Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 67 total)
  • It’s just a ‘90s mountain bike
  • Premier Icon roverpig
    Full Member

    Took this out for a spin yesterday.

    It’s actually my wife’s bike. Bought around 1993 I think and still used for riding into the bottom of mountains. I’d fitted a new chainset so was just testing it out, but was surprised by how much fun it still is. It goes without saying that it feels nothing like my gravel bike (on or off road) but fun none the less

    She is almost 5” shorter than me so it was a bit small for me even by the standards of the time. But I wouldn’t say that the size made it worse, just different. Easier to throw about, less stable, more playful.

    Having the front wheel under your nose wasn’t so good on steep downhill sections but actually made the slow speed stuff much easier. I was surprised at how much easier it was to control on slippery muddy sections for example, which was good as the tyres managed to combine being sluggish on road with almost no grip off it.

    Brakes were woeful, but change the cantilevers for a well set up pair of v-brakes, fit some decent rubber and it’s still a bike I’d be happy to ride on tamer trails. Not bad for something coming up to 30 years old.

    Premier Icon eskay
    Full Member

    I remember having to virtually sit on the back wheel on steep descents on my first MTBs!

    We also used to chop the bars down to get them as narrow as possible.

    Premier Icon NormalMan
    Full Member

    After all my bikes got nicked (just over 18 months ago)one of the replacements was a 1997 Kona Fire Mountain.

    That Kona has so many things stacked against, even with retro rose tinted frog skins on!

    But I’ve had some fun rides on it. It is not a main bike or even a go to bike now but when I do ride it, it makes me smile.

    Bikes are awesome 😎

    Premier Icon stevextc
    Free Member

    It goes without saying that it feels nothing like my gravel bike (on or off road) but fun none the less

    It didn’t go without saying. Other than the bars how does it feel different especially off tarmac?

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Full Member

    Other than the bars how does it feel different especially off tarmac?

    The gravel bike is lighter, stiffer and with the drops puts me in a more aggressive position. Compared with the RockHopper it flies along the road, is much faster up (smoothish) climbs and then shakes you to bits down the other side. The old steel rigid MTB is slower overall but more fun coming down. Oh and the gravel bike stops when you hit the brakes, which is nice 🙂

    If I were not too bothered about speed and wanted to ride tamer trails all day with the odd bit of road I’d still fancy that old MTB. What the gravel bike does is cover ground much more quickly. It’s by far the better option for, say, a 70 mile ride that is 80% on roads.

    It’s all just bikes though and of course there is a spectrum. I’m comparing an old steel MTB with a modern carbon fibre gravel bike, so it’s no surprise that they feel very different. A “gravel bike” based around a steel MTB frame is going to feel a bit more similar I’m sure, although don’t underestimate the effect that one finger braking (and being able to stop in general) has on the feel of a bike. That’s probably the one thing I’d say was unequivocally better about a modern bike as opposed to just being different.

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    They are nice to ride on tamer trails compared to a modern trail bike, but you can also get modern bikes like that – rigid, steep angles, efficient position – and they are better still.

    A “gravel bike” based around a steel MTB frame

    That’s basically what I have – a rigid 29er. But it has the benefit of big wheels, decent tyres, 1x and so on.

    Premier Icon NormalMan
    Full Member

    Further to my previous post, I should add my main / go to bike is:

    Steel and designed as an all road / gravel bike.
    Hydro discs, 1×11 and 650b (47 tyres) and it does all that it was designed to do ( and occasionally a bit more) really well.

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Full Member

    Yes, I wasn’t trying to have a go at modern bikes. I have a couple and love them. I was just surprised at how much fun the old one still was. A modern version (with brakes that actually stop you) would still be a fun bike to ride as a number of posters have confirmed. Worse in some situations than a modern LLS full suss, but better in others and still a perfectly viable option.

