There's no doubt that bikes have got a lot better over the last few years. I don't want to go back to fixed seatposts, sketchy geometry, inadequate brakes, and carrying five spare inner tubes on every ride. But there are a few features that have inexplicably gone out of fashion and that I'd like back - at least sometimes.
External cable routing
While brands like Raaw are still fighting the good fight, it's getting increasingly difficult to find bikes with external cable routing. Long before manufacturers decided it was a good idea to start putting cables through the headset
, aesthetics had been edging out serviceability for years as brands went fully internal.
It's really the external rear brake lines that I miss. Being able to upgrade or swap a brake over was once a matter of minutes but now involves a re-bleed at a minimum. Even if threading the hose through the frame is as painless as possible (which it rarely is), it's the re-bleed that makes it a fuss. Sure, most people rarely swap brakes, but when you do it's so nice to be able to simply bolt a new one on. When one of my brakes failed on the first day of a riding holiday in the Alps, I was able to swap to a spare set in minutes.
Not having to charge anything
A bicycle is fundamentally a simple, mechanical device, and that's a big part of its appeal for many of us. While electronic gears and droppers have considerable advantages over cable-operated versions (the lack of cables being the most obvious one) there's something about having to connect your smartphone to make adjustments or check that the batteries are charged before you can go out riding that doesn't sit well with the simplicity of cycling.
Sure, replacing frayed or rusted cables and adjusting cable tension may take more time to maintain in the long run, but at least you know your derailleur's not going to need to be recharged if you forget to plug in the batteries after the last ride.
Let me be clear: I'm not talking about the forks with two travel settings like Fox's Talas and RockShox Dual Position Air. They were basically a workaround to help bikes with unnecessarily slack seat tubes climb a bit better. In that role, they worked a treat, but have since become redundant thanks to improved climbing geometry.
Instead, I'm talking about the forks that could be travel-adjusted in small increments. This allowed you to tinker with the geometry and handling of the bike by trying out different travel settings, much like you can with a dual-crown fork by sliding the stanchions up and down in the crowns. If you wanted a slacker and more DH-focussed bike, increasing the travel by 10 mm was a very effective way to achieve this.
While some modern forks from the likes of DVO offer internal travel adjustment, with the big two manufacturers that most of us ride, you'll need to hand over a considerable amount of cash for a whole new spring assembly (a Fox 38 air spring costs £160). While this isn't the end of the world if you're switching frames, it's a pretty big hurdle if you just want to see how it affects the handling.
Back in the day, the 2015-2016 Fox NA air spring made it easier to try out different travel settings without having to buy any expensive parts (it was quite a big job though
Before that, the RockShox coil U-turn system offered on-the-fly travel adjustment: anywhere from 95-140 mm on the original RockShox Pike. It was a beautifully simple solution where turning the dial wound the spring shaft up the coil, effectively making the spring shorter. This not only reduced the ride height but also made the spring proportionally stiffer - because a shorter spring has a higher spring rate. That meant the fork would have the same percentage sag wherever it was set in the travel. It was so quick and easy that you could legitimately change the travel to suit different trails while out riding.
In a world where we're comparing clicks of high-speed rebound damping or boasting about pressure-relief buttons that do a job that could be done with a zip tie, it seems like losing the ability to easily adjust travel (one of the most fundamental suspension parameters) is a relatively big loss.
These were never common, but I had a 2011 Lapierre Spicy with a derailleur protector and it was probably the best thing about it. Sure, it didn't make the derailleur invulnerable, but it definitely reduced the chances of damage as evidenced by the many scratches it accumulated over the years. I also had a compact Shimano Zee derailleur tucked behind there that lasted for years. Since then, derailleurs have only got bigger and more expensive, so maybe it's time for a comeback.
Bash guards & skid plates
These haven't gone away altogether, but now it's surprisingly rare to see any form of chainring protection even on gravity-focussed bikes. Personally, I've bent chainrings and broken chains multiple times as a result, and they only weigh around 100 g more than a minimal top guide. If nothing else, it's just a good excuse to have a go at some cheeky trials moves that you might otherwise deem not worth the risk.
What do you think? Have we missed anything? Or are modern bikes better in every way? Let us know in the comments.
