The Pinkbike Podcast: Things We (Sometimes) Miss About Older Bikes

Jan 19, 2023
by Mike Levy  
Pinkbike Podcast
Art by Taj Mihelich


Mountain bikes are pretty good these days, especially compared to what we were riding ten or twenty years ago, but that doesn't mean that everything is better than it used to be. Inspired by Seb Stott's recent op-ed, episode 162 of the Pinkbike podcast sees Kazimer, Henry, and I put our rose-tinted glasses on to reminisce about 8-speed drivetrains, hefty steel hardware, and full-length VHS movies.

Aside from the price tags, is there anything you miss about bikes from ten or twenty years ago?





THE PINKBIKE PODCAST // EPISODE 162 - THINGS WE MISS ABOUT OLD BIKES
Jan 19th, 2022

Inner tubes aren't on the list.


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.

Subscribe to the podcast via your preferred service (Apple, Spotify, RSS, LibSyn, etc.), or visit the Pinkbike Podcast tag page for the complete list of episodes.


69 Comments

  • 25 0
 I miss people not having access to geo charts and instead just rode whatever size they rode and they either liked the bike or didn't. So funny how people fuss over a mm here or there.
  • 6 0
 Great point. People did BOTH types of mountain biking (xc and dh) on the same 2" front travel hardtail.
  • 1 1
 There weren't many choices back then, an MTB was basically a road bike with tire clearance and canti brakes. The geometry was basically the same for everything. Now, you can shop by geometry. When Gary Fisher extended top tubes in 2005ish (albeit with still slack seat tube angles) and slightly shortened stems was the first time I thought about top tube length and reach, ever. Before that you sized your MTB like you did your road bike by seat tube length.
  • 1 0
 I didn't know what I liked. I read through the brochures and got stoked the way a bike looked and went with that
  • 23 0
 I miss my much younger body that rode my older bikes.
  • 2 0
 I figure the downward slope of my physical decline intersected the upward slope of mountain bike technology somewhere around 2013.
  • 18 0
 I keep an old slightly updated Cannondale F2000 as a palate cleanser to ride on some local mellow trails. It’s light, simple, and a real pleasure to ride still. It’s kind of like driving a classic car where the tech is outdated and everything is generally worse than new, but there’s a real visceral experience there that new bikes can’t touch.
  • 3 0
 I do something similar with a rigid single speed. It is also a gut check on fitness. Palate cleanser is the perfect description because if I have had a couple bad rides or if I have a string of mechanical failures, it is a good way to confirm to myself that I still like riding even if the trail is mellow and I have no fancy gizmos to aid me.
  • 20 2
 NOT ONE THING! Started mountain biking in the 1980's, and I've ridden a lot of bikes. Honestly, bikes only got good in the last few years, when the new slack geometry kicked in. Prior to that, they never handled very well, suspension was rudimentary, components were poorly designed and critical components didn't last. It's so much better now, that I've thrown out my rose colored glasses once and for all....the past was worse than anyone wants to remember.
  • 1 0
 I'm with you, I've been at it since the rim-brake 72*HTA days, and can honestly say there's nothing I miss. I'd like to say there's some nostalgic part of me that wants to have my old Univega Alpina Pro or Gary Fisher Procalibre back from the early 1990's, but there isn't. Every bike I ownd back then broke, on nearly every ride, wheels, frames, handle bars, stems, cranks, BB axles, all of it. Not to mention screaming rim brakes that you could wear the brake track off of in one or two muddy rides. Pogo stick forks stuffed full of rubber donuts, junk.
One of my commuters is a 1994 Trek 730, I welded IS disc mounts on the frame and replaced the fork steerer to make it threadless, I still use it regularly, It's about as nostalgic as I want to get, but not so nostalgic that I want rim brakes and a quill stem (especially not a 1" quill).
  • 4 0
 Let's be honest, suspension and most components were pretty good by mid-late 2000s, and has incrementally gotten better. It is just geo that has come on in the last few years
  • 1 0
 Same here, bought my first mtb in 86, used to beat the c**p out of myself on rocky AZ trails, constantly fixing flats, going over bars on steep stuff, etc. We'd get the biggest front tire on the market- Ritchy Zmax 2.3- to take some of the sting out. Why did it take 40 years to get to where we are now?
  • 11 0
 I miss being able to purchase something of super high quality (110 headset, titanium seatpost, etc) and think "Well, it's expensive, but I'm going to keep this baby for life".
  • 8 1
 Like classic cars, raw and untamed is better. You may not be as fast, but you're way more involved, that's what counts! If you can't think about work, the kids etc... when you're piloting, then it's spot on. That's why I'm a hardtail guy, it's more involving!
  • 7 0
 Dropping the chain every time that I landed flat, despite having a bashguard and retention setup

