Staff Rides: RC's Time Machine - 1996 Mantis Pro Floater

Mar 13, 2018
by Richard Cunningham  




The premise of the Staff Ride feature is that tech editors have one go-to bike that we ride most of the time. Some do. I don't. I spend the lion's share of my time riding review bikes. I ride them as-delivered before I modify them, which lengthens the process. Sometimes a bike brand will give me an extended interval on a particular model, and I'll take the opportunity to use it as a test mule for components. That said, I rotate through bikes so regularly that I rarely have the luxury to become intimately familiar with any single one. This is the exception.

My feature bike for this chapter of Staff Rides is my "Time Machine." It's a Mantis Pro Floater that was given to me in the Summer of 1996. I had recently sold Mantis Bicycle Company to become a magazine editor, and its new owners thought it fitting that I should ride the latest version of the 100-millimeter-travel dual-suspension machine that earned a cult following for the brand.

It's not period correct. I upgraded the bike at various times during the '90s, but it's been frozen in time since the millennium, and as such, it represents everything (good and bad) from the era when "cross country" and "mountain bike" were synonymous. I take it out once, or twice a year as a measure of how far we've come - or not - in many respects.
1995 Mantis Pro Floater
The Pro Floater launched in 1992. It was named by Motocross Action Magazine founder Jody Weisel.

1995 Mantis Pro Floater
Clark Jones designed and built the shocks at Noleen Racing. Special bushings and shafts were necessary to counter the lateral loads on the suspension.

bigquotesI imagine the feel would be like a modern driver lapping a familiar circuit in a race car from a previous generation. Everything familiar, yet at the same time, very different.

I put a lot of miles on this bike in its day. It's been to all the sacred destinations, and it's been raced downhill, cross-country, and at 24-hour events. But, the beautiful green machine drifted further back in the garage as technology marched on and review bikes promised more and better everything. About the same year I signed on with Pinkbike, I pulled it out, threw some new tubes in and took it out for a solo ride. I was a bit shaky riding a 120-millimeter stem, but otherwise, the Pro Floater was a pretty sweet ride. I imagine the feel would be like a modern driver lapping a familiar circuit in a race car from a previous generation. Everything familiar, yet at the same time, very different. I maintained the tradition and have come to enjoy the perspective it offers.

1995 Mantis Pro Floater
Specialized Team Control tires are suitably aggressive but look impossibly thin now.
1995 Mantis Pro Floater
Huge tire clearance with 16.25" chainstays. Elevated stays still rule that equation.

About the Bike

Pro Floater front sections were welded aluminum. The top-tube-mounted shock was dictated by the rear suspension design. Like an automotive MacPherson strut, the shock is a stressed member that is integrated into the seatstays. The seatstays pivoted on the dropouts of a simple, single-pivot swingarm that hinged near the chainline at the top of the middle chainring of the triple crankset. The shock needed special bushings and a stronger shaft to handle the lateral loads of the Mac-Strut arrangement. They were manufactured by Noleen Racing in Southern California.

1995 Mantis Pro Floater
The arching right-side chainstay was intended to clear 50-tooth chainrings for Kamikaze style DH races. (Yes, we spun them out on the straights.)

Elevated chainstays seemed like a good idea at the time to keep the chainstays short (16.25 inches/413mm) while avoiding tire and chainring clearance issues. The high arch of the right-side stay was done to clear the derailleur (or rickety chain guide) while using a 50-tooth chainring for DH races. Geometry was pretty standard for the time: a 73-degree seat tube angle, 70-degree head tube angle, the medium frame's top tube is 23 inches, and the bike was designed around a 100-millimeter-stroke fork. A short stem back then was 90 millimeters, with a mid-length stem averaging 120 (like the Control Tech stem on my bike). Bar ends were the rage, and 24-inch (600mm) handlebars were thought to be wide. Oh yeah...

1995 Mantis Pro Floater
Control Tech seatpost and WTB saddle. Droppers were not on the radar in 1996.
bigquotesIt takes a little faith to high-post the steeps, but it's not too bad.

1995 Mantis Pro Floater
Crazy looking, but the old-school cockpit rocks for climbing.
1995 Mantis Pro Floater
2001 Marzocchi Bomber X-Fly with 100mm-travel. Still performs.

