Pinkbike Podcast Episode 56: What Are the Most Important Inventions in Mountain Biking?

Apr 8, 2021
by Mike Kazimer  
Pinkbike Podcast
Art by Taj Mihelich

It's easy to take the technology found on a modern mountain bike for granted, especially if you never got to experience the joys of trying to properly toe-in a set of cantilever brakes, or don't remember what life was like before dropper posts made descending with a fully extended seatpost a thing of the past.

For this episode, we decided to take a look back at the most important inventions in mountain bike history. Our special guest this week is Richard Cunningham, who's been involved in the sport since the beginning, and has amassed an incredible wealth of cycling knowledge. RC is also a master story teller, and his tales and recollections of everything from the invention of index shifting to disc brakes make this an episode you won't want to miss.

1989 Mantis Valkyrie
RC designed this bike back in 1989, and while there's a lot that sets it apart from a modern mountain bike, it's also equipped with a few glimpses of the future. The Bullseye two-piece cranks were ahead of their time, and so was the Hite Rite seatpost dropper, in this case complete with a handlebar mounted remote.

Gravity Dropper Turbo rebuild
The Gravity Dropper helped usher in the modern era of dropper posts, although widespread adoption took some time.

Clutch-equipped derailleurs arrived partway through 2011 to help quiet things down out on the trail.

SRAM debuted their 1x 11-speed group in 2012, and the advent of narrow wide chainrings combined with a clutch derailleur led to the eventual demise of the front derailleur on most mountain bikes.

April 8th, 2021

Would you rather give up your disc brakes or dropper post?

Featuring a rotating cast of the editorial team and other guests, the Pinkbike podcast is a weekly update on all the latest stories from around the world of mountain biking, as well as some frank discussion about tech, racing, and everything in between.

Previous Pinkbike Podcasts
Episode 1 - Why Are Bikes So Expensive?
Episode 2 - Where the Hell is the Grim Donut?
Episode 3 - Pond Beaver Tech
Episode 4 - Why is Every Bike a Trail Bike?
Episode 5 - Can You Trust Bike Reviews?
Episode 6 - Over Biked Or Under Biked?
Episode 7 - Wild Project Bikes
Episode 8 - Do We Need an Even Larger Wheel Size?
Episode 9 - Why Are We Doing a Cross-Country Field Test?
Episode 10 - Getting Nerdy About Bike Setup
Episode 11 - Are We Going Racing This Year?
Episode 12 - What's the Future of Bike Shops?
Episode 13 - Are Bikes Too Regular Now?
Episode 14 - What Bikes Would Pinkbike Editors Buy?
Episode 15 - What's Holding Mountain Biking Back?
Episode 16 - Who's Your Mountain Biking Hero?
Episode 17 - XC Field Test Insider
Episode 18 - Electronics on your Mountain Bike: Good or Bad?
Episode 19 - The Hardtail Episode
Episode 20 - MTB Conspiracy Theories
Episode 21 - Stuff We Were Wrong About
Episode 22 - Does Your Riding Style Match Your Personality?
Episode 23 - Grim Donut 2 is Live!
Episode 24 - Why Even Buy a DH Bike?
Episode 25 - Fall Field Test Preview
Episode 26 - The Three Most Important Mountain Bikes
Episode 27 - The World Champs Special
Episode 28 - All About Women's Bikes
Episode 29 - Freeride or Die
Episode 30 - Would You Rather?
Episode 31 - Wet Weather Riding Tips & Tricks
Episode 32 - What Needs to Change in the Bike Industry?
Episode 33 - Behind the Scenes at Pinkbike Academy
Episode 34 - Grilling Levy About Field Test Trail Bikes (and His Bonspiel)
Episode 35 - Story Time - Stranger Than Fiction
Episode 36 - Grilling Kazimer about Field Test Enduro Bikes
Episode 37 - The 2020 Privateer Season with Ben Cathro
Episode 38 - Editors Defend Their 2020 Best-Of Picks
Episode 39 - Predicting the Future of Mountain Biking
Episode 40 - The Pinkbike Awards!
Episode 41 - Racing Rumours and Team Changes
Episode 42 - Mountain Biking's Guilty Pleasures
Episode 43 - Dangerholm's Wildest Custom Mountain Bikes
Episode 44 - Mountain Bike Suspension Decoded
Episode 45 - What Makes a Good Riding Buddy
Episode 46 - The RockShox Zeb vs Fox 38 Deep Dive
Episode 47 - High Pivot Bikes: The Good, The Bad, and The Why?
Episode 48 - Rides That Went Horribly Wrong... & Why That Made Them So Good
Episode 49 - What's the Best DH Bike?
Episode 50 - Are Bikes Actually Getting Less Expensive? (Value Bike Field Test Preview)
Episode 51 - Should MTB Media Post Spy Shots?
Episode 52 - Our Most Embarrassing MTB Moments
Episode 53 - Should Climbers Still Have the Right of Way?
Episode 54 - Best and Worst MTB Product Marketing
Episode 55 - Big Dumb Rides & Staying Motivated

