Now THAT Was a Bike - 1992 Slingshot Team Issue

Sep 13, 2016
by Mike Kazimer  
1992 Slingshot Team Issue

The early to mid-nineties were a time of experimentation in the mountain bike world, a time when garage-based operations were trying to make their mark by manufacturing everything from anodized purple cranks to elastomer-sprung stems. Front suspension was beginning to catch on, and the first full suspension designs were emerging, but widespread acceptance was still a few years off. That left the door open for companies like Slingshot and their unique looking frame design, which used a steel cable and a spring for a downtube, to try and snag a piece of the mountain bike pie.


1992 Slingshot Team Issue
A fiberglass plate, what Slingshot call the 'Dogbone Flexboard' joins the top tube to the seat tube.
1992 Slingshot Team Issue
Previous versions of the bike had the coil spring located near the bottom bracket rather than attached to the head tube.



The design's origins date back to the early 1970s, when, according to the Museum of Mountain Bike Art and Technology, inventor Mark Groendal was riding a mini-motorcycle and noticed that it suddenly started feeling better when going over bumps. He examined the frame and discovered a crack in the downtube, sparking the idea that it might not be entirely necessary for that part of the frame to be completely solid.

The first iteration of the concept came in the form of a BMX bike that was released in the early 1980s, and in 1987 Groendal was awarded a patent for a 'flexible bicycle,' one where “the front frame portion can flex with respect to the rear frame portion by flexing the fiberglass spring plate and tensioning the cable against the bias of compression springs holding the cable in tensioned condition.”

As mountain biking's popularity grew, Groendal and his brother began making 26” wheeled versions using the same concept. The 1992 Team Edition shown here was the first year that the spring was attached to the head tube, rather than the bottom bracket as it had been in earlier versions. There were several different springs available, allowing riders to customize the amount of flex depending on their weight and personal preference.
Slingshot Patent
Reviews of the bike were relatively positive, and while this was far from the cushy full-suspension bikes we take for granted today, there was enough flex that it did provide a more compliant ride than a traditional hardtail frame. Don't forget, this was still an era where fully rigid hardtails were still the norm - even a small amount of rudimentary shock absorption was a welcome change.The biggest hurdle that faced the company was based largely on aesthetics – the idea of a frame held together by a taut cable proved to be a stumbling block that many riders couldn't overcome. That, and the fact that some of the frame's compliance came in the form of lateral flex, giving the bike some 'interesting' handling when ridden aggressively.

The company changed owners in 1994, and faded from the spotlight as more refined full suspension bikes began to be released. However, unlike many of the smaller mountain bike companies that popped up in the 1990s, Slingshot Bikes didn't disappear completely, and even after all these years they still produce bikes that rely on that same distinctive downtube design.


1992 Slingshot Team Issue
Suntour's PowerFlow 8-speed cassette has an 11-28 tooth spread.
1992 Slingshot Team Issue
At the time, Syncros claimed that aluminum cranks were too soft for efficient power transfer, which is why the Revolution cranks were constructed from chromoly tubing. They were secured to a titanium bottom bracket spindle, and came with 46, 36, and 26-tooth chainrings.


1992 Slingshot Team Issue
Bar ends, long stems and narrow bars were all the rage in 1992, and thumb shifters were still a common sight.
1992 Slingshot Team Issue
The Slingshot's cable downtube may have helped a little bit with bump absorption, but there was still a rigid steel fork up front - 'plush' hadn't yet entered the mountain biking vernacular.




Visit the feature gallery for additional high resolution images




Special thanks to The Pro's Closet for once again allowing us access to their treasure trove of historic bikes.
Bike photos courtesy of The Pro's Closet