Just to make it clear, I was born and lived majority of my life in eastern Europe so I know very well the money struggle...
A Norco A-line was about $5k CAD top spec.
All of these are inflation adjusted of course. I remember while I had covid I was bored and modeled bike prices since 2000 inflation adjusted and determined that the low end was slightly more expensive, but minimal, and the high end was cheaper if we ignore anything wireless... including AXS and live valve etc... makes todays top tier bikes way more.
I was a bit of an eye opener, and we are proabbly all remembering some sick deal we got at the shop that one time as the status quo of bikes. Or we were all pining over an XT deraileur instaed of an Ohlins 38....
You can tell me its rose tinted glasses, but I still own that bike among the others, so I can go check the suspension feel whenever I like.
That bike frame was still made in Japan too.
For $2500-$3000 (today's dollars), I can build a rig that would smoke any bike form 10-15 years ago... and compete within the margin of error with todays $10000 bikes.
But people are convinced that spending $7000-$10000 is necessary now.
A 2022 GT Aggressor also costs AU$700, has disc brakes and a suspension fork.
1. You can always route your hoses and cables externally. Only exception I can think of is when you choose to run a dropper post (or want a proper long travel one) that has the cable/hose connector at the bottom of the post (hence inside the seattube).
2. You don't need batteries to ride a bike.
3. Can't you adjust the travel of most air spring forks? Just add a bumper in the negative air spring and the fork will extend a little less. Some very available and good (as in WC competitive good) easily allow you to adjust travel across a sensible range. Suntour comes to mind but I think you'd actually be trying harder to find forks that can't have their travel adjusted (without spending a lot) than those that can.
4. Derailleur guards were never common on higher end bikes. If you're looking for one as hard as you were looking for it back then, you'll be just as likely to come across an option.
5. Bash guards and skid plates. I run one from On One and don't dare to tell me you have never heard of them. Superstarcomponents have affordable ones too. Lots of them. If it isn't on a bike, someone didn't install it. If someone wants one, he or she can. Or is it you miss seeing it on others' bikes which you have no control over?
Adjust for inflation that’s $6204 - RRP for a session now is $6400-$6999
Not far off, is it, and it’s better now.
Plus a current mid tier part is likely better than the top tier from 10 years ago.
And since 2019 there has been a global pandemic and inflation of 15-20% which accounts for your extra 500 EUR in 4 yrs.
And 'worse spec' is subjective - A boxxer is on a par with the 40 and Bontrager parts have been used since 2010 - In 2008 sure they had deemax wheels but thats 15 years ago now, so another 2-3 years of inflation added vs the 2010 model I looked at which closes the cost gap further.
So you may be paying a little more (not as significant as you think - calculate the inflation) for what you consider a worse spec, but its not significant and I almost guarantee the 2013 bike works better, is faster and none of the parts would prevent you putting a WC qualifying run down.
I am not denying there has been some specification dilution over the years but its not as clear cut as you and many try to make out.
How would we compare the cost of a mountainbike? You can't just look at what's available, calculate the average and go by that. What you can do is say, what do you need to ride this piece of trail with this skillset with this kind of speed and confidence (the latter helped by component reliability)? I'd definitely say that what you could ride on a 2000$ bike twenty years ago, you can ride on a cheaper bike now. Especially when accounted for inflation. Just because you can get something even better now for even more money doesn't really matter. Only if you go "I always want one step below top level for every single component on my bike" then yeah, you're in trouble.
some people might need to save every penny for a year or more to buy a $7k bike. others, it might equate to half a mortgage payment.
As I said: : “Boxxer ultimate and fox 40 RRP are £1850ish vs £1950ish - they are literally the same price”
The RRP for both the boxxer and 40 is within £100 of each other, what fork is £900 and £1500?
if you are looking for a XC race bike, a trail bike to ride epics on, or anything around these two disciplines, weight is a major factor in it's "performance".
Just bring some lube!
Had a battery show green before a ride. At some point I noticed it was red when shifting, I later got a low battery alert on my Garmin. Battery didn't last nearly as long from green to dead as Sram says. It died before getting back to my van (but just barely).
I have AXS on both of my MTB's. I don't blame anyone for not wanting it for themselves. I am still not sure I am keeping it on my trail bike, I might just swap back. But I am not sure yet.
