The world of mountain biking gets a new update every couple of months. This strong forward momentum means that the modern bikes we ride today are better than ever. They are technical marvels with countless upgrades over their predecessors from 30 years ago. Sometimes the number of new standards that are continually introduced feels overwhelming and we as a shop feel it the most in our ever-growing stock holding. Just look at all the tyre options these days, and that is only one aspect of the modern mountain bike. So, it is time to recognise which standards have all but disappeared, and more importantly we need to start saying good-bye to some current standards that don’t have much time left.
GOOD-BYE QUICK RELEASE SKEWERS
Thank goodness, the move to the safer and stiffer thru-axle standard has all but happened. The 12mm rear axle & 15mm front axle combo is found on almost every modern mountain bike. Even hardtails have made the switch. Fewer low end bikes use the standard every year and even the indoor trainers sold today are all thru-axle compatible.
I remember the days when we had to constantly adjust our V-Brakes, and the terrifying braking experience you would have in bad weather. Disc brakes have changed all that and they keep on getting better! Nothing makes you faster on a bike than a great pair of brakes, and the current selection of disc brakes on the market are brilliant, even the cheap ones on entry level bikes are powerful and reliable.
GOOD-BYE STRAIGHT STEERER TUBES
It may seem small, but the Tapered Steerer Tube on modern forks (and the bikes all now use them) allowed for some drastic Mountain Bike design and geometry improvements. The benefits include stiffer forks, more accurate steering, lower stack height on the frames’ headtube (great for 29ers), larger welding/moulding area, and a bigger bottom headset bearing for longer life and better performance.
GOOD-BYE 26” WHEELS & TYRES
We all know it has happened. Half the riders today have never even owned a 26er. They died fast. You can’t buy a bike with 26” wheels anymore. And 26” tyre options are dwindling. But thankfully they have been replaced by the much more capable 29er and 650B bikes! If you have a 26er, keep it for your kid, move it to your holiday house, or donate it to someone in need.
GOOD-BYE 3X GEARING
1x gearing is definitely the future, but 2x gearing is still popular and has its merits. 3x gearing on the other hand is finished. Most modern bikes are designed so that they can never again have 3 gears in the front. Some frames are even 1x specific. Good-bye 3x and good riddance!
GOOD-BYE BAR-ENDS, NARROW SADDLES, TUBES & WIRED CYCLE COMPUTERS
If you still have bar-ends on your bike, your handle bar is probably too narrow, your stem is most likely too long and your wheels are inevitably too small. It is time for a new bike (ditching the bar-ends won’t be enough). Other relics on your bike that may need attention are narrow saddles (especially if they don’t have a groove down the middle), tubes in your tyres (seriously!?! it is time to go tubeless and know that any rim can be converted with the appropriate tape, valves and sealant), and who needs a cycle computer (especially a wired one) when todays crop of GPS units or mobile phone riding apps (e.g. Strava) will do an even better job!
GOOD-BYE NARROW RIMS
A carry-over from road bicycles is narrow rims and they are disappearing fast. 19mm internal MTB rims were considered normal a few year ago, whereas nowadays a 22mm internal rim is considered narrow. The standard rim internal widths today range between 25mm and 30mm regardless of which MTB discipline you are practising. Wider rims are stronger, stiffer and most importantly give your tyre the best shape (for more grip and larger ground contact) and more volume (for lower pressures, better bump absorption and improved traction).
GOOD-BYE REMOTE LOCK-OUTS ON THE REAR SUSPENSION
Well, I hope so … and it is sort of happening. As MTB rear suspension design has evolved, the bikes have become much more efficient climbers. Gone are the days of bouncy “Pedal Bob” and with it the number of bikes sold with remote lockouts have steadily declined. You’ll notice how many more pro’s are choosing full suspension bikes over their old hardtails. And some of them are even running their full sussers in full “open” mode, without remote lockout levers. For example, the Pyga Eurosteel team (2017’s most successful South African Marathon team by far) did tests to see if their remote lockouts made them faster and to their surprise it did not, so they ditched the handlebar clutter, saved some weight and made their riding experience both simpler and faster. The truth is that an active rear suspension provides more mechanical grip and traction which improves climbing speed by more than enough to offset any small amount of energy lost through suspension movement. Now that is pretty darn rad!
AND ONE LAST RANT …
The standard that the mountain bike industry just can’t move forward on are Bottom Bracket options. They just add more BB standards without ditching any of the old ones. We have the Italian Thread, BSA, Pressfit86, Pressfit92, BB30, Pressfit30, and now the latest is the T47 standard. Then there are the multitude of bottom bracket types that fit into those frame standards. Adding to all that, there are adapters that convert one version to the other but not the other way around and so on and so on … It is bloody confusing! It gets worse because bike manufacturers jump between the different standards across their own models too; not even they show any consistency. I can’t see a solution any time soon, but maybe, one day, the manufacturers will converge on the best BB standard (or two) for the end user.