119 Comments

  • + 173
 You can also use this frame to fabricate a crossbow so you can effectively slay a moose, bear or other large mammal in an emergency situation
  • + 39
 You can even use the down tube to slice ice cream cake. It's the do-it-all because it does it all!
  • + 18
 @InsaNeil024: I think it would be more appropriately used for creating a mid ride cheese platter when you u inevitably have to be stuck at the side of the trail.
  • + 17
 to dry clothes...
  • + 12
 Let's not lose focus on its many applications during the zombie apocalypse.
  • + 5
 @InsaNeil024: Its not "do-it-all" unless it can open various bottles of alcohol. This is THE most important feature of anything that falls in the do-it-all category.
  • - 2
 You can sling shot that pizza chit right up your ass.
  • + 82
 All of the drawbacks of suspension and none of the benefits. It has the unsettling quality of an expanding wheelbase with slacker angles as you compress, and then abrupt shortening and increasing twitchiness as the hinge rebounds and the cable bounce back. It's like riding an inchworm crossbred with a bucking bronco. I have one in red, with deore components, and Farmer John's Cousin tires. I added a suspension post just to be a jerk. I rode it in the OreCrusher xc race in Squamish. Couldn't feel my hands for a week afterward.
  • + 79
 Don't start talking about axle paths and expanding wheelbase you might wake Protour from his slumber.
  • + 14
 To be fair, I rode Orecrusher on a 2016 Stumpy S-works and I couldn't feel my hand afterwards either! Still got back pain from it!
  • + 3
 The angles slacken as suspension activates, sounds dreamy! I mean, would you not be descending usually when suspension is active, so, that means slacker angles on descents; the bike automatically adjusts it's geo for your situation, without electronics or anything! Wow, that sounds great.
  • + 9
 @webhead: Not exactly. Imagine you are braking as you go into a compression and your steering starts to wallow, then as you release the brakes everything tightens up and gets twitchy. Totally unnerving. Adjusting geometry at the start of a descent would be great, but not midway through a section. Even worse is when you are on chattery or bumpy terrain with your angle of attack constantly changing, forcing you to continually adjust your weight and position. It's like the bike is f88king with your mind!
  • + 10
 @mcgetskinny: Your back still hurts, 5 months later? You should get that checked out. Seriously.
  • + 3
 Well at the time a lot of people felt it improved on the current frame designs despite the worries about frame integrity so..... F- YOU! IT WAS AWESOME!
  • + 4
 @scott-townes: Clearly it was awesome and still is! Although terrifying, nerve wracking, and physically punishing, I still love riding the thing. Sometimes you just gotta ride something different. Ever day doesn't have to be about the same old modified 4-bar linkage mid travel 27.5 carbon copy bike....sometimes you gotta freak out and ride the mutant so you know how good we really have it Smile
  • + 4
 @webhead: " wow bet it climbs like an inchworm in a slingshot "
  • + 2
 @cerealkilla: brakes? This had cantis, come on, did they even slow the rider down? Doubtful... hardly impacted the geo. All about the bumps.
  • + 73
 looks like a session
  • + 4
 hahaha - knew this'd be in the comments somewhere Smile
  • + 3
 Win.
  • + 43
 Oh f#ck no! I rode one of these once. I would rather set fire to my genitals than do so again.
  • + 14
 Somebody get this man one to ride. I don't think he will do it.
  • + 30
 This is really funny (and I don’t mean about the design of the slingshot bike. Creative ideas as this one may offer a step to new ideas and so on…)

The really funny thing is that back then at the 90’s the so – called “experts” were debating, with all sort of arguments, questioning if we really need suspension at all. I do remember that most of the magazines were not favoring the “suspension fork”. Some of these “experts” were even claiming that they could feel the flex of that oversize steel rigid fork “that worked almost as suspension”!!!

Then when the golden era of the front fork eventually come the debate was on if we “really” need the rear suspension or not (again a bunch of “flexible” hardtails were offering “almost suspension” action)

Now we are on the era of the FS bike (yes there are shiploads of really great HT bikes out there, but this is not my point). Now the various experts are raving around a few quite similar designs, obviously because they are adapted on them, and giving the “evil eye” on everything new or unusual…
So,
All I have to say is that: Value all new ideas, even if they are not working as well as intended, because without those & the people behind them, our sport would be non-existent. To the spoiled brats that do not respect this I can (also) say this:
When time passes and your favorite bike is as old as those “strange” designs of the wild era of the mountain biking, there will be more brats making fun of your bike too!
  • + 7
 Next up: A San Andreas or an Allsop Softride review Smile
  • + 2
 @thatpeskylimey: Oh man those were so cool! I grew up in Mammoth Lakes, California, and used to see all the pros showing up to race the Kamikaze Downhill with these amazing bikes. I wanted one so bad.
  • + 1
 @thatpeskylimey: A review of the mid-90's Y-Bike would be sweet too! Still have my 1995 Y33 and ride it a few time a year just for shits and grins.
  • + 25
 Oh man. I almost forgot about this bike but it immediately came all back when I saw the thumbnail on the frontpage.

Thank you so much, pinkbike, for bringing back bikes I dreamt of when I had no money to buy this fancy stuff.

