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Discussion Starter #1
The general consensus around vintage mountain bikes seems to be that they are fun, but basically obsolete compared to modern bikes. What I would like to find is a vintage bike that has the value and cool factor of an 80s/90s bike, but with the capability to handle moderately technical singletrack. From what I understand, early 90s bikes like Trek Singletracks and Bridgestone MBs are unsuited to this type of riding due to their aggressive angles and no suspension optimized for XC competition. Modern bikes have more relaxed angles and longer wheelbases (and suspension, of course), but there has to be a middle ground between the rigid early 90s bikes and modern FS trail machines. Did geometry start to change in the late 90s for more stability? Would a 1995+ bike with front suspension fork be a good compromise?

Early 80s bikes had more relaxed angles and longer wheelbases, but are also considered obsolete for reasons I don't fully understand. It seems to be the 80s bikes would at least be a better choice than the 90s racing bikes since the geometry is closer to modern.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Basically I'm wondering if there are any vintage mountain bikes from the late 90s with modernish geometry and a decent front suspension fork.
 

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Short answer is no. Virtually every mountain bike built in this timeframe was centered around 71HTA and 73STA, 16" CSL and 11"BBH. I cannot think of one, especially hard tails that deviated much from this paradigm.The beauty of these bikes IMHO is that riding them will make you a better rider. They force you to practice fundamental skills of balance, bike/body separation, position, etc. And on many less technical trails, they're much more fun than today's long low slack rides.
Also, they are so much simpler than many of today's bikes so maintenance and the amount of special tools and parts is much less demanding.

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The geometry might not have shifted much, but there is a significant difference between a rigid 1990 Trek Singletrack and a 1998 Trek 8000 with a SID up front.

A nice later 90's hard tail (Specialized Sworks M2, Schwinn Homegrown, etc) can handle moderately technical single track without a problem, the question is whether or not you can handle it. I am hardly the best rider out there, but in group rides where I am the only one riding a 26er, I don't feel like I am at a disadvantage on singletrack at all, especially the tight-twisty variety.

Now whether or not the examples I listed actually qualify as a Vintage MTB is a whole other story, probably one that should be avoided in these parts.:yesnod:
 

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Trek

72.5 degrees parallel

I'd ride one today with a dropper no problem. to me, a dropper (hite rite) was all I needed bitd when things got sketchy....still would have the 150mm stem too
 

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Trek

72.5 degrees parallel

I'd ride one today with a dropper no problem. to me, a dropper (hite rite) was all I needed bitd when things got sketchy....still would have the 150mm stem too
Looking back, the stem length always bothered me. I can't count how many times I was trying to get behind the seat entirely on some sketchy super steep downhill section with no chance of unclipping in that position if something went wrong.
 

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There might be some in the 2002 - 2008 or so range that sort of bridge the slack geometry with the more upright. By around 2010 or 2011 or so, most everything was moved into slacker geometry, just still on 26in wheels. But, my current go to is still a single speed 1997 voodoo djab even over my newer geometry FS, you just can't replace the feel of connection to the bike with anything new. On the older stuff you're riding with the bike, on the newer stuff you're riding on the bike.

But I think SC and Salsa and maybe a few mainstream ones were trying out some intermediary geometry post 2000 if my memory serves me, it's possible it doesn't though, definitely nothing I can think of before 2000.
 

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Early 80s bikes had more relaxed angles and longer wheelbases, but are also considered obsolete for reasons I don't fully understand. It seems to be the 80s bikes would at least be a better choice than the 90s racing bikes since the geometry is closer to modern.
Hmm. Not sure if this is a theoretical discussion or looking for practical advice, but the 90's actually had racing mtbs, whereas most of the 80's was "I'm going to race this mountain bike".
I think you can get used to anything and that unless you're constantly measuring yourself against riders at +- 5% of your level, you probably won't notice a huge difference.
I've noticed that early-mid 80's bikes are generally more "isn't it nice to be out today", more upright, less sketchy descenders, more predictable. 90's race bikes were much lighter, had better (if ultimately less reliable) shifting + braking and really excelled at hauling ass where fitness trumped technique.
 

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My singletrack choice is my ‘96 Stumpjumper M2 Comp with a lowly Judy XC and my buddies on their newer rides can’t keep up. Despite this, they tell me I need a modern bike. Pffft.

Granted, I’ve been riding singletrack with this bike since I bought it new 24 years ago. I’m sure it has a lot to do with my familiarity with the bike and the trails, but on a technical climb, there’s no chance they keep up. Some of them catch me on the descents but I can still go faster than many of them are comfortable with. This bike will ALWAYS be in my stable. Always brings a smile, no matter the ride.