    I promised to upgrade a few bits for my wife anyway, but I can see myself nicking it off her for the odd ride once it’s done 🙂

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    I single-speeded my old 26″ MTB when I eventually got it back from loan. Geometry is old-school but it does have disk brakes. It’s still fun on the right trails and we have lots of suitable stuff from the door here. SS does limit how far/high I get and therefore what sort of terrain I might end up on 😉

    Premier Icon damascus
    Free Member

    I remember having to virtually sit on the back wheel on steep descents on my first MTBs!

    We also used to chop the bars down to get them as narrow as possible

    6ft3 on a 26 inch bike that’s too small for you.  Imo Bikes have come a long way if you are tall. I can’t remember the last time I went over the bars. Used to happen all the time on smaller wheeled bikes.

    Premier Icon kerley
    Free Member

    I can’t remember the last time I went over the bars

    Last Sunday for me. Steering around a massive pile of horse shit and just rolled off the into a ditch full of brambles and front wheel just stuck right into them and over I went.

    Premier Icon squirrelking
    Free Member

    Last week for me as well but that was on a Santa Cruz so not really surprising.

    Premier Icon stevextc
    Free Member

    What the gravel bike does is cover ground much more quickly. It’s by far the better option for, say, a 70 mile ride that is 80% on roads.

    Sounds like my personal hell…

    If I were not too bothered about speed and wanted to ride tamer trails all day with the odd bit of road I’d still fancy that old MTB.

    Sounds more like my idea of exercise. Typically in non Covid times I’ll ride 20-25 miles on bridleways and towpaths where speed is limited anyway due to shared use with perhaps 5% max tarmac. When I pass a cafe I’ll probably stop have a coffee and cig. Then when I get wherever I’m going I’ll have a coffee and cig before riding the actual ride 15-20 miles or whatever daylight permitting (the actual purpose of the ride) and have a coffee and cig then ride home stopping at any open cafe’s on the way.

    I usually ride my steel LLS HT as I worry about snapping my carbon XC frame or the wheels taco’ing on a bad landing but I’d thought a gravel with flat bars might be doable though I’m not sure I’d go any faster on the shared use bridleways and towpaths but maybe I would with flat bars.

    I had a go on a “race” road bike yesterday… felt horrible but my brother wouldn’t let me ride his new e-gravel thing… it looked much comfier. My back is killing me and even as unfit as I am I didn’t feel like my legs and cardio got a workout as my back gave in first..getting out of the saddle felt very very twitchy. drop brakes felt plain scary… though perhaps not adjusted for me but I found it really hard to modulate off the hoods and I had to squeeze them in a bit to get my fingers around them on the drops.

    That’s basically what I have – a rigid 29er. But it has the benefit of big wheels, decent tyres, 1x and so on.

    I’m thinking maybe I should just stop worrying about snapping the carbon XC HT frame and replace it with a steel frame when it snaps.

    I can’t remember the last time I went over the bars

    It’s weird how different people have different risk tolerances. I go OTB pretty often when wearing flats .. it’s only really scary on clips… much over 200m on road makes me very uncomfortable.. I think we did 50-60 miles yesterday and that’s much scarier than a few gaps.

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Full Member

    Personally I wouldn’t get a gravel bike if you don’t enjoy road miles at that seems to be the main advantage over an MTB or monstercross type bike to me. But I’m sure there will be someone along in a minute who only rides their gravel bike off road and loves it. Each to their own.

    Premier Icon ampthill
    Full Member

    Compared to my 1990s mtb that is a fairly relaxed position. With 1.5 inch hardpacks it was pretty fast. One Minute slower in 10 mile time trial than my terrible road bike. A very versatile bikes. I’m hopping that 650b on my gravel bike creates something similar

    Premier Icon scotroutes
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    LOL. Most of my “gravel” rides are 90% or more off-road.

    Premier Icon roverpig
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    There you go 🙂

    Premier Icon andytherocketeer
    Full Member

    What the gravel bike does is cover ground much more quickly. It’s by far the better option for, say, a 70 mile ride that is 80% on roads.