Marzocchi gave me the fork, which was a boost for the bike. It's a 2001 Bomber X-Fly that has yet to blow up. There were few options for reliable suspension then. The drivetrain is Shimano's famous eight-speed XTR, which is probably the most stable shifting cable-operated drivetrain of all time. I have seen it click off gears with the cassette encased with weeds. The downside? Its 13 by 32-tooth cassette ensures the use of a triple crankset (46, 34, 24). Oh, and it has XTR V-brakes.

Cry about new standards? Everything about this bike is obsolete. It has 26-inch wheels. Its 19mm inner-width rims require tubes. It has quick-release dropouts, 135-millimeter rear axles, and a 68-millimeter bottom bracket shell. Its 1.125-inch steerer tube is not tapered. It has cable-operated rim brakes, a 26.8-millimeter seatpost (no chance for a dropper), and the handlebar clamp is too small for today's bars. So, beyond grips, cables, housings, the saddle, and pedals, nothing else is compatible.

1995 Mantis Pro Floater
Pre-hydraulic cable simplicity. Shimano's V-Brakes were the best available at the time, but don't measure up to disc brakes today.

1995 Mantis Pro Floater
XTR Triple crankset: 46, 34, 24t.
1995 Mantis Pro Floater
Eight-speed XTR was Shimano's all-time best shifting drivetrain. The cassette range was 13 x 32t.

What's it Like to Ride?

Let's be honest. Unless you're Nino Schurter, you are not going to be able to jump off of a slacked out trailbike with a dropper post, a 50-millimeter stem, and 780-millimeter bars, and shred on a '90's era anybike. In a half hour, I remember the moves, and the Pro Floater becomes quite fun. It's light - only 26.4 pounds with pedals. There is ample "anti-squat" in the lower gears to climb with conviction. It takes a little faith to high-post the steeps, but it's not too bad. Oh, and I recall why Lycra shorts were popular... because I always snag my baggies on the saddle trying to get back up and over after descending. The Specialized tires are printed at two inches wide, but once they start spinning, they look slimmer than the rubber that gravel bikes are using these days.

bigquotesI can't imagine why anyone would return to a 120-millimeter stem, though. And, disc brakes? Yeah, disc brakes, please.


Somehow, it all works, however, and I become reacquainted with my vintage Mantis by the ride's half-way point. My hands fall onto the bar ends as I rise out of the saddle and pump the climbs. My left-hand stops reaching for the dropper lever and the front derailleur begins to sort out the chainrings. Occasionally, the hiss of Shimano's rubber brake pads fades to the familiar rim-brake moan, and I look down to see I'm using two fingers on the levers again. Oh, and spare tubes? I bring more than one... just like the old days.

What I notice most is that there's a lot more to manage on the Mantis compared to modern trail bikes. I have to pay attention to shifting, braking, and steering. I micro-manage my line selections and braking points. When I switch back to a contemporary bike, like a 150-millimeter 29er, I can daydream at the same pace, on the same trails. I can see a time when XC racers might re-adopt some form of bar end grip. The position is so much more natural for 100-percent efforts. I can't imagine why anyone would return to a 120-millimeter stem, though. And, disc brakes? Yeah, disc brakes, please.







139 Comments

  • + 104
 More 90s era retro bikes please!
  • + 27
 Maybe some old school dual slalom bikes.
  • + 4
 Cannondale was selling a knock off of this bike (prophet, rush, etc, ) as late as 2008 !!!! cool to see the real deal original.
  • + 1
 @thedirtyburritto: And for how long was Santa Cruz calling this Mantis a Bullet? I still have a copy of Mountain Bike Action from '98/'99 with a Bullit on the front page LoL
  • + 1
 @thedirtyburritto: Does that qualify as a knock off? I now get why everything is considered a Session these days. Or well, at least when someone compares a Session to a Norco Aurum, there usually someone who points out the difference in suspension design. The same goes here. See, the Prophet has the main pivot aligned with the chain when it is on the middle ring Wink .