Point being, ride what you want and ride the hell out of it, even if it isn’t the “right” bike.
 

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The general consensus around vintage mountain bikes seems to be that they are fun, but basically obsolete compared to modern bikes. What I would like to find is a vintage bike that has the value and cool factor of an 80s/90s bike, but with the capability to handle moderately technical singletrack. From what I understand, early 90s bikes like Trek Singletracks and Bridgestone MBs are unsuited to this type of riding due to their aggressive angles and no suspension optimized for XC competition. Modern bikes have more relaxed angles and longer wheelbases (and suspension, of course), but there has to be a middle ground between the rigid early 90s bikes and modern FS trail machines. Did geometry start to change in the late 90s for more stability? Would a 1995+ bike with front suspension fork be a good compromise?

Early 80s bikes had more relaxed angles and longer wheelbases, but are also considered obsolete for reasons I don't fully understand. It seems to be the 80s bikes would at least be a better choice than the 90s racing bikes since the geometry is closer to modern.
MOderately technical singletrack? Fat Chance wicked w/ a rigid fork is the perfect bike for that.
 

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MOderately technical singletrack? Fat Chance wicked w/ a rigid fork is the perfect bike for that.
No, go with a Klein Mantra. You get the feel of a hardtail on the up and the added fun of the bike trying to eject you on the down.
 

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People rode moderately technical singletrack in the 80s and 90s... The bikes can still do it.

Plenty of mid to late 90s bikes that will accept a more modern fork. Many late 90s full suspension designs are acceptable performers.
 

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People rode moderately technical singletrack in the 80s and 90s... The bikes can still do it.

Plenty of mid to late 90s bikes that will accept a more modern fork. Many late 90s full suspension designs are acceptable performers.
Yup, we ride the same trails we did in the 80’s. Actually we learned on trails that are more technical then todays trails. Those trails are now closed to mt bikes, too much erosion and traffic. The difference is you can go much faster now, and not be as picky on line choice.
 

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Try the vintage Cannondale hardtails, with Headshok fork. The 1998-2002 models were light and really inspired confidence. Great bikes...
 

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I'm surprised there are still late 90s C-dale and Stumpy M2s that are in service and haven't cracked. Fun bikes bitd, but people used to go through those frames like popcorn around here.
 

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I'm surprised there are still late 90s C-dale and Stumpy M2s that are in service and haven't cracked. Fun bikes bitd, but people used to go through those frames like popcorn around here.
Was thinking the same thing. Were those the metal matrix stuff on the M2?
 

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Was thinking the same thing. Were those the metal matrix stuff on the M2?
Yup. Very brittle. Lasted longer than the beer-can C-dales, but not by too much.

If I were looking to get anything from that period and actually planned to ride it regularly, it would be steel for sure.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I have actually been riding my Trek Multitrack 750 on the singletrack trails (is that allowed?) mentioned and it does fairly well as long as I avoid the big dips. In fact I've been having tons of fun rediscovering the kind of biking I did as a kid and exploring all the trails. The Multitrack works great for the mixed riding I do (pavement, gravel, and singletrack in equal amounts all in the same ride), though I would still like to have a bike to just beat on and not worry about bending a 700c wheel or chipping my precious original paint. So still on the lookout for an 80s/90s mountain bike, but with how well the Multitrack with 35mm tires does I'm not as concerned about this geometry vs. that, as I'm sure either will be fine.
 

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Funny. I have two M2 Stumpies in the fleet right now. One, I’ve been riding since I bought it new in 1996 and I’ve not been gentle with it. Moab, Tahoe and a host of rocky trails here in the Midwest. I’m no lightweight either. I’ve weighed between 190 and 200lbs the entire time I’ve had this bike. It just keeps on going. The other, an early M2 frame, looks like it has lived a rough life (picked up the frame last summer) and is currently a singlespeed around-town bike. But no cracks! I do find myself enjoying steel these days though. Recently built a gravel bike out of a steel Rockhopper Comp. Nice ride and the one I put the most miles on these days.
 

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Yup. Very brittle. Lasted longer than the beer-can C-dales, but not by too much.

If I were looking to get anything from that period and actually planned to ride it regularly, it would be steel for sure.
My experience w/ specialized M2s says the contrary: tough and long lasting.
Anything can break incl. steel and titanium. In the end frame material matters very little; it´s how it´s designed and built that warrants longevity and riding quality.
 
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