Curse you, pinkbike, for making me feel old. Wink
  • + 26
 I wonder how it would do on the Val Di Sole track
  • + 52
 It would be compliant. But not plush.
  • + 9
 compliant to the point of the sound of a dogbone twisting apart. Imagine it in that last sender to the left hand corner....ka-foing!
  • + 19
 No down tube, and a top tube connected by a "Dogbone Flexboard." What could possibly go wrong? I'm wondering why this idea did not catch on.
  • + 10
 Niiiiiice! Slingshots were always a curious wonder, I remember just staring at these with a dumbfounded look on my face back in the day. The shop guy tried to explain the unique "inchworm" feel they have on the trail. The 90's were a hilarious time. Shortly after this came what I consider the first crop of lust-worthy fs bikes that gained some proper acceptance (eg. pro-flex, c'dale super v, trek Y series). This deserves a spot in the mtb hall of fame, hanging on the wall next to the sh*tbike, no doubt!
  • + 9
 I loved the early 90's bikes! When I was in high school my ridding buddy's dad had a Pro-Flex. He put a suspension post on it, then he removed the Vector fork and replaced it with a Rock Shox Mag 21 and, just to be a dick, installed a softride stem. what an asshole! To this day it was was and always will be the worst riding bicycle I have ever ridden!
  • + 10
 @spencer666: Four different bouncy-things?!? Wow, that is legendary!
  • + 2
 @spencer666: That sounds f*cking awesome! Would love to give that frankenbeast a go!
  • + 3
 @WasatchEnduro: It was like a giant aluminum wet noodle!
  • + 4
 Don't forget the Mountain Cycle San Andreas.
  • + 10
 @DrPete: That was my dream bike when I was in high school! I wanted that frame with a Girvin Vector fork, Spin wheels & Magura brakes. I used to sneak Mountain Bike Action mags in to class and build dream bikes from the bike pro adds. Those were the days!
  • + 8
 @bishopsmike: Four wrongs don't make a right...
  • + 3
 @spencer666: He from Mammoth? I swear I saw one set up just like that.

I was lucky enough to own a Pro-Flex 765, and replaced that weird front suspension with an RST Hi-5 Mozo. I was such a bad ass!
  • + 2
 @rallyimprezive: No, it was up in Northern California though, Santa Rosa to be exact.

Those early to late 90's bikes sure were a real treat. Remember these?

mombat.org/MOMBAT/Bikes/1994_Crosstrac_Sonoma.html
  • + 12
 If you placed that thing beside a motorcycle from 1992 it would look like it came from the stone age. I can't believe how long mountain bikes have taken to evolve.
  • + 0
 I agree. You'd think this thing was from the late 70s, but nope - early 90s. I mean did no one in the biking industry understand geometry and suspension? Perhaps they did and just didn't have the technology or skill to put it into the bikes. I think back to how many times I went over the bars when I shouldn't have - I'm talking XC type trails, not anything remotely DH related.
  • + 3
 Think about how simple V brakes are and how much better they are than cantilevers. Yet the MTB industry used cantis for like 20 years before someone got off their ass and designed V's. Embarrassing, really at the pace of evolution.
  • + 2
 Innovation needs money, and I bet the money poured into motorcycle racing helped the street bikes evolve at much better pace. Now we're to the point where the bikes have run out of mechanical grip, and are looking towards aerodynamics. Exciting times for sure.
  • + 7
 The front and rear derailleur look just the same now. It's amazing how drivetrains have barely progressed past extra cogs and a clutch in all that time.
  • + 3
 Bicycles however have been around much longer than motorbikes, and cyclists are a pretty conservative bunch. Many people essentially wanted a road bikes with knobby tires. Have a look at a Mountain Cycle San Andreas, Trek Y frame or Kestrel. Those things look bonkers, even today!
  • + 8
 To all the pundits...Slingshot was not about suspension. It was a 'potential energy' storage and release system. The frame would load energy on the 'power' part of the spin..and release it on the natural / lesser power of the the spin cycle. This created a thrust / surge in the bikes momentum. It also absorbed rougher terrain into that system, and 'sling-shotted' it out.

I know this because I rode one for my best riding years in Moab...92 - 96. If any of you doubt it, can you claim better than a 7 hour, 6 minute full White Rim in a day? (thats the full 100+..not just rim to rim).

Its funky for sure...but it is a legit bike.