Author Info:
mikekazimer avatar

Member since Feb 1, 2009
1,729 articles

  • 49 3
 to this day, whenever a nonbike person asks me what bike to purchase to get into the sport, i always respond, whatever you find as long as it has Hydraulic Brakes. People take it for granted but none of the modern achievements in MTB wouldnt be possible if it wasnt for the modulation and performance of Hydraulic brakes.
  • 8 1
 You can take everything off my bike (suspension, gears, dropper) but you aren't taking my disc brakes.
  • 4 0
 Came to say the same thing. I remember wearing out a set of rims every winter, with see-through braking surfaces. And the time spent attempting to get perfect toe-in on the pads so they didn't "squeal like a pig". And of course, the Not Stopping.
  • 6 1
 I think suspension/geo was more important to the development of a more rideable bike than hydraulic brakes. Anyone that rode in the 90’s can attest that the brakes were not the biggest issue. Over the bars was common even without good brakes because all geo and suspension sucked!
  • 5 0
 Some good cable discs out there too like avid, trp
  • 2 1
 ",,,none of the modern achievements in MTB would be possible if it wasn't for the modulation and performance of Hydraulic brakes " ? Except that front and rear suspension , knobby wide tires , dropper seat posts , one click
derailleurs , different geometry , etc , all came BEFORE hydraulic disc brakes .
i'm going g to go with wide knobby tires as the best initial invention . i could ride with NO suspension , or without a dropper seat post , or with rim brakes or an altered geometry , but it was very difficult to ride in soft dirt or chunky terrain on skinny slick tires . Those wide tires is what set a mountain bike apart from other bikes in the early days .
  • 1 0
 @Sirios: hence the word MODERN, right?

The comment was more from a Socioeconomically stand point, if it wasn't for the modulation and comfort that a a Hydraulic Break brings a lot of people that started wouldn't have stayed in the sport, and the sport wouldn't be as big as it is now, more people = more $$$ = more R&D = better bikes.

Knobby tires for sure did its part in the sport but now as big as Hydraulic Brakes.
  • 2 1
 @Narro2: Yes ,i saw the word " modern " and i still completely disagree . hydraulic brakes are NOT
responsible for any of the big improvements that i mentioned , such as bigger tires , front suspension , rear suspension , better geometry , dropper posts etc . and they are not responsible for people getting into and staying in the sport .
Please cite the Evidence that shows where people were enticed into mountain biking and stayed because of hydraulic brakes .
They can't even make that comparison if the sport is new to them .
The sport grew very rapidly long before disc brakes were invented .
  • 2 1
 Sort of agree, properly set up Avid BB7's are pretty dang close to hydraulics in many respects. Like 85% there.
  • 1 0
 @Sirios: that's fine, we'll just have to agree to disagree.
  • 2 1
 @Narro2: The tires were the first thing that defined a mountain bike . the original mtbs by joe Breeze , richard Cunningham fischer etc were when they took those old schwinns or similar bikes and put big tires and rim brakes . When i saw a bike in those days with bigger tires and rim brakes those were the tings that made it stand out and defined the bike .
  • 1 0
 @Sirios: nah, that's just anecdotal experience man.
  • 1 1
 @Narro2: OMG that makes absolutely zero sense .Do you even know what anecdotal means ?
So Joe Breeze and his invention of the american version of the MTB didn't exist because of my anecdotal experience ?
My individual observation nullified the objects of perception ( facts ) which were the mtb and it's bigger tires , rim brakes and Mr. Breeze and Cunningham . ??? ?? LOL !
If the majority of bikes in those days were road bikes and cruisers and others and a person saw what those guys created , that person would be inquiring as to what type of bike it was , based on it's obvious difference to that of a road / race bike . At that point the persons observation ( anecdotal experience ) would have been verified by the bike itself and Joes explanation of the bike .
Sorry, i don't mean to be rude but what you are sayin is just a silly deflection .
  • 50 7
 Where the f*ck is Mike Levy?
  • 8 0
 "curling camp"
  • 21 1
 levy to vital confirmed
  • 6 0
 @masonguy: More likely to cycling tips!
  • 2 0
 We need to know this!
  • 11 0
 Head tube finally snapped off the Donut so now he's scrambling to learn how to TIG weld before anyone finds out.

