Long time readers might remember a long buried section on twosix for oldskool bikes called Warbirds. This was essentially an area for glorifying old bikes that were still on the trail. The intent, although never realised, was to actually seek out and glorify those old warbirds that were still alive and kicking.
Well, riding around the other week on some sensational singletrail with G it dawned on me that the most modern bike between us was constructed in 1996.
For those who don’t know, G was getting around on a circa 1820’s Mountaincycle San An he got brand new for his 45th birthday and I am partial to a ’96 Proflex 856. By most people’s standards these bikes are far from modern, some would call them antiquated junk, actually mine gets called a lot worse but I won’t repeat that language on here so we can keep our family friendly PG rating.
Both of us have massively overcapitalised on the bikes (although G would have disputed this one till the cows come home) in the form of upgrading suspension, wheels, cranks, bars, seatposts, bolts, well pretty much the entire bike except the heart and soul of both of them……….the mid 90’s designed frames and suspension systems.
I started thinking though, why don’t we just (and others with a similar love affair for older bikes) upgrade to something modern and dare I say it……..trendy, rather then continue to invest in what other people would consider antiquated dinosaurs?
I was thinking that it would be more reliable to go modern but the truth of the matter is, it’s the new parts on the bike that give me grief, I can’t actually think of any occasion where the old girl has let me down otherwise. After spending time on the bike though, the truth of the matter is that the bikes just work and for me a new bike with what ever suspension system is the craze today just doesn’t feel like an upgrade.
Yes there are lighter, faster, longer travel, more adjustable, more colourful bikes out there, but in spite of this, with a new shock/fork and better brakes, in my opinion, some of these classics still very much hold their own today. It’s a testament to the design of some of the early classics.
The retro purist would probably frown on these bikes and the upgrades but I don’t think you could deny that the new stuff bolted onto the bikes has transformed them from more than just a good fun retro ride.
Sure the bikes have their quirks, especially the Proflex, but this is part of what makes them so rewarding to ride. That said, I am yet to own a bike that didn’t have some form of annoying trait, so it’s probably not fair on the old bikes to downplay them on character traits.