The 10 Year Challenge... for Mountain Bikes

Jan 17, 2019 at 11:27
by James Smurthwaite  

Seeing all the 10 Year Challenge memes flying around has us thinking that some of the biggest changes in our lives over the past decade have been the bikes we ride.

Back in 2009, 1x11 was a pipedream still three years away, skinnies were the connoisseur's trail feature of choice and you'd be laughed at if you were riding anything other than 26 inch wheels. In the world of downhill there were contrasting fortunes as Steve Peat finally claimed the rainbow jersey in Canberra, while Missy Giove was arrested for smuggling 400lbs of marijuana. In cross country, Nino Schurter won his first elite World Championship and he hasn't stopped since.

To celebrate ten years of mtb progress, here's a look back at the bikes the Pinkbike editors and certain pros were riding in 2009.





Mike Kazimer

2009 - The Transition Gran Mal
Specialized Stumpjumper EVO
2019 - The Specialized Stumpjumper EVO 29

I was deep into my freeride phase back in 2009, and a well-used Transition Gran Mal was my ride of choice. This bike lived a hard life, and when this photo was taken it had Shimano Saint cranks and brakes, an MRP dual ring chainguide, mis-matched rims (the front was originally on my Iron Horse Sunday), Marzocchi 66 fork with an extra 6 sticker thrown on for good measure, and a white camo saddle that I remember as being the opposite of comfortable.

It wasn't pretty, but it was tough, and that bike accompanied me on all sorts of adventures in Washington, British Columbia, and Colorado. I eventually sold it and replaced it with something lighter and more pedal friendly, but pictures of that white tank still bring back fond memories of skinnies, steeps, and big jumps.




Sarah Moore

Trek's Top Fuel 9.8 WSD
Photo by Reuben Krabbe
Liv's Intrigue Advanced

I was a full on XC racer in 2009 and had never ridden a bike with any more than 100mm of travel in my life. The salesperson at my local bike shop in Sainte-Adele, Quebec showed me an image of this Trek Top Fuel 9.8 WSD in the 2009 catalogue and I pre-ordered it without ever having ridden a Trek before. All I remember about the purchase is the glossy catalogue and the fact that Emily Batty was pictured with it. Brands might not do printed catalogues anymore, and fewer people are buying bikes without demoing them these days, but Emily Batty is still helping sell bikes for Trek! I raced it during the 2009 season and then sold it to a guy from the Yukon who didn’t mind the pink colour. I rode the same model bike the following year, but in the black and red version.



Daniel Sapp

The Transition Blindside
Yeti's SB130 holding ever-changing test parts.

I was participating in my first senior year of college at Appalachian State in Boone, NC in 2009. I had become pretty talented at managing a class schedule that allowed bikes to be a priority. I didn't care what kind of bike it was, I just wanted to pedal and be deep in the forest as often as possible. I worked at a ski shop each winter and then went west each summer. The season before, I had based out of Bellingham, WA. Through good friends and good timing, I wound up with a job at Transition Bikes boxing and shipping bikes. I worked for a little money but mostly bike parts.

I bought a Transition Blindside and put a third-hand Boxxer World Cup on the front. I used it for everything from racing DH to day-long trail rides for the next two years. The Blindside made its rounds being sold amongst friends afterwards. I don't know where it is now but I hope it's still delivering as much fun as I had on it!



James Smurthwaite

Specialized Rockhopper
All the jumps

After getting into mountain biking on a Trek Y26, this was my first 'proper' mountain bike that looked just like the ones in the magazines. I bought it on the back of a 10/10 review in a Hardtail of the Year test but my first ride was a disaster. I didn't realise that bikes didn't come with decent pedals and spent an unsatisfying few hours slipping off a crappy plastic pair at Whinlatter trail centre.

We soon got to know each other better and enjoyed a good three years of riding, including a week in the Alps that nearly wrote it off. In the end I 'up'graded to an Iron Horse Yakuza in my own personal bid to become Sam Hill. The Rockhopper stayed with me as a commuter until a couple of years ago, when it got nicked on an estate in London. I was devastated.



Matt Wragg


A pieced together Balfa
Val di Pejo Italy. Photo by Matt Wragg
Scott's Spark

Ten years ago I was skint. I didn't have money for a proper DH bike, so my choices were... limited. I found this frame for £400 from the UK Balfa distributor at the time. The Totem which I carried over from the Giant Faith it replaced wouldn't clear the downtube, so I had to source an extended lower cup to stop it making contact every time I went around a corner. The rear shock was a by-then outdated Fifth Element that I shipped off to TF Tuning for some love (I believe they used to strip out the pedal platform) and was a weird gem of a thing, outperforming many of the more mainstream options of the time.

This bike was one my friends would try and come away saying "it rides a lot better than it looks." Which is probably the best summary of this bike I can muster. The rear end is actually a VPP, based on the original Outland patent, from the days before Santa Cruz started adding a hefty licensing fee to use it. While it may have been ugly enough to make small children weep, I had many good days aboard it and even pointed it down the Vallnord WC track.




Paul Aston

A size too small
Pivot's Firebird

OK, so maybe it was 10.5 years ago but who's counting?

Back then I was on Solid A-Class Factory racing, yeah, I never managed to qualify at a World Cup again, but, whatevs. After the last five years of me moaning that bikes aren't big or slack enough, I think this proves to me that we are in a much better place than ten years ago. The team owner sent me a medium frame because he thought the 'huge' large frame option was way too big for my 6'1" height. I can't find the numbers, but I think this was around a 400mm reach, with a 66º headangle and 26" wheels. Obviously, I took a file to the frame to cut 5mm out of the top shock mount, lowering the BB by about an inch and taking a degree or so out of the HA.

