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Late 80s - early nineties mountain bikes: the pinnacle of practical bike design?

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Late 80s - early nineties mountain bikes: the pinnacle of practical bike design?

Old 11-30-20, 03:14 PM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
There's nothing wrong with a little bit of nostalgia, but arguing that 30 year-old hardballs were the pinnacle of design is just plain silly. Modern hardtails are better bikes.
Practicality, not design...
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Old 11-30-20, 05:08 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by Trevtassie View Post
Practicality, not design...
Practically, practical design, or design -- take your pick A modern hardtail is a better bike.
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Old 11-30-20, 07:36 PM
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Itís sort of like BMWís. Last yearís model becomes the penultimate driving machine.

When I went bike shopping for a ďfamilyĒ MTB a few years ago I found thereís a pretty slim intersection between cheap and nasty but versatile, and nice but not that versatile. From major brands, anyhow. The Trek Roscoe is a good example, so is Salsa Rangefinder and Timberjack, Surly Karate Monkey, and the others like them. But they really are compromise bikes. A hybrid or gravel bike is better on nearly any kind of road and a full suspension is better offroad.
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Old 11-30-20, 10:19 PM
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I almost got rid of this thing. I'm glad I didn't, it's great for errands and cruising the neighborhood. I'm too decrepit for road riding anymore but I've rediscovered the joys of riding for fun and function.
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Old 12-01-20, 12:32 AM
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When you can scrounge a new through axle wheel to fit your modern hard tail from a hard waste rubbish pile on the side of the road, or fit a front rack to the suspension forks without going through some stupid engineering involving hose clamps and good luck or a very deep wallet, then you can talk about practicality and modern hardtails in the same sentence.
Yeah, modern hardtail bikes have nice design and ride way better off road, but that's not what the OP was talking about...for sheer practicality ie keeping a bike running for next to nothing, while carrying a ton of stuff, not worrying about it being stolen, you can't beat an old early nineties MTB. You can grab a decent one, cludge on some racks and tour the world, knowing you'll likely be able to fix it nearly anywhere, probably for free.
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Old 12-01-20, 04:13 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Itís sort of like BMWís. Last yearís model becomes the penultimate driving machine.

When I went bike shopping for a ďfamilyĒ MTB a few years ago I found thereís a pretty slim intersection between cheap and nasty but versatile, and nice but not that versatile. From major brands, anyhow. The Trek Roscoe is a good example, so is Salsa Rangefinder and Timberjack, Surly Karate Monkey, and the others like them. But they really are compromise bikes. A hybrid or gravel bike is better on nearly any kind of road and a full suspension is better offroad.
The penultimate BMW is the E30 M3 or the 635CSI depending on the day the rest are fat an ugly
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Old 12-01-20, 08:12 AM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
There's nothing wrong with a little bit of nostalgia, but arguing that 30 year-old hardtails were the pinnacle of design is just plain silly. Modern hardtails are better bikes.
First, I was talking about practicality, not overall design. Read my original post a little more carefully. I talked about standard parts that are easy to work on and points like that. I'm just saying that we've lost a lot in terms of practicality.

Secondly, I disagree with your point. I own a modern hardtail, it's great on single track and awful for anything else. Slack head angle, long reach, steep seat tube: all great for shralping, all terrible for riding long distances seated or basically anything else beyond carving berms. As mountain bikes have gotten better at their intended purpose of riding singletrack, they've gotten worse at everything else.

Thirdly, I address your accusation of blind nostalgia in another post. Note what kind of bikes I actually own, like and ride.

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Old 12-01-20, 08:17 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by HD3andMe View Post
Reading so many of these responses it’s painfully obvious that many folks haven’t ridden both 80’s mountain bikes and modern hardtails/rigid bikes.
Again, you're not understanding my point. You just think I'm saying old hardtails are the best bikes, which is not what I'm saying at all. Reread the original post and subsequent posts.

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Old 12-01-20, 08:22 AM
  #34  
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No,I think modern cargo bikes, and to a lesser extent; normal bikes with a large cargo rack in front, are the "pinnacle of practical design".
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Old 12-01-20, 08:43 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by Trevtassie View Post
When you can scrounge a new through axle wheel to fit your modern hard tail from a hard waste rubbish pile on the side of the road, or fit a front rack to the suspension forks without going through some stupid engineering involving hose clamps and good luck or a very deep wallet, then you can talk about practicality and modern hardtails in the same sentence.
Yeah, modern hardtail bikes have nice design and ride way better off road, but that's not what the OP was talking about...for sheer practicality ie keeping a bike running for next to nothing, while carrying a ton of stuff, not worrying about it being stolen, you can't beat an old early nineties MTB. You can grab a decent one, cludge on some racks and tour the world, knowing you'll likely be able to fix it nearly anywhere, probably for free.
If you want to talk about scrounging for wheels, I would reconsider this nostalgia for late 80s early 90s era mtb frames. Dropout widths varied (I believe you had 126, 130, and 135?), and I assume you also found a mix of freewheel and cassette hubs. Maybe the roadside solid waste piles in your area are better stocked than mine.