"Custom paint job" will be the cover story.
  • 3 0
 yeah! Where is Levy?
  • 12 0
 Read between the lines! He’s Lead Designer at Pivot now.
  • 2 2
 His profile no longer says mod so I am guessing he is no longer a part of the Pinkbike team.
  • 1 0
 @neb636: that makes me sad
  • 1 0
 @acdownhill: Actually all accounts look that way on mobile so I could be wrong here
  • 35 0
 @neb636: 100% not true. Levy's taking some well deserved time off, but absolutely not off the team or going anywhere else.
  • 2 0
 @brianpark: a fall from grace seems so Levy's style though, I was already preparing to see him in carts of darkness 2.
  • 5 1
 @brianpark: Thank freakin Science! Love you all, but the Podcast is pure gold w Levy hosting. And his writing is the best in the business. Pay him more!
  • 2 0
 @smokingtires: still writing the budget bike review?
  • 6 0
 Last year it was Jack Ma, this year they got Mike Levy. On a serious note, I really miss his enthusiasm and excitement in the last few podcasts...
  • 2 0
 Maybe if we start bashing Tim hortons a wild Mike Levy will appear.
  • 3 1
 Seriously not the same without Levy!
  • 1 0
 Who's Mike Beevy?
  • 19 2
 Good stuff... But, RC missed it on the fork call.. Marzocchi was doing all the stuff with the Bombers that he claimed Fox brought to the table.. Perhaps the phone calls from the neighbors every time MBA said the Bombers were great but just a little heavy still haunt him? Even though I worked there, I agreed with them.. Our forks were heavier that the Rock Shox and Manitou forks at the time.. But they worked..

When the Fox came out, I knew they were going to be serious competition for us.. The only thing that truly surprised me were the bushing issues on the early Fox forks..

Or is it now that Fox owns Marzocchi, we just rewrite things a bit and its now all Fox?
  • 2 0
 Thanks for your contribution!

Started riding seriously in ‘94. When the Bomber first came on the scene, the only thing we all talked about was it’s insane weight. Then one in our group got one.


It was a matter of months before the rest of the group, and virtually everyone you saw out on the trail, had one. I had to scrape my pennies together hard, but it was a total revelation and opened up our trails to a totally different perspective.
  • 1 0
 @AckshunW: I was just a salesman, so I can't claim any contribution as far as fork performance goes..
  • 21 2
 Absolutely, lumpy873. Nothing but respect for my friends at Marzocchi. They were the first to make forks that could take a beating. Arguably, their forks were instrumental in launching freeride and the trend for more aggressive bike designs. Unfavorable weights and production issues, however, prevented Marzocchi from breaking into the OEM market.

Fox got my nod, because they were the first to put the whole package together: Reliable production, generous travel, larger stanchion tubes, bomb-proof reliability, simple and universal adjustments, it was air sprung and it was targeted specifically at the droves of baggy short trail riders who had abandoned the spandex club and would later embrace dual-suspension. At the time, Marzocchi was concentrating on BC, while Manitou and RockShox were so caught up in pro racing that their products did not represent the needs of rank and file riders. Fox refocused the suspension industry when it was most needed, which probably became the launching point for today's long-travel dual-suspension trail bike.
  • 4 0
 @RichardCunningham: I think that may have been more of a production capacity issue.. But, the Z1 SL was a lighter fork than previous models, but definitely a finicky fork.. Later designs did hit some production issues that I'm sure I could agree with you on..
  • 1 0
 Agreed - nothing had near the impact on my ride as the Marzocchi Bomber Z3. Will be interesting to see if Structure Cycleworks has a similar impact with front linkage suspension.
  • 13 0
 “Our asses can take a lot of pounding”
-RC, 2021
Best quote to come from a pinkbike podcast hands down
  • 2 0
 One of those real laugh out loud moments for sure.
  • 1 0
 RC wins comment gold with that one..
  • 12 1
 I love the cast, but where is Levy? Not enough disturbance during these podcasts!
  • 10 2
 I think if you didn't ride through the times that these innovations came along, then you really don't realize their real impact at the time.

