Looking Back on Ten Years of Mountain Bike Innovation

Dec 10, 2019 at 12:11
by Richard Cunningham  
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My career has spanned the history of the mountain bike and I can say without hesitation that this past decade has been one of the sport's most dynamic periods of change. Innovations and new standards seemed to pop up monthly, and the controversies they spawned were legion at times. Let's revisit some of them.


Strava

Founded October, 2009, by Mark Gainey and Michael Horvath, the Strava smart phone app was predestined to revolutionize cycling. Think about it; cyclists are predominantly nerdy loners, preoccupied by our levels of fitness and skills, who often train in isolation and are competitive to the point of diagnosable neurosis. Furthermore, we are habitual liars anytime we discuss our performance and mileage with other cyclists.

KOM image
Strava turned every trail into a World Cup race course. Our smart phones became a coach, a court of law, a confessional, a hall of fame, and a one-swipe source of self gratification. "If you didn't record it on Strava, it didn't happen," is her mantra. She is cycling's deity of truth, cold, but not cruel. She alone determines our rightful place. She justifies our desire to crush the unworthy, and we bow to her in silence before and after every ride, hoping she will reward us with a cup or a personal best.

Strava's unintentional consequences have had both positive and negative effects. On the negative side, riders have become much less willing to slow or move off the trail in consideration for others, and many who would never have lifted a finger to volunteer for trail work are busy grooming technical sections and straightening corners to claw time from their virtual competitors.

On the plus side, Strava has helped move technology forward. The wholesale shift by once-reluctant riders to larger wheels and dual suspension - especially dual-suspension in the cross-country ranks - can be attributed in part to irrefutable data from their own Strava results.
Angry Midget KOMs 2019






Death of 26-inch Wheels

"Twenty six ain't dead!" There was no reason to utter that phrase back in 2010. The 29er was marginalized as a means for cross-country riders to avoid switching over to dual suspension. The mountain bike's seminal wheel diameter could not be challenged as long as downhill racers and freeriders ruled the roost. Trouble was on the horizon, however, and the throne of the full face helmet would soon fall to the half-shell-and-trail-bike coat of arms. In less than ten years, the 26-inch wheel would be dead to the mountain bike community - survived only by a vestigial population, kept alive by circus performers at pump track and slopestyle venues.

Big wheels, it turns out, actually did roll faster, just like Wes Williams, Gary Fisher, and Chris Sugai said they did. Strava verified that truth, but in spite of the fact that avid trail riders were shouting about their advantages, the world was not quite ready for 29ers - especially in Europe, where many believed that North American brands like Trek and Specialized were shoving 29ers down their throats.

The ensuing battle between 26-inch traditionalists and 29-inch evangelists would soon escalate into an all-out war after bike designers ran into a wall attempting to squeeze more than 120-millimeters of rear-wheel travel from their 29er frames.
Back flip tail whip off the drop for Rheeder.
Slopestyle has become the final resting place for 26-inch wheels.

The answer was a mid-sized wheel - large enough to gain a more advantageous roll-over than puny 26-inch wheels, but just small enough to gain tire clearance for DH-width rubber and for wheel travel in the neighborhood of 150 millimeters. North American brands called the mid-sized wheel 27.5 inch. European bike makers insisted upon 650b and they ran with it. Three camps were now banging out insults on their keyboards, but 27.5 was the last nail in the coffin for 26-inch wheels.

Shawn Neer managed to keep Richie s pace at most of the stages with Cody holding them on sight.
Enduro is almost all 29er. Here, Shawn Neer helps Team USA earn the gold medal at the EWS Trophy of Nations...
Loic Bruni into the finish on his gold medal run
...Downhill racers are still divided. Loic Bruni earned his third World Championship gold on a bike with a 29" front wheel and a 27.5" rear wheel.

One can argue that it was a compromise, but the wholesale adoption of the 27.5-inch standard also was an industrywide confession that larger wheels were better. Once the bitterness of that pill faded and designers optimized kinematics, geometry and fork offsets for larger wheels, 27.5 became the new 26 - and by the end of the decade, the 29er would be anointed as the next to wear the crown.




Pinion P1.18 Gearbox

It's hard to believe that ten years ago, most mountain bikes had three chainrings, ten cogs, a front derailleur, and shift levers on both sides of the handlebar. It's even harder to conceive that almost nobody was complaining about that. There was (and still is), however, a vocal band of anti-derailleur activists among us who prayed every day for a sealed gearbox transmission that could forever eliminate the mess and complication we call a derailleur drivetrain.

Salvation came in the form of two German automotive engineers who originally worked for Porsche. Michael Schmitz and Christoph Lermen
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Pinion's P1.18 transmission unwittingly provided the prototype mount e-bikes would later copy.
created a compact sequential-shift transmission. It required three years to bring it to market, but for many, their Pinion P1.18 gearbox was the breakthrough they had been long awaiting. Launched in 2010, the compact 18-speed transmission offered a whopping 636% range with even, 11.5% steps between shifts - gear spacing that could not be matched by any chain transmission.

Pinion's P1.18 gearbox set a high bar for anyone who dared challenge the derailleur, and it still stands as the best gearbox made today. Pinion followed their 18-speed masterpiece with lighter and even more compact 12- and 9-speed versions, all of which have enjoyed some success in the high-end market place. Most truly innovative products come with a learning curve. Pinion's was its rotary shifting. Ultimately, its weight (2700g to 2200g), moderate drag penalty, and its justifiably high MSRP prevented the Pinion gearbox from displacing the longstanding alternative, so it exits this decade as a reminder that the best way to thin a crowd of enthusiastic fans is to ask them to pull out their wallets and make a substantial purchase.
Pinion gear transmission
Chain drives are hobbled by evenly spaced teeth. Pinion attains perfectly spaced gear steps by altering the tooth profiles of the gears. Pinon image

That said, Michael Schmitz and Christoph Lermen's transmission set the bar so high that anyone who does find the materials, financing and technology to best them will most certainly match the performance of the humble derailleur transmission. I hope it will be Pinion who accomplishes this miracle.




The Decade of Dave

Dave Weagle didn't invent anti-squat - race car and motorcycle designers already abided by those rules. Weagle was the Prometheus who brought this fire to the mountain bike. Weagle's successful string of design collaborations with the likes of Turner, Ibis, Pivot and Evil became a wake-up call for bike designers large and small to calculate anti-squat values into his or her suspension kinematics.

Roll back the clock ten years and the you'll discover that the most successful solutions to make a suspension bike pedal well were some sort of lever to lock it out. The modern trail bike was just gaining traction, but bike makers largely relied upon shock and fork suppliers to make them pedal well. Weagle taught us that the frame could do a better job.
Trust The Message trailing linkage fork.
Dave Weagle Trust image

Weagle's successful demonstrations of how to trick the bike's rear suspension to counter the lagging mass of the rider became the key that unlocked the long-travel trail bike, which in turn, spurred the most rapid period of successful improvement in the history of the genre. If someone told me back then that I would be able to hop onto a 160-millimeter-travel bike with its rear suspension set soft enough to descend steep, techy trails - and still climb efficiently - I would have laughed. Today, when I roll out for my first ride on any test bike, I expect that level of performance and versatility. It is doubtful that the industry would have achieved this without Weagle's influence.

Trust The Message trailing linkage fork.
The Duke of rear suspension, Weagle closed out the decade with his Trust linkage fork. Trust image




Clutch-Type Rear Derailleurs

Shimano surprised the world by adding a one-way friction clutch to the chain-take-up cage pivot of its 2012 XTR Shadow Plus rear derailleur. The innovation - a tiny adjustable band brake, encircling a needle bearing clutch - came out of nowhere, but one ride was all it took to realize its potential to calm the slack side of the chain, which in turn, stabilized shifting performance. Shmano's invention was sorely needed.

One-by drivetrains were just beginning to blow up and with no front derailleur to guide the chain, designers were wrestling to lock down lightweight solutions to keep it in place over technical terrain. The bandage was a smaller, lighter version of the chainguides that downhillers used. The roller clutch, however, meted out just enough chain on the slack side to facilitate shifts, but not enough to allow the chain to escape from the bottom half of the chainring. After the clutch (and the next invention on this list), chain guides became optional equipment.

Unlike Shimano, SRAM was completely invested in the one-by concept, so it came as no surprise that the Chicago brain trust fired back with its own clutch design shortly thereafter. Before and after photographs of riders at speed bear witness to the dramatic improvement the addition of cage-pivot clutches made to chain control. Perhaps more welcome, however, is that bikes run much more quietly now.
XTR shadow plus clutch derailleir
The gold anodized clutch lever above the XTR Shadow Plus cage pivot forever changed the rear derailleur. Shimano image

The one-way roller clutch is the larger cylinder at the lower left. The stainless steel band that encircles it is the friction brake. The adjustment wrench is stowed in the housing above the clutch. The friction adjustment nut is visible in the hex end of the tiny wrench.
Shimano's first Shadow Plus clutch included a tiny wrench used to adjust the friction band.




Narrow-Wide Chainrings

Launched by SRAM 2012 the narrow-wide concept was originally patented in 1978 by Gehl, an industrial equipment manufacturer. It was SRAM's designers, however, who realized that a combination of the narrow-wide tooth profile and specially shaped tips on the sprocket teeth could be used to feed a writhing bicycle chain smoothly onto a chainring from a variety of angles – a technical coup that virtually eliminated the derailing issues which plagued mountain bike riders for over 30 years.
SRAM Narrow-wide XX1 chainring 2013

SRAM will be cited most often for its decision to drop the front derailleur in favor of a wide-range one-by drivetrain - a bold move that was rewarded by their near dominance of the elite and enthusiast level trail bike marketplace. Arguably, the narrow-wide chainring, was SRAM's most important (and most duplicated) innovation. Before narrow-wide, tossed chains were considered to be part of the mountain bike experience. After its debut, the thought rarely, if ever, comes to mind. Remove narrow-wide from the wide-range one-by equation and you throw the drivetrain back to the chain-gadget stone age.




Shimano XT M8000
Shimano's 2015 XT M8000 release re-emphasized to mostly deaf ears, the need for a front derailleur to achieve more consistent gear steps. Irmo Keizer photo

Death of the Front Derailleur

SRAM's debut of the eleven speed XX1 one-by drivetrain should have been a guaranteed success. For years, conspicuous numbers of the sport's top athletes had been riding and espousing customized one-by drivetrains. Beyond weight reduction and simplifying the transmission to a single shifter, frame designers needed it to go away to progress the long-travel trail bike. The changer occupied the space they needed to fit aggressive tires on 29-inch wheels and to accommodate those wheels into an area already cramped by short chainstays. SRAM was ready, riders were ready, bike designers were ready, but the bike industry was not ready to ditch the front derailleur.

