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Does geo really matter?

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Does geo really matter?

Old 04-05-20, 12:03 AM
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Does geo really matter?

Of course different geometry makes a difference in bike handling/characteristics, there is no doubt. But, does it actually matter?

Here's why is ask. I have a classic mtb and am getting into bikepacking. After doing some research, the industry definitely seems to have been pushing steep head tube angles to carry front load, etc. But, I have seen some very new bikes with "progressive" geometry that are very very similar to my mtb from '85. Slack head tube, long reach, etc. Seems like yet another thing from the 80's is making a comeback.

Now I realize in a commuter/front load bikepacking setup a steep HT will carry a load better blah blah blah. But should it matter to you? Is geometry changed to sell new bikes?
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Old 04-05-20, 04:21 AM
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yes and yes
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Old 04-05-20, 05:25 AM
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Geometry has changed for the better for real mountain biking. A comparison to 1985 seems ridiculous.
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Old 04-05-20, 07:08 AM
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Yes, it does change to sell bikes, however it also changes to correct mistakes made in the past. Using an old school MTB for adventure touring is a great idea, and you give nothing up to a modern platform because, as you noted, the new bikes are going back in time.
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Old 04-05-20, 08:28 AM
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Depends on how "old school" you go back

the new mtb's with the slacker angles are made for higher speed more aggro riding and a lot of these are taking design cues from downhill technology more so than cross country

the angles on a hardtail cross country bike have changed but not as severely as the all mountain, or trail bikes.

neither can compare to a 35 year old rigid machine - those days are long gone, and for the better. The early mountain bikes were trying to replicate the designs of the founding fathers - Breeze, Fisher etc, who took geometry ideas from old coaster brake clunkers
The laid back riding position and closed hip angle the slack angles create may have been good for bombing Repack, but not ideal for all conditions, so by the late 80's early 90's, mountain bike geometry shifted to steeper angles and longer top tubes for a more efficient general riding position-- and the bikes stayed that way for a long time - until the advent of the 29'er, which initially made a lot of design concessions just to fit the big wheels

but a bike from the 90's might better replicate the geometry of a road touring machine. A lot of these were designed for fast NORBA style race courses and their geometry still remains well suited to general purpose use today

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Old 04-05-20, 08:37 AM
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Ego matters more.
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Old 04-05-20, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Gconan View Post
Geometry has changed for the better for real mountain biking. A comparison to 1985 seems ridiculous.
Of course for real mountain biking the modern geometry is much better- as modern trails are much different and these bikes are far superior off road machines. However, my argument isn't geared towards real and more competitive/high end action mountain biking, more towards the adventurer/non competitive side of cycling.

I just think someone can get all too carried away by what GMBN and Youtube influencers in the bikepacking/touring community say about geometry and what you need. My argument is use what you got, run what you brung, and have fun! For someone trying to get into the hobby of biking, I think its all too easy to create this massive checklist of everything you must have in order to have fun.
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Old 04-05-20, 03:47 PM
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For the Love of Mediocre 80s Mountain Bikes

A classic '80s ATB would have the right stuff for an off-road tourer. Long Chainstays, level top tube, and 70*/70* angles are pretty much from the 'Ten-speed' era, and being more upright than a NORBA bike, would also take a drop-bar conversion (if you're so inclined) without the extreme positioning that would pose on a later bike.

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Old 04-05-20, 04:45 PM
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Depends on what you want to do and how much advantage you want/need from the bike.

This is my 92 rigid 26" Marin. I put a cheap suspension fork on it and it served pretty well as an off road bikepack tourer.

But it really doesn't hold a candle to a more modern design with light weight materials and better gearing/brakes. There was no way I could ride that thing on routes in Moab the way I could with a FS 29'r

But that bike cost about $3000 compared to the $50 plus upgrades I purchased the Marin for. Totally depends on what you can afford and how fast/far/efficient you feel you need to be. I generally ride alone so the only real consideration is practical and not conforming to others ideas.

This is another early 90's rigid bike, set up as a road/gravel commuter with drop bar conversion. It has the slack geometry of similar 80's models and could be geared pretty low if one wanted. For bikepacking it lacks cage mounts on the forks of course, as well as under the down tube, but a Surly fork with all the barnacles could be fitted easily enough.

What it originally looked like

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Old 04-05-20, 07:28 PM
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Yes geometry and fit will always matter. As we move forward we learn things about cycling and try to go further and faster and want our machines to be able to keep up. Yes sometimes things from the past work well and sometimes they don't. A early 90s era mountain bike with a stout steel frame and long wheelbase makes an excellent touring bike but those narrow bars and supremely long stems just aren't as fun to mountain bike with compared to some of the newer bikes.
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Old 04-05-20, 08:59 PM
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Geometry does matter in terms of positioning your body in an optimal way to get the right amount of power and comfort for the purpose of the ride you're doing. An old late 80s/early 90s mtb would probably do pretty well for a gravel touring style bike. The geometry might not be ideal but it might be close enough to be good enough. Other important things are how good/well adjusted the BB is, wheel bearings being smooth and well adjusted, a good sturdy rim and wheel build you can rely on and correct saddle, saddle height, reach, handlebar width, quality tires, etc. A bike setup to roll smoothly, easily, efficiently with a comfortable fit will see you enjoying the ride far more then if the geometry is spot on. Use what you have, replace and repack bearings, check for pitting and excessive wear and get it running smooth and go from there.
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Old 04-06-20, 03:58 PM
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I think that id one has a vintage rigid MTB that it's a good candidate to try gravel touring with. I have a number of 1980s era rigid MTBs that I've converted to dropbar touring bikes and they work very well on gravel roads and paved roads. For paved roads I fit narrow smooth tires instead of wide knobby tires.

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