A tiny bike, which sent me over the bars a few times (funny how that never happens to me on 'modern' bikes), and ultimately sent me OTB to a broken spleen in WC practice in Schladming. I was dropped from the team as I couldn't commit to the following season of racing as the doctor told me to have at least six months rest, luckily, this happened before I could do any more damage to myself. I'm not sure what was a bigger kick in the balls: two weeks in a hospital in Austria with no call from the boss to check if I was still alive, or being dropped after nearly dying racing for them. Anyway, no hard feelings, but thank god I am not riding those tiny bikes anymore!




Notable Riders

Brandon Semenuk

Brandon Semenuk s Trek Ticket S Bike Check - Photos by Ian Collins

We grabbed this bike check with Brandon Semenuk as he was getting a stereo fitted into his new Subaru Impreza STi thanks to a sponsorship deal. He was rocking this Trek Remedy complete with a hydraulic gyro and you can see how beaten up it is from a few competitions. Brandon would take this bike to second place in the Crankworx Slopestyle a few months later. Check out the full bike check here.

Fast forward ten years and while his Trek Ticket S slopestyle bike shares some similar lines and features, it's a totally different bike.




Steve Peat

Mk7

2009 was the year Steve Peat finally claimed the World Champs crown and he did it on a Santa Cruz V10 Mk3. This was a prototype for the race with the top tube extended to a virtual 657.8mm (roughly equivalent to the XL of the Mk6), earning it the nickname The Horse.

Set up for Canberra's pedal-fest, the rims were stripped of paint, all the bolts were replaced with Ti versions, smaller discs were used and cross country tyres and tubes were fitted to drop weight. On top of this, the grease in the hub was swapped for a light oil and all the seals and dust shields were left out to reduce rolling resistance.

Ten years later, the V10 is on version Mk7.





Honourable Mentions

Ben Cathro
Ben Cathro
Emmeline Ragot
Emmeline Ragot





192 Comments

  • + 194
 Semenuk’s riding has progressed more than his bike.
  • + 28
 like all the great riders... the bike should not be the excuse but the answer
  • - 13
flag oldtech (Jan 18, 2019 at 14:38) (Below Threshold)
 @diegofcm91: excuses are just like a*sholes. Everyone has one and they all stink.
  • + 4
 @stinkbikelies: if your going through the bother of stripping paint off wheels and grease outta hubs,theres gotta be something to it,more than the rider.
  • + 1
 Or was Trek just been making great bikes for that long ?
  • + 7
 @dh-bomber: Trek started out with the worst full suspension design in history. Learn your mountain bike history.

www.pinkbike.com/photo/15556632
  • + 2
 @stinkbikelies: that's why trek still sucks to me i guess lol
  • - 3
 @markar: I always build my bikes and never buy a complete mass-produced bike that there are 10 GD billion of
  • + 1
 @stinkbikelies: Right, before some engineers working today were born.

Damn I feel old.
  • + 2
 @stinkbikelies: I thought that was going to be a Y bike, wow this a whole other level of bad.
  • + 1
 @stinkbikelies: STA was spot on actually
  • + 2
 @Hand-of-Midas: age is only a number and I still feel 13
  • + 166
 Me in 2009 : shredding with my specialized pitch
Me in 2019 : shredding with my specialized pitch
  • + 38
 That bike was really good though. RIP Pitch.
  • + 5
 took my 04 bullit out for a rip last year, with full 04 period spec and mostly the original build, was still fun as hell but its awesome how far things have come with just suspension alone.
  • + 7
 @whitebullit: Still have my 2004 Bullitt and it will always have a home in the garage, even if no one ever rides it. When I get on it, my first thought is "holy crap, this thing is so short!" Second thought is "I should really put some brakes on this thing, besides the Juicy 3s".
  • + 8
 Same here! The Pitch just keeps going Smile
  • + 5
 I'm still shredding an (upgraded) Saracen Mantra 2006 size medium.

(It's my secret weapon)
  • + 2
 I still ride my 2004 demo 9 on the occasion I go to a list operated resort. The lift operators around here load your bike for you, and love loading my tank, it's a good workout at 40 something pounds. Is still got the such wheels and suspension, but that's about it.
  • + 4
 I loved my pitch, had it for 5 years and did everything from marathons to chairlift days. Wonder if its still going...
  • + 8
 Only finally sold my Pitch on this year (it was a 2008 model), and it is still going strong with a guy in the community where I live. I honestly think it was one of the most important bikes of the last 15 years: it both predicted the more "aggressive" trail bike direction we've ended up with, and in a sense, its focus on mimicking high performance but with a more budget friendly approach established a customer type/base for the like of YT and Canyon to build a company around.

I still feel such a traitor for selling my Pitch (mine was called Pegasus). It was the first good and first-hand bike I ever had, and I always felt it punched above its weight.

I really wish Specialized made the 2019 geo version, instead of badging a hardtail with the name....
  • + 5
 @slimjim1: Definitely- I reckon our Pitchs will outlive all of their previous riders....
  • + 5
 @Rance: And with a list price of 1400 pounds it was a Billy bargain.
  • + 4
 @Rance: Exactly my thoughts ! The Pitch was an outlier at the time. Now it would be a standard trail bike, except for the 26" wheels of course.
  • + 4
 I guy I ride with still has and shreds his Pitch. The coil pikes are still a good fork.
  • + 8
 Excellent!!!

