1996 Giant ATX 990

Once A Hero

Old School Grand Master
Collection Bike #9

After my first full season of downhill racing on my Cadex CFM-1 (see here; https://www.retrobike.co.uk/threads/1995-cadex-cfm-1.446491/ ), I’d secured strong enough results to attract the attention of a newly funded British Mountain Biking backed junior development squad, aimed at provided kit and coaching support for upcoming juniors looking to progress in the sport.

This meant I’d be getting to race one of these for the season;

The squad for comprised a team of about 8 riders, boys and girls, across cross country and downhill, backed by Giant (full bikes), Shimano (shoes and pedals), Michelin (tyres), Giro (helmets), USE (bars and Seatposts), along with two coaches - available at all national events, on the phone, by email and by post!

There was even a pre-season ‘meet the team’ assessment and training camp - which involved one of those nasty vo2 max heart rate tests, during which I achieved a max heart rate of 216bpm…..and promptly threw up after getting off the test rig!

I recall kit was a bit delayed in arriving, getting ever closer to the start of the racing season, and even then some bits arrived a little bit late.

But once received, the kit assigned to me was:-
  • 1996 Giant ATX 990 but with Judy DH forks instead of the standard XC set
  • Giro Supermoto XC helmet (which I still have)
  • A fairly nasty full face DH helmet (a Giro item was never on offer)
  • Various Michelin Wildgrippers (a few of which I still have) - but these were only issued at events supported by Michelin!
  • Shimano M210 shoes (still have a NOS pair)
  • Shimano M747 and M636 pedals (M747s still in use!)
  • A couple of sets of clothing (which still fits, just)
After that you were pretty much on your own!

Aside from a GT RTS and a Diamond Back Dual Response I’d borrowed for a few races in ‘95, this was the first time since my Proflex 550 that I’d owned anything with rear suspension - and it wasn’t great! 3inches of rear travel, 60-80mm of front travel, and some challenging geometry but it was still a step in the right direction.

But rarely does a new bike make it to the start of its first race without some minor alterations…

Out went the standard Tioga Psycho tyres - I assessed them as “sh1t” when they nearly caused me to wipe out on a blast up and down my road when the bike arrived, so they had to go.

Flat bars were ditched for sturdier risers, the front gripshift was shelved, middle and granny rings removed, the front LX mech was butchered with a makeshift plastic plate chainguide, and a U.S.E Shockpost added to help with rear end spring (when sitting down obvs!).

All set to go racing!

I’d have to say ‘96 was probably my favourite year of racing as a Junior as I got some decent results but missed out on some too.

From memory my highlight results as a Junior were;

2nd overall NPS series - with results ranging from 1st to 9th
3rd National Championships - gutted ‘cos I crashed near the top of the course!
1st Welsh Championships

Also got to go and race at the European Championships in Italy, where a practise injury that required a trip to hospital for an x-ray meant I wasn’t at my best - but actually my performance was really limited by the bikes lack of suspension travel for the insanely rocky course. Competitors in mainland Europe really did have vastly different courses to ride to those in Britain.
Euro '96 Junior DH Results Page 001.jpeg

So here’s another recreation build for my collection. I can’t recall if the original bike was returned or sold when its replacement arrived, somehow I still have the original front wheel, but in any case I’m starting afresh.

I actually bought a complete bike a long time ago for about £75 but it was in such a poor state I waited for a better example to come up, particularly the front end which had some nasty paint loss and a hole.


I decided that the catalogue spec wasn’t all that interesting to recreate, and I’d like it more rideable than the old race bike, so I’ve upgraded a bit, but with a few nods to the bike I raced.
So here we are.

I’ve plumped for an M950 groupset which was available at the time, and am running a full 3x8 set-up so I can use it from time to time. The only thing I need to do is change out the tyres as they are falling apart!

Also have to say I hate the way the geometry looks in pictures but it’s a real comfy ride.









Frame: ‘Small’ 16” (Centre to Centre) with Noleen Shock and Goldtec ‘long travel’ plates

Fork: RockShox Judy DH

Headset: Diacompe Aheadset 1”1/8th
Stem: OEM (or at least very similar)
Stem Cap: OEM
Handlebar: Club Roost Comp II
Grips: OnZa Porcipaws
Barends: N/A

Brakes: Shimano XTR BR-M950
Brake Pads: Shimano XTR
Brake Cables: Shimano XTR SLR
Cantilever cable hangers: N/A
Brake Levers: Shimano XTR ST-M950

Shifters: Shimano XTR ST-M950
Front Derailleur: Shimano XTR FD-M950 34.9dia Top Pull
Rear Derailleur: Shimano XTR RD-M950
Derailleur Cables: Shimano XTR
Cassette: Shimano XTR CS-M950 11t-32t
Chain: KMC X8-93
Cranks: Shimano XTR FC-M950 175mm
Crank Bolts: Shimano
Chainrings: Shimano 24t/36t/46t
Chainring bolts: Shimano
Bottom Bracket: Shimano XTR BB-M950 112.5mm
Pedals: Shimano PD-M747

Rims: Mavic 121 SUP 32H
Hubs: Shimano XTR HB-M950 & FH-M950
Hub Skewers: Shimano XTR M950
Nipples: Sapim
Spokes: Sapim double butted
Tyres: Michelin WildGripper ‘Service Course’ 2.2 black wall
Tubes: ???

Saddle: 1996 Tioga Multi Control
Seatpost: USE (25mm with 30.4mm shim)
Seatpost Binder: OEM QR

Weight: 13.84kg / 30.52lbs
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Great story old-timer. In '96 I was running the bike patrols for a security outfit in Vancouver, and had a supply contract with Giant. I always wanted to sneak one of these into my acquisitions, but probably would have been caught. You don't see many of these around these days, so a really worthy project.