Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Mountain Biking
Reload this Page >

Has mountain bike development reached a plateau?

Mountain Biking Mountain biking is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Check out this forum to discuss the latest tips, tricks, gear and equipment in the world of mountain biking.

Has mountain bike development reached a plateau?

Old 12-17-03, 07:38 PM
  #1  
eric streeper
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Pocatello, Idaho
Posts: 4

Bikes: 1995 Specialized Stumpjumper M2

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Has mountain bike development reached a plateau?

Has mountain bike development reached a plateau?

Consider a generic, mid-range, 1996 hardtail for comparison purposes. Compare it with similar bikes 8 years on either side of that, a 2003 hardtail and a 1988 rigid (no shocks in '88). The 1996 model was drastically different from the 1988 model, but the 1996 bike doesn't look very different from the 2003.

Compare the 1988 bike with the 1996 bike:
The 1988 bike had no shock, toe-clip pedals, a threaded steerer tube, cantilever brakes, over the bar thumb shifters, wide rims, Farmer John or Farmer Johns Cousin tires, no bar ends, was most likely a chromoly steel frame, had a 7-speed rear, a loose ball-bearing bottom bracket, tipped the scales at 30 lbs, easy.

The 1996 bike has a compact drive crankset, a shock, bar ends, clipless pedals, a threadless headset, narrow rims, is probably an aluminum frame, has a sealed cartridge bottom bracket, probably has Rapid-fire or Grip-shift shifting, V-brakes, has an 8-speed rear, weighs in around 24-26 lbs.

The 2003 bike still has the compact drive crankset, a shock, bar ends, clipless pedals, a threadless headset, narrow rims, is still probably an aluminum frame, has a sealed cartridge bottom bracket, probably has Rapid-fire or Gripshift shifting, probably has V-brakes (disc brakes are an option though) and has a 9-speed rear, weighs in around 24-26 lbs.

There are of course differences between the 1996 and the 2003, but they could be classified as minor refinements.

The time period from the late '80s to the mid '90s saw some revolutionary changes and innovations to cycling that literally changed the way we ride; Bar ends, can you imagine climbing without them? Clipless pedals, can you imagine racing in toe-clips? Anyone remember messing with cantilever brakes for hours for mediocre performance, and the first time you grabbed V-brakes? Can you imagine going back to rigid bikes, no shocks? Does anyone forsee any similar huge developments coming down the road in the near future? I think we've reached a plateau in bike development and submit that a 2011 hardtail will not be drastically different from a 1996 hardtail.
eric streeper is offline  
Old 12-17-03, 08:18 PM
  #2  
SamDaBikinMan
Crank Crushing Redneck
 
SamDaBikinMan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: A van down by the river.
Posts: 2,600

Bikes: Bikes are environmentally damaging

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
This is kinda like comparing the Wright brothers flying machine with a modern jet stealth fighter and expecting the same rate of improvement over a similar period of time.

Technology will reach a stage where advances will come very slowly. We are splitting hairs now as it is in some aspects. Ie carbon fiber versus aluminum for a few grams of weight difference
SamDaBikinMan is offline  
Old 12-17-03, 08:29 PM
  #3  
MikeOK
Yo
 
MikeOK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Ozark Mountains
Posts: 1,607

Bikes: 2003 Yeti AS-R, 2018 Waltly ti

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 427 Post(s)
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Main improvements have been in suspension technology. My hope is that sometime soon we get rid of this archaic deralleur/chain/gear drivetrain we've been using for about 30 years.
MikeOK is offline  
Old 12-17-03, 08:35 PM
  #4  
SamDaBikinMan
Crank Crushing Redneck
 
SamDaBikinMan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: A van down by the river.
Posts: 2,600

Bikes: Bikes are environmentally damaging

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
The chain driven drive train will probably stay due to its efficiency. Very little is lost in the chain drive setup.

I'm not sure what could be done differently in a human powered machine that will not result in extreme losses of efficiency.

