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Heck I was really surprised at how much I really like the ride on my old 92 Rockhopper with no susoension. I took it out the day to some trails that, on my Cannondale Beast of the East, scared me to death. The geometry on those bikes was crazy. I always felt as thorough I was gonna go over the handle bars.
 

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OK, I know this is a dead thread but after reading some comments I feel obligated to say my opinion with regards to 90s mtbs being "vintage" or not.
I understand that the 80s was the birth of the sport and perhaps owns the vintage tag however, 90s are at least classic! I mean it was in the 90s that competition really was creating some of the best riding steel frames , arguably, until now! Geometry was dialed with sloping top tubes etc. To me, early 90s was like the late 60s for muscle cars with competition driving performance to entirely new levels.
Just look at all the different steel tubing makers and the rapid improvement in tubing by Tange, Ishiwata, Columbus, Reynolds and True Temper. Todays tube set variety in steel is nothing compared to then. Heck, a 4lb frame of steel was almost common whereas today you'de be lucky to find one.
Manufacturer spec was also cool. just take a gander at Kona catalouges from the day. The Kona Project 2 fork is like a sample of the bike industry at that time with starting out as innovative straight bladed forks progressing to a triple butted profile of 1.3mm/.9mm/.5mm with a rifled portion inside the steerer!
The best steel bikes were made in the early 90s.
 

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MTB's from the '90s are great project bikes

Inexpensive commuter rig powder coated and built up for under 3 beans. Note the Kona project two fork that matches the paint job- my buddy had to give it to me because it fit so well.- Yeah old bikes can be had on Craigslist for a hundred bucks or so that are still just as functional as the day they rolled off the floor. Vee brakes and rim brake wheels are easy to find cheap, as are square taper BB's. I ride this thing more than any other bike- low maintenance, grab and go!
 

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Cannondale Delta V 600

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I bought this bike new in 1994 and the wheels a couple of years later. I have upgraded all of the components over the years and I still love the way this bike handles on the trails. The bike gets allot of looks and it's fun talking to newbies that can't believe this bike is 20 years old. I'll be on a 13 mile ride with it today. Happy riding!
 

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I had Schwinn High Sierra, Bridgestone MB3, and Specialized Rockhopper. Overall, I preferred the specialized bike, it just rode better.

Got back into biking a few years ago and started my way back through the Specialized lineup. Hardrock, Rockhopper, biplane Stumpy, Stumpy Sport.... Finally found a Ritchey and it ruled all others. Kept the Ritchey and sold the rest.

But I like the chase, so I kept shopping and now have 3 Stumpy Teams, and an 85 Stumpy.

Ritchey still rules. I think It's an 88? the top tube pings a nice high note. But the Stumpy team frame pings just as high and with 1.6 tires it's a nice complementing ride.

I really think it took specialized a few years to get it right. I think it's pretty well documented that they bought some Ritchey frames to copy and, that Ritchey knew what was up, so he gave them some frames with issues.

The early 83-84 bi-plane bikes are super cool. and fun to ride, but you can really feel the difference with the 85-86 model geometry, they still have lugged steel, and upgraded components. IMHO It's a much better bike overall.
 

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Not enough Jamis or Bianchi love in this thread. I've kept my Diablo for upwards of 1/4 century 'cuz I love riding it, would do the same with a Grizzly if I found a nice one on Craigslist or something. The Jamis isn't really fillet-brazed, but it's still lugged/brazed/TIG-welded all-in-one, which is still unusual for a vintage production bike? Grizzly was my 2nd-most-fun production bike, behind the Diablo but ahead of my Rockhopper -- a competent bike, just lacking the fun-factor of the Jamis and Bianchi options of the day.
 

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Yeti ARC
Ibis Mojo
Stumpjumper
Bridgestone
Merlin

I test rode a Trek OCLV hardtail and really enjoyed it.
 

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Five years and no mention of Voodoo? I'd probably spend my cash on a GT before a Voodoo, but I certainly wouldn't kick a Bizango out of bed in the morning.

Also, if we're counting not quite so vintage/mass produced, how about an Albert Eisentraut built Marin Team Marin in Columbus UltraFoco? If you get it wet you can practically see through the tubes, but you'd be hard pressed to put together a lighter retro build in steel.
 

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I had a 16" DB Apex set up for trials (I'm 6'3" and all legs). Nice frame, I'd ride another in my size as a daily BCC.
 

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I'll cast a vote for the Japanese made Miyatas; the Ridge Runner ('84 - '90), Ridge Runner SE ('86 - '87) and Terra Runner ('84 - '88). Both of the Ridge Runners were every bit the equal to the SJ, Mt. Fuji and early Trek 850 in terms of quality, ride and component choice.
 