    Sounds like my personal hell…

    snap

    LOL. Most of my “gravel” rides are 90% or more off-road.

    snap

    roads are not the bread and butter of “gravel” riding. they’re an occasional necessary evil between my house and the trails (about 10 minutes worth), or something one has to cross over when exiting one bit of forest to enter another, or very occasionally ride along for a few minutes.
    80% road is from about 10 years ago when road riders might use a CX bike to allow them to take a cheeky shortcut.
    “gravel” now is almost exclusively off-road imho, and since every metre of trail is a race and/or strava segment and “faster” is the most important parameter, my “gravel” bike is actually about 20% faster than my hardtail on XC tyres, offroad.

    Did think about fixing up my 1996 Scott hardtail. Needs a rigid fork I think, cos the polymer and spring that looks like it came out of a click pen lets me get full sag just by sitting on the bike. Could be a lot of fun. At least the front wheel and bar ends will all be in the same post code as the saddle 🙂

    Premier Icon wbo
    Free Member

    If all you’re riding is towpaths and bridleways it isn’t going to matter if you’ve gotten an LLS bike or whatever. And there’s zero chance of you breaking a carbon frame with some ‘radness’ in that situation, dodging a labrador or whatever. Just ride the carbon bike and enjoy it – I’ve got modern carbon and some 90’s steel, and the carbon is more comfortable, a lot faster and stronger I suspect.

    1.5 hardpacks were brutal

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    since every metre of trail is a race and/or strava segment and “faster” is the most important parameter

    Since when? I think you are mis-labelling nearly everyone who rides a bike based on a fairly misanthropic understanding of the marketing.

    “gravel” now is almost exclusively off-road imho

    This depends entirely on where you live. I ride lots of road on my MTB because I want to get to the different trails that are 10 miles away. It takes too long to get there on road.

    Premier Icon jamj1974
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    Love the bike OP.

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Full Member

    Thanks @jamj1974

    It’s interesting to hear different people’s definitions of gravel. I thought my 80:20 comment would horrify some people. To be honest that’s really based on what I was doing last year when I fitted 38mm gravelking tlc (slick) tyres and was basically using the gravel bike as an endurance road bike for longer rides from my door with a bit of tame trail mixed in for fun. This year I’ve fitted chunkier tyres and am picking routes that have more (and rougher) off road sections. The jury is still out on that for me though.

    The comments about speed are interesting. I wouldn’t say that the gravel bike is about speed for me, or at least not Strava segments. In general it is slower on the road than my road bike and slower off road than my mountain bike. The only segments where it grabs PRs are those smooth off road climbs and to be honest I could take the road bike up most of those and be faster still if I cared about such things. Where the gravel bike wins is overall speed on routes that have a decent mix of road (or at least smooth trail) and rougher off road sections. There is clearly no right answer here though.

    Premier Icon kerley
    Free Member

    The only segments where it grabs PRs are those smooth off road climbs and to be honest I could take the road bike up most of those and be faster still if I cared about such things.

    Yep, my fastest times on gravel climbs were on a 6.4kg track bike running 25c tyres. I am now however riding an SS MTB with a 47 inch gearing so any attempts at getting a good Strava time are well in the past. The bike is not that different to an 80’s MTB but different enough to make the handling better, going downhill better and rolling better (29″ wheels)

    Premier Icon jamj1974
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    I’d love some great gravel trails nearby – more for getting in some traffic-free miles. Although, within 1.5 miles of home, I have access to the canal network of Brum, and especially going north they can be pleasant and lower in pedestrian traffic.

    I’ve been thinking about an e-bike,
    rigid fork and 700c conversion on my old Cotic Soda, for those canals. I have all the other parts I need – so it seems to make sense…

    Premier Icon tomaso
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    That is a lovely little Rockhopper. I had a Stumpjumper from around the same time (92 Pruple). Very versatile bikes, I seem to remember riding 12 miles to Cannock on road to ride off road all day at Cannock and ride the 12 miles home. Must’ve been 60/40 off road/road and it wasn’t my idea of fun. Wish I hadn’t sold my car…

    I had a Mavic ceramic rim on my front wheel and it really did improve braking performance. In fact in the wet it gripped and slipped repeatedly causing the front fork to flex wildly.

