Three Legged Dog of a Bike - Opinion

Mar 14, 2016 at 16:00
by Mike Levy  
Mike Levy

Are bikes so good nowadays that they're boring? Is there something to be said for a bike that may be flawed but is full of character?


I'm extremely blessed to be able to call this thing I do a job; riding the newest bikes like they're rental cars that I've taken out under an alias and then telling you guys what I think about them is a fun gig. And I don't take this opportunity for granted, but the more new bikes I ride, the more I find myself looking back and appreciating the unique details, the things that give a bike character, of the machines that I used to own long before I was able to ride whatever pricey test rig might be in my stable right now. No, I wouldn't want to be still on any of them - today's bikes are far better, and I have more fun because of that - but I can certainly appreciate certain aspects, mostly visual, of those bygone bikes now more than ever.

This growing sentimentalism about bikes I used to own could simply be what happens after a few decades of riding. Then again, the reason for my nostalgic thoughts might also not have anything to do with mountain bikes at all - parts of my youth may have conditioned me to believe that character counts for at least a few points of awesomeness, even if it comes at the expense of overall performance. There's a reason that everyone loves a three-legged dog, right?

While a lot of kids grow up in cookie-cutter houses in or near a culdesac, probably playing street hockey or generally being neighborhood terrors, I was fortunate to spend the first eighteen or so years of my life on a big slice or semi-wild property that was surrounded by many acres of more semi-wild forest, with an old, drafty house on that land that my family called home. Picture a heritage house from the 1950s, all white and with blue shutters, a big porch out front, and a drunk looking woodshed nearby that somehow refused to fall despite a curious lean. It was a place that was full of character, especially the house itself.

bigquotesThis bike is perfect, and it's also perfectly boring. It's kinda like a well-trained dog with all of its legs, whereas those old bikes were all like three-legged stray dogs that might be friendly but also might bite you.


The thing that stands out most in my memory were its big windows, which I admit does sound odd. All of them were leaded glass and single-pane, none of this energy efficient stuff you see nowadays, and it felt like the wind passed right through them during cold winter storms. Sure, they may have done a piss poor job of keeping the heat inside the house that was coming from the old wood stove, but they're also one of the reasons that place was so special - they made the house look like it was lifted straight out of an old movie. Any sane person would have had them replaced, but I don't think my family ever entertained the idea of committing such a crime.

Those old windows, along with a lot of other things about where I grew up, might be why I can look back fondly on other, far from perfect things from the past. This includes some of the bikes that I've owned over the years. Few of these machines were amazing for their time, and some of them were actually pretty terrible, but I can appreciate certain details on some of them.

After a series of entry-level and completely forgettable bikes that I either broke or plain wore out, I ended up with a brand new Giant ATX 1 DH that, despite sporting the same amount of travel as today's modern all-mountain bike, was far too much bike for me at the time. Most people who own downhill bikes today don't actually need them, and that was just as true back in 2000 when I didn't need the one I owned. The Giant's boxy frame tubes never really won anyone over when it came to its appearance, but I'll never forget being fascinated by the finger-thick downtube that looked out of this world at the time. Calling it a tube is probably a stretch - I think it might have been solid judging by how much the frame weighed - but this skinny little downtube simply made the bike for me.
Giant ATX 1 DH
My old ATX 1 DH wasn't pretty, but at least it was interesting, even today.

As anorexic as it appeared, the sight of that little tube inspired confidence. After all, just imagine how strong the rest of the frame must be if the designers at Giant believed that the bike barely even needed a downtube! Or something.

I rode the piss out of that yellow and red Giant and then ended up selling it for not enough money after a few years in order to pick up the second generation Santa Cruz Super 8, a single-pivot downhill sled that bears absolutely zero resemblance to anything Santa Cruz does these days. It was far too much bike for me, even in my early twenties when my beans were at their biggest and I thought I was invincible. The big '8 never really blew me away with anything it did on the trail, but I still find myself thinking about how massive and imposing the bike's swingarm looked back then. Sure, it was really just two sheets of aluminum with a few stiffening ribs and some connecting lattice work, and I'm not all that positive that the bike was even that stiff, but the swingarm looked like it was lifted right off of a dirt bike.
Santa Cruz Super 8
Got swingarm?



Appearances count for a lot when you're in your twenties, and while the bike may have handled like a monster truck with only three wheels and my skills didn't match the travel it had, I'll never be able to look at another bike's rear-end without thinking ''Meh, still not as cool looking as my old Super 8.''

Those two bikes, along with a few dozen more that I owned, would be considered terrible if they were brand new today. And so would the countless other bikes from years ago, but I'm sitting here, looking at this $7,000 carbon fiber super-bike that I'm in the process of evaluating and thinking that it's... boring. Yes, it's light, performs so well that reviewers like me have had to shift our standards of what's good and what's bad, and it looks great, but it just doesn't have any character compared to those old and flawed bikes that came long before it. I know that if I bought this bike, I'd be very happy with everything about it, but I also know that I'd sell it in a few years time and probably never even think about it again.

This bike is perfect, and it's also perfectly boring. It's kinda like a well-trained dog with all of its legs, whereas those old bikes were all like three-legged stray dogs that might be friendly but also might bite you.


My job is to tell you about a bike's strengths and flaws, and I think that I'm supposed to always want better-performing equipment. Regardless, there's part of me that wishes there were more three-legged stray dogs to ride and write about.





