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Dream it, Do it.
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I was just thinking back to the early FS bikes. What were the first bikes that were reasonably good?

These were my thoughts about some that I remember:

Bradbury Manitou FS: Our shop had one and it was beautifully made, but it seemed more useful from a comfort standpoint than from a performance standpoint.
- https://www.pinkbike.com/news/now-that-was-a-bike-1991-bradbury-manitou-fs.html

Boulder Defiant: Our shop had one and it looked great with the rear shock integrated into the frame. I have no idea how it rode.
- https://www.bikeman.com/the-attic/bikemans-museum-mainmenu-63/513-museum-boulder-cycles-defiant

Cannondale SE2000: We also had these in our shop. Just from the looks of it, this seemed like a pogo stick.
- https://sydneymountainbikerescue.wordpress.com/2016/04/07/1991-cannondale-se2000/

Trek Y-bikes: These looked interesting and different for the mid-90s, but I don't think the Unified Rear Triangle design worked that well as a full-suspension bike.
- Trek Y Series Mountain Bike

Klein Mantra: Same comments as for the Y-bikes, but with its high suspension pivot, these had the additional challenge of wanting to fold up and shorten its wheelbase when going down steep drops.
- https://www.pinkbike.com/news/1996-klein-mantra-pro-now-that-was-a-bike.html

These were bikes that I remember hearing good things about:

Mountain Cycles San Andreas: With their monocoque frame, inverted forks, and disc brakes, these looked completely different from the typical hardtails of the era.
https://www.pinkbike.com/news/now-that-was-a-bike-mountain-cycle-san-andreas.html

AMP Research B3 and B4: When everything was working on these bikes, they apparently were good performing, but a little flexy.
- https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/vintage-1996-amp-research-b3-xt-bike-142784245
- https://www.pedalroom.com/bike/amp-research-b4-29200

Specialized FSR: Though Specialized copied the Horst link suspension design, the FSR was one of the first big brand bikes that I remember being halfway decent from a suspension performance perspective.

Santa Cruz Tazmon: The first full suspension bike that got me to consider buying a FS bike. Though it had a simple design, it seemed like one of the first FS bikes that was reasonably durable and usable.
https://www.santacruzbicycles.com/en-US/bike/tazmon/1

Santa Cruz Superlight: I came really close to getting a Superlight. It felt solid when pedaling due to suspension extension which was reasonable for the time.
https://www.santacruzbicycles.com/en-US/bike/superlight/1
 

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I raced for Boulder on one of their first production bikes back in 93. It was a very heavy bike for Cross country bike but had nice handling. That was my best season of racing and I attribute it to how much faster I was on descents!

Sent from my moto g(7) using Tapatalk
 

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I suspect Specialized did some fierce work protecting it once they had the patent. Which is now expired I believe.
 

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My Cuz won the NW DH Champs in 95' on a prototype Foe's with 155mm travel front and rear....photo of my 95' Dagger B4 23lbs with rear AMP first one made of 10. Not good for DH, but awesome XC racer....LBS still has a MTN Cycles San Andreas in the shop hanging on the wall.
 

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Among all of the bikes in OP's list.... only the Mountain Cycle San Andreas and Santa Cruz Superlight clearly stood out. The rest were still Pogo Sticks, or simply rattled-out tooth fillings.
 

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Outland VPP was the first one anyone I knew talked about as being really decent and not needing constant, helicopter-like maintenance.
 

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the half breed devil
Santa Cruz 5010 v.3, rigid single speed karate monkey
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my 2001 superlight was an OK bike at the time. it still didn't climb like my ibis alibi but glory be to god, i loved how it handled. i'd still take my hawk hill as it is set up now over that superlight.

when i went from a manitou sx-ti to a coil sprung fox float the F/R balance got all out of whack, though. (not that an elastomer-sprung fork was really special)
 

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if you weighed 80 lbs the AMP was workable
 

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This place needs an enema
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1998 Marin Mount Vision sold me on FS.

After that, the only thing that steered me away from FS was in the early days of 29" when all you could get was a custom hardtail. I think I rode 29" HT's for the bulk of '00, '01, and '02.

Convinced Devin Lenz to build me a 29" FS bike in '03, and haven't owned a HT as my primary bike since.
 

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The amp was the first that really made a mark as "this works". the Amp made frames we very light as mentioned above, but the design propagated pretty fast, despite specialised trying to control it. if you ran a mountain cycle with discs as a DH bike I think it was fine, but people really weren't doing that til later in the 90's.

The GT LTS was a good evolution of the basic AMP principle in 1994/5.

