NO HORSTING AROUND
Horst Leitner was a motocross guy
who moved into the world of mountain biking, and, as we noted, “he has
undoubtedly brought more throttle-twisting baggage with him” than any
of his contemporaries. His company,
AMP Research, designed bikes and
components for Mongoose, Rocky
Mountain, Univega and Specialized.
Horst played a big role in helping
Specialized design its full-suspension
bike, the S-Works FSR. But while
developing the suspension concepts
for Specialized, he decided to build
his own works version of the bike.
Unsure of how the Specialized bike
would turn out, he wanted to make
sure there would be a record of what
he had envisioned.
The major difference between the
Horst works bike and the one that
Specialized was planning to release
was that Horst’s works bike used an
all-aluminum construction, while the
proposed S-Works version would have
a steel frame with aluminum stays.
Horst took his bike to Interbike
(then held in Anaheim, California),
and Specialized was thrilled and put it
in their booth. The problem was that
people started asking when it was
going to be available for sale. Since
Specialized hadn’t seen it until the
day before the show and they had no
plans to make it. They took it out of
the booth before day two started.
Our ride evaluation was, at best,
guarded. While we were impressed by
the bike’s handling, we did mention
that “the straight-rate shock provided
3 inches of active suspension, and
though it bio-paced at times in the
middle ring, it never reached an
unnerving stage.” While we found
that Horst’s works bike fell short of
the “ultimate” bike, the search for
that bike was starting to pay off.
Horst rode the bike for years and
then handed it down to his son Harry,
who continued to ride it. The bike
later disappeared and would be a true
collector’s item if uncovered.
In our March 1993 issue, we looked at “Wild & Weird Bikes.” The weirdest was a mountain bike chopper. Another, that looks mild by today’s standards, was classified as “wild” in
1993. The bike was a hand-fabricated prototype of the first
Specialized S-Works FSR.
Thanks, Horst: If Horst
Leitner had not been pushing dual-suspension development, there is a good
chance that dual-suspension mountain bikes would
not be as advanced today.
You cannot overestimate
the impact Horst’s designs
had on mountain biking.
Not so hard: Dual-suspension bikes of the era were a far cry from what we ride
today. However, without these early efforts from companies like AMP Research,
our bikes wouldn’t be as nice as they are.