Stodgy executives (the ones who place orders and write checks) body-blocked the concept. Reportedly, key European brands flat out refused to purchase any drivetrain with a chainring smaller than 40 teeth. However well meaning, these are the dweebs who grew up on road bikes, pushing 54 x 48 tooth cranksets, who speak about Frank Berto in hushed tones, and sneak out 30 minutes early to ensure they'll be properly warmed up for the lunch ride. Challenge these Cosa Nostras of cycling with a new drivetrain concept and they'll pull out their abacus to argue proper gearing steps before tracing crossed lines on a tattered sanskrit papyrus to chart their constellation of shift selections, then they'll proclaim the danger of the satanic cross-over gears.
SRAM XX1 crank GripShift Horizon Rear Der Trigger shifter Cassette 11-speed chain
SRAM's 11-speed XX1 drivetrain sent the front derailleur to the gallows, and almost did the same to Shmano's slice of the trail bike market. The revival of GripShift? Not a chance. SRAM image

Accelerated by the fact that we'd prefer a dropper lever on the left side of the handlebar, riders quickly warmed up to XX1's reduced gear selection and visually smaller chainring. Within two years, the front derailleur was scratching for its life, with Shimano crying at its bedside. The Japanese giant redoubled its efforts to convey the enormity of our mistake and comically, bike makers (even vanguard brands who pretended to be all for 1x drivetrains) hedged their bets by continuing to design for front derailleurs in the bottom bracket region of their frames. It took until the end of the decade before frame designers were given the OK to straighten out the S-turn in the right chainstay, put the seat tube back in the middle, spread the swingarm bearings apart and widen the space for the rear tire. The front changer had to endure eight years of hospice before it was mercifully euthanized.




The Dropper Decade

Dropper posts predated 2010, but not as essential original equipment on mountain bikes. The new must-have for the trail riding experience earned its place on this list because it took nearly a decade to debug this simple mechanism. Most early droppers had some fatal flaw or limitation that owners learned to live with, so when RockShox burst onto the scene in 2010 with its hydraulically actuated Reverb, most believed that the savior had arrived. Fate, however, had other plans.

Reverbs developed a habit of sucking air into the oil column that was responsible for freezing the post in your desired location. Oil is incompressible. Air is not, so you can imagine the frustration when Reverbs occasionally became suspension seatposts. While RockShox struggled to engineer a permanent solution. a host of rivals made their appearance with outcomes that ranged from disastrous (Crankbrothers Kronolog) to pretty darn good (KS LEV). Reliability, however, was as spotty as suspension products were in the 1990s, with the possible exception of the mechanically-actuated Fox DOSS which, at 650 grams, could be used as a weapon to fend off rutting moose or grizzly bears.
The first RockShox Reverb debuted in 2010.
The first RockShox Reverb debuted in 2010.

After the big names fell short, boutique component makers stepped up to the plate with better results (Revive and OneUp come to mind), but it was Fox who stomped out the fire with the debut of their Transfer post, which earned a reputation as one of the most reliable droppers ever and the most preferred.

RockShox rallied back as the decade came to a close. First, with a redesigned Rerverb, followed by an impressive wireless-electronic version that is already earning high marks.
Fox Transfer seat post
Fox's Transfer post was the light at the end of the decade's dark tunnel of droppers.




Photo by Pat Mulrooney
Fat bikes went mainstream: Norco's Ithaqua was one of many fielded by popular brands. Pat Mulrooney photo

Anti-Tech

Too much of a good thing can be poisonous. Imagine what the sport's newest members faced as the decade took shape. Everywhere you looked there was a technical controversy raging: wheel diameters, dropper designs, drivetrains, suspension patents, frame materials, handlebar widths and axle standards... That's a lot of decisions to make for someone who just wanted to ride a bike in the woods. Heck, it's a lot for a seasoned rider who may have been on the hunt to replace his or her aging Ellsworth Truth. The backlash spawned a low-tech revolution.

The vibe was, "If you're not serious about racing, who cares about a few extra pounds or the drag penalty of big tires, as long as we're having fun?" Hardtails returned to popularity. Cult manufactures like Chromag and Surly were booming. Garage builders were popping up everywhere, especially in the UK, blending old-school steel and titanium with new school concepts.

By 2013, fat bikes had become mainstream enough to crowd cross country-skiers for access to groomed trails and sanctioned National Championships would soon follow. Lessons learned from fat bikes
Pipedream's Moxie epitomizes the British new-school hardtail with steel pipes and SAF numbers.
encouraged conventional bike makers to experiment with wider rims and higher volume tires. The plus bike enjoyed a brief zenith before its assets were reincarnated in more robust forms and adopted by aggressive trail riders.

Funny then, that the anti-tech movement would spawn new ideas that would ultimately transform the cutting edge of the sport. Wider rims, high-volume 2.5 and 2.6" tires, and crazy slack geometry came from creative minds who were once marginalized by the direction the sport had taken as it rushed towards 2020 and the kingdom of Enduro Bro.




Wide Rims

Mountain bike wheels in 2010 typically sported rims that were 26 millimeters wide, measured from the outside of the flanges. Wide rims, the kind that you'd special order for your DH bike, measured 28 millimeters outside to outside, with inner widths hovering around 23. The tubeless tire revolution was already in full swing and it was becoming apparent that narrow rims were the root of a number of evils that tubeless users faced.
W35 MX wheelset lead photo
Syntace pioneered wide-format lightweight rim design back in 2012. The mid-sized MX 35 was considered outrageous, with an inner width of 28.4 millimeters. Syntace photo

Simple as it may seem, Derby and Syntace offered up a solution: widening the stance of the tire. Derby's 30-millimeter inner width carbon rims were laughably huge in 2012. Syntace offered aluminum rims with inner widths up to 34 millimeters. The concept, simple as
it was, handily solved the major issues attributed to tubeless: poor lateral stiffness, burping air, and difficulties with mounting and sealing tires. Wide rims also broke ground for future tire improvements, like altering the aspect ratio of height and width to accentuate cornering grip while enhancing straight-line rolling speed.

Old habits fight to the grave and initially, wide rims were not embraced by elite riders - still aren't in some quarters - but greater forces were at play. Aggressive trail riders learned that lower pressure, higher-volume tires generated more grip and by 2019, 30-millimeter inner-width rims became the minimum standard. Tires designed for that rim width are readily available, and the fact that naysayers in the racing community are presently arguing that a 28-millimeter inner-width is wide enough underscores how far we have come.
Derby carbon rims
Ray Scruggs founded Derby rims in 2012, because he couldn't convince rim makers to build wide rims for trail bikes. They look normal now. Derby photo




Flat Pedals Only Won Sam Hill Medals

The Australian who coined the phrase, "Flat pedals win medals," certainly lived up to it, but nobody else did. Sam Hill began the decade with a gold medal at the Mount Sainte Anne Downhill World Championships in 2010, which topped off his career as a DH pro. In spite of commentator Rob Warner's cheerleading, only Gee Atherton, who opted for flats and borrowed shoes from a fan at the 2014 Cairns DH World Cup, would win a World Cup Downhill on flat pedals for the remainder of the decade. "Clipped in for the win" is the new reality for pro downhill competitors, but there may be a glimmer of hope for enduro.
Sam Hill won three consecutive EWS titles on flat pedals. Kike Abelleira photo

Sam Hill won the overall title in his first full season of EWS competition on flat pedals, then three-peated, winning three consecutive titles to close out a decade that should leave his rivals in awe for years to come. It is doubtful that anyone will come forth from the dwindling crowd of flat pedal pros who will dominate downhill or enduro racing in the future, but Sam Hill has proven - without a doubt - that it could happen.




Air-Volume Spacers

Laugh if you want, but it took 20 years of air-sprung suspension development to figure out that a inserting measured plastic spacer into the air chamber could fine-tune its spring rate. Fox offered an air volume spacer kit for their Float RP23 shock in 2011, but the concept fell on deaf ears until wheel travel passed the 150-millimeter mark. Suddenly everyone was talking about small-bump compliance vs big hit bottom-out resistance. RockShox revisited the concept in 2014 with their "Bottomless Token" fork-spring spacer - and it took off.

Air springs may be easily adjusted with a hand pump, but only if you are tuning for one side of the spectrum. Before volume spacers became common, riders had two choices: pressurize your fork or shock until it didn't bottom, at the expense of a harsh ride in the first part of the stroke; or suffer the opposite - a supple ride off the initial stroke, with a tendency to bottom out.

After the Token became suspension currency, with the simplest of tools, riders could modify their spring curves to achieve satisfactory spring pressures at
Volume spacer are the only internal change on the air spring - Kolja says that the WC guys mostly run 3 spacers going up to 4 for the more extreme tracks and depending on the rider and preferences.
Volume spacers are attached to the underside of the fork's top cap and either snap or screw together.

FOX Float X2 shock review
Air volume spacers for most shocks can be added inside the air-spring canister.
both initial and full compression. The performance improvement is night and day for some. Fork- and shock-spring volume spacers are included (ask for them) with many new bikes and most every suspension purchase.




Jesse Melamed was is the mix all day and would end up 7th
Jesse Melamed is no stranger to forest stages. Zermat EWS

The Enduro Effect

For a brief moment, EWS racing appeared to be where the world's trail riders would finally be given a competition format to showcase their skill-sets, their aggressive single-crown dual suspension machines, and preference for natural terrain. Add to that the fact that Strava had already divided local trail centers into segmented race courses and one can understand how enduro captured the imaginations of the sport's wannabe racers.

Of course that didn't happen. EWS racing was hijacked, first by ageing World Cup DH champions, and then by a larger body of gravity experienced pros who saw the enduro format as a second chance to move up the ladder to a podium spot. Within two years, the EWS, like its downhill and cross-country counterparts, distilled into a 100-rider travelling circus of paid professionals and hopeful hangers on - but that was inevitable. This story is about but the profound effect that enduro racing had upon the evolution of the trail bike.
Race run berm explosions from Sam Hill We think he even had a grin on his face when he rode past.
DH has heavily influenced the EWS, and in turn, enduro has had a profound effect upon the basic trail bike.

Mountain bikes, even downhill racing bikes, evolved from cross country. Somewhere around the Intense M1, though, downhill split off and evolved into a gravity powered machine that couldn't be pedaled uphill, but let's forget about that for a second. Sadly, the trail bike's development was tied to its cross-country origins, so its performance was measured as such. Every gram counted, every pedal stroke measured for efficiency, and worse, its geometry had to facilitate arduous climbing. No surprise then that it took over 20 years for the trail bike's head tube angle to progress from 71 to 68 degrees, stem lengths to retract from 130 millimeters to 50, and suspension travel to squeeze out to 130 millimeters. Trail bikes were essentially cross-country designs grudgingly modified to go downhill. That's where we were in 2012.

2010 Santa Cruz Blur LT
2010 Santa Cruz Blur LT
2030 Santa Cruz Hightower
2020 Santa Cruz Hightower

The near-instant assimilation of enduro by the downhill community reversed that equation. Enduro bikes (true enduro bikes) were downhill machines, modified to go uphill. Somewhere around the middle of this decade, the trailbike got a little too close and was magnetized by enduro. Boom! Permanently severed from its laborious XC evolution and spliced to the DH genome, it was free to adopt once-forbidden gravity-specific attributes. The do-it-all mountain bike was completely transformed in the latter half of the decade. The timid adventurist became a master of its environment. Enduro may have temporarily stolen the trail bike, but it returned it in much better shape.