Me in 2009: falling in love with a Rocky Mountain Slayer SXC
Me in 2019: still in couple with my good old Rocky Mountain Slayer!!!

.... whereas I`ve lost all my girl-friends without any warranty support from the constructors. A shame!!!

Actually looking for a rocky mountain woman with firm dampers, fat rubbers and slack angles Smile
  • + 1
 Cheap n' cheerful. Great bike
  • + 1
 @brianpark: mine is still in use throughout my friend group. been passed around for people between bikes. Still rips, we're gonna make it a DS bike as soon as the current holder gets a new bike.
  • + 111
 cant tell if cathros orange is current or ten years old haha
  • + 20
 It's amazing how Orange can be both miles ahead and miles behind the curve all at the same time. It's alos a shame that the 225 never saw production, I wanted one soooooo bad.
  • + 2
 Yup. Have never seen a shock as long as that, or so much seat tube showing on a dh bike
  • + 2
 @Fix-the-Spade: I always wondered why this brand - Orange - was still alive after years and years of `weirdos bikes`. Do you think that their bikes are mostly bought by British lovers of the brand? Is the Orange`s boss a millionary man who does this for fun? Do they sell lots of frames?... or enough to pay themselves?
Beside the aesthetic side that I don`t find glorious, their mono mammoth pivot has never been the most high rated system as far as I know... Are Orange bike owners kinds of fetichists?
  • + 1
 @Franzzz: Even if compared to the UK, we are only a few, some people ride Orange bikes in France too

You wanna understand why we ride those ugly bikes ? Try an Orange one of these day and make your own opinion (Love it or hate it hehehe)
  • + 2
 @Franzzz: If you get the chance to ride one I suggest you have a go. Basically they make bikes that are nice to ride, they have stayed popular for 25+ years because of that.
  • + 31
 10yrs ago a pic of a 4X bike, now 'blank space'. Make 4X great again.
  • + 20
 Amazing what happens to bike design when the start point is more of a skate/snowboard lets go have a session mindset rooted in fun over converting road bikes into exercise bikes on dirt, even 10 years ago as capable as these bikes and riders were, that battle was still being fought....never been a better time than now the age of everyday super bikes....not that those earlier bikes held back the likes of these riders...but still....
  • + 3
 My first mountain bike was 2009 Giant Glory. The struggle was real.
  • + 11
 @ov3r1d3 - if you haven’t noticed in the comment section, the bikes are still way too short, too steep and we are losing the fight for staying water bottle mount free. Not to mention the rise of Down Country. Banish @mikelevy!
  • + 4
 There is def some iPhone like stagnation in design and geo has become fashion but there is still enough variety to find numbers for all body types as far bottle mounts I’ll take 3 liters of potential padding on my back over extra weight on my bike.....@WAKIdesigns:
  • + 20
 2009: Stinky 2009
2019: Stinky 2009
2029: Stinky 2009 ahahahaha !!
  • + 10
 46 years ago I was picked up riding my 3 wheeled tractor down the highway. Unfortunately for me I was tagged with a bracelet allowing the cops to know where to return me ))

A few years after I upgraded to taking my brothers 3speed dragster bikes out for a bash. That migrated to a BMX later on and then in 90's a hardtail MTB. A few thefts later and a Summer of taking a hardtail XC mountain bike into the forests and finding out that moss isn't to bad to land in when you go OTB's, just try to avoid the rocks - I now upgraded to my 19 Slash. My first evva full squish.

Life is good. Not I do jump tracks, near vertical rollers, DH and more. I am having fun.
  • + 1
 I hope this is a true story. Couple years ago I met a guy on the trail. Had picked up a mountain bike a couple months ago to "finally get healthy" (along with trying to quit smoking). 63 years old, kept complaining there weren't enough jumps and stuff on our trails...true inspiration! (he was also rocking those New Balance walking shoes, you know the ones, and asked me if my FiveTens make a difference and where can he get some!).

Thanks for your story, hope you love the new bike!
  • + 9
 Love this article!!! I'm not sure what's so wrong with Matt's Balfa? The frames were way ahead of their time, the 5th Element shocks with the platform removed felt sooooo good, and for the period, absolutely nothing wrong with the totem. I bet that bike f**kin ripped. And I think it looks just fine!

Now my part:
2007 Norco Team DH: www.pinkbike.com/photo/8947571
2002 Santacruz Heckler: www.pinkbike.com/photo/8947577
  • + 8
 the balfas are so timeless, incredible bikes. i got started around 5 years ago on an old bb7 with a reshimmed 5th element from suspensionwerx and monster Ts, thing was a complete beast and I was hooked for life. my dad (somehow??) pedaled the thing up fromme while I was at work and now owns his own downhill bike as well.

it may have been an old bike, but it was so far ahead of its time that it gave us a taste of how much fun it is to ride a stable and slack bike down those trails and there was no looking back.

now whenever I see crazy looking new bikes I wonder if the balfas looked crazy to people when they were released. its funny how looking back with this article, its the only bike that looks "normal"
  • + 3
 @Albatrosse: I miss my old BB7 , great bike



m.pinkbike.com/photo/7556946
  • + 4
 That fork went on to do a whole season out in Queenstown on the front of my Commencal Supreme later that year... Daft as it was, I miss that fork occassionally it never let me down (except when it was brand new and the seals got warranty’d because of a production issue) and I had some of the best rides of my life with it...
  • + 1
 @mattwragg: That Balfa was a nice bike for someone one a tight budget! Just want to point out one thing: it's not a VPP. The Outland / VPP patent requires the links to counter-rotate, which was not the case on the 2-Step. It's just a standard twin-short-link, as per dw, Maestro, KS-Link, etc. Niner's CVA configuration is nearly identical to the version of the 2-Step with a link under the BB, while the 2-Step DH located the lower link in the more conventional position, above the BB.