161 Comments

  • 260 6
 You sound like a guy who needs a steel hardtail...
  • 40 8
 +1 to that dude. I now own two steel hardtails which are my only steeds. Keeps me on my toes and I never find myself lusting after a carbon full-susser. Steel is real.
  • 31 4
 Amen brother. This is why the steel hardtail is and will always be relevant.
  • 40 3
 Plus a beautiful steel hardtail will always be beautiful
  • 25 48
flag Gerner (Mar 17, 2016 at 3:01) (Below Threshold)
 You mean a BMX. Wink
  • 6 2
 I have a problem with my hardtail to be honest. Or even two... The thing is I always sell my old bikes to buy new, but I don't want to sell HT to get a full sus... Just love it! And my wife would start asking questions on where all the money for new bike came from...
  • 15 1
 yes... it may not be the best at anything, but nothing quite makes my trails come alive like the steel HT....
  • 11 1
 just bought my first steel hardtail....
  • 6 2
 Just built a Production Privee Shan last summer and haven't looked back! Steel hardtails ftw
  • 42 20
 Steel is real. Says the last guy back to the parking lot..
  • 35 6
 But first to head back up
  • 5 1
 Just built a Stanton Slackline hard tail, it's the most fun I have ever had on two wheels
  • 6 12
flag scary1 (Mar 17, 2016 at 7:57) (Below Threshold)
 You sound like a guy that just needs to quit riding like a punk and go faster
  • 6 1
 you can equate this article to any relationship with anyone or anything. enjoying my own flashbacks right now. thnx, mike.
  • 14 5
 Sounds like a guy that needs more challenging terrain.
  • 3 1
 As if there's something wrong with that... fuck yeah Levy!
  • 5 1
 three headed dogs run faster
  • 8 8
 It must be therapeutic to admit that you're bike rides like it's several decades old, but if you're sense of superiority didn't take the place of reading comprehension, you might notice that Mike said he misses the look of old bikes, not the ride quality. Sorry to interrupt the jerk circle.
  • 18 4
 so a lot of the new bikes are getting that good they're getting boring to ride, just like a lot of the trails are getting dumbed down and boring as well, the way things are going we may as well just ride on the road or give up mountain biking then eh.

bring back 26" wheels and rough trails please, it was more fun then
  • 8 2
 @thedeathstar... Firstly it's your not you're (you are). Secondly I am guessing you don't own a steel hardtail. If you did you would be enjoying the circle jerk as much as the rest of us are. For 95% of the riding in the south east of England a steel hardtail is all you need. Wales or Scotland are different matter.
  • 2 1
 Been riding my steel hardtail all winter. I have a lovely Devinci Spartan just sitting there, Probably cost 4 times as much as the hardtail. Its carbon and blingy, yet all i wanna do is ride the hardtail. There's something just magical about putting all the lovely feed back from the bike into how you ride a section.
  • 1 1
 Running the Stanton Switchback at the moment.. If Carlsberg made hardtails...
  • 1 1
 mmm Switchback... Stanton make some truly nice looking bikes.
  • 13 2
 @mikelevy is there any chance you guys could review more hardtails. It seems like carbon bouncy bikes get all the column inches these days.
  • 3 2
 @mark3 Hear hear. I never mention the gnar trails on PB cause I'm always afraid it'll get dumbed down as soon as it gets popular. Having to poach a lot of hiking trails these days for challenge or switch up to BMX on all the bermed groomed runs.
  • 6 1
 Maybe I'm too optimistic but this comment popularity gives me hope about the MTB community, maybe we're finally becoming immune to all the marketing bullshit of the latest years.
  • 1 1
 my mistress is a rigid SS 29er
  • 2 0
 I feel like this bike is the steel hardtail riders full suspension bike:

www.kickstarter.com/projects/1106708179/lichen-bikes
  • 73 4
 I've got that very same super 8 frame sat in my garage right now. Mines red. The shock is blown (as I'm sure, having owned one yourself, you could have guessed) the spare shock I have for it is blown, the swingarm is bent and the bottom headset cup is held in with araldite. I still to this day reminisce about how much fun I had on that bike, how it simply wanted to go faster no matter what. Especially that time my chain snapped at the top of a mountain and I didn't notice till half way down cos the bike felt like it was flying like never before.

I don't dare build her up and ride her again because I have serious suspicions that my rose coloured memories will be wiped away when I realise it handles like a pig in a snowstorm and takes bumps like a hardtail with a flat tyre. So I'm just gonna carry on pretending to myself that its still as perfect as I thought it was 10+ years ago when I had no idea what a bike could really feel like.

One day, when I own my own house, she's going on the wall in the living room. Wearing the old Monster-T's she used to wear, in super clashy orange. God they really were shite...
  • 28 1
 Is that you Gwin???
  • 4 1
 I loved my old mk1 zaskar. To my mind it was one of the best bikes I ever had. I was lucky enough to have a go on one my friend has restored completed with middleburn cranks. Pace rc35 forks and a u s e seatpost. I would love to tell you it was amazing but unfortunately with its 560mm bars and 150mm stem it felt aweful. I've never been hugely nostalgic but from now on I will keep my memories of old bikes and never ever try to ride them
  • 5 18
flag PedalShopLLC (Mar 17, 2016 at 5:02) (Below Threshold)
 And then there's this sled --- 60lbs huck fest: www.pinkbike.com/photo/9087664 over engineered POS
  • 5 1
 I lost to more than 25 guys at the 2001 NORBA at Big Bear... But I was riding a red Super-8! Miles Rockwell slayed that course -- one of the first with a huge air at the end.
  • 4 1
 @pedalshopllc
WOAH, WOAH, WOAH

If you're hucking your Balfa you're doing it wrong. It was a pure breed race bike in its time, and still my go-to Whistler bike.