    Definitely fit some V brakes to it, some good pads and some modern rubber as it will make a huge difference.

    Premier Icon p7eaven
    Free Member

    I’ve been thinking about an e-bike,
    rigid fork and 700c conversion on my old Cotic Soda, for those canals

    Towpaths being mostly flat, I would have thought an ebike overkill? (ability assumed)

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Full Member

    Thanks @tomaso I’ll have to see if I can track down some 26″ ceramic rims.

    Premier Icon NormalMan
    Full Member

    @ RP

    Saw this and thought you might enjoy the read:

    https://advntr.cc/are-gravel-bikes-just-80s-mountain-bikes/

    Premier Icon stevextc
    Free Member

    Towpaths being mostly flat, I would have thought an ebike overkill? (ability assumed)

    but they are also shared access so in some ways perhaps ideal to a bike limited to 15mph.

    I guess it depends on the reason for using them… if its transport then its different to exercise (not that they are mutually exclusive)

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Full Member

    Thanks @NM Very interesting. I’ll keep an eye out for part two with the tips on upgrading an old MTB. Although it looks as though his RockHopper doesn’t have a back brake at all (unless there is a drum brake or something)!

    Premier Icon NormalMan
    Full Member

    That part of the 80s would be U-brake (under the chainstay)

    Although I kind of feel 90s MTB geometry is usually nearer than 80s stuff which was often slacker with a longer wheelbase IME.

    Premier Icon stevextc
    Free Member

    If all you’re riding is towpaths and bridleways it isn’t going to matter if you’ve gotten an LLS bike or whatever. And there’s zero chance of you breaking a carbon frame with some ‘radness’ in that situation, dodging a labrador or whatever. Just ride the carbon bike and enjoy it – I’ve got modern carbon and some 90’s steel, and the carbon is more comfortable, a lot faster and stronger I suspect.

    The only reason to ride the towpaths and bridleways is to get to somewhere to actually ride avoiding roads. When I meet my mates they drive there with 170mm travel FS Enduro rigs which might be a bit OTT for Surrey Hills but I still feel quite nervous sending gaps and drops on the XC bike. (Usually mid air when I have an image of it snapping on landing)

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Full Member

    Oh yes, I’d forgotten about those U brakes. Probably made more sense in California than it did in UK mud 🙂

    I did run a tape over that old Rockhopper. Despite being supposedly the right size for my wife the numbers are surprisingly similar to my gravel bike. I make the wheelbase the same to within 1cm for example, which was a bit of a surprise.

    Premier Icon jamj1974
    Full Member

    Towpaths being mostly flat, I would have thought an ebike overkill? (ability assumed

    Unfortunately, disability is an issue for me now.

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Full Member

    Funny that it’s a Rockhopper and we’re playing the “Compare 90s bikes to Gravel bikes” game…
    Does anyone else watch the ‘Spindatt’ YT channel?

    He’s very enamoured with his Rockhopper Drop-bar, gravelish conversion:
    Playlist linky (18 videos and counting all about one old bike from the last year or so)…

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Full Member

    Interesting. I hadn’t seen those. I’m definitely sticking with flat bars (and bar ends) on mine, but have just ordered some Deore V brakes (and levers) and will probably upgrade a few other bits as well. Pity you can’t seem to but those Mavis x517 rims anymore.

    Premier Icon robowns
    Free Member

    Love how all of these labels have got so specific now – “no way could you ride Tier 4 gravel on 30c slicks”.

    You’d be amazed at what you can ride on everything (including 100mm XC race bikes on DH tracks). The only thing separating everything is how fun is it – and that’s up to you.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    There’s being physically able to get a bike down or up a trail, and there’s being able to ride it well. I don’t find bouncing slowly down some rough trail fun, nor do I like cornering with my front wheel on the verge of dumping me on my face.

    I grew up on bikes like that, I really don’t want to go back! There are modern alternatives that have the benefits but not the downsides.

    Premier Icon NormalMan
    Full Member

    @cookeaa – yes, another Spindatt viewer here!

    Premier Icon aphex_2k
    Free Member

    The ultimate, you say….?

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