Most of the single pivot and oddball geo bikes at the same time as the AMP were abysmal - not really due to the concept, but due to the restrictions of cantilever brakes and 3x gearing (and often a complete lack of damping at both ends didn't help). The AMP design was the first that really properly got around these issues "well enough'. Of course, many of those bikes that we thought sucked back then might actually do well today, cause we have just one front ring and discs - and computer simulations available to everyone.

I think its worth noting here that virtually all of these bike designs have their roots in the 80's.... that is, the 1880's. Nothing is new here except that we can make them at a quality and precision level that makes them viable.
 

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Trek Y bikes were absolute garbage. I had a Fisher Joshua and it made me swear off any FS bike for 20some years.
That was the first time in my life I had heard a dealer / rep say "well, they need new designs to make people buy things". They KNEW it was garbage in other words.
 

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no, the Trek Y bikes were not absolute garbage...

if you are talking absolutes, you need to include Trek 9500. That thing...
 

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The amp was the first that really made a mark

I raced for AMP in ~'96. Primarily 12 and 24 hour races, but some 100 milers too. I liked how light they were. The bushings would last ~3000+ miles before developing slop, and then they were relatively easy to replace.

The main downside is that the shock was a structural member of the frame, and wasn't designed for it. So, assuming I started with a brand new shock, the damping would be gone within ~3 to 4 hours. Yes, hours.

Fortunately they used coil sprung units, so you still had support and absorption - though no damping - indefinitely.

They would only send me 2 shocks at a time, so I got used to riding with no damping.

Some of that explains my predilection toward *very* fast rebound even to this day.
 

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I raced for AMP in ~'96. Primarily 12 and 24 hour races, but some 100 milers too. I liked how light they were. The bushings would last ~3000+ miles before developing slop, and then they were relatively easy to replace.

The main downside is that the shock was a structural member of the frame, and wasn't designed for it. So, assuming I started with a brand new shock, the damping would be gone within ~3 to 4 hours. Yes, hours.

Fortunately they used coil sprung units, so you still had support and absorption - though no damping - indefinitely.

They would only send me 2 shocks at a time, so I got used to riding with no damping.

Some of that explains my predilection toward *very* fast rebound even to this day.
I had a mantis profloater of similar ilk. It use the shock as a main member of the frame but it had a newer style nitrogen charged shock, vs what AMP used. It literally used hardware store bolts and screws to hold the suspension together. I bent the shock on a bump, had it replaced then broke the swing arm on a bump. It wasn't great at bumps actually but was an attractive looking bike.

I had an early Turner Afterburner I used as an all arounder. For its 3.5" of travel it did really well, tracked trails nicely, was quite stiff, and looked cool. I broke the frame on the notoriously rocky AZ trails of my town. I swapped the rear end to a new XCE triangle and it was good. Not as good as the afterburner but worked.

I moved to single pivots from SC and then just bailed on suspension in general. Haven't gone back but would eventually like to but am waiting for the geometry and wheelsize debates to settle :p
 

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no, the Trek Y bikes were not absolute garbage...

if you are talking absolutes, you need to include Trek 9500. That thing...
The y bike is worse, because it came at a time that they should have (and did) known better.

The 9500 was one of the worst suspension bikes ever made, but it was still early, so it can be forgiven... a little...
 

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Dream it, Do it.
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
That was the first time in my life I had heard a dealer / rep say "well, they need new designs to make people buy things". They KNEW it was garbage in other words.
It seemed to me that the Y-bikes had two design considerations.
1. Create a unique looking frame design.
2. Figure out how to add a shock into that mix.
 

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It seemed to me that the Y-bikes had two design considerations.
1. Create a unique looking frame design.
2. Figure out how to add a shock into that mix.
The Y bike was Trek just responding to the flavor of the month. At the time there were either single pivot bikes and 4-bar links. As we all know, Specialized purchased the rights to use that suspension design and were fairly litigious regarding anyone infringing on it, even so far as defining the boundary protected by patent for the rear pivot at the rear axle. Along come Castenello with a different design that gave some ok suspension and companies were all over it, as it was different than the single pivot.

The unified rear triangle was best designed with the pivot over the chainrings but there were a handful of those on the market already so trek just lowered the pivot to give them the y-bike shape. So it was different than the Specialized, different that the single pivots, simple looking, and didn't suffer from chain growth, and didn't look like the castenello design (rocky pipelines, et al).

I think there was thoughts involved but the experience to design a suspension that actually worked wasn't with the company, so they did what a lot of companies did and used a similar design as the flavor of the month. Lots of companies did this and to be fair most suspension in this era sucked.
 
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