Paul Angus - or Pang as he's known - is one of the owners of Vertigo Bikes
in Queenstown, and has had many special bikes over the years. He's one of those people that hop from bike to bike, each new build more tasteful and suitable than the last. We've all got that friend who habitually buys the wrong bike, but Pang is the antidote to that. His bikes are always dialed and built with the right balance of curiosity and pragmatism. The bike we look at today is a bike very close to his heart - his 1999/2000 Giant ATX One DH. The bike is largely period correct, although sourcing parts is hard enough for current bikes, let alone bike that are two decades old so it's still a work in progress. It's a passion project for Pang about enjoying something that gave him so much, and not about getting so caught up in the details that you can't enjoy the bigger picture.
He originally had one that he raced at the beginning of his race career, a career that would eventually take him to the World Cup circuit. After falling in love with the ATX, he had Vanessa Quinn's old frame hung up in the Vertigo shop for several years before deciding to build his own, sourcing all the parts to be close to the original era's spec.
I love the contrast of colours. It's loud, yet unobtrusive.
The linkage looks slender and fragile. Compared to the bikes of today it looks like it could snap like a chicken's wishbone, but it did deliver 150mm of rear travel. Pang says that he used to run a Goldtech rocker link on his original ATX to take the travel to a remarkable 200mm. He coyly explains, "Preserving geometry wasn't a thing back then, getting more travel was all that mattered. The links would lift the BB, steepen the head angle, and usually blow your shock up after a week due to increased leverage ratio."
The RockShox lineage lives on, still at the sharp end of racing to this day.
Although Hope is still a company making fantastic kit, it could be argued that the peak of their dominance was in the time of bikes like the ATX. Pang remembers having a set of C2s on his original race bike. He recalls "The Hope C2 brakes were fun on long descents. At Fort William you had to wind the silver bite point adjuster on the top of the reservoir fully out, so the brakes basically didn't work and pulled straight to the bar at the start of your run, just so the wheels didn't lock up half way down once they brakes heated up."
In the days before narrow-wide chainrings and quiet guides, things were a little different. Of the proprietary chain guide that came on the ATX Pang informs us that "It failed to do two things I like chain guides to do: Firstly, keeping the chain on and secondly make the bike quiet. The chainguide, plus the box section frame, made it sound like a spanner had been left inside the frame during manufacturing. You could fit an MRP or Mr. Dirt Gizmo with a bit of hacksawing to the frame and chainguide."
The chain line of the bike was built around a 135mm rear hub.
Tire tech has come a long way, but not necessarily in terms of tread patterns. Yes, these look slightly dated, but not so much as some other parts of the bike.
660mm wide bars and a 70mm stem. In a 25.4mm clamp, naturally.
Pang used to cut the 660mm stock width down to a slender 640mm. The stem options were in either 35, 50, or 70mm. Pang would run 50mm on slower tech tracks and 70mm on faster more open ones.
Talking to Pang about this bike, and the process of building it up, I asked him just how much the ATX meant to him, and what kind of influence it had on him as a rider, as well as a racer. Did he think that his life would have worked out all that differently if he hadn't bought his first downhill race bike, his very first ATX?
You can see another of bike of the Vertigo Bike museum that we covered last year - the Lahar M8 gearbox bike
- as well as countless others either in the store or at Veritgobikes.co.nz