Single front ring = minor.
Better brakes = good
Dropper = good
Rear suspension = good (just good because it came after front suspension)
Front suspension = HUGE
  • 1 0
 @Explodo - I remember around the early 00's there were a number of people riding HT's, single speed, slammed seats, probably mechanical discs and maybe hydro's (neither was that great) but the burliest forks of the time. Long Z1's seemed to stand out in my head.

There was some gnarly stuff being ridden on those bikes.
  • 12 1
 Gonna start counting how many times Bryan and Sarah say "like"
  • 5 1
 I thought every one in America talked that way.
  • 4 0
 @andersnormal: isnt Sarah a Quebveckquian...? (someone help with the right word or spelling please)
  • 2 0
 @Narro2: Québécois
  • 10 0
 Turn it into a drinking game.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: Its gonna be a fun night in the workshop tonight listning to that episode. Oh and friday fails on the tv as well.
  • 6 1
 @brianpark: can you just silently remind Sarah to clear her throat or take a drink occasionally during recording?
  • 2 0
 haha, this is so true.
  • 5 1
 @smokingtires: itunes podcast reviews removed my review (apparently) for simply mentioning this croaky-voiced, yah-brah, stuck-in-the-throat, yoga-girl-mountain-town voice that most women her age seem to have (because, like, uh, like, yah - sure). She's beyond more knowledgeable than most of us combined, but that croaky voice thing she smothers her real voice with is nearly unbearable
  • 15 3
 Is Levy okay?
  • 5 0
 Was wondering the same thing... Too many value bike efficiency tests?
  • 8 0
 Love it when RC is on the much knowledge. One of my fav all time pods is when he was on The Downtime Podcast a few years ago.
  • 4 0
 thanks @tchrist41 I'm glad you enjoyed my episode with RC. I know I enjoyed chatting with him, that's for sure!
  • 6 0
 Alright, alright.. either Levy is dead, some Canadian secret agent, or both. There’s something going on with his long absences. Curling camp or infiltrating the MTB industry cabal? Maybe he’s a double agent working on 149X18mm rear axle standards? I’m suspicious
  • 8 2
 Many good answers, but for me trailforks has been a game changer. Spent too much time in the early days getting lost on poorly marked trails, or not really getting into the flow of the ride because I was too focused on figuring out where to go.
  • 9 2
 I think the rediscovery of non-euclidean geometry had the biggest impact on modern mountain bikes...
  • 2 0
 Win comment.
  • 4 0
 In terms of what I experienced of most important inventions:

- Index shifting in the 80's was huge.

Overall biggest inventions:

- Front suspension changed the game
- Hydraulic disks are magic (I've ridden with caliper brakes for 37yrs and recently switched)
- Dropper posts are also excellent.
- The move to larger wheels is a big advent.
  • 6 0
 Solid list. I think droppers deserve higher consideration. Everyone talks about the value of modern geometry, (it's come up a few times in these comments), but I don't think enough credit is given to droppers for allowing that modern geo. Before then, a frame design had to account for your comfort when seated vs standing up without the ability to get the saddle out of the way.
If you asked me to give up hydro brakes (and assuming cable disk brakes are still an option) or give up my dropper, I'd be riding BB7s tomorrow without a doubt.
  • 4 0
 @big-red: Agreed. RC even wrote an op-ed about exactly that a few years back.
  • 4 0
 @big-red: I used to use a qr seatpost clamp, open it, adjust the seat by pinching it between my thighs and sliding to whatever height, and lock it down. All while riding. So happy that droppers exist now.
  • 2 0
 @big-red: Agreed! Sometimes I'll be on flowy sections of trail and I'm too lazy to drop my saddle and I notice it being in the way constantly yet we never had that issue on older bikes with different geometry. Between the two I'd also give up hydro rather than my dropper.
  • 4 0
 Time for a "worst innovations" podcast, replete with low normal derailleurs, Evolution 1 1/4" headsets, bullhorn bar ends, 28.99 mm crank axles, 15mm QR instead of the 20mm that already existed...feel free to add to this list
  • 1 0
 27.5 wheels. Imagine where you had all the slope/fun/park/dh bikes all in 26 and the rest trail/xc/enduro be 29
  • 4 0
 One thing that’s worse today than it was back when: cable routing! We’re almost past this, but internally routed cables without tube-in-tube are a real pain in the butt. Gimme the old cable stops any day.
  • 6 0
 The Klein Adroit would like to have a word with you.
  • 3 0
 This was a ton of fun! Made me remember reading Jody's Box in my dad's copies of MXA as a kid and puzzling out the humor with more or less success. Also, thanks RC for the review of the Ripmo AF that helped me decide to order last spring when it began to look like that was the only sure way to get a bike from a shop. Appreciate the stories!
  • 3 0
 Best MTB Innovations? For me they are:

1. Hydraulic disc brakes. As someone who started riding with cantilever brakes, this was a game changer.
2. Front suspension (close second to disc brakes).
3. Modern frame geometry. Finally figuring out how to design a proper MTB frame for rider balance and control.
4.Tire compounds, tread patterns, and sizes.
5.Rear suspension.
6. Dropper posts.