The rohloff speedhub may be the next thing for gears once its size and weight can be improved upon. But it will still be chain driven unless a timing belt type setup can be designed since the drive will be single speed into the hub.
SamDaBikinMan is offline  
Old 12-17-03, 08:46 PM
  #5  
MikeOK
Yo
 
MikeOK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Ozark Mountains
Posts: 1,607

Bikes: 2003 Yeti AS-R, 2018 Waltly ti

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 427 Post(s)
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
The chain is good, and I must admit that the shifters have come a long way since the early stem levers. But you still have all the cables and ders to deal with, and no matter how much cash (and time) you spend on them they are still a pain in the bo-hiney to keep in top working order. Not so much for road bikes, but for offroad I would be more than willing to pay a weight penalty and would even be willing to live with less total gears to be rid of ders completely.

The der system we are using now is noisy, ugly, prone to failure (lots of moving parts, bent der hangers) and simply ancient technology.

I have somehow become the drivetrain guru in my group so I always get volunteered to tinker with everybody's bike that is grinding, not shifting right, or otherwise "just don't feel right". I am ready for a change!
MikeOK is offline  
Old 12-17-03, 09:20 PM
  #6  
Maelstrom 
Wood Licker
 
Maelstrom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Whistler,BC
Posts: 16,966

Bikes: Trek Fuel EX 8 27.5 +, 2002 Transition Dirtbag, Kona Roast 2002

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 23 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I agree completely. Changes in the future will come in drive train tech and suspension tech. Drive Train tech will hopefully get rid of the deraileur (still stupid imo) and suspension tech will perfect more of the variations that occur so everyone can have 'their' perfect suspension setup.
Maelstrom is offline  
Old 12-17-03, 09:47 PM
  #7  
MikeOK
Yo
 
MikeOK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Ozark Mountains
Posts: 1,607

Bikes: 2003 Yeti AS-R, 2018 Waltly ti

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 427 Post(s)
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I saw the piece in the last MBA about the Rohloff, I wonder if someone holds a patent and Shimano or SRAM won't pay for rights? Just conjecture, but I still wonder.

Just think what you would be rid of without ders. A much simpler shifter, and most likely only one of those. You could throw all these in the lake: front der, rear der, cassette, two front chainrings, at least one shifter, at least one cable, and about 20 links of chain.

And I was thinking about this the other day as well. You could probably get by with 6-10 total gear ratios. Why not come up with a front crank system that would let you easily change rings. I usually know the terrain I will be riding on a given ride, and I could run a ring with more teeth on a more open trail, less teeth on a real technical trail. Sounds pretty simple to me. The only real problem I see is the fact that today's read der's allow for all the variations in rear suspension, but surely that's not so much of a hurdle to cross...
MikeOK is offline  
Old 12-17-03, 10:05 PM
  #8  
SamDaBikinMan
Crank Crushing Redneck
 
SamDaBikinMan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: A van down by the river.
Posts: 2,600

Bikes: Bikes are environmentally damaging

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
A simple spring loaded idler sprocket will maintain chain tension so you could run a double ring up front.

I think a smaller/lighter rohloff hub with fewer gears (10 perhaps) with a double chainring setup would be a good start.
SamDaBikinMan is offline  
Old 12-17-03, 10:30 PM
  #9  
Maelstrom 
Wood Licker
 
Maelstrom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Whistler,BC
Posts: 16,966

Bikes: Trek Fuel EX 8 27.5 +, 2002 Transition Dirtbag, Kona Roast 2002

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 23 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Shimano has an internally geared hub for casual use. Beef it up and I would buy it in a second.
Maelstrom is offline  
Old 12-17-03, 11:09 PM
  #10  
Structure0
Member
 
Structure0's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: SLO, Ca
Posts: 27

Bikes: Super V (Can-Endo)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by eric streeper
Has mountain bike development reached a plateau?
No, why choose that metaphore? Do you mean mountain bikes have advanced less since 1996? If so I disagree. Rear suspension has come leaps and bounds since then. Front suspension likewise. Forks same. Brakes same. Shifting same. If you want a metaphore I'd suggest "interupted development" in which changes come in a cluster. We are now in a cluster of changes driven by SPV shock technology. Looked at as a line (I assume you meant this by the plateau metaphore?), it would look like a rising line with sharp spiking jumps. But honestly, I'd avoid the whole metaphore game and simply note specific change at specific times.

