Back to the Future: From Singletrack Issue 120

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Sanny dusts down his old ’90s race bike and takes on the quintessential Peaks route. Was the bike as good as he remembers, or is it a case of distance lending enchantment?

Words Sanny Photography Mark

Cast your mind back. What was your first mountain bike? Mine was a Raleigh Maverick in a deep burgundy colour. With fifteen of Sach’s finest Rival gears, Weinmann alloy rims, riser bars and a stubby BMX stem, I thought it was the absolute business… right until I broke it after many happy rides. By the time I came to replace it with quite possibly the best twenty-first birthday pressie ever, an Orange Prestige with full Suntour XC Comp groupset, the mountain biking landscape had changed dramatically. Developments and innovation were firmly aligned with the burgeoning race scene. Stems got longer, frames and equipment got lighter almost to the point of fragility (hard to imagine that the idea of drilling out cranks to save weight seemed like a good idea), while a whole raft of small companies got in on the act with ever more blingy and, of course, expensive parts. Looking back on that era from the comfort of my modern IKEA sofa, a thought occurred. With a burgeoning retro bike scene where the truly dedicated (or slightly deranged?) slavishly recreate classic bikes of the era, were the bikes actually any good? Given how much technology and design has advanced, can one of the blingiest bikes of the ’90s hold a candle to today’s machines? Or are we merely looking back with misty-eyed fondness to an era when we were making memories despite the bikes we were riding? Only one way to find out.

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