Genuine innovations in mtbs (and road bikes!)

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  • Genuine innovations in mtbs (and road bikes!)
  • Premier Icon Northwind
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    Disc brakes aren’t much of an innovation though. worthwhile but just an imported idea. Likewise tubeless tyres, that’s just car/motorbike tech.

    Dropper posts
    Thick/thin chainrings (ok, arguably also an imported idea)
    Clutch mechs
    Platform shocks
    SPDs
    Quick releases
    Mechs and indexing 😉
    Tubs, probably

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    If we’re discounting borrowed ideas, that really does shorten the list.. if we discounted stuff that you wouldn’t / couldn’t rely on for a long ride somewhere remote (the basis of ‘mountain biking’ to me since I started out, but accept that’s another debate) then we may be looking at a very short list indeed. Clutch mechs and mechanical dropper posts maybe? Neither of which I think of ‘must haves’.

    Thinking of road bikes too, maybe carbon construction methods. And DI2, that’s pretty cool stuff.

    mrmoofo
    Member

    Baggy shorts !! 😆

    Innovation is something that fundamentally changes the landscape that the product inhabits. There is nothing that says it has to be being new, or not stolen from anywhere else !!

    So I will stick with front suspension and disc brakes. If you don’t know why they are such a game changer, then you wern’t mountain biking in the 80/early 90s

    Premier Icon mattbee
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    The idea that riding your bike in the woods or up a mountain can be legitimate fun for an adult?

    mrmo
    Member

    I think Keith Bontrager is a design legend but those re-rolled road rims were a low point, we got fixated on weight and went down an evolutionary dead-end for MTBs around that time

    then again if it hadn’t been for the re-rolled MA40’s proving what you could get away with we would still be running round on 40lb bikes rather than 25lb bikes.

    Compare a Stans Crest to a Mavic Oxygen!

    wobbliscott
    Member

    There has been no innovation in biking. All the things discussed are things that already existed but just applied to bikes. Basically the bike has remained unchanged for decades, and in many cases things have got worse – bikes are now massively more expensive than they used to be and a damn sight less reliable and only quicker in a handful of areas. The things that have improved MTBing – i.e. improved the fun of riding a bike and enabling people to ride down stuff they previously couldn’t and ride stuff alot faster than they could before is suspension and disc brakes. The rest are all just evolutionary, but not innovative. Carbon frames have made no discernable difference to the fun of riding or the performance (small percentages), tubless tyres? I have no issues with tubes and Tubless have their downsides too. But suspension and brakes in MTBing have enabled people to access parts of mountians and hills that before they couldn’t. But It all depends what you want out of your bike and if any bit of kit enhances that for you.

    Premier Icon ahwiles
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    …bikes are now massively more expensive than they used to be and a damn sight less reliable…

    nah, you can get a specialized rockhopper for £600.

    back in the day they were around £450-500, allow for inflation, and disc brakes, and suspension, and you’ve got a bargain.

    and, i’d much rather live with a 2013 rockhopper, than a 1993 rockhopper.

    (right then, i’ve done a math: £400 at 3% inflation, for 20 years, is equivalent to £722, modern bikes are cheap AND brilliant)

    Premier Icon pictonroad
    Subscriber

    remember barrelling down hill in the wet squuezing the brakes to the bars and getting faster and faster, rim brakes were certainly exciting but discs have totally transformed our riding.

    for me:
    Discs
    droppers
    lock ons
    clutch mech
    and
    replaceable mech hangers

    2 day old GT Zaskar frame plus small twig = written off frame – I’d saved for a YEAR for that… Remember those alloy derailleur bolts we used to put in to save our frames?

    I remember cycling to the Radio 1 roadshow in Hunstanton, standing in the crowd cheering Simon Mayo, wheeled my bike backwars half a metre and BANG, the bolt snapped and all the gubbins spread amongst the crowd, had to grub about amongst the British Knights to retrieve my mech bits and walk home. What a load of shat.

    and you tube probably.

    maxtorque
    Member

    Modern bikes less reliable? Sounds more like a failure of their modern owners tbh! Yes, modern bikes are more complicated, but considering the abuse they get, they are so much more reliable, and that’s before you include the weight difference.
    I spent last week battering my 160mm/28lb AM bike down off numerous Alps, including doing things like black downhill runs etc, and i didn’t need to touch it all week, not even put air in the tyres or tweek the brakes, it just worked. 10 years ago the bike would have weighed 40lbs and needed a complete rebuild every evening!