-p
  • + 4
 You are the man.
  • + 7
 I love it! I remember the good old days with no suspension, canti's and narrow bars. I rode the same stuff then as I do now, although at a much slower pace. At the end of every ride your forearms would be pumped up like Popeye's and it would take 5 minutes for your eyeballs to stabilize. You sure learn finesse though! I think the younger riders should all hop an an old rigid mount and try a technical trail or two, you might gain some respect for us old school fools.
  • + 7
 These are quite rideable, like all else after you get a taste for the ride, halt with the talk of how old this bike is, I wallop peeps 10 years younger than me on my 1991 Ritchey P-22 on 15 - 20 mile rides, up and down (granted not rocketing off 10 foot drops like you guys do every ride Smile . Hmmm maybe it was the 8 years of racing BMX bikes
  • + 7
 This reminds me of buying copies of the yank mag mountain bike action (I think that was the name) when I was a kid from the local corner shop whilst being amazed by the amount of porno mags they used to sell, they were a different kind of yank mag!
  • + 5
 i love seeing these interesting, but horrible (by modern standards) bikes and contrasting that with all the whiners on this website complaining about anything new and any chance. some of it is justified, but man, bikes today are so much better. we are so lucky to be alive and be riders right now.
  • + 7
 Cooler than a polar bear's nutsack Smile
  • + 4
 I have one hanging in my garage with WTB drop bars, thumb shifters, nuke proofs hubs and Paul cantilever brakes. It's terrifying.
  • + 2
 I have a 2015 Slingshot Ripper for sale here in the classifieds.
Fun bikes.
Old school cool with the modern advances of fork, clutch derailleur and 29" wheels.

Good times.
Waaaaay more fun to ride the new vs my old steel 26 inch version
  • + 3
 I had one of those in the 90's. Honestly compared to other bikes of the early '90's, it rode just fine. Also, Martin Stenger rode one, and he was (probably still is) pretty cool.
  • + 6
 Agreed. I actually still have one - yellow just like the bike in the pictures. I truly loved the bike, it really was a gem on the trails compared to it's contemporaries. I think the main thing about it that was so surprising is how normal it feels when you ride it. Anyhow, let the haters hate. I don't think they know anything ;-)
  • + 2
 I loved mine also, and Martin was the man for sure back in the day....I'm betting he is still cool also.
  • + 5
 Thanks for posting this Mike. Seminal times.. the Halcyon days for sure
  • + 1
 Looks exactly like Peter Hamilton's bike who co-owned Syncros in those days with Pipin Osborne. Peter used to ride it or one exactly like this bike as his commuter. Syncros and Slingshot were connected by the owner of Slingshot giving Syncros their first big order taken from a blanket spread out in front of Interbike. Slingshot owners helped Peter and Pipin get in and pirate an empty booth at that show! Big Grin
  • + 1
 I have a 93/94 Slingshot rebuilt into a single speed , has all the syncros and Paul goodies.
Fun bike pedals well for spinning, with the spring and inch-work effect. the hardest thing to get used to is the front and back wheels tracking differently as the bike flexes a bit in the axial direction.
Also is loud with eh cable going slack and taught, well the last big ride was the poto SS wc "ride" and I just cannot go slow down those hills no matter what.

Still ride it on and off, always wanted a steel 29er one as that would roll over things as a mostly rigid SS a bit better, but cannot justify buying one.
  • + 1
 In the early '90's this was new and innovative stuff. I remember SLC pro racers Martin Stenger and Mark Smedley killing it on these bikes. I believe Mark won the worlds hill climb in Durango if memory serves correct. It was a while ago. Word on the street is they climbed particularly well. Thanks PinkBike for bringing this to us all.
  • + 1
 How many people making comments were even alive when this bike was made?

Back when 20mm travel was all you could get, this bike was futuristic to say the least.

I had a chance to try one and compared it to my 2001 Stumpjumper comp, it was amazing.

