I started riding back in about 1991 - I really wanted a Raleigh Lizard, but for some reason I ended up with an Emmelle. I rode that on fire roads for a few years, and got a Dawes in 1994. I don't remember what model it was, but it had a purple and black splatter paintjob and (oooh) 21 gears
I upgraded loads of bits on it, but mainly just through buying loads of purple parts - X-Lite ChickenStix brake levers, purple (Tektro?) cantis, purple alloy bolts, a cheap CNC purple alloy stem -you can imagine the effect. However much I loved it, even I had to admit it rode like a pig and weighed a ton. I lusted after all the trick lightweight bikes in the mags, and above all else a Merlin XLM.
I finally got enough money together in 1996 to buy a Specialized Rockhopper FS. Over the next three years that bike changed spec so many times - I put full XT on it and some Judys, then got into street riding as well as XC so it got some riser bars and a stubby stem, plus heavier wheels. Then I (stupidly) brought a clapped-out Turner Burner DH from a friend of a friend for peanuts and spent loads on putting nice parts on it, ignoring the fact the pivots were shagged. It looked the dogs, but I hardly rode it. I gave up, sold it and the Rockhopper and brought a Specialized FSR-XC. I lost count of how many sets of bushings I went through, and I didn't get on with the fit of it either. When I saw a Fisher Procaliber frame up for sale, I brought it on a whim and swapped all the parts across. I really liked it, and upgraded most of the parts on it, but decided to sell it and give in to the lure of titanium - I got a cheap secondhand Airborne from the US. It just wasn't the same, and I preferred the ride of the long-departed Fisher. I moved to a (again, s/h from the US) Black Sheep titanium soft-tail, which was nice, but I still hankered after a Merlin XLM. After much searching, I tracked down a NOS, pre-Litespeed buyout Massachusets built XLM in a shop in California. I built it up with all the kit I've always wanted, and I really love it.
Not long after, though, I brought a Bontrager Race on a whim, and I really enjoy it - possibly more than the XLM because the skinny steel stays seem more compliant than the super-fat, super-light XLM. It's currently my winter project bike, and will be built with XTR 8 speed, Middleburn/ Mavic Ceramic wheels, and a set of Solitude Cycles rigid forks.
Other bikes that have made an appearance for shorter periods of time include an Ibis Szazbo, an Orange Prestige, a Roberts Genesis, a Sonic Cycles singlespeed, a custom Dave Hinde singlespeed, an On-One Tinbred SS, and plenty of road bikes. I've also probably forgotten a few bikes, for which I apologise. I've also got a UK-built Ritchey/ Tange tubed rigid frame and fork sitting around that I keep meaning to build into a winter hack bike.