Thanks for the great flashback!
  • + 12
 at this pace, we all should be on Speeder Bikes from star wars, in 2029!
  • + 5
 No wheelsize!
  • + 1
 Some of the helmets are perfect for speeders.
  • + 17
 @WAKIdesigns: but you can still be a dick about it!
  • + 8
 I turn 40 this year and I’ve been riding since I was 16, I remember ten years ago thinking my iron horse Sunday was the ducks nuts. It wasn’t bad but was way too small for me. ’m now on an XL 2015 nomad and think that it is the ducks nuts. It will be interesting to see what we will be riding in another ten years.
  • + 11
 Can't say for the rest of us, but you will be riding the duck's nuts.
  • + 10
 I dig the 90 degree HA on Sarah’s old bike.
  • + 5
 89.99
  • + 6
 Mike's, Matt's and Paul's current bikes all have the seat slammed so far forward it makes we wonder if they are riding the wrong size. I've got nothing more to say about it other than observation. Still riding something 14 years old so I don't know what new geometry feels like or how its sized.
  • + 2
 Frames with long reach but not adjusted to steep enough STA are the culprits; if you extend the top tube reach measurement beyond what has been corrected for with shorter stem length, then your seated position will become too stretched out unless you slam your seat forward. But some/many of us may not ride comfortably while seated with a 78+ degree STA so there will be a backlash on the progressive geo evo I think.

2009 I was riding my Liteville 301 Mk3 26” and I had a good time, never thinking I needed bigger wheels, more reach or slacker HTA etc., it was just plain fun being out on the trails.
  • + 1
 @animatedcorpse: I've been curious about the 301. Never seen one over here but they look well thought out and not too extreme geo numbers when compared to the rest.

I think what really started the trail bike geometry revolution was folks getting a size up and shortening the stem. 10+ years ago most trail bikes came with ~100mm stems if I am remembering correctly. Then manufacturers wise up and sized them with short stems but then they climbed like poo because there was no weight on the front and there you have it with the whack seat angles to compensate for that. Chainstay lengths have always been all over the place.
  • + 11
 Saddle placement should be about your relation to your hips and the BB, not the reach.
  • + 1
 @mattwragg: So you don't like the new school geometry with steeper seat angles cause they put your seat way too front?
  • + 3
 @hirvi: I’m not sure how you reached that conclusion as by moving the saddle forwards on the rails I’m steepening the effective seat angle.
  • + 1
 @mattwragg: Because that's the reasoning for many fans of slack seat angles. They say that to steep SA puts their knees in front of toes and that destroys your knees or whatever (hips too forward relative to BB). But apparently that's not what you meant. Smile
  • + 1
 @hirvi: Can’t say I’d agree with them - you also need to factor in what people are used to. I would suspect that if you went from a slack SA to a steep one you would suffer some discomfort during the adaptation period. However, if you take a look at the pro peloton on the road, you won’t find a slack SA in sight... so I’m going to side with the guys and girls doing 10,000km+ per year. Slack SAs are just a remnant of times when mountain bike designers didn’t know what they were doing and/or were trying to work around a specific frame layout.
  • + 1
 @mattwragg: If you exclude sizes lower than 52cm you won't find many SA steeper than 74 in the road world. I haven't seen a manufacturer that doesn't slacken the SA as the frame size goes up. Tri and TT bikes on the other hand have a very forward position (and nearly vertical SA) but if you have ever ridden one, they don't climb particularly well. There is also the UCI rule about saddle position being 5 cm behind the BB driving that.