    Added to which, after one chairlift up, we found the next lift was closed due to snow, so we just pedalled up the next ~1000m. 10 years ago that would have just about killed you trying it 😉

    Premier Icon jameso
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    bikes are now massively more expensive than they used to be and a damn sight less reliable and only quicker in a handful of areas.

    There’s still no need to spend more than £1500 on a good bike and £2500 gets you a brilliant bike imo. In 1990 my high-end bike was £1100, Deore 2, Pace rc30s and maguras. £3k was the normal ‘limit’ then and still is, you get more for that these days though. You can spend £9k now but that just tells you something about the wider appeal and market growth since then.
    And now I have cranks that don’t round out after a few months use and a headset that stays done up, plus tyres that can go for 1000 miles and more without a flat. Reliability of some new kit is poor but there’s no reason to use it if durability is a priority. Hydraulic dropper posts for ex – great to use, but would I take one on a 10-day trip that wasn’t based in somewhere like Morzine? No chance.

    Things have got better, but maybe not as much as some expect. Depends on what you want out of a bike. For the more AM-enduro crowd the progression since 1990 has been siginficant, in the last 3-5 years it’s really matured. For the wilderness/explorer kind of XC rider, less so. Much of recent innovation hasn’t been aimed at them.

    TiRed
    Member

    Road tyres that are lightweight, puncture proof any have low rolling resistance. Modern tyres are a fine upgrade for any vintage race bike.
    Both: index shifting and clipless pedals.
    Both: GPS logging has added to enjoyment immensely.

    juan
    Member

    Well light FS are not a revolution, they are an evolution and only made fat and lazy rider being able to ride uphill.
    GD seat post are great (I haev one a each of my bikes) but they are just a very good evolution of a QR seat clamp.
    Front suspension, disk brakes and tyres that actualy grip are real inovation.

    mrmo
    Member

    Added to which, after one chairlift up, we found the next lift was closed due to snow, so we just pedalled up the next ~1000m. 10 years ago that would have just about killed you trying it

    10 years ago it would ahve been piss easy to pedal up, coming down would have been the harder part. First went to the alps 14-5 years ago to do Cristalp. In that time not much has changed, just more people use the lifts rather than ride up the hills.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    Well light FS are not a revolution, they are an evolution and only made fat and lazy rider being able to ride uphill.

    well the thread was asking for innovation… They also allow the thin light fit rider to get up the hills quicker.

    GD seat post are great (I haev one a each of my bikes) but they are just a very good evolution of a QR seat clamp.

    ??
    Another where we came from pic DH bikes then and now 🙂

    Premier Icon Northwind
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    juan – Member

    GD seat post are great (I haev one a each of my bikes) but they are just a very good evolution of a QR seat clamp.

    In the same way that suspension forks are “just” an evolution of rigid forks, perhaps.

    Premier Icon nickdavies
    Subscriber

    Single biggest innovation in the bike world? The Internet.

    If not for that we wouldn’t be anywhere near where we are now as a sport.

    But yeah, for bikes if I could take one thing of any of my bikes now and put it on my first 90’s rigid it would be my droppy seat post. For road it would be clip less pedals.

    In the same way that suspension forks are “just” an evolution of rigid forks, perhaps.

    Not really, suspension has changed riding. Dropper post just mean you don’t have to stop your bike to change saddle height.

    There’s no trail you can’t ride without a dropper, but there are ones that you’d seriously struggle on without disc brakes, quality tyres and suspension.

    I think dropper posts are great but there are some many other innovations that come above them.

    Toasty
    Member

    nah, you can get a specialized rockhopper for £600.

    back in the day they were around £450-500, allow for inflation, and disc brakes, and suspension, and you’ve got a bargain.

    On the flip side, try and find a hardtail with a high end double butted chromo frame + forks and full LX/XT level groupset for £600 these days.