(I win the weight contest at 67lbs) Wink
www.pinkbike.com/photo/10338244
  • 4 4
 Ha ha ..just a figure of speach....and that's not my bike. ...I wasn't into monster trucks when that bike was new. Before he got his green card, an illegal I knew owned. He's legit now, or so he claims. He bought his green card at Walmart
  • 62 1
 It's plain and simple Mike. It's not about the bikes. You're getting old. Welcome to the club :-) . 20 years from now, somebody is going to write the exact same thing about how the bikes from the mid 2010's still had character.
  • 13 1
 my thoughts exactly! or maybe the bikes are boring nowadays for Mike because he doesn't have the own a bike and keep for too long for this kind of bond to be created? Dont know but in either case i enjoy this kind of articles!
  • 18 1
 I've got a bike with plenty of character that I can trade him for one of his test models....
  • 3 2
 Agreed. Nostalgia can be a cruel double-edge sword. I'm finally selling my sports car from the early 90's that i've had for over a decade and have put way too much money into. Yes the car has plenty of character and honestly there will not be a car like it in a log time (maybe ever) but it's time for me to move on. Evolve or die.
  • 1 1
 @matadorCE Good God man, you're selling your baby?! What is she?
  • 2 1
 2036: "Of course the downside to my carbon V10, bless its cotton socks, was that you actually had to pedal it. With you own legs! Imagine that! Yet somehow I find a longing for the old days..."
  • 1 2
 @therealtylerdurden It's a '92 Toyota MR2 Turbo, back when Toyota actually knew how to make sports cars. lol
  • 1 1
 I don't why we're getting down propped? Oh well, f*ck em haha. Those are pretty f*cking rad man! She in good shape?
  • 1 1
 @therealtylerdurden It's in great shape being a 24 year old car pushing 270hp at the wheels :-) I've been wrestling with parting with it for about 2 years now but I'm not in my 20's anymore so it's time for something else.
  • 1 1
 Maybe time for something else plus the MR2?..
  • 41 1
 I'll never forget the day I saw my friends stinky with super monsters and 24 x 3.0 tires. Best day ever.
  • 77 1
 3.0" Tyres? Don't be mental, that'll never catch on.
  • 6 1
 Ditto on my Keewee. That thing was a 50lb trail shredder.
  • 15 1
 24"? How did you roll over anything?....never had to true a 24", stiff as feck.
  • 9 0
 24" wheels don't roll over much, but they're easier to hop and are more maneuverable.
  • 3 8
flag fartymarty (Mar 17, 2016 at 3:20) (Below Threshold)
 The had a pretty similar OD to 26" so wrre not ti bad
  • 2 1
 Those were the days...
  • 5 1
 I used to run a 24 on the back and a 26 on the front of my 24seven DarkAngel - I was all abouut the multiracial tyresizing.
  • 2 1
 I was more of an Arrow Racing man, myself.
  • 1 0
 I had a 24X3 Le Toy bike and it was a lot of fun downhill. We had a trunk line (thick tree trunks across a trail) that required 16, 24-30 inch bunny hops at speed...we rode that section hundreds of times over two years. We had the breaths between hops timed out and burned in our brains. Can be done on a 26, but not as easy. Maybe we got bored, who knows...i suspect getting bikes with suspension changed the terrain we sought around 1998.
  • 1 0
 My first DH bike was a second hand big hit with 24 inch wheels front and back!

She was a tank and amazingly the wheels rolled over stuff ok!

www.pinkbike.com/photo/8439909
  • 35 5
 Disagree. I reckon my 2016 Trance would be a faster downhiller than my 8" Mountain Cycle Shockwave from Back In The Day. At the time it was as good as DH bikes get, but it and its parts were frail and didn't work anywhere near as well as the Trance. I have no nostalgia for the old, expensive, heartbreakingly unreliable and expensive bikes from days of yore.

The funny thing is there is a disconnect between the smoother trails that are being built and the increased ability of the bikes. Trails should be getting harder, not being turned into glorified BMX tracks.
  • 42 5
 That's cause all the old farts at IMBA can't ride anything more challenging, even with the new bikes.
  • 5 4
 Even with better bikes slapping them in the face, old farts refuse to ditch the old "lightest is best" and the aggressive XC geometry that comes with it. Only to sub in a 120mm 45 degree stem and 40mm rise bars trimmed to be 24" wide and make sure not to remove that granny ring!
  • 10 2
 The point of this has gone right over you head hasn't it @iamamodel of course your current bike is faster and more reliable and, in every measurable way, better. The nostalgia isn't for the things about old bikes that were better as there aren't really any, it is for the things that weren't, the weird foibles that made your bike Your Bike, not just another great bike.