You will have a far, far greater chance of easily finding what you need for a HT built in the late 90s through early 2010s. 135mm QR were ubiquitous through the late 2000s and still common on HTs into the early 2010, and there was basically just one freehub standard that could fit any 7 through 10 speed cassette, and 11 speed mtb HG cassettes (at least for any bike worth restoring)

A 2007 Karate Monkey blows the doors off of any bike from 1990 in terms of ease of finding parts to get it on the road. There is no shortage of used 135mm 29er wheels out there.

I am seeing a lot of people making the false dichotomy between a bike from 1990 and 2020. There are 30 years worth of bikes in between. A HT from between the late 90s through early 2010s is going to be a lot easier for the average person to get parts for and get on the road than one from 1990.

What parts are going to be easier to find for a 1990 HT than a 2005 HT? Or a 2010 HT? If you donít want suspension, stick a rigid fork on there.

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Old 12-01-20, 08:56 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
If you want to talk about scrounging for wheels, I would reconsider this nostalgia for late 80s early 90s era mtb frames. Dropout widths varied (I believe you had 126, 130, and 135?), and I assume you also found a mix of freewheel and cassette hubs.

You will have a far, far greater chance of easily finding what you need for a HT built in the late 90s through early 2010s. 135mm QR were ubiquitous through the late 2000s and still common on HTs into the early 2010, and there was basically just one freehub standard that could fit any 7 through 10 speed cassette, and 11 speed mtb HG cassettes (at least for any bike worth restoring)

A 2007 Karate Monkey blows the doors off of any bike from 1990 in terms of ease of finding parts to get it on the road. There is no shortage of used 135mm 29er wheels out there.

I am seeing a lot of people making the false dichotomy between a bike from 1990 and 2020. There are 30 years worth of bikes in between. A HT from between the late 90s through early 2010s is going to be a lot easier for the average person to get parts for and get on the road than one from 1990.
When it comes to "scrounging" its definitely easier to find old or even new big box store 26" wheels. Nothing you really mention matters for a scrounger any of those standards will work its not hard to cold set a frame bigger or smaller. free wheel, cassette doesnt really matter either. derailleurs don't care. I see very few 29" wheel MTBs on craigslist, in dumpsters, drainage ditches, on the curb, or at the scrap yard.

I have never once seen a railroad hobo on a 29'er. They ride clapped out 26" MTB's with seat post mount racks and milk crates.
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Old 12-01-20, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
A 2007 Karate Monkey blows the doors off of any bike from 1990 in terms of ease of finding parts to get it on the road. There is no shortage of used 135mm 29er wheels out there.
Actually, I forgot to consider my 2015 29er HT as a mountain bike. It is drop bar converted and runs cyclocross tires but honestly, it is very versatile and fast. Can run 29er knobby tires up to road bike tires. QR axles and nothing fancy otherwise. In terms of comfort, speed and versatility, it blows my old MTB from the 1990s away.
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Old 12-01-20, 09:24 AM
  #38  
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there's definitely a resurgence in interest in this kind of bike. several youtube channels devoted to refurbishing old bikes have popped up, bikes like this are suddenly a bit expensive on the used market, and people are sharing their old bikes online. check out the "x-biking" community on red_dit. [BR edited out the name of this popular site for some reasonóstupid!] Rivendell, Crust, Velo Orange, Soma, and a lot of other companies continue to make bikes and components that keep older bikes like this going. See also: The Path Less Pedaled on Youtube.

are these bikes "the pinnacle of practical bike design"? perhaps. I worked in a bike co-op for a few years and regular shops for a long time as well, and these were always my favorite bikes to work on. it felt good to see something "old" and practical given some love. I prefer some modern touches like threadless headsets and disc brakes, and there's also a big market for "neo-retro" bikes that mix old and new tech. within mountain biking, there's a trend toward "under-biking" as modern bikes are often so plush and confidence- inspiring that a skilled rider finds some trails to be boring when the challenge is removed by over-biking.
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Old 12-01-20, 09:25 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by HD3andMe View Post
Reading so many of these responses itís painfully obvious that many folks havenít ridden both 80ís mountain bikes and modern hardtails/rigid bikes.
I believe this to be true; at least in the setting in which the bikes were designed.