Love my wife's carbon Scouty
And why should we need a new tool when external routing uses a 3mm hex (that every home mechanic already has) or zip ties.
Ditto with olders Giants and many others. Doesn't really matter which common-sense trick you're doing when the routing is a hidden maze.
$10 magnet, dollar store dental picks, and some electrical tape. Problem solved. Or get the nice Park tool set for more $$$ but still worth it if the alternative is hours of frustration.
The best thing about old bikes is they're mostly aluminum so we can melt them down into something useful.
But I've been running a bash guard on it for years without problem. That is probably my one and only complaint about this bike.
$50 premium for the polished.
i miss NS Bikes having neon and gold graffiti rims and the set of Spank wheels I had with red ano rims on them.
I DO NOT WANT BATTERIES ON MY GODDAMN BIKE
2. LOL, still the case. Not planning on changing.
3. Had a 36 TALAS, don't miss it. Would rather spend the weight + engineering $$ on performance.
4. Bring these BACK!
5. These went out of style?? I still smash the bash plate many times a season, and have run top guides on all my bikes. Why bash a chainring? Makes no sense.
I hear there is an mtb one coming…
2.1" WTB tires
Unquestioned faith in Chromoly to last longer then my short life here on earth
...Also forgetting everything is quick release until air born...oops...yeOUCH!!!
That said, it was a great bike! I rode it until the start of the pandemic, at which time I bought a used full suspension Niner. I rolled up more than 150,000 miles on my Ritchey. Of course, almost none of the original components survived. I went through quite a few wheelsets, cranks, bottom brackets, etc... Put the original Marzocchi Bomber coil spring fork on at some point. I only stopped riding it because I needed a new rear rim and realized that the market had gone away from 26". I bought a set of XTR wheels for it off ebay but came to the realization that I was going to have to go a different way for the long run.
My road bike from the 1980s was also a $5000 purchase, so I think people grousing about prices in this range now are being unrealistic. Considering what you get now compared to then, and relatively higher salaries now, bikes aren't really more unaffordable in the present compared to the past.
In the past what you paid for was custom sizing, tubesets, and somebody making it just the way you wanted it. Now you pay for a level of performance (suspension and componentry) that we couldn't imagine in the 1980s. I don't know if my Niner will last 150,000 miles, and I'm old enough now that I'll never find out, but the whole time it lasts it will outperform my Ritchey by having suspension and hydraulic disc brakes. It also takes bigger tire sizes, which all by itself is a big performance upgrade.
I can't speak to bikes that cost more than my Triumph Tiger, but bikes in the $5000 to $7000 range are just about the same price that a quality bike has cost for my whole life.
I hope tall seat tubes and top tubes become eliminated on all types of bike.
I'd love to hear from someone from RS/Fox (@fluidfunction?) how's it meant to be. Boxxer manual for the previous chassis said 156mm +-2mm I believe. But I've certainly seen more extension on some pros' bikes so I wonder how big a deal it is? I imagine it's about stanchion wall thicknes and all that being clamped properly.
Those went for $5k back at the turn of the millennium.
That bike is worthless compared to anything in the $2k range today, including hardtails!
Mine had a “modern” fork on it, but when it came time to sell, I couldn’t give it away.
$10k for a bicycle is ridiculous, but what you get for much less these days is still amazing.
I kicked ass on my ML-7!
Not gonna lie though my previous daily driver was that same generation Enduro and it's a beauty of a bike. But light years off from modern bikes
I think the thing I miss about older bikes were there were set standards - you could chop and change parts from any bike!
I also miss having to pay only about £50 for a high end cassette - when youre talking £180 for a midrange cassette these days!
Also I've not given in to the ebike thing yet and my next bike is likely going to be a non ebike Atherton duro!
I was just saying to a pal recently that I'd happily buy a modern U-turn fork. They would be very useful again now that so many bikes have flip chips and for geometry, mulleting etc.
I miss aluminum frames with anodized finishes that you could crash and they didn’t look like you crashed. The paint on todays bikes chips and scratches so easily. I miss fast handling bikes that required you to have skill to ride fast. Riding one of todays enduro bikes is like driving a Baja race truck. There is an enormous amount of room for error. I don’t miss front derailleurs or triple ring drivetrains. Under powered brakes. Narrow bars or long stems. Tires with side walls so thin they took over a cup of Stan’s to finally seal. I definitely don’t miss needing to buy a DH wheel set to get a wheel set that was stiff enough and had rims wide enough to actually support a tire. I don’t miss aluminum wheels at all.