I get this, I have a truly fantastic Yeti SB66, it is great, best bike I have ever owned but I can't imagine ever giving it a name.
  • 2 1
 Replied to wrong comment *
  • 2 1
 Patrick, the point didn't go over my head. I merely cited the reasons I have no nostalgia for my old bikes.
  • 22 2
 Maybe if you use the same bike for a year or two. You put more time into fixing it, more money for broken parts etc etc... maybe you will develop that same sort of love you had for old bikes. Your test bikes are like prostitutes that give you what you want, say what you want, come when you want and leave when you want. But then you have to go home and deal with the same old thing and it might not be perfect, but is there for you
  • 8 2
 I agree with you 100%. I refuse to step foot onto "prostitute bikes", because even if for the time they seem fun, faster, lighter, younger, tighter, I haven't spent hours working on them, being upset over their first paint chips, swearing at them while replacing their stupid-f*cking-pivot bearings, or riding epic rides on them. My busted, chipped, no-longer-giving-me-blowjobs-frame is all I need. I'll die with her in my arms, sad, depress, and slow...because that's what good Christians do. Donald Trump 2016. 'Murica. Gwinning. And beer.
  • 1 1
 Given the price of new bikes and the brutality of the used market it's not hard these days to justify keeping your bike for longer. My new motto: spend as much as you need to get what you want then ride it until it's all used up, get your gear fix through fun upgrades due to too much use.
  • 19 5
 I'll show you a three legged dog... I must say I don't share your view on that case Mike (I am sure it made you cry...). While riding a crappy bike or a weird bike may be super cool and rewarding sometimes, I like to stick to a super bike for most of the time. I guess what you are coming from is testinglots of bikes which these days are nearly all great aaand... Damn similar?
  • 13 2
 Screw it. I waited for 20 years for the geometry I wanted to catch on. I'm not kidding myself saying those bikes from 20 years ago had 'character'. We did the best we could with what we had at the time. That's it. If you want to feel the rush again, just tell the brands to lend you a working man's steed instead of those Lamborghini-like models you are used to throw a leg over every week. Believe me, you'll be doing us the mere mortals a better service than you're doing now. Maybe then we could feel more related to your mid life crisis diatriba.
  • 12 2
 small brands are cooler in my mind, and sometimes better. Take the new zerode for example, obviously no review yet, but damn gear box...
  • 11 2
 That zerode has been in my dreams everyday since the first look, usually involving a scantily clad woman and a 20 foot lobster that I'm eating with my bare hands...
  • 9 1
 You've only got yourself to blame. The bike media's growth has meant any "3 legged dogs" are slated on a massive scale. Thats why every manufacturer sends out the same geometry, nobody wants to sink a company by sending a reviewer a love/hate bike.
  • 11 1
 If the dog came in 3.5, then everyone would be happy.
  • 8 1
 Got me mentally reeling in the many miles and adventures from my early days riding....steel hardtails with 110 travel forks, usually with color coded elastomers to change how the fork behaved...aahhh how I'd relish in playing with elastomers and the joy of hopping on the bike to quickly see how much "better" my fork and bike would ride.
Daily 30 mile rides..rain? Don't give a shit. Cold and rain? Eh...I'll deal. Super hot? Even better...good to clean out the internals with soaking sweats!
Multitudes of riding buddies all super amped to get out and ride..jump everything we saw.
I can't even recall how many snapped components I went through...cranks, bars, spindles, derailleurs...bent forks, crushed frames, tacoed wheels---cool thing was my buddy at the bike shop would get everything warrantied for me so I always got fresh upgrades--SWEET!(very helpful considering I barely had $5 to my name most of the time)
My bikes were part of my identity and I rode to work, stood in the walk in cooler to cool off so I wouldn't drip sweat onto someone's turkey club or pizza. Even when I'd go out drinking or to a club I'd often ride(which can also explain the amount of road rash I had).
Travels and nutty adventures, new friends, great stories and experiences..I could go on about how great it all was and how those "old" bikes shaped me and made me the rider i am today, but fact is I LOVE new bikes! I've lost track with how many bikes I've owned now. I built up a modern steel hardtail with 140 travel last year then sold it--Just couldn't get back into it. Slack, longer travel..aggressive geo is where it's at for me now..oh, and rear shock!
This weekend I'm doing the 14th run of a 70 mile race/ride in the town where all this began for me, seeing buddies that pushed me to ride longer and faster...some still racing incredibly fast, others still fast but couldn't give two shits about race results(where I stand), others just along to cruise and enjoy the pain! Many on rigid hardtails with incredibly goofy set ups(by PB standards), but I'll be riding my '15 Transition Scout---my newest bike and after all these years and bikes, my favorite. I guess all it comes down to is bikes are cool. Riding bikes is cool...and fun. Old or new...as long as the wheels spin and the brakes work...good to go!
  • 1 0
 Dude you blocked me, i was referring to the figurine on your forks , peace x
  • 7 1
 My pop still has a 1996 ball burnished Zaskar LE I gave him when I moved up to a full suspension bike. Purple anodized top line cranks still on it. Every time I visit him I take it out for a ride and I am instantly taken back to the countless miles I put on that thing. That bike had character.
  • 1 0
 Ive got my 1988 Gt karakoram bought it new, stripped deore mountain LX off it the day i got it and put my deore drivetrain on it. Still has all the super rare afternarket goodies on it. Always stored inside looks like newSmile
At one point I had xt road wheels built for it sun m14 rims triple butted spokes and scott AT4 bars and spesh 53 tooth front chain ring.. It made a surprisingly good road bike for a few years.
  • 8 2
 So what you miss is character? Get a Krampus, or a Chromag or the likes, and stop solely reviewing carbon full suspensions that only the 10% can afford.
  • 10 7
 Its a good opinion, but I have to disagree (ill probably be in the minority here and thats alright). It could just be the fact that the best mountain bike I ever witnessed until 2 years ago was a trek mountain track 820. But really? To me old school is bmx, or skating. Those sports appear as if they haven't evolved at all over the past 20 years if you go by looks of the "tool" (they have obviously immensely). Whereas mountain biking has been constantly evolving (and mostly in a brilliant direction) and skill has evolved with the evolution of modern engineering. It doesnt seem to have been the riders holding back the sport, rather their equipment just wasnt always up to the task(thats not to say the athletes werent amazing at what they did dont get me wrong). Ive really never understood this concept of "too much bike" except for in a locale sense. For me, I adapt to the bike; when riding my Reign X1, I push it to the limit(and sometimes those limits push back), but I ride completely differently when riding my dads short travel xc-styled yeti. Maybe its just my background in extreme sports but I just discovered the love for this sport 2 years ago, I cant imagine you guys who have been on a bike for multiple decades have trouble pushing a bike to its limits...that phrase feels kind of like a lot of comments and articles here on pinkibike underhanded, unnecessary and passive aggressive. Now dont get me wrong I definitely see people who have way more bike than they need, but I wouldnt say "most people".