I get where you're coming from, obviously Smile .
  • + 1
 @m1dg3t:
did this mantis or the SC feature in that sick shot of the review rider pulling an epic (for the time) / old-school table top? i loved that pic, it made it onto them personalised cheque books MTBA use flog off at the time.
maybe @RichardCunningham remembers
  • + 1
 Carbon bar ends should be standard equipment on all new mountain bikes.
  • + 47
 Man-tis was a sweet bike.
  • + 17
 I remember, back then, that many people were moaning that those tires were... too wide! (the roadie syndrome...)
  • + 13
 I remember upgrading to V-Brakes and 2.1" tyres ... used to think that was rather butch back then Razz
  • + 6
 I remember my old bike magazines from the 90s and how all the coolest bikes had their seat posts way up high and stems slammed. One thing I do like about the old fidgety bikes is how "compact" they feel. You had a really good intuition of small trail features and I'd pick my way up and around things. Going fast down a hill however would usually result in a 50/50 chance of going over the bars.
  • + 2
 @HairyLegs: My Trek 7000ZX had 1.9s. My friends were jealous.
  • + 13
 I Love this!!! Yes, more 90's bikes please? I Lived through this era and remember it all to well. Suspension was just a dream when I started riding so i'm lucky enough to see all these technologies and styles come and go, but mostly go. I love to look back at this golden era and think about how we used to do it on these bikes. But we did, we just rode what we had and we were excited for any new technology....good or bad. Some of it was a godsend and is still used today like disc brakes. Some of it was sent from hell to torture us like narrow bars and long stems...or even suspension stems. I love that they needed a coil to handle that 4 inches of travel. And those forks maybe had elastomer bumpers in there to provide the suspension.

Looking at these bikes makes a lot of peoplethink, What The f*ck, how and why did people ride bikes like this. But that's what was available. To me all of that stuff seemed so high-tech. We didn't know any better because all of the stuff we use today was still yet to be discovered. Today's technology was still inside of the riders brains that were riding bikes like this as they were thinking how some tweaks in geometry or how changes to drivetrain might make riding a little better. So while the 90's technology seemed crazy and so misguided if it wasn't for those bikes, we wouldn't have the bikes we have today.
  • + 9
 I see my 1999 (1998?) GT XCR4000 rolling around town occasionally. Would love to take it for a rip again. Took that thing everywhere. Vancouver Island, Nelson, Canmore rockies..... XC, trail, city commuter, lift access DH.... oh the looks on the trails when that thing rattled down Silverstar, chain usually dragging along behind. Disk brakes though, those rim brakes, on a wet muddy day may as well have had a lapping compound on them! wore through rims so fast!
  • + 5
 HAHA...yeah, I remember when there was only 1 type of mountain bike. It was just called a mountain bike. Now you have XC race bikes, XC bikes, Trail bikes, XC trail bikes, All mountain bikes, freeride bikes, DH bikes, Slopestyle bikes, Trials bikes, Long travel bikes, gravel bikes....and so on and so on. I had a bike with rim brakes that I used on DH a lot. I eventually wore down the rims so much they actually split and peeled like a banana.
  • + 3
 I'm in Nelson and a bike like that may explode as of now lol
  • + 1
 @DaveJube: yup. I was just stoked that I got a FULL suspension for 500 bucks. Felt like a big deal.... it had been many years since I had owned a bike at that point. Very quickly learned that it had its limits, but also learned that different approaches to things blurred the lines of what it could handle. One bike, full potential!
  • + 9
 As much as things change they stay the same. Around that time I mated that 8spd XTR casstte to a 7spd XT mech with thumbies to get "extra range" from the big 32 tooth sprocket just like trying to get a 42 tooth sprocket on 10 spd or even a 50 on 11spd nowadays.
At that time my 1 inch threaded steerer had become obsolete drowned out by 1 1/8th non threaded steerers.
As for bar ends I saw a few racers hands fall into "that" position on the end of their bars during the Stellenbosch XCO at the weekend. As for myself I miss them for resting on during the flat coasting bits and for grunting up the climbs.
  • + 31
 I never understood why bar ends fell out of favor. I understand the big long bull horn types were stupid but they had some short style bar ends that were great. I loved being able to switch my hand position especially on long climbs. It's weird how someone just decided they were cool anymore and now if you show up to the trail head with them at least a few people will laugh.
  • + 17
 @DaveJube: Amen. For endless grinding climbs nothing ever matched the bullhorn position of bar-ends for me. Or just for the occasional rest on a long flat section. I'll say it - I'll say it in front of everyone: I miss my bar-ends.
  • + 6
 @number44: I still find myself resting my hands on the ends of my grips in a faux-bar-end style on long climbs. This weekend I was longingly looking at the stubby ergo bar ends sitting in my parts bin and thinking how comfortable they sound. But first I should check if they are compatible with the Super 3R I've been wanting to buy
  • + 4
 @DaveJube: Try riding anywhere where bushes line the track and you'll soon realize just how lethal they were.
  • + 2
 @DaveJube and @Conkers: I have a flat bar on my Commuter/Adventure bike, which is a Chromoly 700c/29er "Monstercross" rig built up from an Origin8 CX700 frameset. I have these bar ends www.performancebike.com/shop/fort%C3%A9-kor-bar-ends-50-7470 on the Origin8 ProSweep 640mm wide bar, for the reasons you both state. I believe they're also made by Origin8.