Batteries on Bikes

Lapierre ei: Lapierre debuted "ei," an electronically controlled RockShox damper that was triggered by an accelerometer on the fork in 2012. The system registered impacts at the fork, then combined information from the cranks to determine whether the rider was pedaling or coasting, and adjusted the compression damping of the shock accordingly. All this occurred before the rear wheel contacted that same bump. Ei captured our attention, but didn't move the needle in the marketplace.
RockShox Monarch RT3 with d.i servo
Lapierre collaborated with RockShox to develop a servo motor that operated the Monarch RT3's low-speed compression circuit.

Shimano Di2: Shimano opened up the can of worms with the much anticipated debut of Di2 XTR. Encouraged by the success of its electronic-shifting Dura-Ace and Ultegra Di2 ensembles among its road customers, Shimano set its sights on elite mountain bike riders and it was released in 2014 for an asking price of $2800 USD. Two years later, Shimano followed with an XT-level version at a more affordable, $1300 MSRP. There was no question that Di2 shifted better than Shimano's mechanical counterparts, a victory by itself, but that wasn't enough sizzle to justify its cost, or to divert attention from SRAM's burgeoning fan base.
Shimano Di2 XTR 2015
DI2 XTR used a single rechargeable battery to run all of its components - an environmentally friendly option that may have cost Shimano in the long run. Colin Meagher photos

Fox Live Valve: Fox followed in Shimano's wake with the release of Live Valve. Fox electronics were much faster than Lapierre's, which allowed Fox Live Valve forks and shocks to react individually to impacts before the tires had compressed enough to activate the suspension. Live Valve's purpose was to enhance pedaling feel and efficiency without degrading suspension performance, and it worked seamlessly in its final form.

Unfortunately, during Live Valve's protracted gestation period, riding styles and bicycles had evolved in a different direction. Live Valve was expensive and bikes already pedaled well enough to lug new-school riders to the top of their next descent. Speed, grip and suspension travel were the new currency.
Live Valve Pivot
Live Valve managed to enhance the pedaling feel of the already good Pivot Mach 5.5. Ian Collins photo

Magura Vyron Dropper: Launched in 2016, Magura's wirelessly actuated dropper seatpost could have transformed the genre. The wholesale shift by bike makers to internal cable routing made switching and installing dropper posts a pain in the butt. A wireless post would be a sell-and-forget slam dunk for retailers, and riders could switch out their dropper between bikes in a minute. The lackluster response time of the Vyron, however, took some getting used to and bad press killed the concept before riders had the chance to vote on it. Had Magura held back until that glitch was solved, the dropper post landscape might look much different.
Magura Vyron eLECT seatpost 2016
A vision of things to come. Magura's wireless dropper was almost revolutionary. Colin Meagher photos

SRAM AXS: Being late to the party has its advantages, SRAM's AXS is wireless - a fundamental element and skillset the iPhone generation has mastered, and that alone may explain why SRAM's electronic component ensemble apparently has reversed the opinions of a decade of naysayers.

Armed with a basic tool kit, just about anyone can install an AXS derailleur and dropper on their bike in under an hour's time. No worries, no compatibility issues, just remember to charge the batteries. Most of us can handle that.

Rumors floating around suggest that SRAM is working overtime to bring AXS to its more affordable ensembles - but those bombs won't drop until the next decade.
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SRAM's decision to go wireless will have ramifications beyond its near-perfect shifting. Faster assembly time for both factories and aftermarket customers are only two. Margus Riga photos




Kenevo 2020: Specialized jumped into eMTB early on and aggressively forged a leadership role. Harookz photo

Battery Powered Bikes

Bosch forever altered the course of the sport with its pedal-assist electric motor. If anyone had told us in 2010 that we would be sharing trails with electric powered mountain bikes we would have laughed. If a global power tool maker approached government transportation agencies with a proposal to allow uninsured, unlicensed electric mopeds equal access to bicycle lanes and trails, they would have laughed. Instead, Bosh handed off its pedalec system to bicycle makers and we mowed the lawn for them, lobbying government bureaucracies and convincing the naysayers to make it happen. It was marketing brilliance. There's a book in there somewhere.

The men s field gets on it way.
The start of the men's 2019 UCI sanctioned eMTB World Championships in Mont Sainte Anne.

The marriage of eMTBs into the mountain bike family brings a new crop of riders to the sport who are not wedded to the nuances of our sacred technology - which offers a new opportunity for meaningful change. Once you add a motor, ethereal improvements derived from things like bladed spokes, directionally compliant rims, Kashima coatings and the molecular makeup of frame materials are not all that important. New-school eMTB customers will no-doubt value more measurable performance enhancements like battery life, power output, wheels that stay true and straight, consistent braking power, tires that don't flat, and pro-performing suspension that doesn't require a professor to tune. Fierce competition to court a less technically minded customer will most likely drive down the prices of those high ticket components too.

The last four items on that list should be the first to bounce back to conventional mountain bikers, many of whom have given up on such improvements. Sometimes, it takes another pair of eyes to see that we've missed something crucial, or enough naivety to restate the need for fixes that were swept under the rug. Mountain bikers did that to road bikes, and I anticipate the same treatment from our electrified in-laws. Once again, however, we are talking about the decade to come. Hindsight, they say, is 2020. We shall see...





306 Comments

  • 191 3
 maybe not as exciting but innovation in Geometry over the last decade has improved the bikes considerable
  • 46 1
 Probably the most important advancement in the last decade. We now have mid travel trail bikes that are as capable than DH bikes 10 years ago.
  • 17 6
 @artistformlyknowasdan agree. but many of the Geometry updates in the last decade would probably not be possible without the new components like 1X, stiffer forks/frames, dropper,...
  • 22 12
 Yup. Should call that the Transition effect.
  • 15 52
flag phops (Dec 19, 2019 at 14:35) (Below Threshold)
 You have the motorcross riders and media to thank for that. It wasn't that manfuacturers figured out the geometry, it was people from MX world hopping on a bike and shredding trails at speed created a demand for bikes that do that kind of stuff well, as opposed to the roadie influenced designs of the past with long stems to compensate for short wheelbases and steep head angles. The bigger question one should ask is why do a lot of manufacturers still hold to roadie influenced designs in 2020. Given how mountain biking his today, there is no reason to keep a trail bike compact anymore, considering that modern trail bikes are longer and slacker than enduros in the past which were considered overkill for the same trails that these trails are being ridden on. Long wheelbase, slack head angle, and steep seat tube should be mandatory for every bike, and then you optimize on things like travel and weight for different disciplines.
  • 40 1
 @phops: That's total and complete BS, you cannot name any motocrossers who affected mountain bike geometry in any significant way. RC was a motocrossers and bicycle designer himself and his bikes had 71° head angles. Modern mountain bike geometry was was the result of a very slow process of trial and error (mostly error in my opinion), that unfortunately took decades.

French DH racers Nicolas Voulliouz and Fabien Barel deserve the most credit for the slack angles we have now, they both demanded custom bikes from their sponsors with slacker geometry.

This is one of RC's best articles ever, very interesting and observant, great work.
  • 4 0
 @phops:
What planet are you on?
  • 4 0
 @phops:
I don't know if the MX influence is true. They started hoping over by the mid 90's and geometry stayed pretty road bike for almost 20 years after that.
  • 3 3
 No Pole influence ? Has been decapitated the king by PBikers?
  • 5 0
 @onemanarmy: at least for 29ers and steeper seattunes but Kona had a big role in the game with the process as well. Mondraker were the guys who gave us more reach and a more central position.
  • 6 0
 @PauRexs: Hating on Pole is the cool thing to do on PB now, but no Pole was not even close to first with that kind of geometry
  • 4 0
 @Tobsa:
I think @bulletbassman has it. The 2nd gen Kona Process was the first truly aggro trail bike that pushed into the Enduro category in my mind.


I'd also like to add that following the 2nd gen Process, the current Process is a bitter disappointment. Which is funny, because if the 2nd gen weren't so good, I probably wouldn't actually mind the current model that much.
  • 5 0
 @bulletbassman: and Chris Porter took it further to where we are today.
  • 3 1
 @onemanarmy: That would be the Chris Porter effect.
  • 1 0
 @livlief: He also introduced reduced offset forks. Coming up will be double crown enduro forks.
  • 2 0
 That's the most important thing on this list other than dropper posts. Geo > Travel > Wheel diameter
  • 1 0
 @cole-inman: Geo > Wheel Dia > Travel
  • 1 0
 Yeah, RC didn’t mention geometry at all
  • 4 0
 @Stinky-Dee:
Not specifically, but that's what he's getting at when he talks about "the enduro effect".
  • 1 0
 @Stinky-Dee: actually calls it out specifically in the ‘enduro effect’ - I just felt ‘geo’ wasn’t emphasized enough
  • 1 0
 how about dampening tech?
forks are way better.
130 is the new 160.
  • 2 0
 @DDoc:
You mean damping
  • 1 2
 @artistformlyknowasdan: I think frame geometry is one part of a larger picture. More or less 1 degree of head tube will change with a different fork, tire or sag. How many bikes does PB rate that have identical geometry, but they say one handles better - different...

