4 Retro Dream Bikes Spotted This Weekend – Which Would You Own?

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The 2018 Cycle Show wasn’t all just about seeing the 2019 range of Whyte full-suspension bikes, or super expensive carbon XC race bikes. No, there was also a good selection of retro machinery on show, but of the following 4 mountain bike classics which would you most like to own?


Downhill version of the classic GT LTS.

This GT LTS Team (along with the RTS below) was on loan from a retro bike collector and on show at the GT booth alongside modern full suspension bikes, including the new LTS. The Team edition bike boasts a ball burnished frame, a finish that was achieved by simply rubbing ball-bearings over the surface of the frame until the resulting shine is created.

Period correct DCD and 54t chainring for SPEED!

This is a downhill version of the bike and as such features period accurate RockShox Judy DH forks with 80mm of travel, and an anodised blue DCD (Dave’s Chain Device) to ensure the chain doesn’t jump off the monster 54 tooth chainring.

Cantis for stopping, bushing for pivots. Those were the days.

We’re pretty sure more modern LTS frames had disc brake tabs, this model pre-dates those and relies on cantilever brakes for stopping. Shimano XTR is in charge of gear shifting duties and although this LTS is a few decades old it has an on-trend 1x drive system.


Oh yes, check out the stem!


Coolest bike here? Andi thinks so.

The GT LTS might be the more modern GT full-suspension bike here, but it was the GT RTS which had Andi grinning from ear to ear. He was so taken with this rocker tuned beauty that he even considered slipping it up his top and making off with it.

Aftermarket ‘dog bone’ links were available for the RTS to increase rear wheel travel.

Again we have a ball burnished frame, GT tended to do this a lot most famously on the Zaskar hardtail, and the collector who put this bike together has used top of the range kit from the same period.

White Industries hubs laced to Mavic 217 rims.

Yellow RockShox Judy SL forks up front have 60mm of elastomer sprung travel (or was it 65mm?) while a super tiny Noleen coil shock with piggyback keeps the rear wheel in check. Speaking of wheels, this RTS has rather lovely looking White Industries hubs laced to canti compatible Mavic 217 rims.

A lot of stem for the money back in those days.

XTR is again on display including a front mech (remember those?) to shift the chain across the GT branded chainset. The icing on the cake is the Control Tech stem, and GT branded saddle, although if this was ours we would have opted for a Flite saddle instead.

Kona Explosif

Kona Explosif
Joe Murray designed hardtail classic.

The only steel retro bike in this list, and to make it even more special it has one of the best known rigid forks plugged into the front too.

Not content with shipping a complete saloon from Eurobike to the NEC and spending the best part of 40 hours on constructing it for their booth, the Kona guys also had time to jump in a time machine and bring back this early Kona Explosif steel hardtail to display.

Kona Explosif
Sugino chainset?

The Joe Murray designed bike was heralded as one of the best handling mountain bikes back in its day, and even without suspension, the Kona Project 2 fork was said to offer a pretty comfortable ride.

Kona Explosif
It even has glitter paint!

Retro highlights include bar ends, a threaded headset with a quill stem and Panaracer Smoke and Dart front and rear specific tyres. Someone was really living the dream!

Marin Titanium F.R.S

Titanium mainframe, with Manitou forks front and rear.

The Marin Titanium F.R.S shared it’s designed with a Manitou designed full-suspension bike from back in the day, but whereas Manitou used an alloy frame, Marin went for full bling with a Ti frame.

Marin FRS
Is this the front or the rear?

What’s really interesting here is that the F.R.S rear suspension is basically a Manitou fork engineered to bolt on to the rear of the bike with enough clearance for a rear hub. It’s a clever solution but just as linkage forks didn’t really take hold for front suspension systems, telescopic rear suspension systems didn’t become popular either.

Marin FRS
Ok, this is the front!

We don’t remember how much suspension travel the F.R.S offered, but if the fork is anything to go by we’re going to guesstimate around 40mm travel max. Like the Kona, this Marin has retro-tastic bar ends and a threaded steerer tube too.

So 4 very different retro bikes, and we know which we would love to own (RTS! RTS! RTS!) but we want to hear which retro ride you would like to own either from those shown here or those you remember.

Comments (16)

    LTS for me – wanted one of those soooo much!

    ps Anyone know the RAL number for Judy yellow?

    RTS, but only because I’ve still got my STS I’ve had since ’97.

    I’ll take the RTS, please, but then I’ve had multiple flavours of near enough identical Konas on the go for over 25 years, so I don’t need any more of those 🙂

    The Explosif, because it was actually good 😉

    Simple, the Kona ‘as above’.

    awesome! that’s my explosif! i saw Chipps taking the pics, i was only there for a short period of time so only spotted a few of the other retro bikes there.
    FYI the Explosive does still get ridden on occasion, it had the “show” wheels in it there and there are still a few thing s to finish off on it but it’s mostly right.

    thanks for the interest!

    ugh just noticed that my computer corrected my above Explosif to Explosive! god that annoys me!!

    also, just noticed the picture comments, the chainset is an m900 XTR but it’s a little beat up, needs a good polish, the rings however are TA.

    also the paint, technically this is the Explosif Pro, it came with a glitter sparkle in the paint so when i had it re finished i had it painted the same.

    i bought it brand new in 1993 as a last years model, i sold it in 1995/6 then by chance bumped in to the guy i sold it to and immediately asked for it back!

    @jonnyboy666 Ah, good to know Chipps shot your bike too, it’s a damn fine looking ride 😉

    Love the Explosif. Have a similar vintage Lavadome. Brilliant bikes. Still gets ridden.

    I bought an RTS brand new, it looked great but was actually shit.

    I too owned an RTS and at he time it seemed to work OK for me.
    Modified it a bit to race DH on it (yes, I know…) with a pair of Girvin Vector dual crown forks and a new rocker that gave it a whole 4″ of really bouncy travel a the back.

    Oh, and it had a Flite Ti saddle in white & red on it too.

    I kind of miss it but would hate to ride it these days.

    I owned a similar aged CinderCone absolutely loved it.

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