    These bits are being far more mass produced these days and shipping stuff around the world has got a lot easier I’d imagine.

    You can get a modern Rockhopper for £600, but barely. They’re down to Suntour XCM forks, Acera/Alivio gearing, A1 frame. Pretty much identical to a £300 Hardrock from 5 years ago or so.

    klunky
    Member

    5:10 shoes

    boblo
    Member

    In 1984 I paid £300 for my Orbit Gold Medal tourer. 531c, no indexing and mainly mid range parts.

    In 1986 I paid £600 for my Raleigh Road Ace road bike. 531c, full Shimano 600 Groupset. Not top of the range, probably next one down.

    In 1989 I paid £500 for my Marin Pine Mountain. That was not the top model (IIRC That was the ‘Team’) but the next one down. That’s a ferking lot of money in ’89.

    Not sure how current tackle compares but as with most consumer products, I think they’ve effectively become cheaper over time.

    Its not really a fair comparison comparing alivio from now with 5 or 10 years ago, the only thing that is similar is the name.

    The only reason I’d pick a 10-15 year old bike with xt that was £500 over a modern alivio equipped equivalent is nostalgia.

    Premier Icon martymac
    Subscriber

    interesting seeing peoples responses on this, i notice many people saying dropper posts, i havent used one but spoke to a fair few who have, they all say its brilliant.
    spd, i used them when they first came out, havent used anything else since, technically an evolution though.
    high up my personal list would be:
    indexing for mtb: made gears much easier to use on bumpy terrain
    disc brakes: they work in the wet and dont wreck your expensive rims
    sti for road bikes: you can change gear while sprinting
    most stuff is just evolution: aheadsets, cartridge bb, spd, os bars, 8/9/10/11 speed, lightweight FS bikes, these are all just refinements of older ideas.
    bikes now are better than they have ever been imo, and they are good value too, my 92′ eldridge grade cost £600, about the same as my dads mk1 cavalier bought at the same time,
    my current full susser cost about £2k, the same as my dads focus, but its a world away from that old (and much loved) marin.

    Premier Icon hot_fiat
    Subscriber

    The moment manufacturers started hiring engineers rather than artisans to develop designs. This allowed the shift from “finger in the wind” suspension design to properly thought out and engineered solutions: anyone remember s-bikes, trek 9000s or Y bikes and the days where bike tests rated rear suspension based on the amount of rear wheel sideways flex?

    Premier Icon ahwiles
    Subscriber

    Toasty – Member

    On the flip side, try and find a hardtail with a high end double butted chromo frame + forks and full LX/XT level groupset for £600 these days.

    when could you ever do that?

    maybe, about 20 years ago, when we paid for things in goat-hides, and bags of grain, you could have bought an orange clockwork, and put some mag20’s on it, but you’d have spent well over £1000 even then.

    don’t make me do the maths… 🙂
    .
    .
    .
    oh go on then! – it’s £1800.

    at about the same time, i bought a kona fire-mountain, for £600, it had deore 300 gears, a boggo steel frame, and forks that bounced on bits of rubber – £1100 in today’s money.

    for £999, here’s my current recommendation;

    lovely frame (not quite ‘high end’), sram x5, and an air-fork, much better than that old fire mountain, cheaper too.

    (and you could never buy a rockhopper with bouncy forks for £300)

    Premier Icon Northwind
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    Singlespeed_Shep – Member

    Not really, suspension has changed riding. Dropper post just mean you don’t have to stop your bike to change saddle height.

    Dropper posts have changed my riding for the better. I have a bike in the garage with no suspension but a gravity dropper- ridign without suspension can be fun, riding it without a dropper just feels daft.

    PJM1974
    Member

    There’s been very few groundbreaking ideas since the early 2000s – my ’04 Enduro features hydraulic discs, platform damping, five inches of travel and I can fit a myriad of current off the shelf parts to it if I choose. With the addition of wide bars and a short stem, it’s a very contemporary ride too.

    The only game changer in the last decade that I can think of is the humble Maxle.

    mrmo
    Member

    both a couple of grand just a few years between them, not much has actually changed, one has rear suspension and that is about it.