With the advent of carbon and the ability manipulate it is just as much of a huge innovation as is his other top innovations. Geometry IDk.
  • 2 1
 @Stinky-Dee: carbon has nothing to do with geo. The Geometron (Chris Porter used to push the limits of geometry) was made of straight aluminium tubes. And there are lots of steel frames with progressive geo. Carbon just allows funky suspension designs and pivot / shock locations.
  • 2 0
 Regarding geometry, in a recent article about dropper post RC talked about how this hugely influenced geo, as moving the saddle away from where it is when going down allowed to steepen the seattube angle when going up. And without the ability to steepen the seattube you wouldn't want to increase reach as the bike would then be unrideable.
  • 1 1
 THE TREK SESSION Without the Session no other manufacturers would know what a DH bike should look like for 5-10 years.
  • 143 5
 Thank you, Stan, for Tubeless tires!
  • 20 2
 I guess we're just going to pretend UST didn't exist before Stan's, then.
  • 18 0
 @Jamminator: UST was heavy at the time and required both UST tires and rims, which limited options. Stans on the other hand could be rigged up to “work” with almost any setup, and they’ve never hidden the fact that the sealant was their entire selling point
  • 2 0
 @Jamminator: ^^^^^^^^^^^^^
  • 5 0
 God i remember running slimed tubes....good riddance
  • 1 0
 @fewnofrwgijn: I'm aware, our team raced UST X-Max/Hutchinson's for two years before I saw Stan pitching his sealant at a Mount Snow NCS. Stan gifted the world sealant and flexibility, but let's not pretend he invented tubeless.
  • 101 30
 FACTS 1. If you didn't record it, it didn't happen 2. 26 ain't dead 3. German Engineering reigns supreme 4. Dave is smart 5. Shimano is clutch 6. Your chain will still fall off 7. Front derailleur is dead 8. Droppers always break 9. Fat bikes should only be used in snow 10. More girth is always better 11. Flat pedals win medals 12. Air volume spacers are nice 13. Every person has a different perspective on Enduro 14. Batteries don't belong on bikes 15. Batteries don't belong in bikes
  • 20 1
 Dont tell this guy fat bikes should only be used in snow.. www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eOX1A6XrYU
  • 4 0
 @berguww: freak of nature :O
  • 11 0
 I feel like we just speed dated, and could now hang out in a bar and not get in an argument about bikes. This platform clearly needs support for beer emojis.
  • 3 6
 @Schralpedrubber: cheers! Let me know of any jobs down in Texas... Alberta is big f*cked
  • 11 0
 @Calgary-Rider-722: oil money.... look what it does to people. rip roaring to broke faster than a mustang 0-60 that you bought with your first cheque.
  • 2 0
 "who cares...as long as we're having fun?"
  • 2 1
 Yea this guys doesn’t own a dirt jump bike.
  • 3 0
 @berguww: turns out my primary bike is a fatbike. It was not the plan but due to luck or lack thereof it's been that way for a couple of years now. While I have my eye on a 29er all mountain bike in the future I've had a heck of a lot of fun on the fatty in all conditions and all kinds of trails. It is certainly not the best tool for every trail situation, but I haven't found a trail it can't handle.
  • 1 0
 @berguww: Holy $h!t! I don't even know what I should call it when I get on a bike.. That's riding a bike! That dude shreds for sure!
  • 3 0
 I’m building my “new” enduro bike this year. It’s a 2012 Orange Alpine 160 frame that I picked up on EBay for under $300. Since it was already in the UK it was off to Orange directly for fresh paint and a going over. Even without any modifications the wheelbase on this “dead” old 26er is longer than my wife’s 2016 Bronson. A works component headset to slacken the HA even further, coupled with a CC DBCS should make a really good starting point. I’m gonna do a real world extreme test on this 26” is dead theory. Oh well I’ve been told I’m crazy before but considering I’ve got 2 kids in full sets of braces This past year... the dentist literally got to buy my new frame!
  • 1 0
 @berguww: Ha! Good exampleSmile Pat Smage is an accomplished MotoTrial rider, he has a TON of Vids on youtube, both moto and bicycle, have a look!

www.youtube.com/user/sherco125290/videos
  • 1 0
 @GT-CORRADO: I know he lives down the road from my house and I am privileged enough to ride with him from time to time. He's amazing.
  • 62 2
 The Enduro Bike geometry, the dropper post, and the larger wheels have made me a more aggressive rider at 46 than i was at 22
  • 2 0
 Amen to that!
  • 3 2
 I feel like I'm getting better and faster as I finish off my early 40s. For me it's a combination of a better bike (YT capra 29 al) and just being in better shape. Training for half Ironman events has allowed me to be more focused when the bike starts heading downhill. I aim to finish triathlon in early June and have the rest of the summer to play in the dirt. My fitness fades in October/November, but then start ramping it right back up in December.
  • 15 0
 Hmm, whats that old joke...how do you know someone is a triathlete?

They'll tell you in the first 30 seconds you talk to them Smile

Just giving you a hard time. Keep it up out there.
  • 9 0
 And this is the great marketing trick, if you had all that stuff at 22 you would have been much faster than you are now. The ridiculous amount of money we throw at bikes allows us to be marginally quicker into middle age convincing our selves we are old age rippers - were not! Go ride with some Propper fast young dudes and reality hits pretty quick.

I’ve kind of had an epiphany with all this stuff. So much is about speed and how going faster on a carbon 29er will make my life complete, it won’t. Yes bikes are much better now but all this innovation is really about sales and the constant cycle of upgrades. If I’m honest the most fun I’ve had on bikes was bmxing as a kid or the razzing round the woods on my first full suspension bike (69 deg hA, 26 wheels and 120mm of travel front and rear). Don’t get me wrong I still love messing about on bikes but I’m tired of the churn of standards and perpetual upgrade cycle.
  • 6 1
 @jemscott: Approaching 50 and learning to seriously jump and ride A-line properly and such while do you do it with your teenage child, makes spending a lot of money on carbon 29ers and (remarkably tasty) pulled pork sandwiches at Garbanzo Bike and Bean, entirely worth it. And JediFu is entirely right that the bikes, compared to say 2003 when said teenager was born, are really extraordinarily better. Reading this article I have to say I'm extremely pleased I didn't by a new proper mountain bike between then and 2018.
  • 3 1
 @The-Foiling-Optimist: Are you seriously saying that pre 2018 bikes were rubbish?? Have you watched say Earthed 1 and seen how fast they were going in 2002. The stoke and fun factor was through the roof also. Love your ride and eat philosophy though!
  • 1 0
 @jemscott: pre 2018 bikes weren't rubbish. But it's a hell of a lot harder to buy a genuinely bad bike now than it was 10 years ago. Brakes and gears actually work, even on cheap bikes. Suspension, err, suspends really well, geometry on pretty much anything won't kill you. There are very few components made of cheese. And up until the field tests, I'd have said that frames almost never fail...
  • 3 0
 yeh man, almost 60 and i'm doing sh*t i never would have thought possible 10 years ago.
  • 1 0
 suspension dampening is key to success. all the above helps, but not as much.
  • 2 0
 @jemscott: The best bike will allow you to do your best.
  • 1 0
 @jemscott: Of course, bikes weren't rubbish in 1984 when I got a Richey Montare or 1989 (Wicked Fat Chance, later updated to front suspension w00t). They were life transforming, especially the front suspension. I rode dirt merchant, the smaller version, in 2002/3 on a VPS-3 and it was life transforming too. The key point is bikes didn't evolve so much between 2003 and 2017, so by riding an older bike through that period you didn't necessarily miss much. As the article notes, we saw 29ers, dropper posts and the like coming along but they really came together very recently, as for example Richard Cunningham pointed out on this site recently you can't have a super slack head tube without a steep seat tube, which requires a dropper post. So the post 2018 bikes are truly amazing and therefore it's a great time to get a bike, if like me, you'd been riding an older 26" for many years.
  • 33 1
 Bah, propaganda. Actual innovation:

1. Strapping tubes to frames
2. Bottle cages in quantities > 1
3. Downcountry

In this order. Salute
  • 3 1
 PB's sarcasm meter just catched fire!!!
  • 2 0
 @southoftheborder: Burn baby, Burn!!!
  • 2 0
 Just wait until Waki sees number 3...
  • 22 0
 Wide bars, short stem. Surprised it didn't even get a mention but it certainly marked and before/after point. I remember shopping for a bike in 2012 and bikes still came with 700mm bars and 90mm stems as stock.
  • 3 0
 last year I accidentally (don't ask) bought a bike with 720mm bars and a 70mm stem. Shook me to the core when I rode a bike with a proper cockpit.
  • 21 4
 The "death" of 26 is not an innovation. That's forced obsolescence because the industry _did_ kill the size in the name of "marketing", as in "Look how well 27.5 sells (when there is no other option, ie 26)!" It's literally more work to find good tires (as in the top-end combos of tread, casing, and compound) for still very ride-able 26 inch wheels.

The innovation is finally getting to (mostly) uncompromised geometry, despite using the bigger wheels. Which means the innovation here might just be Boost Hubs!
  • 2 2
 Yep. A lot of "research" in all industries is simply spreading out the product line over multiple years.

Most any competent engineer understood how to make the same travel bikes in 29 size back when 29ers first were a thing, its just that the business department knew they could milk more money and get people to buy 27.5 first, then upgrade to 29 when magically the 29ers are now better.
  • 5 1
 I worked at a Trek shop in 2013/2014. We routinely had people come in and ask what we had in 27.5. Jamis and KHS were selling and I had people asking about those bikes. Not since, but for a hot minute they were. Trek and Specialized both said they weren't pursuing 27.5 because there wasn't much advantage. The market demanded 27.5 and the industry said there is no point in having 3 wheels sizes with 2 sizes almost identical. I personally knew several guys that bought Santa Cruz Blur's because they had room to fit a 27.5. People that made purchases killed 26". People that complain about why the gearbox isn't more prevalent aren't going to kill the derailleur. The only thing to get more bikes with gearboxes is if people starting buying them. And the Zerode's are pretty impressive.
  • 12 18
flag onemanarmy Plus (Dec 19, 2019 at 15:44) (Below Threshold)
 Sorry but 26 is pretty much useless outside of a pump track/dj park unless you're Cam Zink.

27.5 is so much better it's not even funny. I personally haven't completely committed to 29" but I have ridden quite a few. It's definitely got a ton of upside in many places.

Between those two options 26 just does not compare. It's not just marketing.
  • 12 17
flag pikebait2013 (Dec 19, 2019 at 15:56) (Below Threshold)
 @onemanarmy: idk but I'm faster on my 26er than a dentist on his or her 27.5 enduro bike. It's not the wheel size, it's the rider.
  • 6 2
 @onemanarmy: Useless? That's nerdy nonsense. If 26 was made in current aggressive geo I'd have ZERO problems riding the size. As history has it, my locally competitive times on legit descents wouldn't be that much faster either.
  • 19 1
 @onemanarmy: dude, I think you're confusing the geometry of 6 or 7 years ago and the wheelsize.
Go fit some 26" wheels with decent rubber to your modern 27.5 bike, you'll be amazed to discover that it doesn't become unrideable whatsoever, cause the difference is minuscule, if any.
  • 3 0
 @ismasan: have to agree. Its the geo and sizing and suspension performance that has made the biggest difference for me, not the wheel size. I still ride a 26" steel HT as my other bike. It has relatively modern geo and a Pike with charger damper. If youre fit it can be as fast as my 170mm enduro bike despite lacking rear suspension. If the geo was a tad longer and slacker it would be even better.
  • 5 2
 @headshot: you will not be as fast on your hard tail as a 170mm bike. That’s ridiculous and dumb. Perhaps you mean you are just as slow on a 170 as your hard tail, that makes more sense
  • 5 1
 @Eatsdirt: My 26" BTR Ranger was built May last year. Works just fine for me. Stability, handling etc isn't just in the wheelsize, it is in the overall geometry. BTR adapts the frame geometry to the intended wheelsize so my head tube angle is slacker than what the bigger wheeled bikes are getting. What is relevant in wheelsize is how it interacts with the terrain. No question the bigger the complete diameter of the wheel (so including inflated tire), the easier it filters out the smaller terrain features. That can be a pro or a con depending on how and where you ride. I like the interaction. To work with the terrain, pump the bike, extract speed out of all those tiny obstacles (roots, rocks, dips). If you prefer to steamroll all that then the bigger wheels are the way to go and smaller wheels are "useless" to you.