I did a fair amount of road riding and racing and you are right on about the knee-pedal placement being key, I've just never thought about bike fitting a MTB. I took a look at my road bike and my MTB (Cannondale CAAD 9 and 2005 Prophet). My seat to BB measurements are nearly identical (my MTB has a bit lower seat position). Like I said in my first post, I've no experience riding a modern bike other than someone else's around the parking lot but I don't think I could tolerate my knee forward of the pedal spindle. By the sounds of it you have your bikes fitted, but damned if it doesn't look odd to me.
  • + 1
 @rpl3000: I didn't realise that's where they were on the road - I think this is something I need to look into. I've never had my bikes fitted, but I do quite a bit of distance and know what feels right - a few years ago I had a bike with a really slack SA and I couldn't pedal the thing. I tend to find that once I get pedaling I can feel where my sitbones are on the saddle and will adjust to place them accordingly. That said, I haven't tried a super steep SA either and if it's diverging significantly from a road bike then I would be sceptical as to the benefits...
  • + 8
 I think tires are way better,handlebars a little wider ,and yes the dropper posts are a great thing ,and the rest is just excuses
  • + 1
 Obrigado Einstein.
  • + 1
 Agreed - back to back runs on a FS bike with wide bars, 2.5 Minions and a dropper vs a bike w/ late 90's 2.0 tires is mind blowingly awesome.
  • + 6
 ten years ago I was riding a Cannondale Prophet and was having a great time....I now ride a Specialized Enduro Comp.....I'm having a great time on it.... i still occasionally ride my Prophet and it is still cool....A good time is what counts most if you are 61 years old.
  • + 8
 I've been doing for 30 years. I'm 6'6" I just got the first bike that fit me right. #geometrondreams
  • + 7
 We've come so far so fast. Frames are at such a great place right now. Bikes are light years better than 10 years ago.
  • + 9
 The crazy part is that there's a pretty strong argument that the last 10 years has seen less progression than any of the previous 10-year increments in mtb history. That's not to downplay the progression in bike design, but to emphasize just how far things have come since the early clunker days.
  • + 7
 I'd disagree with that notion. While a lot did happen in ye olden days, a ton has happened in the last decade. Suspension has been massively refined, tires are way better, brakes work vastly more functionally, bikes actually fit people over 6 foot tall, drivetrains have seen way more change, and the whole rhetoric of how we ride our bikes has drastically changed. Aside from that, the information age has really put customers in a place of knowledge, and that has pushed the sport leaps and bounds in terms of people knowing what they want, as well as making the sport more accessible to way more people. It's been crazy.
  • + 27
 @sherbet: Those are all significant refinements, but they are just that. Between the bikes I was riding in 2008 and now, the difference is nice (especially as a taller rider myself), but in 1998 we were riding forks that were bolted together at the bridge and crown with elastomers acting as both springs and dampers and we considered 80-100mm to be long travel. Suspension-corrected geometry (where the extra height of travel was actually accounted for in frame design) was just coming on to the scene. Shimano's V-brakes had been around for two years and disc brakes were these wonky things you saw in magazines on special custom fab bikes.

If you give me a 2008 bike and point me to a tough trail by today's standards, I'll be fine. Maybe slower, but fine. If you give me a 1998 bike, I might not make it out the other side.
  • + 17
 Not sure. I have the original Reign with an 08 Lyrik coil that gives a feel that everyone seems to be trying to recreate nowadays, so it's also had a 65° HA for 10 years with travel adjust to make climbs more comfy + tubeless on Flow rims that are a couple of mm narrower than today's, so no real-world difference. Rear shock is only a Fox RP2 (vanilla backup) but I can't see how it could work much better (thanks to Maestro perhaps). A bit heavy but that's probably why it's lasted nearly 13 years. As friends have switched to newer, bigger wheeled bikes, there has been no widening of any gaps in terms of speed. My brakes are old too, not to mention mechanical. The bike still isn't holding me back, maybe because 26ers were designed around medieval-sized men like me and I spent years figuring out how it could be optimized with wider bars and a short stem (something I've insisted on since 2000, why wouldn't you?). Starting to think double chainrings are a bit annoying though.
I think there's some thing to be said for keeping a bike for many years -especially if it can keep up with the way you ride (with some obvious tweaks) - because the muscle memory, etc. you build up from riding more or less the same rig for over a decade allows you to ride almost with your eyes closed.
  • - 4
flag sherbet Plus (Jan 18, 2019 at 14:12) (Below Threshold)
 @big-red: Bikes that actually fir the rider are a damned lot more than a "significant refinement". It's literally a game changer for many riders who could not get on a bike before that. The fact that privateers can access tech documents they could not before is equally massive.

Maybe the changes haven't been as large as you remember them, but you certainly can't discount them to "refinements."
  • + 6
 @sherbet: I disagree. I still have on 2006 Enduro that I ride occasionally. It still a brilliant bike. 66 degree head angle, now weighs 14kg with decent tires and wide bars. And is almost as quick as my current bike (2014 Enduro).
The single biggest difference between the two bikes is probably the original weight and the seat tube angle. People bang on how great modern bikes are, but it depends on what you were riding ten years ago. If you were riding an XC bike with 100mm of travel, small wheels and a 71 degree head angle, then of course anything modern will feel great.
I don't think suspension has improved. Coil is still by and large superior, better damping, longer service intervals, and, well heavier. Just not as easy to hand a punter a shock pump and tell them to pump it up to their weight.
  • - 1
 I have customers that are still rocking 90s bikes with rigid forks. They'd make all the same arguments in context to a new bike that you dudes are citing; it's the bike that works for what they want and does the things they want to do.


My main point is that discounting the massive changes the industry has seen to refinements is a little dishonest to how far we've come. DH bikes weigh what trail bikes use to. There's entirely new categories of riding. Ten years ago, square taper was seen on DH bikes. Ten years ago a V-10 had a new 70 degree head angle. Ten years ago carbon was pretty iffy and was not yet ready for the masses. Ten years ago you went to the bike shop to learn new things, not the internet. Ten years ago helmets were just foam blocks with some cutouts. Ten years ago, you'd drop a chain if you looked at a root too hard if you had no retention.


