Yog Sothoth wrote:
I turned 50 last year and although I rattled my way down lots of steep trails in the Peak on a hardtail, I eventually got fed up with pains in my wrists and back, and chipped teeth, decided mountain biking should not be about suffering, and bought a Norco off ebay with 6" of suspension front and back. I can now go down the likes of 'The Beast' (Hope Cross) and actually have fun, rather than timidly lowering my way down it on a rattling hardtail and arriving home feeling I'd been kicked by a horse.
Being somewhat strapped for cash means the Norco is used as a do it all bike, and its suspension is overkill for a lot of trails, but it's all about fun, and I get plenty of that when I ride it.
I have two early 90s steel-framed, fully rigid bikes. I love them both, but one is a commuter pure and simple, and the other is for pootling round on nice days. I wouldn't dream of taking it on a hardcore rocky descent.
To me, suspension on bikes is similar to the introduction of chalk and then sticky rubber in climbing; yes, it makes it 'easier' but it also makes it more fun by eliminating the problems that led to its introduction in the first place. I remember the negative reaction to chalk (John Allen free climbs Great Wall...but uses chalk!), but everyone uses it now, and as one who climbed before chalk, and before harnesses, in fact, I can see the benefits. Same with suspension on bikes.
Oh, and I love my Norco's looks, giant golden tractor thaough it may be to some.
This isn't about function though, nor innovations, and each bike is suited to its purpose.
It's about aesthetics.
Modern mountaineering boots look crap, brightly coloured plastic horrid stuff, huge graphics and frankly Nasssssty - sure they keep your feet warm and dry, but compare to an old skool leather Norwegian welted felt lined Mountaineering boot such as worn by The Great Hermann Buhl when he solo'd Nanga Parbat...
Modern boots don't have to look horrible, advanced, yes, but why horrid??
Modern climbing rubbers are needlessly gaudy and horrid in colour too, and this has naught to do with the sticky rubber.
Modern bikes are needlessly designed to look crap. And they don't have to!
OK I concede on that. The Norco looks impressively industrial, like a piece of earth-moving machinery. I like diggers, so that's just fine. It's crap on the road, like it's asleep or something, but brilliant on really rocky trails.
My Saracen, which I built on a shoestring budget, was put together with as much attention to colour as to function. Result: a lightweight, rigid, purple and yellow bike that's great to ride on the road or on hardpack, and which has kids jumping up and down yelling "I want one Mummy! I want a bike like that old man is riding!"
So yes, I agree. Aesthetically, it's like old cars vs new. There will never be another E-type.