My current bike is an Ibis Ripmo. The internal cable routing is tube in tube. It works great for me no complaints. Even swapping out the rear brake isn’t that big of a deal. It takes less than 10 minutes to bleed SRAM Codes, Formulas or any Shimano brake. That being said running cables through the headset just isn’t very practical for most people. I still run a One Up bash guard. Ironically without a chain guide. I haven’t switched to electric and probably won’t until I don’t have a choice. I have barely had to touch an adjuster on my XX and now XX1 drivetrains since they came out many years ago. Ever since I switched to SRAM XX in 2009 then to a 1x10 drivetrain in 2012 all my drivetrain issues pretty much went away. Then when XX1 came out I ditched the chain guide and suddenly have more gears than I need. Todays 1x drivetrains are so good. I switched to big rotors and dh level brakes years ago. Never going back. I love my carbon wheels. I doubt I will ever go back to aluminum wheels. I have only cracked two carbon rims in the 12 plus years I have been riding them. Everyone thought I was insane when I spent $2000 on a set of Edge now ENVE AM wheels. That was 2009. I rode them for 5 years and then sold them for $1500 dollars. Still laughing!
- narrow bars that had plenty of room when the trail was originally built
- saddles with leather covers instead of plastic
- swapping tires in 5 minutes with no mess
- Klein paint jobs
- fewer pedal strikes
- cheaper wear items (looking at you $300 cassette)
95% of the time, they're crap. But sometimes, juuuust sometimes, that straight line rock garden could do with an under sprung, under damped magic carpet comfort machine
I had tubeless in my enduro wheels with DH Minion front and rear,I learned quickly what would work and what not. I do not had too many flats but tons of broken wheels.I managed to broke a few times a rim by the weld,split in half hehehe.
Big wheels had less problems with square edge hits and snake bites.
Early TALAS forks had 3mm travel adjustment 20 years ago...
Please, how can a shorter coil have higher spring rate? Coil UTurn is maybe the most insane and beautiful solutions RockShox have EVER made. With UTurn, you only shorten the free-length of the coil. The shorter travel is not made by compressing the fork, but by shortening the distance between the ends of the coil.
I was using Lyrik Coil UTurn MissionControl MY2009 converted from 160mm to 170mm of travel by 10mm spacer under the UTurn shaft. Aside from huge bushings play and actually not working damper by design it was a serious piece of chassis that I could always depend on and several time saved my ash.
this is where confusion comes from, shorter spring is "softer" in the end of the day. now if you'll pay attention, the u turn spring is differently wound over the part that u turn works on, that's their trick to try and eqalize how much it takes to bottom it out from shortest to full travel. i had one and it was INDEED "softer" in the shorter travel setting.
electronic wires would be much easier to route and silence compared to cables...
Can we please standardize on electronics and get collaboration between manufacturers here?
I mean fighter jets use special threads in the carbon fiber hulls to run like conductive wires, the same could be done in carbon frames surely?
Oh, and I have an e13 bash guard on my Devinci. They never went away. In fact, if bikes get any lower, some geographical areas, like my mid Atlantic rocks and roots (which is why I installed one), are going to need one.
Me now - "I need to completely dissasemble my LLS 29er in order to just about cram it into my absolutely huge E-class estate."
I miss that!
Balfa - I miss my 50lb + BB7 for nostalgic squishy reasons only
Bike Videos that were 1/3 Bikes, Partying and Moto.
Trying to ride sketchy lines with V-Brakes
How did we survive ?
I'd agree with everything on your list. I'd also like to submit a few additions.
1 - Schrader valves (or something similar) Loads easier to use, minimal penalties. I have scars on the top of my hand from smacking a cassette after releasing a tight pump head from a presta! Last piece of our roadie heritage, needs an upgrade.
2 - I - Beam. Doesn't have to be I Beam. Just not the mega faffy system we currently have, especially now we have droppers and we need access to the air valve. I Beam was just better all round, the stiffness could have been worked around.