TLDR: Now to try and wrap it up: Id argue the main reason bikes feel boring, isnt that they are perfect, its that we have hit a huge plateau in terms of gains (bro do you even lift?). Materials are getting lighter by grams not pounds, faster by seconds not minutes. At the end of the day a bike is a bike its a simple mechanical device and it can only improve so much before diminishing returns kicks in.

That being said I still get off on how light and incredibly strong new components are. It also might be because I was born in 1991? Im not gen x but im not a millennial ya know? Im like a bastardization of the two. Somewhat nostalgic but always look forward to advancements. "Gen y!"
  • 11 2
 You wanting to clasify yourself makes you a milenial.
  • 3 1
 You're a millennial. I was born in 1983 and technically I'm still a millennial
  • 5 4
 Lol...that last part was more of a joke I think, but at least you read it all!!
  • 4 3
 @Davschall I like you.
  • 5 2
 For the very first time in my life at 37 years of age, i bought a brand new bike. 650b 160mm travel bla bla bla. The bike is fine and there are no issues. But it is boring, i miss my old Nomad, washed it after every ride, miss taking it apart, replacing bb's, sorting the brakes, etc the list goes on. Felt like i had a sort of a connection to it. Cant even remember when I last washed the current steed. Weird.
  • 5 1
 Sounds like a personal problem.. Your new bike is just as deserving of your love as your old bikes and will break down and need repairs just like them.. especially if you aren't washing it...
  • 1 1
 I feel ya to a certain extent. I have a new nomad, but I miss my v1 bronson.
  • 1 1
 Sometimes the "mojo" or magic just isn't there with a different bike...not the same connection. I've kept some bikes til they were a danger to me since i had such an affinity for it and I rode the frame til it pretty much couldn't be ridden any longer(or was broken). Other bikes I've ridden a handful of times and just didn't care about it. My back up bike is that for me right now...it's nice, pretty, rides well, but I'm not excited to get on it. So it stays a back up until i decide to sell it. Maybe sell the "lackluster" bike while it's still in good shape and try out something else...maybe find the magic! Smile
Same way with surfboards and anything else we "play" on or with I imagine
  • 4 1
 I had an original atx1 and could not think bikes could get any better then I had a Sunday and shit that was good thought surely bikes could not get better than this. Currently on a carbon v10 and surely bikes could not get that much better than that...... It will be interesting to see how much better bikes will get.
  • 4 1
 I think a lot of the nostalgia you feel is not necessarily for the bikes, but the really good times you had on them with all your friends, doing your thing. That's probably really what's changed over the years more than anything. Back when I was a teenager, I was really into the BMX freestyle scene. We spent the whole day riding bikes, talking about bikes, watching freestyle videos, practicing flatland tricks. I mean from the time we got up to the time we went to bed in the summer -- completely consumed by freestyle. Let me tell you -- those were the days, and to me, those were the bikes. Hutch Trick Stars, Haro Masters, GT Performers, Redline RL 20IIs, Dynos. All in fun, bright neon colors. Then we got older. We got jobs. Those days left us, but the memories live on in those bikes. I'd love to rebuild my old Trick Star. I think that's what your nostalgia is really all about. I share it with you, but with a different set of bikes.
  • 4 1
 Also, I think there's something to be said for scrimping and saving and really earning that first good bike after riding sub-par or entry-level bikes for a period of time. Now all the great bikes are handed to you on a silver platter for your job, and that's really cool, but I can see how you might not appreciate them as much as maybe a young guy who will just scrape up enough money to get that sweet bike he's going to ride for 5-10 years. Or that kid who has been longing for one for so long, and his parents get him one for a Christmas or birthday present. To those guys, that first bike will always be a special bike.
  • 4 1
 I guess I'm lucky that I don't have enough money to afford the latest carbon electronic super bike. I just picked up a 2011 demo for $1000. With all the extra chainstays I feel like I've finally got the six legged dog I always wanted as a kid.
  • 1 1
 you got me at the six legged dog, now i want an old demo
  • 8 2
 bikes are getting better and better while all the trails get easier.
  • 3 1
 You just need to ride the perfect bikes harder, better, and faster. It's just like surfboards. As they improve, so does the level of surfing. Of course a new perfect surfboard trims perfectly, generates a lot of speed, and never catches an edge. It's only boring if you ride it that way...
  • 3 1
 I think a super amazing lightweight mid-/longtravel mountainbike compares to a simple steel hardtail from a decade ago like a smooth wide well maintained highway to technical singletrack. It is probably the quickest way to travel between A and B which makes it ideal if you're racing but it is also the hardest way to challenge yourself (and with the worst consequences if you go beyond your limits). I understand that these reviews nowadays are about how efficiently does it climb and how easily does it straightline through these obstacles without demanding any rider skill. A bike that does these well can't be bad, after all. And of course durability and ease of maintenance are important for all of us. But what challenges and elements of the bike bring us joy on the ride are different for all of us and won't really show in these reviews. And I believe these reviews are massively important for what is being developed right now, possibly overshadowing the vision of the bike designers themselves. If a bike is described here as twitchy on the descends hence concluded not to be suitable for technical descends at all, it is going to be huge blow for the manufacturer who's just released this new bike. Whereas it could actually be a great bike for a skilled rider to improve her or his skills on these very same technical descends (which is supposed to be a fun process). So what you're getting here to ride and review is largely a result of the reviews written earlier on other bikes. Think Darwin theory. If you like something different, then express your love something different that you happen to like. The influence of the media on the manufacturers is massive!