I'd maintain tooth and nail that this last ten years has been as significant to cycling as any other period. Y'all don't have to agree.
  • + 7
 @big-red: except in 1998 I had an 8" travel bike with an inverted fork, 40mm wide rims and disk brakes.
  • + 1
 @Krispy-at-Go-Ride: yep I remember back then being very happy with my Kona Stab with 7" travel BETD plates and Boxxer 151's, Hope Pro hydraulic discs & big un hubs with indestructible mavic EX521's. The bike may have had a steep head angle out of the shop with its Junior T's but the drop crown boxxers and 2" of rear sag sorted that right out. I don't remember it being anything but great fun, I rode it everywhere. Like everything you get used to what you have.
  • - 1
 @StevieJB: in which way were mavic tims indestructible? I had pretty much every single one of them and the only strong ones were 823 and if you closed an eye for dents, the 729s aka 321Disc. Everything else was a noodle including 721. My current DT EX471 is stronger than 823, and weighs 300g less.
  • + 6
 @wakidesigns: sounds like you need lessons on line choice.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: 471's are outstanding, 471 also happened to be the number of my local bus .
  • + 2
 @pigman65: 223 was mine. Red not Orange though.
  • + 4
 And seeing as we're shitting on progress: tapered HTs, what the actual f*ck?
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: put some air In your tires
  • - 2
 @mkotowski1: @StevieJB - that is not only my experience, I rode with some of the fastest dudes in Sweden at that time. Maxtal was a pretentious noodle. In fact all the rims before 2010-12 were. Like DT Swiss 6.1D or everything from Sun Rims.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: nothing (metallic) is undingable
  • - 1
 @BenPea: I assure you that modern aloy rims like high end DT, ZTR or Spank, take more abuse than EX729 or Double Track.
  • + 2
 @sherbet: Do you mean twenty years ago? Ten years ago the V10 had a 66.5 degree head angle, it was on Pinkbike a few days ago!
Square Taper? I think I put ISIS Husselfelt cranks on a hardtail around 2002. In 2006 a carbon gearbox bike won the Junior World Cup. Ten years ago I was running a chain-guide. Now I don't need one, which is great. Comparing a 150mm bike to 90s rigid is a bit of a leap.
  • + 1
 @BenPea: I agree with both sentiments. That was an awesome bike minus a few quarks. I also believe riding at least similar bike for a long time can help. people are way too quick to buy new when they probably never mastered the first bike. I’ve always had a small mostly used flock of bikes but they are entirely purpose driven bikes trials,freeride, dj but the goal since the early 2000s was to find the ultimate mountain bike and just upgrade as needed. That was always what me my dad and his friends were going for find the perfect frame buy two upgrade as needed sadly with all the industry standard changes that dream is mostly dead.
  • + 1
 @sherbet: Come on now I think your exaggerating a bit there what new dh bike came with square taper in 09 why was everyone balking at me for questioning the strength of carbon? I’m not sure about the v10 having a 70d ha that’s pretty close to the ns bitch I bought that year. I don’t see a massive difference in helmets besides mips. Ten years ago many of us were arguing on here I don’t think many hardcore riders were going to shops to learn the internet has been around a long time. Your argument sounds like it referrers to 2002-2003 minus the carbon which your statement would have been correct in 2003 not ready for the masses but even as a carbon hater I had to admit that when done right it was ready for the masses in 09. I don’t deny that things have improved but your argument is just as disingenuous as the people arguing that nothing’s changed or things were better.
  • + 1
 @loganflores: Still is awesome, especially the fact that it's still in one piece. Also, I think quirks can feel so normal after a while that anything else feels weird. I'd be more than happy to get something new instead when it breaks, but it just won't and there's nothing else pushing me to buy a new bike for the sake of it (having checked the geometries of the latest frames) apart from the "want" impulse.
  • + 9
 Loving the Gran Mal
  • + 2
 Gran mal is really interesting in that it was so adjustable with adjustable seat stays, upper and lower shock mounts and straight 1.5 headtube. I guess most owners didn't bother and ran it as they originally built it bit I loved (and used) the possibilty to run a light air shock with reduced travel to 160 and steeper geo for trail riding and go slack with a coil for uplift days. It pedals pretty well although a bit portly. Great bike.

I eventually replaced the gran mal with a banshee Rune that also had (has) many of the same adjusting possibilties. I did miss the 1.5 headtube though.
  • + 3
 The 80's brought us index shifting.

The 90's brought us suspension (mostly front), 2X compact drivetrains, Aheadset's, cartridge BB's, and spd's (debateable until the cows come home as a game changer or not).

The 2000's brought us standardised reliable disc brakes

The 2010's brought us dropper posts (hite-rite from the 90's doesn't count), tubeless multi compound tires, decent 1X systems (if that's your thing, I think it's like spd's; good if it's your thing), and modern geometry.