Cutting 20" tubes that I used to make my wheels tubeless

Brakes that I could use to call in turkeys while hunting

Tires that looked aggressive, but gripped almost nothing

Nobody whining about riding in a bit of mud

Some was good, some was bad. I like my new bike. I still ride my old bike
  • 10 0
 The sound levels are getting worse. Come on PB....
  • 10 0
 I think Levy's tinfoil hat collection keeps affecting the microphones. Or maybe next time we won't record in the bathroom of a bus terminal.
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer: You have a wide stance, I swear!
  • 8 0
 I miss when all bikes weren't specifically designed for riding in the Pacific Northwest.
  • 8 6
 I don't.
  • 5 0
 I miss 26" wheels. I'd love to have a 26" wheel bike with modern geo. And 150mm rear hub spacing especially since the industry seems to have settled and 148mm and 157mm for now. Could have just had 150mm the whole time.
  • 1 0
 Isn't what you're describing basically a slopestyle bike? Probably less travel, and likely not quite as slack, but still a modern FS bike w/ 26" tires.
  • 2 0
 @SoCalTrev: No, not realIy. I guess I could have clarified 26" wheels with modern trail bike geo. 63.5/64 HA, 77 SA, 1200-1220mm Wheelbase. 160-170mm travel. Modern Slopestyle bike geo is pretty similar to trail bike geo from 15 years ago (High 60's HA, low 70's SA, short wheelbase....)
  • 2 0
 Get a 2008-2009 Specialized pitch. They were well ahead of the curve with proper geo before spesh started making bikes shorter.
  • 3 0
 @zyoungson: Those were cool bikes. My buddy had one. They rode good and looked good, didn't have any proprietary components. Really cool all around bike.
  • 1 0
 150mm and 157mm are the same standard with different end caps. The cassette and brake spacing is the same.
  • 3 0
 I miss some of the paint schemes, 1990 klein attitude, 91 mountain goat whiskey town racer california yuppie, fat chance metallica chameleon (although thats still available), ibis tri-linear fade etc..

functionally, obviously modern bikes are miles better

but mainly I miss Tioga Disc Drives. heavy, expensive & fragile, but the best noise in cycling EVER
  • 5 0
 Affordable mid- to high-end bikes that were easy to maintain (no pressfit, internal headset cable routing, 1 or 2 standards for everything).
  • 2 0
 10 years ago, I had a Liteville 301. It was the beginning of the Enduro style bikes so the geo was still closer to trail style. It came set up for 26” but I squeezed 27.5 wheels onto it. I had so much fun trail riding that thing! So much so that I’m thinking about getting the latest version and doing a light trail build with it. Bike are always fun though!
  • 3 0
 I miss the feeling of absolute elation you got when you finally got a chain guide set up and working without rubbing in any gear and at any point in the suspension. I'm looking at you, Mr Dirt.
  • 4 0
 Also without losing any tiny washers under the work bench... Those Gizmo's were such a pain to set up.
  • 2 0
 Since I started riding the early 90's, before little or no suspension and have been blessed to be able to keep riding, I do not miss much. Still can ride a steel hardtail, but with 170 and better geo. Only thing about old bikes is that when I rode them my cardio was better at 28 than 58!
  • 2 0
 idk man.. my pitch pro and my gt sanction 2.0 felt much more distinct and had more character then my last bikes. The last bike that felt distinct was my '16 sanction factory. All my bikes after that felt very similar. a shout out to x7 and x9s. I don't miss the elixirs though.. I like how we can actually stop now.
  • 2 0
 Late 2000's x9 was peak sram in my opinion, they were making some nice stuff. Since then they have gone the way of plastic junk. There have been some interesting innovations but quality has taken a nose dive
  • 1 0
 @zyoungson: The X.0 "anniversary edition" rear mech (carbon and gold), is the best derailleur I have ever used. It's currently on my grocery getter, and it still runs better then my new mech.
  • 1 0
 any wheel fitting on any bike. Back when i was young wheels were horrible, if i smashed my rim and didn't have the money for a new wheel, I would put a walmart wheel, from a bike i found behind a dumpster. Now the standards are varied, that i can't interchange wheels on either of my 6 bikes. Wheels today are so good in comparison, that I don't have to worry tacoing rims like i used to. I do love that piece of mind.
  • 1 0
 The DWR thing is real, the flurocarbons in the very not green DWR made the coating both hydrophobic AND oleophobic (oil resistant) whereas the current crop are mostly just hydrophobic and so our sweat/skin oils impairs the coating much sooner. So the very thing that made the coating excellent at beading off water is also the factor that makes it an environmental nightmare because it's so hard to neutralise. A quick tumble dry after washing can sometimes rejuvenate the coating on newer jackets.
  • 4 0
 I miss the tea green Michelin tires with tan sidewalls, I would buy them in an instant in current standardish sizing!
  • 2 0
 Say what you want about front derailleurs, but that feeling of finishing a steep climb in the granny gear and shift up to the mid chainring and say to myself "here we go", I can really reminisce about.
  • 2 0
 Except when you drop the chain 5 seconds later.
  • 1 0
 I miss when I would say "I like to mountain bike" and people would just assume I was doing the things they did in Mountain Dew commercials. The sport has been around long enough where people know the sad ugly truth... I pedal a $ 5,000 full suspension bike on machine-built trails that a mid 80's,10-speed Schwinn Tempo could probably handle.
  • 1 0
 Adam Hansen - multiple grand tour stage winner - was the Lotto_Bellisol rider Henry was referring to. Any google search of 'Adam Hansen bike set up' is worth a look...beware, it's a deep rabbit hole Smile