I'm not racing. I'm riding to find my limits and push them. On what I've to ride nearby I could easily get hold of a modern high performance "enduro" bike and never get close to my limits. May look cool on camera but to me it would feel like a waste of time (and money as these aren't cheap). At the other end of the spectrum my MUni (mountain unicycle) bucks me off on any root or drop where I'm not fully concentrated. Sure fun but doesn't look cool at all (though I still do get kudos from mountainbikers on the trail who assume it is really difficult). If you'd review my DMR hardtail it'd be full of flaws. Let me guess. The 26.8mm seatpost is too thin for any dropper post and at 71 degrees too slack for seated climbing (because, what happened to just leaving the saddle down and stand up climbing again?). The flex in the frame would not be confidence inspiring and the head angle would be so steep that you actually need skills to make it down technical descends. So now we got this new Trailstar that requires Alpine terrain to meet your limits. Yet how is it actually doing on the trails?
  • 6 4
 Call me spoiled, but in my mind the best possible bike is one I don't notice at all. Endless grip, flawless suspension and sucking up the bumps means I can push harder and focus on the trail. .02
  • 2 1
 My 2010 spark was my first decent xc bike, I still have it and I curse it until I look at me lap times, and they are usually faster than on my slash, but on my slash I can Huck rocks, which it why I started riding, so suck what the clock says do Huck son.
  • 2 1
 I don't know if it's just the older bikes that are more exciting. I'm starting to think that a bike that has a more singular purpose is much more interesting than the quiver killer Enduro super machines. I agree that those super machines all seem a bit bland to me now and I'm after something with a bit more character. Can't believe I'm talking about bicycles having character, clearly need to go and have a ride.
  • 2 1
 after reading this i'm thinking of taking my 9yr old marin hardtail off the turbo trainer and blasting that down my local trails as fast as I can just to see what its like, probably end up in A&E though.
  • 2 1
 Do it. As boring as modern bikes may be there's no denying that on the whole (yakyakyak) they are incredibly good.
  • 2 1
 I occasionally reminisce about my 2004 Yeti ASR-SL. The first bike I built from the frame up and was so proud of all the little details in my spec. to get down to 22.6lbs with 5.35lb frame - still remember those numbers to this day! The carbon flex pivot was so cool. It was my obtainable Ferrari and I really enjoyed riding and racing that bike even though it deserved a better and fitter pilot than I was. It was more cat than dog. My 2002 Santa Cruz Blur was a dog, 3-legged or otherwise, and I'm glad that was donated to a very grateful owner. But I wish I'd kept the Yeti - would be perfect for my daughter.
  • 4 3
 Fair call @mikelevy
I would think that being 'spoilt', having the ability to access so much high end (and near similar) equipment would make you find that the bike is everything but boring.
F1 drivers don't think their cars are fast, perhaps you need to take a week off reviewing a bike, and ride a huffy at your local in Squampton.
  • 3 2
 This article describes me to a "T". My bikes range from 1998-2002. To me, the older bikes seemed to be creations from a boutique. New bikes just don't seem to have "character". Yeah, my bikes are heavy and inefficient but I think they looks so good being inefficient. I must be old and nostalgic...
  • 2 1
 Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days -- Doug Larson Seems to me that a boring bike is a good thing. Your less focused on a poor performing bike and more focused on the trail, the environment, and the people who make this sport what it is.
  • 2 1
 I own a 2001 Rocky Mountain Blizzard that I ride more than any other bike I own.It has been an experimental platform for years and it's personality has changed with each experiment. Started off with 3x9 XT with V-brakes. Then I added Avid BB7's, then a 100ml Fox fork, then fully rigid singlespeed. Right now it is 1x10 with an Absolute Black oval chainring and One-up converted 11-40 cassette and radr cage. I had a moment where I thought I would/should sell it and when I was completely insulted by an offer of $200 I realized that to me this bike is priceless. I can't part with it, we have too much history together.
  • 2 1
 The Blizzard is one of my dream bikes.
  • 3 2
 I find almost all the new fancy full-squish bikes I see on here boring. No doubt most ride amazing, I just have little fascination with fullsus bikes. Maybe it's cause I started riding mtbs in the early 90s that I'm still attached to bikes that bear some resemblance to that era. Or maybe I just like the way hardtails ride. I like tubes & tires. Moving bits seem to get in the way. I've had one full sus (2009 stumpy) which was lots of fun, but maintenance etc. tarnished that experience in the end, plus, it was just never that cool to me. Been on steel hardtails ever since and never want more unless I'm riding down a mountain.
  • 2 1
 Not exactly the same idea, but I have been thinking about going for a full enduro bike (Nomad) just to inject a little more compromise into my riding. With my current great 650, 140mm, modern suspension trail bike, it's such a good compromise that it's hard to remember that it can't do everything perfectly. But a huge bike, a little too much for my everyday ride, might just be the ticket to inject a little absurdity into my riding.
  • 2 1
 It's nice to experience change. I was a dedicated boutique bike owner as soon as I could afford to be. Back then you were buying into performance (and hassles) you couldn't get from the mainstream brands. I owned lots of great bikes but also a lot of heartbreak, but that was also a time when bike makers in gentler places really had no idea what riders in BC were doing.