You cant compare a Tesla to a Model T Ford for performance, only for innovation.
  • + 5
 Seems like it needs a flex stem to balance it out.
  • + 1
 I haven't thought about it but yes they really need it!
  • + 2
 If you could, fast forward 24 years. Of course you also got 24 years older. Now check what the cool kids of the future are riding. Guess what? They sure will have a laugh at your old school 2016 bike.
  • + 5
 dang... already patented... back to the drawing board
  • + 1
 Slingshots are awesome but, if one cable is not enough, check this jewel: the Breezer Kite: forums.mtbr.com/vintage-retro-classic/1989-breezer-kite-bike-info-602354.html
  • + 4
 Mint sauce did alright on it so must be ok
  • + 3
 Aaron Bradford has one of those that still makes appearances at Wednesday Night Worlds!
  • + 3
 "New marketing strategy everybody! Let's build something that causes a complete lack of confidence just LOOKING at it!"
  • + 2
 Own one, a road one, and love it. It's a milestone in bicycle development . I ride it to work all the time and it's the topic of conversation constantly!
  • + 1
 oh MAN, if anyone in southern Ontario wants to see/ride one of these, talk to Eric at East Side Cycles in Kitchener/Waterloo. I think he has 2 or 3 of them still kicking around.
  • + 2
 brand new too.
  • + 2
 @atrokz: do you know if hes looking to part with any of them?
  • + 1
 @keewi: For sure he is. Just call and ask to speak to Eric, should still have them. If you've never been to EastSides Cycle you will be incredibly impressed. Easily one of the best shops on the planet. You'll agree when you see what they have.
  • + 1
 Somebody in downtown Bellingham WA is commuting on one. I snapped a pic of it last week. What a time machine!
  • + 3
 If this was a Trek, there'd no doubt be a knock-block.
  • + 1
 So, is the Klein Mantra worse because it behaves the same, but has a lot more travel, or is better because it has an actual damper? Or do the both just really suck?
  • + 1
 ...and when you finish your ride you simply grab the front brake and the bike folds neatly to fit inside your trunk. Full face helmet required.
  • + 1
 Just imagine sending this bike on a huge drop to have that cable snap right into your junk or whip across your leg(s) and slice it off like a piece of cheese.
  • + 1
 "Slingshot Bikes didn't disappear completely, and even after all these years they still produce bikes that rely on that same distinctive downtube design."
Link?
  • + 3
 www.slingshotbikes.com
Here it is, you stupid
  • + 1
 Was that cable even coated or covered with something or was it just waiting to saw your legs off when you crashed on this deathtrap?
  • + 1
 What a complete POS system. I rode a friend's who had one back in 95 or so. Surprisingly held up, but such a corny/dangerous set up.
  • + 3
 I love syncros old stuff...
  • + 1
 Long time customer of mine had one of those... Flat out, worst bike ever... horrible design. He sold it for chump change after he test rode a Niner I ended up selling him
  • + 1
 That's strange ,cause when I thought my nomad was riding better then ever it was the next ride that she got a major chain stay failure,real strange ,maybe ..........
  • + 2
 Called a slingshot because what happens to the rider under hard breaking into a corner
  • + 3
 Never loved that bike but man, those Syncros parts were bomber.
  • + 2
 Slingshot - right over the bars.
  • + 1
 Dude thinks if the suspension bridge he designed is working. It must be applicable on bike too.
  • + 1
 Wasn't there a re-using of that dogbone flexing part on a recent mtb? And they claimed innovation ????
  • + 1
 I'd bet my dollars on YES...
  • + 2
 Those QRs are making my OCD senses go through the roof!
  • + 2
 OH MY GOD!!! I can't believe the size of that cassette.
  • + 1
 I noticed that too... Since I just put an 11-28 on my DH bike last week. After using it last weekend, I'm annoyed at the finicky nature of tuning a 10 speed, when every time I change gears I hit 2 or 3 at a time anyways. Or pay another $200+ for X01 7 speed. Ridiculous.
  • + 1
 I WOULD NOT RIDE THAT BIKE
  • + 1
 Had this in a tandem. Replaced the 43 foot cable once.
  • - 3
 Now THAT was a bike.... I mean, just barely, and it rode like ass, looked terrible and I would not at all be suprised if many people were injured by this thing when it broke. THAT was less a bike, more an experiment in retarded ness.
  • + 3
 Uneducated comment...I had likely 1000+ miles on mine...and I'm sure i would have dropped you back in the day.
  • + 2
 Agree with deadsloth. I bought one in the early-mid 90's, rode it hard forever, and had not 1 single issue with it. Despite the looks, it rides like a pretty normal bike.
  • - 3
 @deadsloth: un educated? it look like ass... and from testaments of people on here it also rode like poo... perhaps your not as bright as you think you are.
  • + 3
 @dmadness: Sounds like you know allot about ass.
  • + 2
 @dmadness: heated discussion aside, deadsloth and I both actually owned and rode them. Sure, compared to the wonder-bikes that we're riding today, it has some flaws - but I'm here to tell you it was NOT a bad bike compared to the other bikes you could buy back then. I certainly loved mine - it felt almost totally normal to ride. Granted, I was a 100lbs elite-class cross-country weenie who wasn't going to flex anything back then, but that bike was fun and fast... and reliable. I knew lots of people that rode them, and nobody that I knew ever had anything break. I still own mine - some 20 years on - and it's still completely solid.
  • + 1
 That entire bike is unsprung mass, literally the exact opposite of what you want.
  • + 2
 Such a stupid design
  • + 1
 That bike scared me back in 1992.........
  • + 1
 Pure Art!
  • + 1
 That is terrifying!
  • + 0
 Rad
  • - 2
 There's a BMX version of this stupidity too. Even uglier than VDC frames.
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