'Rites of Passage' Bikes – is there a definitive list?

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  • 'Rites of Passage' Bikes – is there a definitive list?
  • Premier Icon BillOddie

    An old Kona.
    Some sort of 120mm+ forked HT.
    Something that snapped, twice.

    Premier Icon Alex

    My mate had one of the turn of the century Explosif’s in blue and it was lovely. But I preferred the steel Caldera. In fact here’s mine.

    [url=https://flic.kr/p/LFSn2]Kona Caldera – May 03 – July 05[/url] by Alex Leigh, on Flickr

    Now that was a perfect singletrack bike in the Chilterns. Never should have sold it.


    Muddy fox courier / pathfinder
    Kona Cinder Cone
    Pace RC100
    Any of the old coke can Cannondales
    Saracen Tuff Trax
    Raleigh Maverick / Marauder

    I’ll get my coat on the last 2 !!!

    Premier Icon Northwind

    dab – Member

    Raleigh Maverick / Marauder

    **** yeah! Marauder Index ftw


    I started to wonder if there’s a list of bikes – as a committed/deluded/passionate/obsessed mountain biker you ‘should’ have at least ridden and probably owned.


    The closest thing might be your first MTB, your first FS bike and the first bike you dropped in the vicinity of a months wages on. For some this might be one bike.


    A GT: everyone of a certain age had one at some point.

    Premier Icon cloudnine

    Charge blender until I landed on my head and wrist.
    Great ht that seemed to encourage reckless riding.. now sold but still think about getting another


    This is going to be yet another ‘bikes I’ve had’ thread.

    Premier Icon nickc

    I think everyone, whatever their tastes in cycling should be forced to ride a really long travel DH bike, all slack angles, cut spikes, and proper brakes.

    Just to see what it’s like, and what descending at speed with little regard for the terrain is all about. 😀


    (insert model here)

    +1 for a DH bike, on the basis you wont get anywhere near it’s limits it doesn’t matter which one.

    An XC bike, a really brutally stiff, long top tube, 110mm stem, 80mm forks, fashion be damned XC bike. The modern equivalent of a Cannondale CAAD F-series.

    Anything in between is a bit of a compromise.

    Premier Icon Alex

    Reading the angst on the ‘should I sell it’ thread, I started to wonder if there’s a list of bikes – as a committed/deluded/passionate/obsessed mountain biker you ‘should’ have at least ridden and probably owned. The petrol head equivalent would be the Alfa Romeo I guess.

    The Santa Cruz Chameleon comes to mind. You cannot ride one without grinning. Or, as you get older, grimacing. Not sure what the classic steel or Ti frame is (I’m biased and would say Trailstar and Hummer) and that’s before we get onto FS (LTS maybe?)

    What says the hive mind?


    Raleigh strika, burner chopper grifter……team banana…thats it anything after that is no rite of passage they are just bikes ,well then there was the lizard and montage which anyone who started out in mtb seemed to have

    An off road tandem
    A Brompton
    A recumbent
    A proper DH gnarpoon
    A proper TT bike
    These are all bikes that a true cyclist really should try at least once!


    no such thing – rites of passage bikes, who comes up with this crap lol


    Spesh Rockhopper, legendary.

    One of the pimp American brands. Yeti, intense, Santa Cruz etc.
    Like an Alfa in the way you lust after them, but the reality is a specialized is probably better. 😀

    Premier Icon crazy-legs

    no such thing – rites of passage bikes, who comes up with this crap lol

    Maybe not now but Back In The Day™ when there were fewer bike brands, fewer people riding, none of this interweb forum stuff, you could pretty much guarantee that a good percentage of your riding mates had all progressed through certain makes/models of bikes as the fashion of the time dictated.

    The two that spring to mind are old steel Kona (usually Cinder Cone or Explosif) and a GT (usually a Zaskar).


    Think most of the stuff we will list here is now obsolete to most people.
    Things move on mostly for the better ,

    I love my old Saracen killi flyer but now people have a choice you don’t have to buy a full on xc bike with tight angles and scary handling

    But I’ve been Doing this a while I have a soft spot for retro stuff
    Sts until it breaks
    Pace ht
    Classic specialized steel rockhopper
    And something else I still have ,a early giant mcm carbon ht with sids and onza ho brakes

    Premier Icon curiousyellow

    Something unsuitable that you spend way too much time and money trying to get right before giving up and selling in order to fund your first “proper” bike?


    Has to be a Zaskar, a Peugeot roadie and a purple Raleigh.

    That’s just me.

    Premier Icon Bullet

    Raleigh Activator – Nuff said!


    I had a 98 caldera as above. Loved it. Got nicked.
    Owned a lot if the listed bikes. Can’t complain.

    For me it was a Raliegh Grifter….surely a Rite of Passage Bike should be the bike that made you want to cycle….not the aspirational bikes that we’d all love to have, that’s something different altogether!