Originally Posted by eric streeper
Consider a generic, mid-range, 1996 hardtail for comparison purposes. Compare it with similar bikes 8 years on either side of that, a 2003 hardtail and a 1988 rigid (no shocks in '88). The 1996 model was drastically different from the 1988 model, but the 1996 bike doesn't look very different from the 2003.
My 1996 bike looked very differnt from my 1988 bike. There's no doubt about that. Front forks were a big change. But a 2003 is a big change from a 1996. As big as from 1988 to 1996? I'm not sure. I gues not, but what if I asked from 1987 to 1994 and 2002? Suddenly we could argue all the change had come SINCE 1994 and that bikes had reached a "plateau" by 1994. (V-brakes were a big improvement. Discs were a smaller, but still significant one. Front fork technology went through major improvements.)

Originally Posted by eric streeper
Compare the 1988 bike with the 1996 bike:
The 1988 bike had no shock, toe-clip pedals, a threaded steerer tube, cantilever brakes, over the bar thumb shifters, wide rims, Farmer John or Farmer Johns Cousin tires, no bar ends, was most likely a chromoly steel frame, had a 7-speed rear, a loose ball-bearing bottom bracket, tipped the scales at 30 lbs, easy.

The 1996 bike has a compact drive crankset, a shock, bar ends, clipless pedals, a threadless headset, narrow rims, is probably an aluminum frame, has a sealed cartridge bottom bracket, probably has Rapid-fire or Grip-shift shifting, V-brakes, has an 8-speed rear, weighs in around 24-26 lbs.

The 2003 bike still has the compact drive crankset, a shock, bar ends, clipless pedals, a threadless headset, narrow rims, is still probably an aluminum frame, has a sealed cartridge bottom bracket, probably has Rapid-fire or Gripshift shifting, probably has V-brakes (disc brakes are an option though) and has a 9-speed rear, weighs in around 24-26 lbs.

There are of course differences between the 1996 and the 2003, but they could be classified as minor refinements.
I disagree. Nineteen nintysix to 2003 saw major refinements. By your standard 1988 bikes were little different from 1978. Or for that matter, 1996 from 1978. The only major difference being a front shock. Does a front shock qualify as a "major difference?" Does doubling the travel while increasing the stiffnes only qualify as a "minor" improvement? If so, then how do we account for the flex of 1980s cromo forks which were replaced by the 2" travel Rock Shock RS1? This is the ultimate engineering advance? An inch and a half of travel?

Or was this all just hype? After all, springer forks had been around for decades. Throwing a shock onto the frontend of a mountain bike wasn't quite as big a deal as we thought in 1991. It seems more like another in a long series of, significant, but not earth changing, improvements.

Originally Posted by eric streeper
The time period from the late '80s to the mid '90s saw some revolutionary changes and innovations to cycling that literally changed the way we ride; Bar ends, can you imagine climbing without them? Clipless pedals, can you imagine racing in toe-clips? Anyone remember messing with cantilever brakes for hours for mediocre performance, and the first time you grabbed V-brakes? Can you imagine going back to rigid bikes, no shocks? Does anyone forsee any similar huge developments coming down the road in the near future? I think we've reached a plateau in bike development and submit that a 2011 hardtail will not be drastically different from a 1996 hardtail.
I don't use bar ends. I did. I ditched them. They were a fad (sorry if you still use them folks, but try living without them ... you'll soon realize they were like that mother-in-law that was always with you and who you could never tell to leave, but who when gone, you forgot all about.)

Clipless pedals are nice. Though the choices today are superior to 1996. (And even more superior to 1992-3). Many people now, of course, are running platforms and running away from being clipped in.

Canti's sucked. V-brakes are sweet. Discs are not a clear improvement to V-brakes. But, just to be arguementative, I'd switch the point of comparison to 1994-5 and say all the changes in brakes have come "recently" while the early period was static.

Many people are going back to rigid bikes. The all rigid single speed is the bike of the day. I wish I had one. Hmmm, methinks after I get my next 5"X5" trail bike I'll have to think about it.

Man I'm glad we're not stuck back in those mid-90s Dark Ages. When 60mm of was a lot of front travel and when most of us carried our water on our bikes.

PS. I'm naturally arguemenative.