3 - Being able to fit/swap/fix tyres without co2/compressor/levers/crying. Now, I'm all for tubeless. Good tubeless. But we don't have it yet. So close, UST, so close.
4 - Shiny things. Okay okay, this isn't functional and I'm just showing my age, but anodising in all the colours of the acid trip and ball burnishing/ultra polished metal/powder coating looked cool to me. Also, bikes very quickly became 1 offs after a few upgrades. Nowadays you can usually get a 'stealth' (dull) matte black/grey or a 'lairy' fluoro job. Neither look great to me. But then I'm clearly not sick AF, bro.
5 - Rapid Rise. Ok, now I'm being a little bit twatty. But hey, I could have said Dual Control (please, please stay dead!). Rapid rise made sense to me - spring assist when I needed it whilst exerting on a climb, and push to upshift into a descent. I'm not going to the mat on this one, just seemed a little better.
6 - Sizing. Modern geometry is, on the whole, better. Done. However, it has created a shift in the sizing paradigm whereby the important measurements (reach/RAD and stack/standover) can be wildly different between brands and sizes. You can probably get a size L with a reach of 450mm or 500+mm. That's particularly difficult for newcomers to allow for. I'm sure this will resolve, but this is potentially a big problem for those who aren't fully clued up, and needs to be sorted quickly.
Ok. Time for a sit down and watch of DIRT for old time's sake, hey?!
internal cable routing is fine.
i don't have to charge my bike. its a 2023
adjusting stuff on the fly sucks make your bike set up for how you are riding.
derailleur guards are dumb. lets bring back bars with bolt on cross bars too.
I have a bash guard taco and upper chain guide. ONEUP? light and quiet.
So I am taking down fresh rubber, droppers and drive trains so the 26" bikes might be my only choice this year. I have to admit they feel like kids bikes after riding 650 and 29ers at home here in the 6 but my only drawback is keeping up with the larger hoops as I ride the last choice rides on tours.
Things I have changed on those old bikes ..... better shocks, 11 speed SLX drivetrains, Brand X droppers, WIDE bars[lol] and they have always been tubeless as I stopped using tubes in 2002.
Anyone in Negril the next few months gimme a shout out....... you can ride the 27.5!!!
seriously I still love riding them on tight and twisty stuff and they lift up so easily and are so flickable.
1. All of the above
2. 20mm axles
3. 10 speed being widely used
4. Small cassettes that didn't weigh a tonne
5. Compact derailleurs that weren't weak, long and exposed
6. Thicker chains that were tough and reliable (ie 10 speed)
7. No boost
8. 26" wheels (rear especially)
9. SDG I-beam
10. Full top and bottom chain guides
11. Appropriate length reach/bikes
Oh wait, I miss none of these, I'm still using them all (note have tried all modern alternatives for long periods).
Off back to my man-cave now where I am hoarding all the above.
Bottomless tokens and dropper posts are ok!
- 26" wheels, really?
- no dropper post? man no way to miss that.
- 2x 10 drivetrain? I don't give away my 1x 12 setup!
And the specs or performance of a fork, brakes or anything else is incredible....
The only thing I also start to question is; is a carbon frame really gives that extra thing which the others do?
Then I go through corners and I don’t miss them so much…
-fixed seat posts
-Double derailleurs with 3x8 gears
-Narrow rims with 1.75'' tires
1. external cable routing
2. Manitou Mezzer (which can be adjusted from 140 to 180)
3. bash guard
4. no batteries
No derailleur guard tho...
We both agreed that we liked our own bikes better at the end. Neither of us having anything bad to say about each other's bike.
I don’t miss that, or the other 4 things.
everyone does it, everyone sells shit while pushing "green" agenda. how green is to constantly produce and throw away pos products? and the money wasted as well, someone busted their ass for it, you stole it off them and flushed it down the toilet.
that's not how's it gonna work out, son.
2. Don’t buy electronics if you don’t like them. I’ve never charged anything on my bike.
3. I see your point, but forks are so good now that I don’t miss anything from the past. Plus pb buy sell has old forks if you want them.
4. I haven’t broke a derailleur since 2011, and that one was caused by a stick in the spokes. So… no to whatever that is.