They're great for long climbs and more hand positions when riding the straights. I don't know if I'd want them on my XC/Trail bike at this point. But, I wouldn't laugh at anyone if I saw them out on the trails. ;-)
  • + 9
 @yonibois: Well, here in the PNW when we were using bar ends in the 90's and riding trails that were usually appropriated (bikes allowed) hiking trails we had plenty of tight places and yes, the occasional hook. No fatalities I can remember though. But it's not like the 800mm bars on my new trail bike have helped - they come with their own set of problems and I just got put down by the trees on a narrow trail. Those bar ends were on about 560mm bars (if that) back in the day. Bar ends on an 800mm would be asking for it though. Big Grin
  • + 2
 @showmethemountains: Yesterday stars finally aligned for me to hop on a bike after not riding since probably October-November last year and yes, on a long, steep climb my hands just naturally switched to that comfortable resting position on the ends of my grips in a faux-bar-end style.
Probably will be spending the rest of my day searching for those "perfect" bar ends (in an addition to a wider handlebar).
  • + 4
 @jollyXroger:
I was using a pair of really long bar-ends with a sweep to the inside. Aside from the fact that they were offering more positions than the short (and light ones) they were actually deflecting incoming branches and bushes away from the brake levers!
If i remember well the brand was Trans-X...
  • + 1
 @uncajohn: I am more leaning toward something shorter.
My favorites thus far:
- PRO Ergo
- Bontrager Race Lite Ergo (don't like the white on it, expensive)
- Ergon GR2 Carbon (cons: expensive, discontinued)
- ControlTech Comp Carbon (cons: too short?, expensive, discontinued)
  • + 1
 @yonibois: LOL...yeah, I have had a few incidents with the bar ends grabbing a piece of the trail and not letting go. Stopped me right quick and took me down.
In particular I had a pair of cannondale bullhorn type of bar ends that were about 5 inches long and had multiple curves in them. THose were seriously deadly.
  • + 8
 I had that fork on my Turner Burner. It never faltered.
Looking at those brakes make my hands hurt. Please someone send R C a hite-right.
Is there anyone out there making a wide rim with a machined sidewall these days?
  • + 3
 The Velocity Cliffhanger is rime brake, 30mm external, 25mm internal, and tubeless. Available in 26/650B/700c. Also sturdy enough for a tandem.
  • + 2
 Rime brake durrrrrrr
  • + 2
 I am sure he could just ask Joe Breeze for one.
  • + 1
 HAHA...I remember getting to the bottom of a long rocky descent on my cannondale SM500 aluminum hardtail with rim brakes. after we stopped descending i would take my hands off the grips and they would be frozen in a curl. I couldn't straighten out my fingers since I was pulling the 4 finger lever with all my strength.
  • + 4
 @DaveJube:

I stopped having that curl issue once i started angling my lever blades to be pointed at the top of the front tire. There was this weird trend for a lot of bikes to come with the levers parallel to the ground, which might be okay on a road bike or motorcycle with hydraulic boost or something...but not very good with mountain biking.
  • + 2
 @DaveJube: Ha! been there - same bike in black!
  • + 1
 @railin: That's awesome. I think mine was black with hot pink "splashes" on the frame. It was my first real mountain bike. I remember saving up the $500 and thinking that was so much money to spend on a bike. Now I have 2 bikes that are worth over $5000 each. But that Cannondale was about 1991, and I was just a fresh faced 21 year old. I will have to say I learned how to ride mountain bikes on that bike. No suspension, fully rigid aluminum bike. You really had to work it just to get down the trail. With today's bikes, it's like cheating.
  • + 0
 @railin: even to this day some people don't realize how important lever placement is. When I worked at the bike shop I used to yell at the mechanics when they built mountain bikes with levers level to the ground.
  • + 1
 Brings back memories... I had that '01 Marzocchi X-Fly in red on my "Long Travel" Trek 8500LT hardtail. Saved all my shop pay to buy it, $340 or so from QBP. Waaay better than the stock Judy 100! Air pressure adjust in each leg, diligent oil changes kept it running smooth. It was like owning an Italian car... when it was fresh, it was awesome.

PS - When the fork arrived at the shop, M had thrown in a free Marzocchi Calendar. Our shop owner refused to let us hang it up. "This is a family shop!" www.mtb-mag.com/en/marzocchi-girls-2004-calendar

More retro bike write-ups please!
  • + 11
 Most beautiful XTR ever 1995
  • + 4
 100% agree. Its when they woke up to the fact that mtn bikes were becoming their own distinct category and gave them a distinct look. They were angular and anodized a beautiful dark gray that resisted wear very well.
  • + 1
 1995 is the first xtr series, the silver ones. The model on this bike are second generation. Direct mount chainring and 1x specific for DH.
  • + 2
 @RedRedRe: 1992 was first actually -- M900 XTR. Quite a beautiful group.
1995(?) was M910, which had slight revisions.
1996+ was M950/952, the group on this Mantis. Nowhere near as pretty as M900, though functionally quite good.
  • + 9
 Impressive lack of rub marks on those XTR cranks!
  • + 3
 With the narrow bars, 120mm stem, and bar ends, there's some kind of praying-mantis joke somewhere in here related to body position. Or maybe related to sketchy 90s tech and praying for a successful descent. Not sure which way to go with it.
  • + 5
 Disc brakes and dropper post, the only things I couldn't do without on my fully rigid singlespeed, the rest hasn't evolved that much.
  • + 4
 And big wheels and proper geometry. My 29 rigid is definitely quicker than my first FS bike (GT LTS)
  • + 5
 How about wheels that stay in shape?
  • + 2
 @boot: you mean when the rim brakes don’t stop you at all and you plow into a tree? Been there, done that...
Like he said at the end: disk brakes
  • + 4
 The ceramic coated braking surface on Mavic's worked even in the rain, though eventually it wore off.
  • + 1
 @Flowcheckers: were you using the shimano ceramic specific brake pads ? I think I was told back in the day that conventional pads would wear out the ceramic coating on my Mavic crossmaxx rims.. So I needed the ceramic specific ones... not sure if what I heard was just marketing hype, bu to this day I still have plenty of ceramic braking surface on my rims.
  • + 2
 @oneplanka: I used the kool stop ceramic pads. Took years of riding on my commuter bike to wear off the ceramic coating. But until then they stopped pretty good even with cantilevers.

Magura's also made some ceramic pads for their hydraulic rim brakes. I used them with my ceramic Mavic's and they were incredible but would only last about 5 runs.
  • + 1
 @boot: it's 2018 and history is still repeating itself
  • + 3
 @ReformedRoadie: the issue with my V brakes were they were like a light switch on or off. All or Nothing. Skid triggers. You either Flew Over the handlebars with the front brakes or you lock the rear up and slid Like A Champion.
  • - 1
 Do you have a beard?
  • + 1
 Agreed, to combat that we used to over angle the front pads to lower the amount of surface available on the pad to contact the rim. Wore through pads quicker but less (not no) instances of the bucking you off XTR front brake. @properp:
  • + 1
 I have just taken my dropper off (gears and bouncy fork are next). I see it as a good way to sharpen my skills before summer.