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As I grew up on Vancouver Island my "vintage" bikes of dreams would be of what was big here. Not mentioned yet but were truly wicked bikes with some neat features like an integrated anti chainsuck plate was Brodie! Their Soveriegn,Catalyst, Expresso were simply awesome. Like the Fat Chance of the West. Dekerf made borderline art from tubing and more mainstream legends Rocky Mountain and Kona were cutting edge as far as geometry and how they equiped their bikes with cool components.
We also had some awesome local component companies such as Syncros and Race Face who produced made in BC cutting edge parts lusted after the world over.
Obviously, this is why I choose the early to mid 90s as my favorite MTB era. It was a very exciting time that put BC and North Van on the map as a mountain bike meca,possibly even surpassing California in reputation amongst the hardcore. It was an exciting era that still lives on today.
Of course,again, this is purely from my perspective and I have the upmost respect for all the industry innovators. I think its cool how there is these 3 basic geographic areas that produced great bikes with their local terrain in mind from Cali to the east coast back to BC, all have their own style,all had legendary bikes worthy of the vintage label IMO>
 

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As I grew up on Vancouver Island my "vintage" bikes of dreams would be of what was big here. Not mentioned yet but were truly wicked bikes with some neat features like an integrated anti chainsuck plate was Brodie! Their Soveriegn,Catalyst, Expresso were simply awesome. Like the Fat Chance of the West. Dekerf made borderline art from tubing and more mainstream legends Rocky Mountain and Kona were cutting edge as far as geometry and how they equiped their bikes with cool components.
We also had some awesome local component companies such as Syncros and Race Face who produced made in BC cutting edge parts lusted after the world over.
Obviously, this is why I choose the early to mid 90s as my favorite MTB era. It was a very exciting time that put BC and North Van on the map as a mountain bike meca,possibly even surpassing California in reputation amongst the hardcore. It was an exciting era that still lives on today.
Of course,again, this is purely from my perspective and I have the upmost respect for all the industry innovators. I think its cool how there is these 3 basic geographic areas that produced great bikes with their local terrain in mind from Cali to the east coast back to BC, all have their own style,all had legendary bikes worthy of the vintage label IMO>
good post
 

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I know "best" is a relative term, but I'm looking for opinions on decent quality mass production mountain bikes. Everyone can't afford a Potts, Cunningham, Ritchey, Bontrager, etc. No Diamondback will compare with the mistique, attention to detail and overall quality that went into a Yo Eddy. However, there must be a few decent mass produced bikes out there? What brands made good quality for the price in the 80's and 90's? I'm thinking Specialized, GT, Trek, Cannondale, etc. I don't want to get into a bash session that a Trek 970 is a POS, just honest opinions for those that want to restore or get into vintage without having to automatically jump on one of the "cool brands." There are no "right" answers, just opinions. Let the fun begin!
11 Years on from the first post.
I bought loads of bikes in the 1990's. Every manufacturer had a Niche back then. Cannondale were all Aluminium, Trek had decent frames, Fisher had odd groupsets (to hit price points), Orange were built to your own spec and you had a big choice of build options. Orange were my favourite to buy as you specked the bike and then it was built for you. you chose Frame, Size, Colour, stem size, wheels, forks and groupset. When the bike arrived it was a perfect fit.

At the time I always thought Breezer, Bontrager and Ritchey were behind the times. However I now ride a retro Breezer Storm and it's wonderful to ride. The bikes that are most sought after are not necessarily the bikes I thought would be. Rockhoppers and Hardrocks seem very sought after being sensibly priced and Iconic with the 1990's.

The best buys I have seen are Muddy Fox bikes and it was Muddy Fox that brought MTB to the UK in a major way. Yet these bike are very cheap and people seem to think MuddyFox and Muddy Fox are the same. Some of the Muddy Fox range was made in Japan using the same steel and dropouts as the Breezer or Ritchey bikes. A Muddy Fox Monarch can be a very cheap bike.

The bikes I see being worth money in the future are Breezer, Fisher, Bontrager, Ritchey, Stumpjumpers and anything else historically connected to MTB's. The big thing is that these bikes all started off as rigid bikes. It's important that they stay this way. The only things I change on older bikes are saddles, grips and tyres. Everything else I leave original as possible.

Bianchi and Cinelli bikes are also worth keeping an eye on as both have a used following. The Cinelli Bikes were the best painted bikes in my opinion. The Bianchi bikes often bringing new ideas to Mountain biking. My Favourite is the FY620 which lead the way for Full Suspension bikes. (Good Luck finding one.)
 

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It was fun reading this thread. I was heavily into the sport from 1989-1994 but have been away since then.

My bike in those days was a Stumpjumper (team?). It was pink and white and was Prestige cromo and full XT group.

I rode the heck out of it and painted it a few times also. It seemed to really handle well in the tight, twisty, rooty single track that was near my house in those days.

Here are a few pics of it through the years I had it:








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