    My Grifter was everything I ever wanted, got me into and out of loads of scrapes, made me giggle and also blow out of my arse at times when I road it….and there was the magic of finding it on Christmas morning and wheeling it out to try and ride in the slushy snow of the Sheffield streets…..pure magic!


    I’ve had 2 of many possible suggestions – others may disagree….

    A ’90’s steel Kona

    An ’06 Spesh Enduro

    The bike that first let me go offroad and ultimately inspired my desire for an MTB….

    Raleigh Bomber!


    Penny Farthing


    Another vote for the Spesh Rockhopper here.
    (The only bike I’ve literally ridden to death cracking both chainstays. I salvaged the main tubes and welded them into my race car so it lives on in another form)

    Along the same lines as most early steel Konas, GT Zaskars etc in mid 80s simple MTBs. The formula that today’s boutique bikes exploit so well.

    Or a “rite of Passage” bike could be a bad one, everyone should try a bike so bad it feels like it wants to kill you! I tried a mates early Full Suss Spesh XC (early 90s?) that really did’nt want a rider onboard and took every oppoutunity to throw me off.

    Premier Icon Alex

    On a slightly tangential note, I rode a mate’s 06 Enduro we’d fitted new drivetrain, brakes, stem, bars and reverb too. It weighs exactly the same as my nukeproof mega am (and the spesh has a coil shock) and rides superbly. Which makes you wonder about the ‘progress’ of the last few years.

    Other than a slightly steeper head angle and non tapered head tube, it’s hard to see what’s that different! Even the Fox36’s of that year are still a class fork.

    On that note alone, it should be included.


    That was Spesh FSR not XC, had to do a google picture search to bolster my frazzled memory. Anyhow one of these:


    Premier Icon Normal Man

    If we are talking BITD then any MTB that was bought too big for you under the ‘he/she will grow into it’ mentality!

    I clearly remember early ’89 and smashing downhill on a Dawes Ascent with the saddle slammed low in the frame, not because I’d dropped it but as it was a 21.5 inch frame!

    Although that bike was a revelation with 15 gears, canti brakes and cro mo front triangle after my ’85 Raleigh Maverick with steel rims, sidepull and centre ridge tyres.(the latter got replaced pretty quickly!)

    Braking on that Raleigh was more an ‘optional extra’ and presumably a box I’d forgot to tick! That said I learned to descend pretty well! Although it might also explain why my body is so beaten up now, all those years after the lesson’s!!


    Trailstar or Blender, definitely the most fun and versatile hardtails you’ll ride.

    Premier Icon ahwiles

    It’s my firm opinion, that once someone decides that yes, this mountain biking thing is for them, they should have to spend a year running something really old, with:

    no suspension other than an optional flex-stem.

    steel rims

    cantilever brakes

    friction thumb-shifters

    quill stem – that’s 150mm long

    really crap 1.8″ tyres.

    and it has to be at least 1-size ‘out’.

    it would help newbies realise that even ‘rubbish’ modern bikes are fantastically brilliant.

    perhaps even tarts like me should be issued with ‘red cards’ for saying things like ‘the head angle’s 1degree too steep’ / ‘the chainstays are 10mm too long’ / ‘i’m struggling with my forks – i need separate high/low compression damping’

    sorry princess, you’ve gone soft, back on the %hitter – till you learn your lesson.

    Premier Icon curiousyellow

    My first proper MTB was a Claud Butler Cape Wrath. It had:

    – My first disc brakes. Which I oiled when they began to squeal. Much hilarity ensued on the descents.
    – Rockshox J1s(?) which had two settings. Locked out, or bottomed out.
    – Quad brakes, which were pretty good until they went squidgy and I couldn’t figure out how to bleed them.
    – Cup and cone wheels which wouldn’t turn after I tried to service them. Fixed that in the end.

    I then spunked a load of money on new wheels and a few blingy parts. More than the bike was worth to be honest before flogging it for £150. The bloke who bought it was cannibalising it for the parts. 🙁

    It was also a 21″. I now ride a 16″ Whippet!

    Zero nostalgia, but I feel sad when I think that frame will get no more use. It could have been someone’s run around bike. We had some great times together and I learned a lot about riding and spannering with that bike.

    A Spooky Metalhead or anything by Brooklyn Machine Works. Somehow they managed to do things completely differently but get it oh so right! Plus there’s the boutique bike/niche bonus! Lucky to have ridden/owned both. I don’t know what they did to make the metalhead ride like it did but it sure knew how to flatter your skills!

    Premier Icon stewartc

    I’ve always thought that owning a Yeti was similar to Alfa ownership for petrol heads…though thats maybe because I have owned both.
    +1 on Specialized and Raleigh ownership, any model.

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