John
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Old 12-01-20, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Reflector Guy View Post
When I'm out riding, I take pictures of the various abandoned bikes I see.... I've shot hundreds of them. Some stay locked up for years; some get taken away by the city because they become eyesores, rob useful space at the bike racks, make snow cleanup difficult, etc.

Interestingly, probably 90% of them are mountain bikes of various kinds. Good brands, cheap brands, pretty much anything. What does this mean? I don't know... Either the usefulness of the mountain bike spills over into commuter duty in fine fashion, or they're the leftovers of the 90s MTB boom which ran out their last miles hauling Dad down to the train station until eventually they get left behind forever... I don't know which.

I see this a lot as well. I guarantee you that nearly all of these bikes look like this because a thief stole the wheels or seatpost off the bike and the owner decided it was not worthwhile to unlock it, lug it home, and fix it up. If you're near a college campus, there's a combination of students who don't want to bother with lugging home the rusty bike that they've abused all year, so they just leave them to be stripped by scavengers.
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Old 12-01-20, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by HD3andMe View Post
Reading so many of these responses itís painfully obvious that many folks havenít ridden both 80ís mountain bikes and modern hardtails/rigid bikes.
I don't think anyone is claiming that a mountain bike from the '80s is as good a bike for riding mountain bike trails as a modern bike is. the truth is that bikes from this era among the most practical vehicles for general cycling. for riders who are not interested in spending a ton of money, going particularly fast on particularly gnarly terrain, and like ease of maintenance for the long run, bikes from this era are terrific as practical, serviceable, and durable bikes.
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Old 12-01-20, 09:38 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by sloppy12 View Post
When it comes to "scrounging" its definitely easier to find old or even new big box store 26" wheels. Nothing you really mention matters for a scrounger any of those standards will work its not hard to cold set a frame bigger or smaller. free wheel, cassette doesnt really matter either. derailleurs don't care. I see very few 29" wheel MTBs on craigslist, in dumpsters, drainage ditches, on the curb, or at the scrap yard.

I have never once seen a railroad hobo on a 29'er. They ride clapped out 26" MTB's with seat post mount racks and milk crates.
Again false dichotomy.

First of all, Are those hobos riding bikes from 1990? No, they are mostly riding low end bike that are likely no more than half that old. Most hobos do not cold set their frames.

All the arguments you are making for ease of finding 26Ē wheels apply just as much (more so, actually) to 26Ē HTs from the late 90s on. Those wonít require cold setting anything, and the hubs will all take practically any cassette you have on hand.

You make it sound like they stopped making 26Ē bikes in 1992.

Fwiw, I live in a fairly isolated area and had no problems finding a qr 29er wheelset, with options ranging from low end and free on up.
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Old 12-01-20, 09:44 AM
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Also I donít think that pulling wheels out of drainage ditches and scrapyards is often the most ďpracticalĒ way to get a functional wheel.
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Old 12-01-20, 09:55 AM
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Commuted 22 mi/day on this for years, after getting it to take my daughter to daycare in a seat. The first frame broke clean across within months. The second one went through a whole group and two sets of wheels and was sold for a great price. Would I ride it again? Not on your life!



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Old 12-01-20, 10:00 AM
  #45  
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You're all wrong. The (insert favorite bike style from favorite bike era here) was the pinnacle of practical bike design. Everybody knows that!
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Old 12-01-20, 10:02 AM
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Yeah .... Ummm ... i don't know where people are throwing away 29er wheels .... cheap bikes with 700c wheels, maybe... and maybe the rims are wide enough to mount a 38 mm or wider tire .... Maybe .....

Unless you live in Moab or some such place, I doubt thee are all kinds of people throwing away 29 MTB wheels. Maybe if you raid the dumpsters behind bike shops .... but I have tried that, and normally they don't throw away wheels which can be repaired ..... A lot more 26" bikes, particularly low-end and cheap, are sold and always have been, which means it is a lot easier to find a 26" wheel which maybe needs nothing but truing or maybe a couple spokes.

Whatever. This is one of the teapot tempests for which BF is so well known.

Old rigid MTBs are good for a lot of things ... which is also, coincidentally, what this thread is about.

Old rigid MTBs tend to have road-bikish geometry with slacker head tubes for stable handling .... which makes them great for running loaded, for touring or commuting or just getting groceries. They tend to have a wide enough range of gearing . They usually have a tall enough top end that they work as road bikes while still having enough bottom end to haul loads.

