1986 – The mountain bike itself: In 1986 we described mountain
bikes as David to the BMX Goliath. The knobby tires were similar,
but the attitudes of BMX and “ATB” riders were vastly different.
The mountain biking movement was finding its footing, and we
were there to cover it. In our premiere issue we actually pitted a
BMX bike against a mountain bike in what we could possibly call
our first “shootout.” The mountain bike won by a long shot.
1987 – Shimano SIS shifting: Shimano
was the first to pioneer shifts with “clicks.”
Before SIS technology, which stands for
Shimano Index System, riders were forced
to use friction shifters, usually controlled
with thumb levers to “trim” their gears.
Remember the old adage “shift before you
need to”? This was originally said before
the Shimano SIS technology when it would
take several tries and crank strokes before
you could dial in the right gear.
1988 – Carbon fiber frames: Brent
Trimble’s bike was the first full-carbon
frame we tested for the magazine. In truth,
the MBA wrecking crew couldn’t care less
if the carbon fiber monocoque mountain
bike “handled like a garbage scow in high
seas.” We saw carbon bikes as the future
at a time when many others wrote them
off as simply a pipe dream. Take a look
around the mountain bike landscape today
and you’ll likely find our initial thoughts
about this material were spot-on.
1989 – RockShox RS-1: This “shock
from the future” wasn’t available to most
riders until late 1989, but the influence it
had is absolutely unparalleled. Paul Turner
hand-assembled the first of the RockShox
RS-1 forks in his garage. They sported a
total of 2 inches of travel, and there were
only 10 of them available for the first production run. Word is, the two most desirable ones are serial numbers 001 (
obviously) and 007 (because everyone in the ’80s
wanted to be James Bond). This fork put
bicycle suspension on the map.
1990 – Shimano’s SPD pedals: At the time, there were three
ways people reacted to Shimano’s new clipless SPD pedals. The
first group loved the freedom of never having to flip a toe clip or
drag the ground with a hanging clip. The second hated click-in
pedals with a fervor normally reserved for orange juice mixed with
toothpaste. The final group was sitting on the fence, ready to try
them. Our review gave credit to the design stating, “The dou-ble-sided SPD pedals are easier to get into and out of than toe
clips, more secure once in and high-tech.”