It's been a good decade....and it's not over yet! ( still 11 months + to perfect telepathic shifting)
  • + 3
 Hey! 1x was a thing in the 90s, man.
  • + 1
 @sunnshine: yeahh, I suppose it was. No narrow wide chainrings though.
  • + 1
 @woofer2609: Nope, full on MRP chain devices with plates and rollers. I think NW and clutches have been brilliant
  • + 1
 I totally agree, but people were doing 1x and short stems with wide-ish bars back then on tiny XC frames built up for dirt jumping and dual slalom- I had a teeny 14" Giant something-or-other complete with noodley RS Indy forks (huge 50mm of elastomer will-it-work-or-won't-it-work travel. Things are much better now though! Big Grin
  • + 1
 @woofer2609 I think 1x drivetrains are one of the biggies over the years as it’s been far more significant than just how we shift our gears. I think it allowed frame builders a lot of flexibility that gave us some modern geometry options, tire clearance, and better tuned anti-squat for just one ring.
  • + 2
 Interesting how the linkage that the rider is using 10 years later is the somewhat similar. The vertical shock guys are still riding vertical shocks and horizontal still horizontal. Bike to 10 year later bike are of the same style.
  • + 2
 Lots of editors talking about how much fun they had in those old sleds. @mattwrag: Can’t believe you sent it down Vallnord on that ride. That’s awesome! @paulaston: I’m really sorry they put you on such a small bike. Yours was not a happy story. I just got my Lefty Max 140mm back from Mendon CycleSmith. Got my Thomson dropper back from Thomson today as well. Time to go bolt them back onto my 1999 C-Dale Raven (The Rad Raven) and head out to the trails tomorrow. Yes I still ride this bike all the time. It’s higly upgraded but still shreds!
  • + 2
 As my reaction times and bone mending abilities decrease, I appreciate these improvements in mtb technology. I hope technology increases so that at 65 I can still ride the same trails I am today.
RC will be 85 and probably still dropping into double blacks at Whistler.
The only thing that I CAN'T do on my new long wheelbase bike is make the corners on some of the old elevated wooden stunts because they were built around bikes with shorter wheelbases.
I have a 2005 Iron Horse Warrior comp, it goes to mention that adjustable travel forks were a pretty cool way to have slack geo on the way down and excellent traction on the way up back in the day. I still ride this bike 50% of the time but made it tubeless and put a dropper on it.
1X? Yeah nice, but not a game changer. Dropper posts? One of the top 5 improvements in the sport.
  • + 2
 Started demoing bikes this year to replace my 10 year old Cannondale Prophet and it is amazing to see how far bikes have come. (My Marzochi fork on the Cannondale is still amazing though)
  • + 1
 2009: Specialized BigHit (the one with hydroformed frame) – this bike was a beast, and brought me back to riding after 10 year hiatus. 420mm reach, if I recall correctly, pretty short for a 6ft guy, but remember it felt massive. :-) 10 years and a couple of bikes later I'm still looking for that long-ish-travel, do it all bike. My HTLT comes pretty close but we'll see what 2019 brings :-P
  • + 2
 10 years ago I was riding a C'dale Rush Carbon. Loved that bike, but it didn't loved me back. At all! In 2009 I was already on second frame and in next 3 years I broke another 2 frames.
  • + 2
 2009 BMC Supertail - Fox 36, 160mm Travel, 65,7 HA, Dropper Post, 1x9 Hammerschmidt drivetrain (no front derailleur)
www.bike-magazin.de/mountainbikes/enduro/test-bmc-supertrail/a2723.html
  • + 1
 Those where good days. I had long since given up All my bad habits and I spent stupid amounts of money on my bikes and traveling. I was riding an Ellsworth Epiphany. I know Blasphemy! But damn that was a good bike. It had the SRAM XX Drivetrain that I turned into a 1x10 with a chain guide I built myself. People thought I was crazy for going 1x. Said it would never catch on. XX1 was soon a reality and I quickly upgraded. It also had the sick Edge composites Carbon AM wheels, bar and stem now (ENVE composites) for those who don’t remember. The wheels where pretty damned good. I only managed to crack two rear wheels both blatantly my fault. The bar was really good the stem was shit. Wet noodle flexy. I replaced it with a Thomson X4 after the first ride. The awesome Formula R1 Brakes that I still have and they still work great. A Gravity dropper post with 100mm of drop! People laughed at it but I had one on my Titus Moto-Lite and my Foes FXR before that. That goes all the way back to 2002 people. Even way back then I knew I would never own a bike without a dropper. By the way that same Gravity dropper post is still going strong on my sons TrailCraft. As with all my bikes it was over forked with a 150mm Fox Talas and a simple Fox Float R giving me 120mm of Cush. When I finally sold the frame and fork it sold quickly on eBay for over $1500.00. I couldn’t believe it. It was replaced with my beloved Santa Cruz TRC. A bike that I still consider one of the best bikes ever made. I’d love to see that bike remade with modern geo and 26” wheels.
  • + 3
 Just found a picture the other day of my 2006 Rocky Mountain Switch S1. Quite goofy looking compared to my Knolly Fugitive but I did love that bike when I had it.
  • + 1
 The bikes from 2009 are different and fun.
New bikes feel different still fun .
Don't miss short top tubes( reach)
The old bikes are a bit more squishy and track gnar better.
New bikes pop small lips better and work much better on flow trails.
Peaty,s Santa Cruz looks sweet!
  • + 2
 Wow Paul Aston's former team sounds like was run by some serious douche nozzles. Glad you made it past the spleen injury and are still riding!
  • + 4
 What were RC and Half Pint riding?
  • + 2
 If brands are going to data-mine the info to give us awesome bikes in 10 years time, then I stand 100% behind this challenge !
  • + 1
 I have to give it up for the old Turner DHR as the last photoed bike in the article. One of my all time favorite race bikes. Dave Turner and that bike were ahead of the times!
  • + 3
 Cathro’s Orange looks a lot like a super modern mega slack head angle, steep seat tube angle bike!
  • + 3
 "nicked on an estate in London" ---- english to american translation for this simple minded yank please?
  • + 8
 Stolen
  • + 3
 @Shudd: gracias
  • + 12
 @Shudd: Nick is a jerk.
  • + 2
 "Jacked from my backyard"
  • + 1
 10 years ago my trail bike had 140mm of travel, a 65.5* headtube angle, 13” BB height, and a 12mm thru axle rear end. No height adjustable seat post though, and no idea what the reach or seat tube angle was.
  • + 1
 My third hand haro extremes frame hit the ten year mark this year, still shredding with almost all aftermarket parts,tiny reach, about 40lbs and an old set of Hayes nines and it still rips!
  • + 3
 Skinnies are still the connoisseur’s trail choice.
  • + 1
 These bikes seem amazingly similar to each other! I'm surprised that none of these riders have made a shift to the more progressive end of geometry:/
  • + 1
 How about a 30+ year challenge, first bike 1988 GT Karakoram K2 All-terra Purple spattered paint, still use it as a spin bike.
  • + 1
 one more season until the 10 year challenge for my 2010 Marin Attack trail. 66 degree head angle and ~30lb weight still checks out, but the short top tube definitely doesn't!
  • + 1
 I still hunt for old frames one size up that I can throw a short stem on and offset bushings to help the STA. Mmmmmm XL Uzzi.
  • + 2
 Cathro's Orange had a mighty steep seat angle. Must have been great pedalling this thing uphill.
  • + 1
 that pink orange is a beast, my mate still has an 04 Kona Stinky, I was so jealous of him back in the day but oh how the tables have turned
  • + 1
 I started mounting biking at the beginning of 2018. Nine more years to go before I can get nostalgic about my KHS sixfifty 500+...
  • + 1
 in 2009 i was fearless on my 05 azonic recoil. 10 years later im on a 2010 izimu. Hopefully ill get onto something with all this "modern geometry" this year.
  • - 1
 And not a single "challenge" to be seen. A true challenge would be to go back and actually ride that 10yr old bike on trails you ride today on your plastic $10k bike. Still fun? Yup. Any better of a rider on your "modern" carbon piece? Nope. Wallet much lighter? Yup.