With steel frames and forks, the bikes are low-maintenance---no problem if they get dropped or knocked over, They accept racks easily and bear loads well and are generally pretty comfortable---steel offers benefits even though it is heavy.

It is really easy to find parts which fit the frames---no odd tube diameters, standard headsets, standard threaded BBs, standard bar diameter. Because steel is springy, a 126, 130, ort 135 hub could probably be stuffed in, or tightened into place. Since 130 and 135 wheels are ubiquitous, the only issue would be how many cogs can fit on the hub. If the bike has friction shifters (my old Bridgestone had Shimano thumb shifters which could switch between friction and index) cog count isn't a hassle.

Whether a person wants to apply superlatives ... and whether other posters get outraged because they don't agree ... has nothing to do with bicycles ... but most of most threads on BF aren't really about bicycles.

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Old 12-01-20, 10:04 AM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by 02Giant View Post
This is what I did with my 80's mountain bike. Drop bars & 2 x 10 SRAM Rival.

Agree with others, very well done, looks great.

Originally Posted by HD3andMe View Post
Reading so many of these responses itís painfully obvious that many folks havenít ridden both 80ís mountain bikes and modern hardtails/rigid bikes.
Actually from a purely all around practical standpoint an early 90s, threadless headset, cassette equipped mtb is probably the more practical of the two. Toss drop bars and its an decent gravel, cross or tourer which isn't hard to do since they often had shorter toptubes with long stems. Leave it flat or toss on a mustache bar and you have a good commuter or boardwalk cruiser. Tire options can be fairly wide from 1.25 to 2.25 for different purposes. But the thread looses track of the fact that a modern gravel bike is every bit its equivalent of these old MTBs with better options. Many can switch between 700c with fast narrow tires and 27.5 with wider, more aggressive tires or sturdy touring tires. I've ridden my gravel bike 400 miles over loose cinder on tour, blasted through the MTB park in Mrytle Beach and use it for early season road training when there's still lots of dirt and debris from the winter covering the roads. I'd match it against any early 90s ridgid mtb with no worries.
But, while I had fun at Myrtle Beach, the park there is clearly not very difficult, and a well groomed place meant to go fast. For actual mountain biking on real trails I couldn't image grabbing my gravel or an early 90s MTB. Despite being quite a bit slower then I was in the 90s, I mtb significantly faster then I ever did then; modern versions are just that much better at the job. Main difference is I'd have no trouble riding my 46/11-32 the 10 miles to the trail and the 24/11-32 made sure I could make any climbs. That 34/11-46 makes the climbs easy but it wouldn't be the most fun gear to ride to the trail with and I prefer to drive now. The modern MTB isn't the all rounder the old ones were but its way better at the job its designed for.
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Old 12-01-20, 10:09 AM
  #48  
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I had a late 80s Bianchi Grizzly MTB for about a year which was sold and replaced with a Bridgestone MB-1.
After some years later noticed while riding up hill steering became weird stopped and examined found the downtube cracked near the headtube.
Luckily it did not fail on a downhill.
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Old 12-01-20, 11:36 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by HD3andMe View Post
This is a perfect example of what I was describing.

"The modern MTB" encompases everything from rigid bikes that are similar in function and practicality to 90's MTBs, but are better (like a Surly Karate Monkey, for example), to FS bikes with lots of travel that are much better off-road but aren't good for those folks that want to tour/bikepack/city tootle with an upright posture, with big tires for crappy city streets.
A full sus is no good for anything other than big drops and what have you. It is such a niche (dedicated to a single thing) bike that it is no good for anything else than what it is designed for. "Tootling around in an upright position" or not. Sort of like a dedicated road bike TT bike with 18mm tyres but in the other direction.
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Old 12-01-20, 01:35 PM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by HD3andMe View Post
This is simply not true. It's complete nonsense.

Your lack of experience is showing, again.
Another typical response from you completely devoid of integrity.

No it's not "nonsense".. You loose a lot of energy and add a tonne of weight for a suspension that is hampering yourself in any other scenario than actually taking advantage of said suspension.

If it were not so, it is outright amazing that not all bikes are full suspension monsters. Surely it's not a fashion thing. Hell, even cross country riders don't use full-on full sus bikes like the one you own.

Everything is a compromise, even the TT bike or your full-on full-sus bike. Where both will show just how much compromised they are is when pushed to do anything else than what they're dedicated to do.
Yes, I don't doubt you can ride it on a gravel road, but why would you when there are more allround bikes that are much better for those things? I mean, neither the TT or the full-on full-sus bike will do well.
Or, perhaps, your bike is really "special".
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