    Toasty
    Member

    maybe, about 20 years ago, when we paid for things in goat-hides, and bags of grain, you could have bought an orange clockwork

    Well yes, that was pretty much the context of the conversation. 🙂

    oh go on then! – it’s £1800.

    What’s £1800? You’ve just made up a number, multiplied it by (1.03 ^ 20) and used that as reference.

    The discussion was more whether:

    http://www.bikepedia.com/QuickBike/BikeSpecs.aspx?year=2013&brand=Specialized&model=Rockhopper+Comp+29#.Ud_F7m1gukw

    is better relative value than:

    http://www.bikepedia.com/QuickBike/BikeSpecs.aspx?year=1993&brand=Specialized&model=Rockhopper+Comp#.Ud_Fl21gukw

    With inflation the older one is slightly more expensive, not a lot in it tho.

    Full XTR and a 4.4lb steel frame for the equiv of £2.2k? 🙂

    http://i1122.photobucket.com/albums/l531/Major223/Kona%20Explosif%201993/1993_kona_catalog_explosif.jpg

    http://www.bikepedia.com/QuickBike/BikeSpecs.aspx?year=1993&brand=Kona&model=Race+Light+Explosif#.Ud_Gam1gukw

    mrmo
    Member

    mikewsmith, but could you then race the XC on the sunday on the same bike you did the DH on saturday?

    and have a chance of winning both?

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    but there are ones that you’d seriously struggle on without disc brakes, quality tyres and suspension.

    The most technical natural trails I ride now are the same ones I used to ride 15-20 years ago on a fully rigid bike with cantis and 1.9″ tyres. It’s a different experience now though 🙂

    The only reason I’d pick a 10-15 year old bike with xt that was £500 over a modern alivio equipped equivalent is nostalgia

    I wouldn’t. There’s absolutely no comparison between old XT and modern Alivio. Modern Alivio is however much better than 200 GS of course.

    klumpy
    Member

    If we’re talking “Genuine innovations in mtbs”, then you can’t have

    31.8mm bars
    “X” Speed
    29ers
    650b

    Making the same thing but slightly bigger, smaller, middler, or with “one more” isn’t an innovation.

    You also can’t have:

    Disc Brakes
    Suspension
    LED lights
    Tubeless

    All innovations from somewhere else, arriving on bicycles eventually.

    Propedal, instant change in damping to suit conditions, yeah maybe.
    Weird parallelogram arrangements of lever and pivots in rear suspension to avoid pedal bob, also a yeah maybe. Although, most of these arrangments go with a propedal equipped shock so one does wonder! 😆

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    It all depends on what you consider “Innovation” to be.
    Innovation is quite an over-used term and often wrongly applied to refinement(s) of an extant concept rather than true innovations.

    If you think of innovation as the first application of a concept or idea in the field, then you’re talking about things like the Simplex derailleur; arguably where all the current Dura Ace, XTR and XX1 trace their roots ultimately…

    First MTB suspension fork? I’m sure there’s something that predates the RS1 (anyone?) but that’s certainly the one that caught the market first and introduced a, now common, concept to the masses which has been heavily refined over the last ~25 years.

    Disc brakes? again someone will know better, but was it Mountain cycle that first “innovated” and applied them to an MTB on the old San Andreas? and then everything that came after was simply incremental refinement…

    Recent innovations? I’d have to agree Droppers are a fair example, obviously the Hite-rite is always mentioned but is’nt quite the same thing IMO, I think it’s Gravity dropper (Correct me if I’m wrong here) arguably that started the whole telescoping, bar or lever operated, on the move, seat height adjustment thing. so GD = the initial innovation, Reverb/DOSS/Lev/etc are just refinements of the concept.