Then a 4 year stint on an alloy Enduro 29, which was totally out of character for me. Totally utilitarian. Reasonably priced (though not after I replaced pretty much everything on it but the frame), fit great, rode super well and took a ton of abuse. I just retired it for a shiny new Evil carbon wonderbike which is truly beautiful. It's a work of art that has rekindled that weird awe and joy of running exotica.
  • 2 1
 It's time now to test a 29+ hardtail then Smile . For exemple one of the Naked Bicycles creations. Or a beautiful Chromag Rootdown. Now after re-thinking the Xprezo AdHoc is not that bad at all for a three legged dog Smile . I love mine!
  • 2 1
 My 1st mtn bike was a steel frame Raleigh technium, full rigid, worst brakes known to man and the front shifter broke so if i wanted to go into the big ring i had to hold my thumb up against the shifter to keep from shifting down to the little ring. I must have had the strongest thumb than any mountain bike ever. This made riding 'interesting' but I won't complain about disk brakes, full suspension after those days. hahahah
/goride
  • 1 0
 I'm old enough to remember when skateboards went from being a plethora of bizarre shapes to the more standard popsicle shape they became. It was the same effect. I was able to identify a deck by it's shape alone during the early period and then one day, all of a sudden, the only distinguishing characteristic was the graphics - which were usually promptly shredded off. I don't skate anymore, but have noticed a resurgence of the old school,along with a huge variety of longboards. Maybe the same thing will happen with bikes? Maybe it already is happening (Nicolai)? Weird has a way of coming back around. Hopefully, as a bike critic, you won't be be bored forever.
  • 3 3
 First time at Mammoth Mountain was on an early 2000s Orange 5. A time before I knew what head angles were and every tire had a tube. It was actually 2013, but that was my 5th time ever riding a mountain bike on real trails. Insane learning experience. Seeing guys on full DH rigs BLEW MY MIND AND I HAD TO HAVE ONE! Now I have a DH bike and I get passed by guys on enduro bikes haha. I sold the orange to my cousin and I see it every few weeks and it reminds me how far I've come and how shallow I am now. I wouldn't even consider owning a bike with a 68 degree head angle.

Not mine but same bikehttps://www.google.com/search?q=2003+orange+sub+5&client=ms-android-att-us&biw=360&bih=559&prmd=sivn&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj-9IzGusLLAhVHOSYKHWTTCjkQ_AUIBygC#tbm=isch&q=orange+sub+5&imgrc=Wgbf-yFAS2vu1M%3A
  • 2 1
 Great article, completely agree, you know you love something when you look at its/their flaws as 'quirks' or 'personality' and are completely willing to accept/overlook them.

That's the love I have for my Univega RAM9 DH.
  • 2 1
 Mike, I reckon you wouldn't feel that way, if you weren't getting new, free superbike every month or so.
(I'd probably shit myself over half of 2016 perfectly boring bikes).
Who's lucky, you or me? =]
  • 2 2
 I absolutely love my 2015 canfield jedi, only other fully I owned was a 2010 bottlerocket, didn't really get into riding until 2012, but I can say I have always wanted an old bike, because I find the fads they used to have fascinating, I probably wouldn't find it an awesome ride, but it would be cool just to have as that nostalgic bike.
  • 4 1
 If a bike is boring then you need to ride a more challenging trail and ride more aggressively. The bike is only a tool.
  • 2 1
 My Giant ATX One DH is still alive ... A HREF="http://www.pinkbike.com/photo/10187714/">http://www.pinkbike.com/photo/10187714//A>

The downtube is indeed massive aluminium alloy, no tubing.
  • 3 1
 I miss the times I had on those old bikes more than I miss the bikes themselves. Now I have the shiny new bikes I don't have time to ride. Those were the days......
  • 2 1
 @Mikelevy Check out this Top Gear episode at 17:12 about James May’s childhood favorite car. Fits with this article quite well I think. www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiXxREwChjE
  • 2 2
 Sorry, not buying it. Sure, those old bikes hold great memories. Sure, you had awesome rides and lots of fun with them. And sure, you'd probably enjoy riding them today - for a ride or two. But unlike the three legged dog, being a living creature capable of providing companionship and connection and all, a bike is still a bike. It's got a purpose - you ride it. And while there's great fun to be had on those old bikes - the new bikes do a lot of stuff a lot better, and once you've experienced that, there's little that will keep you going back other than nostalgia or perhaps the desire for a unique challenge.

I started riding MTBs in the early 90s, on a used Trek Singletrack 970. Awesome bike for the day. Got front suspension on it after a while. Had a lot of fun. Then moved from Austin (where MTB was my substitute for windsurfing, my main thing) to the Bay Area (where windsurfing was actually happening - so not much MTB). Didn't ride for real again until 2010 (then in Bellingham - had lived here for 7 years before getting out on Galbraith - yep, still shaking my head). Did so on hard tail Trek from around 2005. The thing was sooooo much nicer than the old Trek. Different sport. But after a year of happily riding my hardtail, I tried someone's modern FS trail bike - and never looked back; different sport, again.