It is quite impressive what this marketing machine has been able to get away with. I recall an ad for some bike from Giant. It claimed the 27.5" wheels would roll over obstacles that would cause 26" wheels to stall. Who writes that kind of stuff? If your 26" wheel stalls then that is rider error, period. There is no excuse and in such a condition even 29" wheels aren't going to save your ass. Learning to ride is a much safer strategy.
  • 2 2
 @Eatsdirt: Point is... there's no product support for 26 any more... or very little. And 27.5 is better. So why not use what's better?

If you want a "small wheel" bike 27.5 is much better than 26. And like I said... I haven't completely bought into 29 yet and I'm not into the marketing hype machine for tech. I road a 26" until I bough my remedy a couple years ago. I still ride a 26" bike from time to time. For me the 29 still doesn't feel right. But that's me. Pretty much every other person I know is completely sold on it. I'm actually a huge fan of the mullet set up 27/29.

I guess useless was an overstatement. I should have assumed that the average pb poster would not read past that single word. Point is.... very little product support and 27.5 is better in pretty much everything outside of a pump track/dj/slope course. But mainly... product support. I think most people are fighting it just for the sake of saying FU to the system... has nothing to do with which one is better.
  • 1 0
 @ismasan: But why? Just so I can say I'm hardcore and still ride 26? I have a 26" bike. I have zero desire to put one on my 27.5 bike. It will literally do nothing to improve the ride of that bike. All it will do is reduce the amount of product support and options that I have. I will gain nothing. So it's a lose situation just to say... yeah that's a 26" in the back? Only reason I'd need that is if I decided I wanted to jump off some cliffs or something. Which I won't. Because I'm not crazy and I'm definitely not that good of a rider.


It's like the snowboard arguments. In the 90's you had to have the smallest board possible so you could spin faster. In reality it was all b.s. to sell new boards to everyone on the long early 90's boards. Then it was oh you have to have reverse camber. Oh wait now you need hybrid camber. Etc. Reality is... you can ride on all that stuff and do just fine. Yes certain tech is better for certain things and yes new tech is better than old tech. So if you have the option... why not just use what the best option is?


I think it's funny that people are calling me out for buying in to marketing. Where I'm at I'm the oddball because I'm still into hard tails and 27.5" bikes. Nearly every day I get hassled for not being on the 29 train and it's been that way for the past few years.
  • 3 1
 @onemanarmy: Your mixing up your rhetoric so much it is hard to have a decent conversation with you but I'll give it another shot.

If you're upset about people reacting to your use of the word "useless", it was just what your first sentence in that post was all about. I could interpret it as "unfit for the intended purpose" or "inadequate" but not anything mellower than that. If you meant to say "inferior to currently available alternatives" then "pretty much useless" is quite a stretch. If you're worried about being misinterpreted, give your own formulation a second thought before you hit the submit button.

The comment about running 26" wheels in a modern 27.5" specific frame wasn't about convincing you it being way better, merely to point out that 26" perform just fine when paired with more modern geometry.

Now where did anyone call you out for buying into marketing? And where did anyone claim that riding 26" were more hardcore? Not sure why you're dragging that into the conversation.

As for availability, why would that be an issue? If you want a modern wide 26" rim, you can get that. If you want a modern 26" tire, you can get that too. Sure if you want most options then you may be better off with 27.5" or 29" but it isn't quite like you can't get rims, tires and tire inserts in 26". Even the latest stuff, it is there. It kind of reminds me of the two big commercial computer operating systems a good couple of years back. If you wanted to have most soft- and hardware options, you'd run MS Windows. If you ran OSX you may have had fewer options but still more than enough decent options to get the job done. Maybe in competitive XC racing things may get more difficult but for general riding about, most of us would be just fine with what's available now.

Funny to see you mention 26" being the better option for the pumptrack but not for the trail. For me pumping the bike is an essential part of trail riding. So that actually implies that for the rider that actually tries to extract speed from irregularities in the trail (bumps, roots, rocks), running 26" wheels (or at least the rear wheel) is the way to go.
  • 2 0
 @vinay: not sure about you but the pump tracks I ride are much much smoother than the trails I ride. You're basically reinforcing opting for larger wheels as you can extract much more speed in those situations with larger wheels.

Availability and support... yes you can find it. But I can also find parts for the carb on my 70 year old car. Doesn't mean that the tech in that 70 year old car is better than my 4 year old car. Both have their purpose.

The industry is moving forward in certain areas for specific reasons.

And I was speaking globally... because I get crap for being behind the times in real life but on Pinkbike I get crap for supporting progress. It's comical to me. This single post isn't the entire world or the entirety of similar discussions I've had.
  • 2 1
 @onemanarmy: why? I just propose it as a simple experiment cause you said literally that 27.5 is so superior that's not even funny, which proves you can't tell apart geo from wheel size. I agree modern bikes are light years better than they were 10 yeas ago, but is not for being 27.5.

I'm not part of the 26aintdead brigade nor I have interest in bringing it back, feels the same and rides the same (at least to mere mortals who don't spin upside down).
That is not the same as saying 27.5 is superior, cause is not.

29ers are definitely diferent, with atributes that may or may not suit you, but 26 and 27.5 is the same shit.

BTW, camber vs. rocker is a whole different thing, and boards behave radically different too. I tried different combinations that are good, but a pure rocker is a no go for me in other than powder.
  • 2 0
 @onemanarmy: I read past useless. In fact "so much better it's funny" seemed to reinforce your stance.

I agree with many of the reasons you don't like 26, and I ride 27 now exclusively, but pure performance based on a slightly larger diameter is hardly so much better. A little better... yes.

Your snowboard analogy, you make my point. Ends up that you can ride 26 on all the same stuff and do just fine. It was done for years on some pretty sketchy geometry. Just because you can't get an assguy and 35i rims hardly makes it complete dogshit, unless you're some gullible consumer.

Seems you exaggerated a little.
  • 1 0
 @jbob27: It depends on the track. There are many HT riders who would disagree with you. Most people, like you perhaps, don't even try. Its much easier and more comfy on a full suspension bike after all.
  • 1 0
 @Eatsdirt: pretty accurate. Lol
  • 2 0
 @onemanarmy: Yeah, my pumptrack is smoother than my trails too. But I rarely ride my mountainbike at the pumptrack. I usually bring my BMX with 20" wheels. Admitted I appreciate the bigger wheels at the trails but 26" feels good enough for me.

See, I think we're addressing this discussion differently. People, me included, responded to your statement which appeared to claim that 26" wheels would be inadequate for trail riding whereas (we claim) much of the perceived improvements of the bigger wheels come from improved geometries and other stuff unrelated to wheelsize. What I think we agree upon is that smaller wheels interact more with the irregularities of the trail than the bigger wheels do. That can be a good or bad. Good in that it allows you to extract speed from the terrain, bad in that it can keep you so busy that it is going hold you back. This depends both on rider skill and terrain. For me and where I ride, I feel the balance between those too is fine. If I would ride rougher terrain, would do more seated pedaling and/or ride longer distances in a single go then I might like to tame things down too using bigger wheels. As a dad going out on short blasts on trails nearby, I don't mind being kept busy by whatever these trails throw at me.

When I say availability is there I don't mean to say I only have access to old tech. My asymmetrical rims have 29mm inner width which is just fine for the 2.4" tires I'm running. My rims are from Syntace. Spank, WTB, Ryde, Stans etc have rims available with similar or even larger width. Schwalbe and Continental make their recent tires in 26" too. I'm running Schwalbe/Syntace ProCore inside my tires which may have been developed when 26" was still king, but even now the more recent tire inserts are still being made available in 26". If there are a few brands that don't, who cares? Sure for the kind who likes to be in the position to be able to try everything then 26" may no longer be the way to go. But I'm more than happy with the shortlist of gear that is still available for my bike. You're always going to have that. If you run Formula forks and would like to try whatever Vorsprung is making, you're out of luck too. Doesn't mean you can't have a blast on the gear you have.

As for getting crap for what you choose to ride, that is what friends are for isn't it? I'm still running an ACS freewheel on my BMX even though the entire BMX world has moved on to those microdrive freewheels. It isn't even worth the bother for me. Unless you're racing, the whole point of riding a BMX is to not pedal. Why bother with an expensive freewheel Wink ?
  • 16 2
 Hoping we move toward gear boxes and throw the derailleur away. Or some other alternative. Crazy how far we have come in a decade. Can't wait to see what's next so I can reason that my current bike is outdated and make way for a new one!
  • 1 0
 I don't quite see the point of Pinion P1.18 if C1.12 is probably sufficient for most. Biggest no-go for many would probably be the lack of a trigger shifter. I can imagine at some point that may be what could make Effigear the more popular option. Then again in other news, Shimano was also working on a gearbox so with the kind of OEM market they have, they may eventually bring it to the mainstream. Or Hayes builds something around the PeteSpeed patent. Then they are also firmly in the OEM market with gearing, brakes, suspension, bars/stems/etc and wheels.
  • 3 0
 @vinay: Ya it definitely needs some improvement. I predict over the next decade that the gearbox is perfected, or close to it. Interesting to see if these start becoming OEM spec'd on more and more bikes.
  • 3 2
 I want to see 3 speed compact gearbox at the front, and then a 4 speed tiny derailleur on the rear.
  • 1 0
 @vinay : Triggers are available for Pinion, have a look at Cinq Innovations
  • 2 0
 @stumpjumper92: Now that e bikes are on the rise traditional rear derailleurs will hopefully face an even quicker demise.
  • 1 0
 @phops: no god, please no! nooooo!
  • 3 0
 The whole concept of gearing is old and outdated. The next decade will see the rise of dropper cranks (or remotely adjustable crank length). Long cranks when stomping away on a climb (obviously paired with a dropper bb that raises as crank length increases) and then short cranks for sprinting, pumping etc. This will be done either with linkage that connects through a concentric shaft that passes through the bb. It will be unlocked by something that resembles the gyro used on BMX bikes. SRAM will be the only one that uses telescopic cranks with hydraulic pistons so where the negative chamber of the one crank links to the positive chamber of the other. Bleeding will be a bitch. They could go with the gyro too but SRAM doesn't know shit about BMX stuff so they'll go with AXS instead. Either way, the euro-bb is too small for this to work properly and the most obvious choice would be to just switch to the American bb. Unfortunately the American bb doesn't have that high profile image (typically associated with one-piece cranks) so we'll see a new (or a series of new) bb standard.