I would never get rid of my discs. In fact I would rather ride with only one brake than go back to rim brakes (plus my wheels don't have any braking surfaces).
  • + 7
 Given me a good idea, Time to bust out the old proflex this weekend.
  • + 3
 don't do it man....but if you do, make sure to have a few beers first.
  • + 1
 I've taken my old bike out for a ride a time or two. Feels dangerous compared to what I ride now. Can't believe I actually rode that old thing. But I did, and at decent speed. There's no going back, though.
  • + 4
 I have a sweet 856 with a romic titainium coil shock... Just collecting dust. I miss it but the bikes now are so much better. Replaced the Girvin elastomer with the Bomber and made the bike come alive. Just wish it had disc mounts or I would still ride it. I still am riding Grip so I am stuck in the 90`s.
  • + 1
 Hell yes, great bike! The 855 was my first full suspension.
  • + 3
 "Everything about this bike is obsolete. It has 26-inch wheels. Its 19mm inner-width rims require tubes. It has quick-release dropouts, 135-millimeter rear axles, and a 68-millimeter bottom bracket shell. Its 1.125-inch steerer tube is not tapered. It has cable-operated rim brakes, a 26.8-millimeter seatpost (no chance for a dropper), and the handlebar clamp is too small for today's bars."

None of those standards are actually obsolete, just not as popular anymore.

"The drivetrain is Shimano's famous eight-speed XTR, which is probably the most stable shifting cable-operated drivetrain of all time."

Sram's original 1 - 1 ratio shifters were significantly more stable, reliable, and accurate than any 2 - 1 ratio shifter Shimano ever made.
  • + 2
 Yeah but the first gen SRAM derailleurs fell apart after about 2 rides!
  • + 2
 Haha yeah, i read that and thought hmm, I'm still getting parts for my bike, and i have half those standards still.
  • + 5
 Has nobody found this yet? It's a really cool article. I guess it just wasn't posted publicly yet? or something.
  • + 30
 @fluffyreddragon there is no article, it's all in your head. President Hillary Clinton just pushed sweeping mental health care reforms through Congress, you might want to look into that
  • + 1
 @caltife: It's the cloud people!! It's all just holograms!!!
  • + 1
 @mikefromdownthestreet: I just keep taking the blue pill!
  • + 2
 Awesome - such a classic! I had a black '95, I think right after Control Tech started building them. I was 16 and spent everything I had on it. My first dual suspension bike - race XC then swap tires and race DH! I had a Manitou 2 at first then a Judy SL with Englund air kit. Pimp custom build with Cook Bros, Grafton, Action Tec, Ringle, etc. I sold it in 98 or 99 to fund some new kayak gear, wish I still had it. I think the buddy I sold it to still rides it, I should try to get it back from him.
  • + 2
 That was a highly desirable bike at the time! My first ride was a 1990 Gary Fisher Advance, rigid frame. The stem was at least 120 mm. I still have that bike. It's in my basement with the toddler seat still mounted on the back from when my kids were little. My son is 15 now, and rides with me on his full suspension trail bike.
  • + 4
 MacPherson strut suspension that puts structural loads on the rear shock? Someone tell Specialized that the idea isn't original to them!