5. I see bash guards everywhere all the time, they didn’t go away.
I need a bike rack on my horse.
Internal is way better when done right. I cried about having to bleed the rear brakes the first couple times, then learned how to bleed brakes and haven't cared since. It's nice to get a fresh bleed anyway. And for the shift cable it is without a doubt faster to swap in a good internal frame. Just one push through vs. playing with all kinds of clips and tiny screws. Oh... and 99% of the time you need to shorten the hose anyway on new brakes so what are you even talking about you always have to bleed them.
Ok the charging I do agree with, even as an ebike-participant, I admit having to charge your bike or its components is lame.
Swapping air springs is still a pretty viable and easy option... and given the INSANE progress in how good the forks (and shocks) are nowadays it seems a little silly to shake your stick at a pretty unnecessary feature. Most bikes have a chip or a headset cup you can flip to experiment with geo. And 5-10mm difference can also easily be achieved adjusting air pressure, a factor people always seem to ignore.
Remember that derailleur guards existed because derailleur hangers were made of tin foil? And in those days we had to carry spare hangers on us while riding they were so prone to failure? Don't miss anything about that.
If you want to mount up a bash guard and chain guide be my guest, but since the dawn of 1x I haven't run either. Dropped one chain in 2012 none in the past 10 years, have "bashed" my ring on exactly 0 objects.
You're free to miss whatever you miss... but this feels like a fluff article written to fulfill a prompt, not a story you felt strongly about and had to share with the world. I would've been bummed too if my boss gave me this prompt to write about because I just racked my brain and there's honestly nothing I miss about old bikes. I loved the h*ll out of them all over the years, but my god they just keep getting better. Lack of standardization would be my only gripe, but that was, is, and always will be a problem so oh well.
Id rather ruin a chainring than crack a frame....
external needs to make a come back 100%
batteries dont phase me and neither do motors.(your jelly or whatever sour puss if your against it)
Everything else can stay in the past(except off topic, Social media can f off, done nothing but cause issues)
We make our suspension worse then put storage in our bikes,it’s insane.
Interesting, I wonder if they have thought of that before.
Because there was no reason to have any other spacing than 135x10 with the exception of fat bikes.
142x12 was a money grab. 12 mm axle in the rear does nothing. 142 simply had different dropouts for "easier wheel spacing"
148x12 was a money grab. Sure, boost spacing means you can run 2.6 tires, but the applications for 2.6 tires are minimal, there is a reason for 27.5+ dissapeared pretty much
Superboost 157x12 is even more pointless.
Also narrower flange spacing creates a wheel that is stiffer up and down, at the expense of less lateral stiffness. Id argue that this is more important for most people. If you want lateral stiffness, ride 26" wheel in the rear for all your sideways landings from whips and shralps, the smaller hoop diameter will do more for you than flange width.
In the end, a brake system is simply a mechanical advantage lever, and the give that you feel is any deflection in the system (lever, line, cable, caliper body). The 2 reasons hydraulics became popular is because they resulted in less deflection of components (with mechanicals, there is minute cable stretch and the bending of the lever arm at the caliper), and they are actually cheaper to make, since you just gotta drill and tap holes.
However, cable brakes are more adjustable. You can adjust them for various rotor widths to make sure the clamping force is equal, without ever worrying about rubbing. You can adjust lever takeup, as well as bitepoint, and on the Srams Speed Dial levers, you can adjust the leverage ratio as well, so you can go from Shimano to Code Rs and anywhere in between in terms of feel.
And now, with things like 220mm rotors, using a cable brake will give you plenty of stopping power even for 29ers. And personally, Id take changing brake cables any day over bleeding, and many people who service their bikes in apartments would probably agree.
All that is needed is a well designed stiff caliper, stiff lever, and cable with kevlar/carbon core. Id even pay more for it over hydraulics, since you functionally get more adjustability, and a cleaner cockpit.
Not sure if I agree on the mechanical brakes, I never had them, but it sparked an interesting idea in my head. My Gustavs pop my eyeballs out every time I pull the brake lever too hard, though.
no on wants vertical stiffness over lateral stiffness. are you riding actual mountain bike trails, or gravel / rails to trails stuff? You're arguing a wheel that rides harshly and is vague steering is better?
Starting to feel trolled here...
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