to build BIGGER & heavier bikes to accommodate today's FatAsses....

My wife ( 5'2", 115lb. size 5 ) can't even find jeans in her size anymore. Only the Kid's section carry equivalent sizes to fit her....

No wonder Downhill biking is becoming so popular, you don't have to pedal the bike. A chairlift carries you up & then you try & hangon back down....

Today's population is 95% LAZY, period....
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