What once was old is new again.
  • + 2
 I remember riding Downieville on my Fisher Kaitai hardtail with a Sid XC fork and v brakes. All I could think by the time I hit First Divide was who cares about full suspension, I want disc brakes.
  • + 1
 23 inch top top is a good length.
Stats are short.
Put a shorter stem and a quick release for the seat and this is still a great trail bike.
And yes disk brakes please.
RC your always a step ahead of the curve.
Thanks for sharing your personal ride.
26.5 pound dualy?
Light by today's standards
  • + 1
 A guy in my town had a '93 or '94 Pro Floater with a Mag 21. He insisted that even in '00 or '01, it was still the best full suspension bike out there. I smelled hyperbole, but RC, maybe you just knocked it out of the park! Team Controls were some of the best tires of the time, I rode some hard stuff on them. When I upgraded from a '99 Stumpjumper hardtail to an '05 Giant Reign, it was awesome, but it didn't change what I could ride technically right away. I had gotten pretty good and accustomed to creeping down steep stuff on an old race hardtail.
  • + 2
 Richard, back in the 90s, i bought your original Flying Vs and a Pro Floater (remember RS Mag 21 SL Ti painted in Mantis green?) from Butch. Great times, great bikes. Unfortunately never got hands on a Valkyrie
  • + 1
 This bike has V-brakes, but it has a cable stop on the seatstay to the right of the seat tube. Did it originally have a side-pull rear brake (maybe in a previous model year)? Or, did it have cantilevers but pull them off-center?
  • + 2
 I loved my XTR v-brakes!!!! The only other 90s tech my bike had over this was RockGuard bashring and brake booster braces for the v-brakes cause my frames and fork would flex when trials riding....haha
  • + 1
 Recently sold my 1999 Amp B5 (for $700 !!).
I rode it around for about 5 minutes. It was scary dangerous - totally twitchy, lightweight, way over the front wheel and barely damped 3" suspension. Really really rickety. But yeah, back in the day I rode it and others like it on some of the same big mountain rides we do today. Thought it was rad at the time. At least it had (AMP) disc brakes. They overheated easily but when they worked they were a huge cut above v-brakes.
  • + 1
 I've got a '00 GT XCR 1500 with the same Marzocchi X-Fly on it. I bought it when the stock Judy took a dump in an XC race. It's been problem-free ever since. I still take that bike out once in a while and the rasta paint job always turns heads! Oh, and the DH'er in me also upgraded the GT to Purple Hayes brakes. Talk about neck-snapping power back in the day!
  • + 1
 ahh, I so remember these days... I had a trek carbon V-22, beautiful blue and yellow. We had 52 tooth rings on them, bar ends, and we hit 55mph down the gravel road hills on them... in our muscle shirts mind you!

2" tires and stupid narrow bars. I have to say, discs, droppers, wide bars, and wider tires has changed things so much in 15-20 years... I like these retrospecs though, very cool.
  • + 1
 The only thing I don't like is that you said I can't shred an old bike. True, I have a commencal Meta AM as of this time last year, but I've put in countless miles on my old GT i-drive and hucked some stuff on that ancient beast that most people only dream of. Self-righteous rant over.
  • + 5
 @heffernw You can shred an old bike, you just have to respect its limitations.
  • + 1
 @RichardCunningham: I always was a fan of shock rebuilds
  • + 2
 Last time I checked, Gravity dropper can make you a 26.8 diameter dropper seatpost.. I have one installed on my 1997 Daggar hardtail; of course is was purchased from GD almost twenty years ago.
  • + 3
 sweet bike, reminds me of my old Heckler. This is after I upgraded the fork from a Bomber X-fly. This bike was awesome in its day.

www.pinkbike.com/photo/10347252
  • + 5
 Bar ends are not a crime!
  • + 2
 In the tropics they are called Vine catchers
  • + 1
 That’s rad! Rare in its day let alone now! Lovely thing! I had some z1 x fly’s! The first lot without the BAM arch. Great fork in its day, but when I sold it two years after it had about 200 cracks in the alloy! Bloke that brought them seemed happy just to have “bombers”!
  • + 2
 I'm old enough to remember those days too. I was completely satisfied with XTR V brakes at the time. It's pretty cool that we get to have a guy that knows how to make bikes and even a brand reviewing bikes for us. Thanks!
  • + 2
 That generation of V's were such a momentous improvement on everything else I had ever tried. They made me soooo very happy.
  • + 4
 Taking all those 90s bikes out for a spin is a lot of fun. Until it rains.
  • + 4
 Ahh man I love bikes from 1995-1999....sweet!
  • + 24
 I liked the music better.
  • + 6
 @Boardlife69: I like the early 90's music even better...and would love to own a Richard Cunningham-designed Nishiki Alien ACX!
  • + 2
 @RichardCunningham here's an idea, do an updating article and put wider bars, shorter stem,1x drivetrain, up fork it 20mm or so, go disc brakes and report back.
  • + 1
 Finally! I used to lust after these in the pages of MBA many moons ago, thanks RC. Along with the Mongoose Amplifier and Alpinestars TiMega this would have been in my 90's dream bike garage
  • + 2
 Wow, those tires. Bring back memories. I ran those tires and then went to semi-slicks. The back to those and/or the piranha pro's.
Good times.
  • - 1
 Seems like the last component that is due an upgrade is pedal. Red an article (dunno where tho) stating that it makes much more sense to move the bearings from the pedal to the crankarms. Much lighter and stronger since the bearing would be larger. No hope for an industry consensus on this one however...
  • + 17
 Please don't let any manufacturers read this. I'm fine with changing out my shimano pedals every 12 years.
  • + 1
 Ouch ,,, going to bleech my eyes
  • + 1
 The Mantis has such clean lines @RichardCunningham Mountain bikes come a long way, we live in good times. love the progression. This was the beginning Smile
  • + 1
 Pinkbike just needs to start a history lesson day just like movies for your Monday. Maybe something like shreds of yesterday.
  • + 1
 Still have my Nishiki fs4 bought new in 1994 ,has the Richard Cunningham signature on the frame still .Looks just like the Mantis frame .
  • + 2
 Rad, dreamt of Mantis bikes back in the day.makes me want to dust off my old AMP Research and hit the trail.
  • + 3
 Finally geometry that Vernon Felton won’t whine about
  • + 4
 "Geometry was pretty standard for the time: a 73-degree seat tube angle, 70-degree head tube."