Everything else is incremental improvement.
  • 3 0
 I loved this episode. I grew up riding mountain bikes in the '90's, so I've seen a lot of these changes. SIS had already happened, so I never had to run friction shifters offroad (thankfully), but suspension, geo changes (both angles and suspension design) , good hydraulic discs, clutch derailleurs, and droppers made this an entirely more enjoyable pursuit. RC absolutely nailed it when he spoke about rider fatigue on fully rigid bikes. I would absolutely fly on my rigid bike until I got tired, then it was just a question of survival!
I think one thing that was glossed over was how good parallel push v-brakes were compared to many of the discs at the time (which were mostly one fixed and one actuating pad) or just v-brakes compared to cantis. That fixed pad on early discs would wear down and had to be adjusted constantly!
Geometry: I used to hate 29ers until the geo was sorted out. The big changes there being fork offsets and head angles. The first 29ers had great rollover but they felt like pulling a trailer through the woods - just not that maneuverable. My last two mtbs have been 29, and that's all in the past.
I was totally wrong about front derailleurs. We used to joke in the shop that SRAM could never make a front derailleur that worked and that's why they went first to 2x10, then 1x11. Ripping that thing off the mountain bike allowed so much progress for rear suspension to improve. I still prefer them on road to maintain a tighter cluster in the back but I'll never have one again on an mtb. The funniest thing about that is that I was riding 1x9 when I said that front derailleurs were good.
Clutch derailleurs! What a game changer. True story: I once went for a ride with some friends around the time they got the scene on my 1x9 hardtail. The tension spring at that point was old and tired and not holding very tight. I dropped my chain 12 times in an hour, picked my bike over my head, and threw it in the woods. I announced I was going home, retrieved my bike and started to climb out of the trail. My chain dropped at very top (I probably ratchet pedaled to clear some rocks) and I got tossed off my bike into a tree. Broke my helmet. I bought a clutch derailleur immediately after that ride.
  • 4 0
 REQUEST: Have Richard on as much as possible. He is awesome. Works so well with the rest of the gang.

TOPIC: What is the worst invention or technology each presenter has HAD to use? Love the "bitch sessions"
  • 3 0
 The maverick speedball dropper post was before the crankbros joplin! CB bought the rights to the speedball! Also Mavic created UST not Michelin! Loved this episode of nostalgia!
  • 5 3
 Seriously? FD hard to adjust? They were not hard to least not the XT ones I always used.

I had cantilevers and 3 rings and no suspension and the whole bit. I still have some of that antique stuff around here.
  • 2 0
 All but the SLX, XT, and XTR were hard to adjust. Luckily sram and shimano FDs used the same pull ratio so i would always dump whatever one i had and get an SLX one that worked.
  • 6 1
 As someone whose spent a few too many years as a shop wrench at used bike shops, indexed front derailleurs are high up on the list of biggest headaches. Even shimano ones.
  • 1 1
 The elimination of the front derailleur was planned so that ebikes would be more readily accepted with their 1x drivetrains. In my experience the front derailleur and handlebar stem often outlasted the frame.
  • 1 0
 @quinnfilbey: You mean indexed front shifters? I don't believe that front derailleurs have ever had any kind of indexing, they just move with the cable.
  • 1 0
 @mammal: Yes, indexed as in used with indexed shifters. Pivots on front derailleurs often develop play and cause variations in required cable tension to downshift into a gear vs upshift into a the same gear. Also, ramps on the chainrings wear or get damaged causing rough shifts and/or chain-suck. From a design perspective, front shifts are inherently not going to be as smooth because the change in number of teeth/ratios between gears is far greater when compared to the rear. I could go on.
  • 2 0
 @quinnfilbey: Double D at SRAM (not sure if he's still working for them) used to call rear derailleurs "chain jumpers" and FDs "chain jammers". Always thought that was pretty funny.
  • 2 0
 From most important to least, all being significant improvements:
Front suspension: talk about arm pump descending alpine terrain with no suspension... Just not bearable.
Disc brakes: brakes when wet, can suffer significant wheel damage, power and modulation
Tubeless tires with sealant: from an average of 1 puncture per ride to 1 puncture per year (depends on riding location of course).
29 wheels: so much more confort and confidence.
dropper post: saddle at the right height, at the right time.
1by drivetrains: simple.
Better frame material / construction: not only carbon but aluminium and steel have gotten much better than 30 years ago
  • 2 0
 You nailed it! I would however suggest listing indexed shifting instead of 1x.
  • 4 0
 I'm not positive, but it looks like Bullseye looted the splined / pinch bolt design from Redline with their Flight cranks (found on BMX).
  • 2 0
 @njcbps - I did some searching on BMX Museum and the Redline Flights were out in 1980. I believe Bullseye had cranks out in the late 70's but it's hard to find the exact timeline. Both iconic cranks with the nod going to Redline earlier especially in BMX but like @RichardCunningham mentioned that Bulleye 2-piece design is so important today. I was pretty stoked to hear RC mention Roger's name!