I still ride an '09 Demo8 and theres nothing you could tell me that would convince me that I'm missing out on any fun compared to the '19 Demo.
  • + 1
 10 years ago I was riding an 32 lb Intense Socom with a 7" Lyrik. I was Enduro before Enduro was cool.
  • + 1
 1999 - K2 Proflex Beast 2009 - K2 proflex Beast 2019 - K2 Proflex Beast LOL
  • + 2
 If Paul could do a DH Privateer series next, that would be awesome.
  • + 1
 Should have a 10 year challenge on the pile of rubbish produced by obsolete parts...
  • + 1
 Where is the actual challenge? Break out those old bikes and get to work PB staff.
  • + 2
 Im still riding my 09 iron horse Sunday
  • + 2
 Why is there no comment delete functionality still?!
  • + 1
 Yes everyone is using different wheel sizes now apart from Brandon Semenuk etc?
  • + 1
 He’s like nah I will get trek to make 26ers just for me
  • + 2
 @mkotowski1: Why not go 26.666mm?
  • + 2
 2009 is the year in which my mountainbike mind will forever linger.
  • + 1
 Mine too man! My first proper good bike with half the year in Queenstown then the rest of the year DHing in Chile. Good times!
  • + 2
 That Yeti looks like it's been lowered
  • + 1
 Will it be another 10 years before everyone else catches up with the geometry and sizing of pole?
  • + 2
 Dang Cathro, I know tough guys wear... er, ride pink and all, but... Wink
  • + 2
 He had a nice skin suit as well!
  • + 1
 Pepto-BisBike
  • + 4
 Apparently, the only one who had an actual pinkbike.
  • + 0
 Why not show the same/similar make and model side by side and not a downhill bike next to a trail bike from different manufacturers?
  • + 2
 Wait - 2009 was ten years ago?

I feel old.
  • + 3
 10 yrs still 26" LOL
  • + 1
 Honourable Mentions: Martin737- 2009 Rocky Mountain Vertex Team Sc 2002. 2019 RM Vertex Team Sc 2002 Wink
  • + 1
 10 year challenge for mountain bike helmets.. TLD D3 --> TLD D3. Unfortunate that helmet tech hasn't kept up
  • + 2
 Man those 2009 bikes were so emo.
  • + 1
 Blindside to anything is a downgrade. I miss you naughties
  • + 1
 This was way better than watching people self loathing on instagram.
  • + 1
 I'm still riding a 2007 model I got used in 2012 Frown bikes are expensive
  • + 0
 In 2029 we'll all be riding EBikes... (when IT comes to Tour/Trail/Enduro/some Freeride)
  • + 1
 Can we see Richard Cunningham's 25 year challenge please?
  • + 1
 2009 = PBR and rigid SS.
2019 = shred sled and too broke for PBR.
  • + 1
 10 Years Challenge For Me:

From Session to GT.

Damn.
  • + 1
 Reminded me of: "For Better Or Worse Things Will Turn Out Fine"
  • + 2
 What’s challenging?
  • + 1
 Cathro's pink Orange is iconic! Loved that bike.
  • + 1
 I've got a better one that any of those. LOL!
  • + 1
 I had a grandmal at the time too.
  • + 1
 26 Oh hell, is that a new wheel size?
  • + 1
 the lost decade. nothing more depressing than 00s FS bikes.
  • + 1
 Cathro turned into ragot in ten years
  • + 1
 Oh, yeah, a life of riding horses also trained me for falling off.
  • + 1
 @DONKEY-FELTCHER, any related confessions?
  • + 1
 I had a fifth element on my VP3 awesome shock, what happened to them?
  • + 1
 They went back to focusing on high end motorcycle shocks, what they always did. They ventured into MTB from a collaboration with Santa Cruz for the Bullit
  • + 1
 #kazimerbikessowhite
  • + 0
 the new stumpjumper is delicious.
  • + 1
 2009 = rigid SS.
  • + 1
 2019=Numb palms and tingly fingersWink
  • + 1
 Delete
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