Bike designers were completely clueless back then, they caused alot of over the bars injuries. You would think someone's with RC's motocross experience might have forseen seen the benefit of slacker head angles, but he liked that roadie geo.
The French racers finally figured it out.
  • + 2
 I'm pouring bar ends on for the weekend now. I'll șee about that prediction.
  • + 1
 Bring back fond memories.. My first full suspension MTN bike was a 99'Trek VRX . I loved that bike. Paid $1500 new for it.
  • + 1
 Needs toe-clips and a gel saddle pad to complete the package, imo. Great read, thanks!
  • + 1
 @RichardCunningham I doubt you would modify the bike. But gravity dropper can make you a 26.8 dropper. No shims involved.
  • + 0
 great minds think alike.... see my comment above. loyal GD customer here. Not crazy about the look, but the damn things work flawlessly and require little maintenance/
  • + 0
 I love these articles. Such a cool looking bike - I lusted after these sorts of things as a kid (okay, maybe a few years later)
  • + 1
 " Eight-speed XTR was Shimano's all-time best shifting drivetrain".... and still is to this very day!
  • + 1
 Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane, RC. I had a Nishiki Alien with matching rigid forks and top mount thumb shifters.
  • + 0
 A buddy of mine has a gen1 Ibis Mojo and was thinking of selling it for 100 bucks, I said I would keep it and mount it on his wall.
  • + 2
 Sometimes I too contemplate about adding bar ends to my hardtail XC bike.
  • + 1
 I remember seeing one of these at 1993 Worlds, how come it only came in green, did you get a good deal on green paint?
  • + 2
 Know your roots, kids.
  • + 1
 I almost bought this bike... new, in this green. I'm old AF.
  • + 1
 Best handling double boinger of the era. Fragile swingarms though.
  • + 1
 Now that is a nice looking bike. Don't make 'em like that any more.
  • + 1
 would ya take 400 for it?
  • + 1
 a mac-strut horst link, those were the days...
  • + 1
 Haha April Fools came early this year
  • + 1
 Great feature, thank you!
  • + 1
 Back then you had to ride this bicycle both directions uphill in the snow
  • + 2
 I have a stressed member
  • + 1
 19mm internal rims ftw. Just built a set up for laughs actually.
  • + 1
 just upgraded my 18mm rims to 25mm and the difference was night and day!!!!!!
  • + 1
 @lyleo: better or worse?
  • + 1
 @panaphonic: depends on what time of day you prefer i suppose, but i dont drink or go out much and i like to feel balanced and not fall down in corners, so i prefer the feeling of daytime and being sober and cornering well on my bike with rims that are more adequately sized for a 2.3 tire
  • + 1
 Clean!
  • + 0
 Gravity Dropper still sells 26.8 Dropper posts.
  • + 1
 BELT DRIVE IT PLEASE
  • + 1
 Cool bike man
  • + 1
 New bikes for life.
  • - 2
 oh, and that trek was 26lbs 20 years ago... my current Yeti is 30lbs and handles 28.99% better Smile

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2018. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv56 0.113557
Mobile Version of Website