My current bike (just bought it) is more comfortable, more playful, more confident. As an all-around trail bike, it's head and shoulders above what was available back in 2011. Would I still have fun on the bike I bought then? Sure. But this is way better. And compared to what I rode before then? Hell yeah.

This is not unique to MTB. Skis went through a huge transformation in the 90s (I missed that by transitioning into snowboarding - only got back to it in 05). So then in the mid 2000s, things leveled off - but there's still change. Not as dramatic - but today's hybrid camber/rocker profile fat skis make excellent one ski quivers. My current skis are as good as the dedicated in-bounds semi-fat all mountain ski and the rockered powder ski they replaced in those skis respective preferred conditions.

Windsurfing (my main sport) - same thing (won't bore you with that - too arcane for people not in the sport).

The key here is that in all three of these sports, today's gear does more, over a broader range of conditions/usage, than ever before. So today, you can have one bike that is fun to pedal around on rolling singletrack (what we used to call XC) and climbs pretty well, but still descends as confidently as bikes of yesteryear that are 15 pounds heavier and would have you pushing them uphill. That means more fun, more of the time, on one bike.

Yes, we all had fun on gear from way back when. But when Mike wants to go out for a ride to blow off some steam after work (as opposed to, say, have a nostalgic little reunion with his favorite bike of 15 years ago), do you really think he'll go for the three legged dog?
  • 2 1
 Well I've got a couple of old bikes with lots of character and that's all I have to ride. They're both built up with modern components Hope i9 and the like. I ride them everyday.
  • 2 1
 kind of like cars, a stock civic is amazingly good for everyday driving, but we always remember the cars that had character, no matter if they broke down. The memory's are still more fond.
  • 1 1
 The simple answer is there is no perfect bike, even by today's standards. The better a bike is the harder it can be ridden and its, or more usually, the rider's flaws will be exposed. That's the point that things get interesting. I used to love tackling rooty rocky stuff on an old ATX hardtail with 80mm of fork and Vee's. Now I just ride much faster and have as much if not more fun.
  • 6 2
 I like dogs
  • 7 1
 i love lamp...
  • 3 1
 I like dags. I like caravans more.
  • 3 2
 @ad15... Do you really love lamp or are you just saying it because you saw a lamp?
  • 2 1
 the good old days of extreme freeride...loved my Banshee Scream! I certainly put it to proper use too...

ep1.pinkbike.org/p4pb395704/p4pb395704.jpg
  • 3 2
 Nothing like riding the latest and greatest over priced mtb, that makes it easy for newbys to ride over bumpy terrain faster. Pure marketing aimed at new to the sport people
  • 2 1
 It´s not the bikes that are getting boring but the reviews, since most bikes are the same. The author being a reviewer I understand his sentiment.
  • 2 1
 I'll always remember my 1995 Bianchi Ibex, 3 cromoly tubes, manitou comp fork with 47mm travel, 21 speed, big blue anodized bar ends, Had a lot of fun on that one.
  • 2 1
 Tens of thousands I've spent on a dh build, a carbon xc build, and all I can do is dream about building up and old rm9 frame
  • 2 1
 I'm old and will take a well engineered modern bike any day of the week. I was sad for like a day when I gave away my GT Pantera. Then I went for a ride on my new blur.
  • 2 1
 the super 8 was bad ass looking enough to have a toy version made of it, and a group of riders (the superheroes) that rode them exclusively. even if it was a lacklustre bike.
  • 2 1
 How can anyone ask for more 3-legged dog bikes so soon after the Taipei bike show? One would think you'd had enough of those for one year after that show!
  • 1 0
 This bike reviewing stuff is getting in your head, drop it. Find something else to do for a while, and then, come back to it.
  • 2 1
 Proflex had some pretty rad and different bikes. Elastoma shock absorbers?? Caarazy. The good Ol days
  • 3 1
 So, in few words: sometimes, it's just the journey... :-)
  • 3 2
 I am still rocking arguably the most characteristic dirt jump frame ever made. The Santa Cruz Jackal (old).
  • 2 1
 The Jackal was released when I gave up on dirt jumping... Old is when your XC ride was also your DJ bike
  • 2 1
 I think this is what he really needs:

www.kickstarter.com/projects/1106708179/lichen-bikes
  • 2 1
 Swing arm on the super 8 was so big you could stand on it and surf/ski down hills
  • 2 1
 Yep I'll never let my 04 Rocky Mountain go. She's got a place in my heart no other bike can fill lol
  • 2 1
 Oh crap... Bikes are going the same way as cars??? Time to take up Snooker.
  • 2 1
 and then these forky-forks..http://www.pinkbike.com/photo/12034751/
  • 2 1
 I work in Halfords where the dogs have no legs.
  • 2 1
 lol at that
  • 2 1
 A good bike is never perfect. It has some edges in its personality.
  • 2 1
 I just sold my first mb, 1999 GT XCR 4000... I Drive pedal bobber
  • 2 1
 Is pedal jobber a bad word somewhere?
  • 1 0
 That downtube on the giant is the sketchiest looking thing!
  • 1 0
 Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.
  • 2 1
 nostalgia's a bitch
  • 2 1
 Great.
  • 2 1
 looks like a session?
  • 1 0
 i feel ya mike.
  • 4 5
 Your writing is artwork
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