Just in case this doesn't materialize, please append this post to the December 2029 article of "ten years of innovation gone wild".
  • 1 0
 @tomhoward379: I'm assuming that you're referring to this shift system from Cinq: cinq.de/en/shifting-technology/428/shift-r-tour-for-pinion?c=136
Having one shifter for upshifts and one shifter for downshifts sounds like a significant disadvantage compared to having both on one shifter, especially for bikes with dropper post levers on the left side of the handlebar.
  • 1 0
 @cedrico: I prefer the single function on each side to be honest, to the point where I have it configured like that on 2 other bikes, using AXS. Droppers can still be integrated, by using either a grip collar mounted lever (KS and I think fox make one) or a plunger style reverb remote, as I’m using. Waaay better than gripshift anyway.
  • 1 0
 @cedrico: plus, someone with a bit of knowledge around a cnc or 3D printer should be able to knock up a single sided shifter for both cables.
  • 1 0
 @tomhoward379: Good to know.
  • 16 1
 Wasn't this decade nearly the death of the brick and mortar bike shop? By the time something was in stock, it was obsolete with the the rate at which standards were changing.
  • 9 1
 Yup and then Ebikes saved them.
  • 14 0
 "Trailforks" makes my list of innovation in the last 10 years. Might even be the top of my list, but that's just me.
  • 3 0
 @blaklabl: Trailforks actually was on the top of my list, but it's part of PB, so, conflict of interest.
  • 1 0
 Trailforks would also be on my list. It‘s the innovation that opens the world of unknown trails.
  • 10 1
 PLEASE DO NOT RETIRE.......................................... LOVE OR HATE YOU (AND I IN THE FIRST CATEGORY) WE ALL LOVE TO READ YOU AND HAVE DISCUSSION!
  • 4 25
flag getsomesy (Dec 19, 2019 at 15:33) (Below Threshold)
 RC is the opitomy of industry propeganda. His retirment will be the best thing to happen to the bike media and all the poor saps that have believed what has been being said.
  • 9 0
 So, why do e-bikes have traditional drivetrains? Seems like they should have internal gearing like the Pinion.
  • 12 1
 Ah but then it would be very hard for companies to prove they arent motor bikes
  • 5 0
 One reason: Pinion gearboxes won't shift under load, and most of the modern ebikes continue to put some power into the drivetrain for a little bit after you stop pedaling. Which means you'd have to stop pedaling for almost a full second to get a shift in, which doesn't really work very well on a climb.
  • 3 0
 @toast2266: Its not that it can't shift under power it's that trigger shifters don't provide the torque necessary to shift under power. The article on Pinkbike about pinion awhile back eluded to electronic shifting making it possible. It's how they test them at the factory, shifting under full load using an electronic shifting device. All in due time. It's a sequential gearbox, just like a dirt bike. They shift under power all day long.
  • 1 0
 @MikeGruhler: Fair point; current shifters can't ram the shift through. An electronic thing might be able to, but it'll need a motor with decent torque to be able to force the shift, Or it'd need to separate the power from the shifter with a clutch, which is what dirt bikes use (and that seems like it'd be relatively easy to incorporate into an electronic shifting system).
  • 1 0
 @toast2266: Dirt bikes only use a clutch to start and stop. There might be something to it though. I think they could incorporate a shifting motor into the gearbox itself. Considering what there doing with motors in wireless derailleurs it shouldn't be to hard to make something work.
  • 1 1
 @MikeGruhler: dirt bikes will shift while riding if you let off the gas. But if you want to shift a dirt bike while staying on the gas, you either clutch it or expect a short life span from your gearbox. But the ebike motors don't let off the gas immediately - they keep driving for a bit even after you stop pedaling, hence the problem. A clutch could fix that, but it's just another technological impediment to widespread adoption (and probably why we're not already seeing lots of gearbox use on ebikes).
  • 1 0
 It obviously nothing like the opinion system but a lot of ebikes use Shimano Nexus interns gears with a belt drive. It works flawlessly. Far better than a traditional gear changer. I can’t imagine that this isn’t the direction engineers will take ebikes in the future for all styles of riding. Hopefully pinion is as the front of that charge
  • 1 0
 Because it makes an already expensive thing even more expensiver!
  • 1 0
 @toast2266: Wasn't referring to gearboxes on e-bikes, just gearboxes using electric shifting for gear changes under load. Electric derailleurs have a pretty amazing little motor in them, just figured that something similar could be integrated into the gearbox to allow shifting under load and use a trigger shifter.
  • 1 0
 @MikeGruhler: electric shifting alone wouldn’t solve the ‘no shifting under load‘ problem. You’d need some sort of clutch system, but that brings with it other problems, as the drivetrain would be disconnected from your legs momentarily, which I guess wouldn’t feel great in use.
  • 1 0
 @tomhoward379: The article on pinion awhile back suggested otherwise. One of there QC steps is to test the gearbox by shifting under full load up and down the entire range using an electronic shifting device on there test bench with
no damage. They were confident in its ability to do so but required more energy than a trigger shifter could provide, that's where some type of electronic shifting comes in.
  • 6 0
 I feel like the first decade where mountain bikes were designed around mountain biking without hanging on to the legacy of Road bikes and 1990s XC racing. Good riddance to old bikes!
  • 1 0
 I began MTB in the early 1990's (coming from BMX) and I 100% agree. The new bikes a light years better than anything made in the 1990's/early 2000's
  • 2 0
 @bman33: Imagine we started riding bikes now? Kids are so lucky.
  • 2 0
 @bman33: oh I remember those days my friend...
  • 1 0
 @blaklabl: indeed.
  • 8 0
 Dropper,s geo and 1X are the game changers for me!!!
  • 1 0
 yeah i agree!
  • 6 2
 "Laugh if you want, but it took 20 years of air-sprung suspension development to figure out that a inserting measured plastic spacer into the air chamber could fine-tune its spring rate."

Completely false. Folks have been tuning oil-levels in open-bath forks and adding extra oil (Float Fluid) to air springs to tune spring rate for decades. The innovation is not air spring volume tuning, it's doing it in discrete changes via the plastic tokens.

"Fox offered an air volume spacer kit for their Float RP23 shock in 2011, but the concept fell on deaf ears until wheel travel passed the 150-millimeter mark."

Maybe we have better ears, but everyone I know that had that an RP23 also got a spacer kit.

"Before volume spacers became common, riders had two choices: pressurize your fork or shock until it didn't bottom, at the expense of a harsh ride in the first part of the stroke; or suffer the opposite - a supple ride off the initial stroke, with a tendency to bottom out."

For forks, also false, since before auto-equalizing air negative springs you could always add oil to the air chamber to reduce the air volume. Plastic tokens didn't really need to be a thing until (almost) everyone switch to auto-equalizing with a port. This would have let the extra oil eventually all leak into the negative chamber, thus the need for a solid spacer.
  • 4 0
 Good article RC! Just like way back in your MBA days- I don't always agree with you, but appreciate your considered opinions nonetheless. Hope your will continue to pop by in your "retirement" with more thoughtful commentary.
  • 1 0
 Great article! What an amazing decade it has been. Trail bikes these days are so freakin awesome! It is a really good time to be a mountain biker.
  • 4 0
 I guess a lot of riders of 26 inch bikes are pissed off when overnight the industry just stopped supporting that wheel size. it left a bad aftertaste, as if the industry forcefully ask people to buy new bike because 26 is dead. if the industry slowly phase off 26 inch bikes and offer support for a few years i guess it wont be that bad. Cmon, even Microsoft continued their support for Windows 7 even after Windows 8 and 10 came out.

Another thing is that, 27.5 is only a slightly bigger than 26 inch wheels. Why not the industry just stick to 26 and 29?
  • 13 6
 26 isn’t dead.
Strava sucks.
  • 2 1
 Strava does suck especially when the idiots on ebikes smash kom times that are pretty much unbeatable. It's become a joke.
  • 2 0
 @mhoshal: There have been "Strava Terrorists" basically form day 2, on motos before ebikes.

I like to see what my friends are up to, especially the ones that live far away. I really only compare my rides/times to myself & my friends.

The mistake is looking at it as some sort of achievement.
  • 1 0
 26" ain't dead if you ride it.

26" is dead if you're looking to sell it.

26" is alive and kickin' if you're looking for an insane bargain on a used one.
  • 1 0
 @krka73: fair enough most of the trails I ride are to tight for dirtbikes
  • 3 0
 Sam Hill also won the 2014 Mont St Anne and 2014 Meribel World Cup DH on flat pedals. This was with Gwin, Hart, Ratboy, and Brosnan all riding at peak levels - and all clipped in. Hell of an accomplishment, but if anyone can rise to a challenge its gonna be Sammy.
  • 2 0
 Agree. Still blown away by his last second run this year to cinch the '19 EWS title. Perfection in sport right there.
  • 3 0
 @ismasan: A half-inch lower standover for 26" on a 27.5 frame. I have such a bike. If I'm taking that carbon hardtail to Northstar, or getting a shuttle up, I'll put a 27.5 up front to slacken the geometry a degree and benefit from the quicker pedaling acceleration little rear and easier front roll-over.
  • 3 0
 You forgot the extinction of short and 200+ travel freeride bikes. The ones that helped to spur the gravity movement are now nowhere to be found in new model years. As awesome as trail bikes are today, they are nowhere near in terms of durability to the old FR ones and cannot be used to consistently send 5+ vertical m drops or huge gaps with sketchy landings.
  • 7 5
 I am part of the vestigial population, owning a Production Privée Shan 26" with flat pedals. It is a size large, and I'm pretty sure some new bikes have longer size small these days.
Sure, I will not win any KOM on it. But I actually ride the damn bike, and not let it do all the work for me. Some people really should try, for a change.
  • 3 0
 So someone who buys a new bike , maybe their first MTB, and it has different wheels than you, can't 'ride' it because the wheels are not a size you approve of? Wow, guess we should tell everyone out there about this....
  • 2 0
 26” you do all the work, 27.5” the bike does all the work. My 29er rides itself. I just stay at home.
  • 4 1
 You had me until the electric bikes....not an advancement or innovation at all... just a different sport for people with different ideas and different values. Not mountain bikes.
  • 1 1
 Lol nice trying to tie together morals and ebikes.

"Not mountain bikes". ...huh?

They are literally mountain bikes with a pedal assist motor attached.
  • 5 0
 I remember when moving to Juicy 3 was an upgrade.
  • 1 0
 I’d swap the gearbox for modern geometry which includes wide bars and wide rims for tubeless tires. Tubeless tires turned everything around for me. I went from two or three flats every ride. Maybe two or three flats since I switched over 5 or 6 years ago. Everything else is spot on.
  • 1 5
flag gorideyourbikeman (Dec 19, 2019 at 13:08) (Below Threshold)
 so you'd openly make a mistake?
  • 4 0
 Morgane Charre won the 2012 DH World Championships in Leogang on flat pedals if I recall.
  • 1 0
 Same year as Brook
  • 6 3
 The whole 26"-27.5" thing was really just meant to piss everyone off. Sorry. I can see 29", but 27.5"? Basically just made it so I can't buy anything.................
  • 1 0
 The actual ride difference between 26 and 27.5 was subtle, but 27.5 was a gateway drug to 29. I bet there would be fewer people riding 29ers if people hadn’t adopted 27.5 first, making the mental shift that bigger wheels have some advantages.
  • 3 0
 26 ain't dead, but Ellsworth sure is. Man what ugly bikes they were with that see-saw swingarm (although that Dare doesn't look as bad).
  • 3 0
 What a great overview, RC - bravo. This is just the kind of perspective that has made you a pleasure to read and such a valuable contributor to Pinkbike. It will be missed!
  • 1 0
 > Pipedream's Moxie epitomizes the British new-school hardtail with steel pipes and SAF numbers.