Adam made his own custom shoes (as in layed up the carbon, glued and stitched them together with boas...), arguably ushered in the new aero trend of narrower than usual road bars, preferred super steep seat angles and a *a lot* of other unusual adjustments. He also wrote logistics software for the Lotto service course and recently made made his own bike.
  • 1 0
 I've been doing the shift down with heel thing for quite a while. From 38t commute and city riding to 32t mountain and kids trailer riding. I am even thinking about adding a 24t just for fun. XT FC M770, the best crank there ever was.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer @henryquinney The narrow rear hub spacing on Demos goes all the way back to the first Demo 8 in 2005.
It was a 135mm non through axle rear end offset 6mm to drive side, which made it zero dish. I ran an XT hub with a solid bolt up axle in mine when I first built it up and then switched to a hope hub with 10mm bolt up which was a much better solution. I think they switched to a through axle around 2010 when Sam Hill joined Specialized.
  • 5 0
 Price...
  • 3 1
 Standards like threaded BB and 135 rear hubs

way less "knobs" on shocks and forks

hite rite didn't fail
mbaction.com/sept-hardtales
  • 2 0
 Ill take bolt thru rear ends and shock adjustments any day.
  • 1 0
 It sounds like levy invited Henry over to hang out in the bathroom. I guess crotchwatch 3000 has officially started.

Just kidding guys! I truly enjoy the podcast (audio quality and all). Thanks for doing it.
  • 1 0
 I miss being able to swap wheels around and generally a lot of parts. Most of my 26" wheels are 20mm and 135mm so there was a golden period of being able to move parts around.
  • 1 0
 Unrelated to the podcast. Has there been any indication that SRAM's mechanical drivetrains will be getting the direct mount revision like has been floating around, or is that just going to be AXS systems?
  • 1 0
 haha, the rm-7 memories are very familiar. huge leverage ratio / bending shock bolts / killing pivot bearings constantly, and yeah, frame cracked within a season. was fun while it was running tho?
  • 1 0
 I confirmed the other day in linkage that lowering your fork actually drops antisquat. At least on the dual link suspension design I was looking at. I can upload pictures tomorrow if anyone is interested.
  • 1 1
 @mikelevy @henryquinney Pretty sure I've posted this 20 times already but can we get either a running list or audio-clips mash-up all of Henry's podcast sayings / quips / phrases - ON the homepage please? They could also be posted individually on that link that I know PB is going to create now. Just need a Henry's-face (or Transition Spire bike image) link to click to read or listen

I will alternately offer to re-listen to every podcast with Henry on it and cherry-pick every one of these witty phrases if PB has a place to publish them...
  • 3 0
 Holy crap...20+ years ago everything was so easy to break compared to now.
  • 1 0
 Maybe on lighter bikes. DH bikes were generally bomb proof aside from maybe the wheels
  • 2 0
 External routing for everything except dropper tubes. Pretty much everything else about the new bikes are
  • 1 0
 Having a double pinch flat both front and rear Tioga factory DH comp 66 was a tyre that looked the part but was a bit of a let down !
  • 1 0
 I always had problems with the post hardware on my Grafton mag lite cantis. Had to get some aftermarket parts to finally get them to stop rotating.
  • 1 0
 One thing I don't miss - rim brakes... You can take everything off my bike - suspension, gears, dropper, tubeless but you ain't taking my discs.
  • 1 0
 Any child buying a modern small frame could be riding a 10yr large for $1K.
  • 2 0
 kid better have long legs for a large seat tube.
  • 1 0
 When I saw the title of the podcast, I thought "Well, this is going to be a short podcast." Yup.
  • 1 0
 I miss lots from 10 years ago. Beyond that, not so much. I had a Demo 7 that was awesome, I loved it.
  • 2 0
 I miss when bikes cost less $
  • 1 0
 who cares, wheres my 2023 calendar
  • 1 0
 Bring back the Roach Pad!
  • 1 0
 I miss after market brake levers. Dangerboy, Straitline, etc.
  • 1 3
 Don’t Thompson face plates still crack?
  • 3 0
 When you over torque them, absolutely





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