I ran 1-pc cranks BITD for BMX as I was too broke for anything else and would have loved RedLine or Profiles. I remember seeing ads for Bullseyes 2-pieces but they might have been just too ahead of their time although their US BB kit was dialed looking!

Not an important product for mountain biking per say but I feel Bullseye (and Phil Wood) hubs were also a pioneer as they were the first (as far as I remember) to produce cartridge bearing hubs and in Bullseye's case ones with trick anodized colors! Seeing a set of anno'd Bullseyes laced to anno'd Araya 7x rims was ethereal!
  • 2 0
 @defconfour: I had a Chrome Kuwahara BMX that I purchased in 1981 ... and was part of the scene until I bought my first MTB. But the mention of Bullseye hubs and Araya rims is a trip down memory lane. Searching the image of those hubs brought back a teenage jealousy I had forgotten I had. lol. They're beauties (still).

I had 3 piece alum cranks on that bike, but it was old tapered square axle.
  • 1 0
 @njcbps: such a great era and segment of bikes. Each frame had a unique feature so you could tell a PK Ripper from a Diamond Back from a Kuwahara a block away! BTW I found this incredible link looking for a picture of Trash Can Morgan riding a Kuwa:
  • 2 0
 @defconfour: Thanks for sending the link. I can't remember which model I had, only that it had a welded gusset at intersection of head / top and down tube.

And speaking of bike jealousy, I LOVED PK Rippers, and thought their rectangular frame tubes were super cool.
  • 1 0
 I really dig this conversation. I often pose a similar question to my riding buddies, but have forgotten about things like index shifting and threadless stems. I think they are off the mark in criticizing flex-stems wholesale though. My partner struggles with wrist fatigue after a few hours on the bike so she rides with Fasst Company Flexx bars. The movement in them is barely perceptible for handling, but takes so much vibration out of the system and gives her way more endurance than me.
  • 9 3
 Super boost, surely?
  • 5 0
 That or the DUB 28.99 BB standard
  • 4 0
 How about those grips that needed to cut off a pieces of your handlebars to fit them?
  • 6 0
 From what I've read, the 5 different bottom bracket sizes I have on my bikes have each accounted for a 1000% increase in performance.
  • 3 0
 @mobiller: ah but are they PF or threaded?
  • 1 0
 Disc brakes. The new tires allow me to climb some terrible lines in the wet. Not sold on the newest geometry, at least for climbing. I don't care about going downhill, but I may be the only one. Dual suspension allows for pedaling when it gets technical.
  • 1 0
 I started riding in 09, the beginning of mainstream 29ers, still had front derailleurs, disc brakes and no droppers that I was aware of. For me the two biggest advancements have been the geo and droppers. I went 1X in my second year of riding and haven't had a front derailleur since, that was with a 9spd drivetrain too. I bought a Cannondale trigger 29er in 2013 with a dropper, I was sure I was going to replace it with a carbon post. After 2 rides that thought was gone. After the trigger I got a Chromag Rootdown, that was the bike that sold me on slacker geo.
  • 1 0
 New trends.... Full electronic suspension (K2 Animal) where the 'lock outs' suspension settings etc are pre tuned using app and the suspension setting are saved and can be toggled through on the fly. Probably eventually voice controlled. Like moto map switch but for suspension, same thing will happen for moto suspension.
  • 1 0
 1. Front Suspension
2. Disc brakes
3. Big tires (Not really an innovation, as they'd always been around)
4. Dropper Posts
5. Index Shifting
6. Rear suspension
7,8,9, figure out the order for derailleur clutches, 1X drivetrain, NW chainrings, Aheadsets, clipless pedals, tubeless,etc.
  • 1 0
 I actually have a few questions now.