What are SAF numbers here? I can't seem to read it as anything other than Safe As F**k (RftL) numbers, but that doesn't seem quite right.
  • 2 1
 Been a crazy ten years. The next ten will be even crazier.

Geometry will get crazier and then stabilize again. A pretty big boutique company is going to go out of business trying to make their own proprietary motor/battery system. Meanwhile a wave of new riders comes in to the sport demanding electric assist. Prices go down. Hardware become commoditized. A burgeoning subculture of people hacking and modding motors grows.

As ebikes with throttles become mainstream for commuting and car replacement, they bleed in to mountain biking. Nobody can tell who is actually pedaling and as regular pedal bikes become a fringe part of the market, nobody cares either.
  • 2 1
 The fact you say 26" is dead isn't innovative at all, nor is it fair that companies basically treat you with lesser options than that of 29ers, I find it pathetic how the mtb companys basically shun you from getting 26" wheels at all and shove 29ers down people's mouths.
  • 1 2
 Besides 29ers don't make a difference in skill, you just look like a roadie that just converted to XC and is now bragging about how "better" 29ers are.
  • 1 0
 29ers have advantage on the trails for entry level riders with little skills. Ei easier to get over obstacles while traveling slow, and easier to climb hills. For an aggressive rider trying to pick up speed in tight section and corners, all the advantages are lost. OR in other words If you suck, but wanna look fast get a 29er.
  • 2 1
 Totally missed is: Carbon Fiber frames - maybe too pricey for the PB keyboard elites but some of the bikes I own and have ridden Carbon Fiber really shines. Saves weight and just rides much better. It is really hard to find a Pro on anything but Carbon.
  • 2 0
 RC: Absolute brilliance on your part distilling the past decade so succinctly and accurately! Well done!

PLEASE DON'T RETIRE AND LEAVE US WITHOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE, EXPERTISE, AND MTB WISDOM!!!
  • 1 0
 so correct @shrockie
I converted a '05 SC Blur (26"). 22psi turned that too high BB, too steep steerer piece of archaic geometry into a bike that almost turns half as well as my '15 Process134. The old bike still don't flow like a new one, but to repeat an old saying, all bikes is fun!
  • 1 0
 One for the E-bike haters. Bare foot running and swimming are true tests of human ability. All cycling is cheating. Wheels bearings gears discs suspension droppers frame specs carbon etc are all advances we all love. Don't let your ego severely limit your ability to enjoy yourself by ignoring the greatest technical development in your lifetime. Nobody is that good that they cannot enjoy the sheer FUN ,fitness and exploring benefits of e bikes .Forget fashion and Facebook think for yourself and try one with a open mind and discover a whole new learning curve.
They are life changing and are actually a "Time Machine"
The feeling (It's you but younger and faster)
E=Mtb2
  • 1 0
 When talking about what killed 26" (I still ride a 26"...) one thing that has made a difference to me, is the long and more importantly low geometry with low stand over height. I got a 26" several years ago because as a shorter rider with a short inseam stand over is an important issue to me and a used 26" with 130mm of travel had a shorter standover than 100mm 29ers. Not until recently were 29", more so 27.5", dual sus bikes available with a short standover, and short enough seat tubes where I could have a dropper post with a reasonable amount of drop. When I quit being cheap and buy a new bike, I'll have options in bigger tires which is exciting.
  • 1 0
 Dropper posts #1 innovation this decade. I drilled my old 2005 Iron Horse Warrior Comp frame to accept an internal routed dropper. It's still 2X, 26" wheeled, but is now WAY more fun.
What's sorta odd is that travel adjust forks have pretty much dissappeared. They really made older bikes ( and newer ones) versatile.
Tubeless is a close second.
  • 2 2
 The article seems a little North America centered. Increased popularity of hardtails? To me it seems like they've always been there, mostly offered by the Brits. We've been seeing more and more brands pop up lately but if there is one thing new this decade, it is actually that these originally steel hardtail manufacturers (or a new company called Starling) now also start to build steel full sussers.
  • 2 1
 man it must suck only owning a hardtail and wanting to spend time on the internet looking up the sport you love only to see the industry flooded with full squish bikes. damn. maybe part of the reason I got a full sus. I like to tinker and research. I feel ya hardtial gang. they should be equally talked about!!
  • 1 2
 Hardtail look funny to me now squishing only on one end.
  • 1 0
 @reverend27: nothing beats the look of a clean hardtail. full sus bikes range so wildley with suspension most look so ugly. I had a buddy say my new full sus looked funny... i paid $4000 for it..... full sus looks funny.
  • 1 0
 @gorideyourbikeman: it's opinion man.

And my full sus is gorgeous.
  • 1 0
 @reverend27: tootin your own horn are we? lol.
  • 2 0
 @gorideyourbikeman: To be honest I don't care too much about the attention it is getting. Pinkbike has always been a bit backwards in this respect and just because they only recently caught up with it doesn't mean proper hardtails are something from this decade. I only fled to Pinkbike when Dirt Magazine went out of print. Then learned that it was only a few years ago that Pinkbike got shorter stems (Dirt Magazine always swapped out the stock long stem, narrow bars and worthless tires for something proper before even bothering to test the bike). And even now it seems Pinkbike hasn't completely left the perception that the main reason for riding a hardtail is because of the efficient climbing on smooth terrain. For as long as Pinkbike hasn't ditched that mindset, I don't really care for them to pay attention to hardtails. All brands have websites now, they aren't dependent on the mainstream media anymore. If you want their story, videos etc best is always to just get in touch with them. And for the hardcore Pinkbiker expanding horizons for the first time, it sure must be shocking to find out that none of these steel hardtail manufacturers ever mentioned climbing efficiency. Never have, never will. It isn't on the agenda. It is about cornering, jumping and just having fun.

Then again as I mentioned, what is kind of new this decade really is many of these brands now releasing steel full sussers. It is definitely more common now than it was ten years ago. I think (haven't done my research, sorry) it was a first for DMR, Stanton, Starling, BTR, Cotic, Production Privee... Did Curtis already have one in the previous decade? I'm no walking encyclopedia but the only steel full sussers I can think of that were already out there over ten years ago were from Fire Eye. Funny enough Fire Eye and DMR eventually moved on to aluminium whereas Cotic went from an aluminium full susser to a steel front triangle.
  • 4 1
 The way I remember it, nobody REALLY wanted 29” wheels until a certain middle-aged man started winning World Cups on them.
  • 1 0
 In general, as social media got more popular and accessible, dh/freeride/enduro got a chance to shine which created a shift in how the sport was viewed, especially as motocross guys started hopping on mountain bikes.
  • 2 0
 @phops: You make is sound as if moto guys are new to mtb...???
  • 1 0
 @Eatsdirt: Not new as in totally new, but there has been a lot of movement from moto to mtb over the past decade. Look at the evolution of DH racing.
  • 4 0
 Dammit... I'm old enough to remember all of these.
  • 3 0
 Wheels in this size are stronger and more steer, that's a fact. Banshee still offers frames for 26",ha!
  • 3 0
 decent read. the evolution of slopestyle... expanding what can be done on a bike, shoulda made the list.
  • 2 0
 Just wanna throw in another shout-out for wide rims. They really have made a world of difference to modern bikes in every aspect of the ride!
  • 1 1
 Hate to break it to you, but after switching to an x2 air shock I can easily say air shocks have zero small bump compliance, whether set up saggy or stiff. It's just not there. At least they are reliable and very adjustable these days though.
  • 1 1
 Fun article. In the 5 years since I began riding, I feel like the bikes are just so much better, like a world of difference. 1x, boost, short stems, long reaches, good pedaling rear suspension, 29ers, these are the giant improvements for me personally. Ps. Just began using Strava like a month ago but it is darn fun!
  • 3 0
 Brook MacDonald won on flats in 2012 in dry conditions. And droppers only took so long to catch on because of the price tag.
  • 3 3
 RC articles always read like a 12 year old came out with them. There were 150 mm trail bikes in the mid 2000s. And long travel trail bikes have had their head angles going slacker right along with DH bikes.
Some droppers were good well before the Transfer came out
Was everyone not just pouring a bit of extra oil in their air springs to reduce the volume well before tokens?
  • 2 0
 This was an interesting read. I already knew about everything that was mentionned but it was fun to read a well-written summary of it all in one article. Thanks RC.
  • 1 0
 26 is dead yes. But don't forget that time GIANT made up marketing sceme to convince us that 27.5 was the best so they didn't have to put R&D into developing a modern 29 trail bike
  • 1 0
 Hindsight is 2020, well played RC! Couldn't have anyone better qualified to write about this amazing decade in mountain bikes. Thank You! Really going to miss your articles here...
  • 7 5
 26 will only die when people stop riding them! I have only ever ridden and will only ever ride 26!
  • 17 2
 you'll switch.
  • 3 5
 26" for sure !!!
  • 8 5
 Next big innovation: getting rid of the goddamn Presta valve.
  • 3 0
 Im still waiting for the right angled valves that I had on every single one of my motorcycles, which made both inflation and checking tire psi way easier.
  • 1 0
 Amen to that! I have a set of Stan's Schrader valves is have moved over the last three wheelsets I've owned. Prestas are OK for road cycling, but the hassle they bring to MTB is totally unnecessary.
  • 3 1
 imo, narrow wide was the only one we really needed.. The rest are luxury items
  • 2 1
 I beg to disagree. The dropper post enabled major changes in the geometry department, as an earlier piece here at Pinkbike showed a couple of weeks ago.
  • 1 7
flag gorideyourbikeman (Dec 19, 2019 at 14:07) (Below Threshold)
 @southoftheborder: screw that. can't believ how much people "rely" on droppers. it's like a power seat in a car. Just adjust it man!
  • 4 0
 @gorideyourbikeman: if it makes you happy, go for it. For a lot more rider out there, the dropper enabled a more flowy riding style.
  • 4 1
 @gorideyourbikeman: I would rather have a hardtail with a dropper than a full sus without one.
  • 1 1
 @southoftheborder: my power seat in my car enables much more aggressive driving.... that's what that sounds like. just drop your seat before you hit the trail!?
  • 4 1
 @gorideyourbikeman: I was going to continue to argue with you, then realized how weird it is to have to explain to another mountain biker how useful a dropper is. If you don’t get it by now, I won’t convince you. I’ll just go ride my bike man.
  • 2 1
 @PtDiddy: I have a dropper... I use it. not a big deal. people talk about it like its as important as a chain or something.... blows my mind.
  • 3 0
 @gorideyourbikeman: it's not about its importance, but about how it changed the way we ride. As I said before, apples to apples. A chain is a fundamental part of a bicycle, and I think we could all agree on that concept. A dropper might not be equally fundamental to the core bicycle as a whole, but it surely opens new ways of riding.