    The pace and scale of refinement has noticeably picked up in the last couple of decades. I think that’s what people see and label as “Innovation” especially when a refinement is substantial but moving from ~2″ to 4″ to 6-8″ of suspension travel over 25 years is just the evolution/refinement of one idea.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
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    mrmo – Member – Quote
    mikewsmith, but could you then race the XC on the sunday on the same bike you did the DH on saturday?

    and have a chance of winning both?
    No because if I had the talent of SP I would have owned the DH on the Sat then got pissed as a fart on Sat night and have been happy 🙂

    maxtorque
    Member

    I think maybe using the words “innovation” is misleading. For me, the game changers are the bits of kit/tech that have changed either the way i ride my bike, or the difficulty/phaff i need to endure to ride my bike in that way. For example:

    1) LED lights. Of course we had lights before, but now, for about £30 you buy some LED ones, that last for a couple of hrs, keep working when it’s raining, are small, compact and light, and reliable enough that you don’t need to pack spare sets generally. No filament bulbs to pop at some inoportune moment and enough light to tackle a difficult off road track without killing oneself.

    2) Dropper posts. Again, if you wanted to drop your seat a QR did that, but now i don’t have to think about seat height in advance. Just barrel along, see what is, or just “might be” a tricky bit of trail, jab the button, seat down, in we go. No pre-emption required, just smooth flowy riding.

    3) Light FS bikes. Now i simply don’t have to choose, i can just grab my 28lb 160mm bike and ride it. It works just about as well on a canal tow path as riding down an Alp. Most of this is due to suspension geo advances that now control the system so much better. Potentially EI shocks will lift this yet another level higher.

    4) Thin, light, breathable but waterproof jackets. A Biggy for me, you can now stash a jacket in the space of a can of coke (or less for the veyr expensive ones!). A jacket that is breathable enough to let you sweat without it feeling like a hot cheap hotel in manilla! Whilst the tech has come from climbing etc, the fit of these jackets is now bike tailored, allowing comfortable pedalling whilst wearing them.

    Premier Icon Northwind
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    Toasty – Member

    Full XTR and a 4.4lb steel frame for the equiv of £2.2k?

    Pretty unfair comparison tbh- these days a 4.4lb steel frame will be CEN’d and warrantied for a longer fork, that Kona was, what, 80mm max? And no guarantee it’d pass CEN even with a short one. Today’s Soul weighs the same despite the legal requirements but can carry almost twice the fork.

    Trouble is you can’t really do a like-for-like comparison because who makes a quality 80mm-max steel frame these days?

    Likewise, direct price comparison misses out minor details like the Struts being a) much simpler than a modern suspension fork and b) absoutely dire- you’d be hard pushed to buy anything comparable these days unless it came on a bike from Tesco. And similiar applies to other bits- modern XTR is better than old XTR, the brakes are inferior to entry-level hydros (and much cheaper and simpler to make) and so on.

    mrmo
    Member

    No because if I had the talent of SP I would have owned the DH on the Sat then got pissed as a fart on Sat night and have been happy

    have a read of Peats Palmare, he raced XC as well as DH and getting pissed. Same with Dave Hemming et al. It was an era when you raced everything.

    Is it progress that we need a different bike for everything these days?

    the LED lights comments. no inovation there just refinement, been night riding for 20 years, only advance that has come with LEDs is smaller batteries.

    Premier Icon Northwind
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    mrmo – Member

    Is it progress that we need a different bike for everything these days?

    You don’t need a different bike. My rather nice hardtail’s been used for XC and enduro racing (actual enduro, not riding-round-fields enduro), uplift days, downhill world cup routes… Likewise I’ve raced downhill and enduro on my everyday 5 inch full suss, I’ve never raced XC on it as I’ve got better bikes for that but it’d do it if I chose.

    But, I have individual bikes that are fantastically better at different jobs. And that is progress. And also things that used to be considered impossible/too dangerous/no fun/just plain too damn hard for normal folks, are now more accessible to people with the right hardware, which is also progress.

    Everything that you could ride with a 60mm travel elastomer suspension bike, you still can. You probably can’t win a downhill race on it, but then most riders can’t win a downhill race on anything, due to other innovations in the field of Really Good Riders.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    So, a conclusion is appearing, lots of borrowed-tech evolution but not a lot of real innovation that’s changed our riding apart from the dropper post?
    I come back to thinking that people like Mike Curiak and Eric at Revelate have done more to re-define what we can do on a bike by developing the first bike-packing kit, but accepted that it’s a bit outside what most people think of as mountain biking. And could be considered an evolution of touring kit. But it’d get my vote anyway.

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