@mikekazimer: what kind of underwear do you suggest for people who don't want to wear a chamois? I'm currently destroying my briefs at an alarming rate, and I'm not really keen on wearing my road bib shorts.

@brianpark: For the companies that don't size chainstays up or down based on frame size, which size(s) do you think get screwed the most? Which size(s) are the ones where the chainstays are designed perfectly for, or is it just some compromise between all sizes?

@...someone, not sure who: Regarding footwear, I've noticed that a lot of mtb flat pedal shoes have really wide toeboxes (for my small feet anyway). Coming more from a skiing background, how snug should the shoe fit to get more out of the experience versus a ski boot?
  • 1 0
 @brianpark @mikekazimer I'd be very curious what you all think about financing bikes, or other creative ways to pay for a bike. I find it rather frustrating that there isn't an equivalent to an auto loan at most US banks or credit unions. Are you aware of any less advertised options available? What options exist on James' side of the pond that maybe we don't have here?
  • 1 0
 Started riding in 1991 on rigid Giant Butte on 26s but after 1997, bailed on riding until 2012 so I missed all the BS and came back in when it got good, glad its better than ever - and that I saved several $10 grand on junk ass experiments vs. the plush bomber gear we have now. Hard to even believe how far its come so fast...we're really lucky today vs. the old days
  • 1 0
 @brianpark @mikekazimer Have listened to every cast now, some 3-4 times but can't find answer to this. WTF is up w/ b-screws

Why don't b-screws simply have a # of clicks or some way to determine / set this on the trail w/o constant bike-shop overisight?\ Just moved to SRAM X01 (from NX - never once had this issue w/ NX) but now my b-screw simply will not stay put, jockey wheel constantly rattling & bobbing. Have taken twice to reset at the shop, but I cannot fix it - nothing works. SRAM video says to set w/ 25-30% sag on the derailleur w/ the red b-screw tool. One local shop says red SRAM measurement tool doesn't work - another shop says it does but not with sag. SRAM video shows it works. WTF is going on w/ this?
  • 1 0
 @RichardCunningham I listened to the section on the threaded headsets ... and relived that PITA part of MTB history. I remember headsets that would have a ratcheting feel from being overtightened. I think it was bearing getting repeatedly pounded into the race while riding.

Another beauty: Alum lock rings on steel threaded steerer tubes. And of course repeated compression / tension of that connection would wear out the softer alum and become sloppy. If I recall Specialized at least had an all steel headset that was durable.
  • 1 0
 @RichardCunningham I remember reading this MBA issue in May 1994. It was an editorial where you advocated for the creation on the 25 inch wheel (along with shifters with paddles that made gears easier/harder on both sides - a la rapid rise)!

With hindsight being 20/20, what are your thoughts today about wheelsize? Have we gone too big? Or have we not yet gone big enough?