Droppers also helped the progressive geometry evolution, since a slacker seat angle was necessary in order to avoid having your saddle in a place where it certainly would hurt your ideal descending position. Since the droppers became a common piece on our bikes, the seat tube angle evolved into much more steeper figures. Simply because being able to drop your saddle when you need it out of your way (and off your belly!) while also being able to rise it back again when you had to mash on your pedals was a huge improvement. Think of those undulating trails where you would face several small but steep hills with valleys between them. When the momentum you build on the downs won't be enough to drive you to the cusp of the next hill. That's where a dropper makes wonders.
  • 1 0
 @southoftheborder: ?? some wild accusations. many bikes with steep seat angles don't have droppers on the low end model until this year. I'm just waiting for someone to call those bikes unrideable. Not gonna lie, it sounds like you love your dropper so much there's no telling you otherwise. Preach I guess but to me it's bullshit.
  • 1 0
 @gorideyourbikeman: Sorry, but I'm not accusing anyone of anything. And you are right, I wasn't including the lower end bikes on my argument. And as you correctly point out, many of them don't have droppers. But also, many lower end bikes don't exhibit the modern geometry I said benefits most from this gimmick.

Anyway, I'll have to ask you not to put any words on my mouth, as I haven't said anything like you stated above. I haven't implied any bike without a dropper becomes obsolete. I haven't implied you are wrong for not liking droppers.

I merely pointed out droppers and modern geometry go hand in hand towards a better riding experience.

You are entitled to your opinion, and I'm in no way stating you should be banned from speaking it out. Please respect mine, as I do respect yours.
  • 1 0
 @southoftheborder: you said it... gimmick lol.
  • 1 0
 @southoftheborder: I didn't think of that.. And to be honest, a dropper post is an item I'd love to own! I'm just reluctant because they all seem to rely on cartridges that can't be serviced at home.. So in the end, the manufacturer will stop producing cartridges and I'll be stuck with a useless bit of metal
  • 1 0
 @nordland071285: good catch. Although I could still recommend you a couple alternatives which don't rely on glorified chair cartridges.

The not-much-loved-here-at-Pinkbike Rock Shox Reverb is fully rebuildable at home with some makeshift tools (I know because I'm on my third Reverb and I do them myself). The Bikeyoke ones are also user serviceable and they include a mechanism to purge the post, should any air get trapped in the oil. And finally, the SDG Tellis Is fully mechanical, and servicing it is darn simple.
  • 1 0
 @gorideyourbikeman: that's some solid argument you threw out right there mate! /Sarcasm.
  • 1 0
 @nordland071285: anytime mate. Happy to help!
  • 3 1
 I think e-bikes are great (I don't own one yet), but the idea of racing e-bikes I don't fully understand.
  • 1 0
 Carbon material proliferation and progression belongs on here. Yes, AL is making a comeback now, but carbon composites lit up this decade.
  • 1 0
 Am i the only one fascinated by the P1 Gearbox? For any riders that are also car lovers this is so exciting even though it might weigh too much, or with poor ergonomics.
  • 3 0
 Great article Mr Cunningham,as ever.
  • 2 0
 Dave weagles linkage was on the awesome ironhorse sunday longer than 10 years ago
  • 1 0
 True, but Dave didn't move the needle until much later.
  • 1 0
 Wide rims and tires are not new but they have changed my riding.
30mm inner rims and 2.5" minions? common its almost cheating.
  • 2 0
 Brilliant writing on the Death of the Front Derailleur! What a decade!
  • 2 0
 1. Dropper Post 2. Clutch Derailleur 3. Narrow Wide
  • 2 0
 Only for vestigial circus freaks.
  • 2 0
 supposed to be a reply to 26" still alive. Good read. Funny - thanks RC
  • 5 4
 If you comment ok boomer, just don't comment. Some of us adults are not in that generation. Thanks.
  • 8 0
 I wanna say ok boomer so bad to this, but i wont.
  • 4 6
 THOU DOTH PROTEST 2 MUCH. DON'T START NONE WON'T BE NONE USW...

BOOMER NOW REPRESENTS A VIBE HOLMES. BUT AS AN ADULT YOU KNOW THAT. REMEMBER THOSE GUYS WHO'VE BEEN OLD SINCE THEY GRADUATED HIGHSCHOOL? AGE AINT NOTHING BUT A NUMBER. YOUNG REPUBLICAN STYLE NOT R.KELLY STYLE. PLENTY OF YOUNG OLDS JUST LIKE THERE ARE GROWNUPS WHO DON'T SUCK.
  • 1 0
 @owl-X: then you just make a comment on the thread, not just a phrase. You are looked at in a manner of not having an actual opinion about the subject. Do what you like, just my opinion.
  • 1 6
flag owl-X (Dec 19, 2019 at 13:54) (Below Threshold)
 @hardtailRockhopper: FAIR ENOUGH, BUT THE WHOLE THING IS A FANTASTIC WAY TO DISMISS OLD STICK-IN-DA-MUDS RIGHT OFF THE BAT. IT WORKS HERE. THIS GUY HAS A HISTORY OF PLAYING THE VICTIM, AND IT CONTINUES HERE. EVEN AFTER HE ANNOUNCED HE WAS TAKING HIS MOUNTAIN BIKE LEGEND STATUS AND LEAVING FOREVER. HE'S BACK. INSISTING ON WHATEVER. ARGUING SLIPPERY SLOPES. INVENTING OTHERS AND ALL THAT. PURE BOOMERISM! OKAY!
  • 2 0
 @owl-X: I see your point of the guy who posted, I didn't know his background here. It makes sense to call people like that out. Just take the time to type a response, not the latest catch phrase. Happy trails to everyone, no matter what you ride.
  • 2 4
 @hardtailRockhopper: BUT CHECK THIS OUT: AINT NOTHING MORE BOOMER THAN A CALL FOR A PRE-EMPTIVE BAN ON ANYONE SAYING "OKAY BOOMER."
  • 3 0
 @owl-X: I wasn't calling for a ban on the phrase, but just take a minute and reply like an adult.
  • 1 5
flag owl-X (Dec 19, 2019 at 14:40) (Below Threshold)
 @hardtailRockhopper: U IN THE WRONG SPOT

HERE'S THE LIST:

TUBELESS
DROPPERS
1X
HITCH RACKS
NO BACKPACKS
EBIKES

YOU'RE DOWN WITH THESE OR YOU'RE OUT. YOU SHOW UP WITH A ROOF RACK JUST KEEP ON DRIVING!
  • 1 0
 @owl-X: I have a 1x drivetrain and have no issues with the other stuff on YOUR list. Have a good day.
  • 1 3
 @hardtailRockhopper: YEAH THIS IS THE LIST OF THE HOT STUFF SO IT LOOKS LIKE UR ON THE RIGHT TRACK CIAO
  • 1 3
 @gorideyourbikeman: DOGG YOU SHOULDA DID IT

IT FEELS GOOD DO IT

DO IT
  • 4 0
 @owl-X: I protest your use of ALL CAPS, unless of course you are a boomer... then it's excusable as you MIGHT NOT KNOW BETTER. DOGG.
  • 2 4
 @Eatsdirt: THE WHOLE THING OF BOOMERS IS THAT THEY'RE CONVINCED THEY KNOW BETTER

I RUN ALLCAPPS WHEN I'M STRESSED OR CHOPPING IT UP ON THE INTERNETMESSAGEBOARDS

OR BOTH

INDICATES AN ADMISSION OF FUTILITY IN DISCUSSION. AINT NOTHING HAPPENING IN HERE BUT JOKES. NOBODY IS CHANGING ANYONES MIND. SO ROLL WITH IT.

DEATH TO ROOF RACKS.
  • 6 0
 @owl-X: There are idiots in every generation. All caps is a good indication of that.
  • 2 0
 @owl-X: what about trunk racks?
  • 1 1
 @Eatsdirt: totally.
  • 2 0
 ok boomer
  • 4 3
 10 years, $10K Bikes.....still rides like same 10years ago! AND 26" IS STILL NOT DEAD!
  • 1 0
 I'd like to see Brendan Semanuk spinning around like a helicopter on a a 29er. No chance!
  • 1 0
 Richard Cunningham- That Enduro Effect is some fine writing. You might want to take up this gig, steady.
  • 1 0
 I'm just curious if all the E-haters didn't see this post because of their filter?
  • 1 0
 Fox did the adjustable air volume shock first around 2004 with the AVA shock. No volume spacers needed.
  • 1 0
 No one noticed the decade ends in 2020? There's a whole lotta new standards to come before the decade ends!!!!!
  • 1 0
 I could read RC for ten more years happily, keep it coming from that hand welded float plane please!!!!!
  • 2 0
 The Future!!!
  • 1 1
 love this article. the biggest shock to me was dropper post's when I came back to mtb. and clutch derailleurs! what the?
  • 1 0
 27.5 are smaller! 29ers are bigger! So.
  • 2 0
 so people who ride 29's are compensating?
  • 2 0
 @gorideyourbikeman: haha maybe... Mabye
  • 2 0
 Up The Irons Dave!!!!!!
  • 1 0
 New school geometry should be mentioned
  • 1 0
 It’s not directly discussed but it’s very much hinted at in the Enduro Effect heading
  • 1 0
 Forget droppers. Bikeyoke. There is no equal.
  • 1 0
 Jesus Christmas...Frank Berto?

Gears to you!
  • 3 2
 157 mm hubs ftw. Seriously! Boost was pointless.
  • 1 1
 Antisquat is just pedal kickback refined (and sometimes broken chains and axles RM)
  • 1 0
 how about road bike inovation? hmmm
  • 1 0
 tried to above. but wow! you guys are insane!
  • 1 0
 It's Cosa Nostra, not Costa Nostra.
  • 1 1
 Strava was cool back in the day's.... I miss the frontderaileur... to much unsprung mass at the back wheel
  • 2 0
 An XT 10-speed cassette (11-36) weighs 337 grams. An XO Eagle 12-speed cassette is approx 350. The 'too much unsprung weight argument' is useless
  • 1 0
 @bman33: 14 grams too much ;-)
  • 3 1
 E bikes ftw
  • 1 0
 Grizzled old guy on 26" wheeled...ELLSWORTH. You had to go there...
  • 1 0
 Straigh-pull "killed the" J-bend?
  • 1 1
 Let the games begin!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 1 1
 #oldbikessuck
  • 10 13
 OKAY BOOMER.
  • 3 1
 BOOMER VS MILLENIAL BURNS. 1...2....3.... GO!!
  • 1 2
 @gorideyourbikeman: I GOT NOTHING
  • 1 0
 @owl-X: sick burn on Millenials yo.
  • 2 0
 @gorideyourbikeman: OH DANG DOES THAT MEAN I'M...

TOUCHE
  • 2 0
 Yawn.
  • 1 1
 @Skooks: tired little guy?
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