Last edited by Structure0; 12-17-03 at 11:20 PM.
Structure0 is offline  
Old 12-19-03, 10:00 PM
  #11  
iamthetas
Senior Member
 
iamthetas's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: colonial heights Va
Posts: 1,200

Bikes: Devinci Guzzler, 04 Canadian version

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Does Anyone Remember A Few Years Back When You Could Buy A Bike Off The Tv That Ha Dthe Automatic Transmission That The Faster You Pedaled The Higher The Gear?it Was A 6 Speed That Used The Energy Of Pedaling To Raise Or Lower The Gear You Were In.never Caught On (obviously) But If Someone Other Than A Ronco Type Company Got Hold Of It It May Just Be The Solution To Derailers.just Chain Tensioners.hey Maybe Even 2 Sprokets Up Front.the Way Technology Is Expanding And We Run Out Of Original Ideas Maybe Sram Or Shimono Will Do It
iamthetas is offline  
Old 12-20-03, 12:08 AM
  #12  
bentrim
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Mentioned: Post(s)
Tagged: Thread(s)
Quoted: Post(s)
...and whatever happened to the concept of drum brakes on bikes?

They were on the cusp of becoming "the next thing" but I've yet to see them used as a legitimate braking system option.
 
Old 12-20-03, 01:30 AM
  #13  
roadfix
hello
 
roadfix's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 18,601
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 144 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 1 Post
Originally Posted by eric streeper
Can you imagine going back to rigid bikes, no shocks?
I can...... I'm building one up now with a brand new Kona rigid fork. I don't think these new rigid forks are available only for single-speeders.... And to top it off, with a 7-sp LX groupo and bar-end road shifters! But I must admit, I am going with new XT V-brakes. Yeah!

George
roadfix is offline  
Old 12-20-03, 02:34 AM
  #14  
bentrim
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Mentioned: Post(s)
Tagged: Thread(s)
Quoted: Post(s)
...I've noticed serious trials riders still prefer rigid forks since the behavior of the fork is more consistent and predictable.
 
Old 12-20-03, 02:55 AM
  #15  
rancid_chicken
Senior Member
 
rancid_chicken's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Cookeville, TN
Posts: 64

Bikes: Cannondale 1FG, older Cannondale F-500, Custom F-600 Cannondale, Masi Gran Corsa, and a steel bike hand built by my father

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
The last time I was able to ride my old bike, I removed the V-brakes that were on it and replaced them with the Dia Compe cantis that came origionally. I've got to say that I didn't really notince that much of a difference. Now that I have changed to a set of Paul's brakes they are more crisp and powerful, bbut you still have to mess with them to keep them working perfect.

In my opinion, ride what you like. You shouldn't ever have to prove to people why you ride what you do.
rancid_chicken is offline  
Old 12-20-03, 08:07 AM
  #16  
MikeOK
Yo
 
MikeOK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Ozark Mountains
Posts: 1,607

Bikes: 2003 Yeti AS-R, 2018 Waltly ti

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 427 Post(s)
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by iamthetas
Does Anyone Remember A Few Years Back When You Could Buy A Bike Off The Tv That Ha Dthe Automatic Transmission That The Faster You Pedaled The Higher The Gear?it Was A 6 Speed That Used The Energy Of Pedaling To Raise Or Lower The Gear You Were In.never Caught On (obviously) But If Someone Other Than A Ronco Type Company Got Hold Of It It May Just Be The Solution To Derailers.just Chain Tensioners.hey Maybe Even 2 Sprokets Up Front.the Way Technology Is Expanding And We Run Out Of Original Ideas Maybe Sram Or Shimono Will Do It
he he he
I forgot about that. Everybody on that infomercial looked like they had just won a million bucks after they got on that bike. That's how I'm gonna look when I finally get rid if these stinkin' #@!!@% der's!

My first mtn bike was fully rigid, and I think I remember seeing some rigid forks in a catalog recently. My first suspension fork was a Rock Shox that had a blazing 1" of travel! And half of that was sag, but everybody still just had to get one after they saw mine. Plus, you just about had to get a second mortgage to buy one of the dumb things. So, suspension has come a long way, other things still have a long way to go...
MikeOK is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
dkyser
Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg)
30
06-11-18 06:39 PM
666pack
Singlespeed & Fixed Gear
32
03-25-07 07:07 AM
Cornish_Rdr_UK
Mountain Biking
15
05-10-05 12:01 PM
snakehunter
Mountain Biking
1
03-08-05 10:30 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.