BTW - I always love hearing you on the podcast with the millennials!
  • 4 0
 Front suspension is the #1 bringer of speed and comfort to bikes.
  • 5 0
 28.99mm crank spindles
  • 5 2
 I am gonna go with wheels I think. brakes are a close second.
  • 4 0
 Pneumatic tires?
  • 3 0
 actually, the quality of tires is an under-rated innovation. (can't call it an invention). the shite tires on my first bike in '86 would render the best new bike impotent...
  • 1 0
 @ReformedRoadie: Yeah, tires are super important. And air filled tires were certainly an invention. Before they were solid wheels like steel and wood wagon wheels.
  • 1 0
 @kcy4130: in '86 they were pneumatic, but the rubber was like superball and the casing somehow punctured like it was toilet paper but wasn't supple at all.
  • 3 2
 I ride a 2003 Jami Exile, 26 wheels, rim brakes, 3x9 drivetrain, no dropper, crap suspension, and bad geo. Lots of modern things are better.
  • 4 0
 Padded chamois shorts?
  • 3 0
  • 1 0
 Chain guides that weren't home made. Shout out to MRP then who ever brought in the top guide and bottom roller/bash guards we have now.
  • 1 0
 Friction shifter FD's FTW. Yeah, I could set up most FD's OK, but it was arguably the least precise part of the drivetrain, if not the whole bike.
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer @RichardCunningham "the lever under the seat", you mean the Michael Jackson lever?
  • 4 2
 Modern geometry trumps all other improvements, I say.
  • 6 0
 BRB installing rim brakes and elastomers on a Geometron. If I don't return, avenge me.
  • 4 1
  • 2 1
 The biggest cycling innovation is the invention of the wheel. Prove me wrong.
  • 2 0
 Richard made this the best podcast you have ever done.
  • 1 0
 Great podcast, nice to hear RC’s stories again, brings back good memories.
  • 1 0
 Heck yes great to see RC back on here. Hoping he's a guest on more episodes!
  • 1 0
 Power Post was mid to late 90's.
  • 1 0
 Especially enjoyed this one! Thanks
  • 3 3
 Easily suspension, image riding Rampage on a fully rigid, or even a hardtail
  • 3 1
 Team "No Dropper"?
  • 3 0
 Would rather keep disc brakes. And it isn't even for the power just so much easier to deal with discs.Wheel slight out of true? No big deal with discs. I'd even be fine with mechanical disc brakes.
  • 3 0
 @vapidoscar: Totally depends on where you live and the type of trails you ride. If you have winch and plummet trails, aka climb for hours, then descend then a qr seat clamp works just fine. If the trails in your area are more rolling, i.e. lots of short climbs and short descents then a dropper makes a huge difference.
  • 1 0
 @kcy4130: I live in rolling to flat terrain and use a dropper, of course, but did survive with a high seat post. The seat only violated me a handful of times.
  • 1 0
 @vapidoscar: Yeah I suppose it depends largely on how steep and difficult the short descents are. And that's the thing, even on fairly mild descents having the saddle up is just that, survivable, but so much less enjoyable. Before droppers in rolling terrain I'd put it part way down as a compromise and it just sucked for both. But it's been so long since I had v brakes... idk, glad I don't have to actually pick.
  • 2 0
 @vapidoscar: I reckon I’d be dead with mechanical disc brakes. It’s not that I ride crazy trails or anything, I just remember when I had mechanical disk brakes and they still make me shudder.
  • 3 0
 @vapidoscar: my gravel bike is basically a 90s mountain bike but 1x and mechanical discs. In about 500 miles of riding I don’t think I’ve ever wished for a dropper but if you tried to take my lowly TRP Spyre-Cs with 160mm rotors, I’d fight you
  • 1 0
 @sjma: my rigid single speed has mech disc brakes and fixed post. Just went for a ride. I'll admit it would have been a better ride with a dropper and rim brakes because it was slow and technical but not what I want to own.
  • 1 0
 Maybe it's my BMX background, but a dropper is the one thing I'll never give up. I think it is one of the main reasons geometry lagged so far behind. If you were going on a long ride, you had your seat jacked all the way up and had to figure out how to bunny hop, manual, wheelie drop, etc with your seat directly in the way of everything. The shorter wheelbases were almost necessary to make a bike feel playful since you couldn't lower your hips unless you were way behind the seat.
  • 1 0
 If you had to pick you rather have a dropper or rear suspension?
  • 1 0
 And how about toe clips? Anyone miss those? Good riddance!
  • 1 0
 More RC please. I could listen to him all day every day.
  • 3 3
 Water bottle mounts. No question
  • 1 0
 haha, I actually spend a lot of time thinking and tinkering on how to be able to put bigger water bottles on my bikes.

So happy with 28oz on the Meta AM, and 32oz on the DJ, hours of fun with no refills and no backpacks!!!

  • 2 0
 My 1988 Kuwahara Sierra Grande MTB had 3 water bottle mounts. We were serious about water back then (apparently lol).
  • 3 0
 @njcbps: Nice. I still have my 87 Kuwahara Cougar. It has braze ons for a frame carry strap!
  • 2 1
 Team "No Disc Brakes"?
  • 1 0
 rim brakes suck but I'd rather have a modern frame and suspension with bad brakes than having amazing brakes and a 90s frame and 200mm 4 piston wonders. actually it's 2021. I'll take both
  • 1 0
 @DAN-ROCKS: 90s geo and rim brakes?
  • 2 0
 @DAN-ROCKS: I just hope covid shortages don't force me to make a choice!
  • 1 2
 Having ridden the last 12 months with Sram wireless derailleur I couldn't go back to a cable system.
  • 1 0
 round wheels
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