Retro Vs. Modern | How Much Have Hardtail Mountain Bikes Changed? | GMBN Retro Week

Retro Vs. Modern | How Much Have Hardtail Mountain Bikes Changed? | GMBN Retro Week


(Dramatic introduction) (VCR & radio noises) (retro music) – It’s retro week here
at GMBN and GMBN tech. So I thought I would dove in and show you something you
might not have seen before. Now no doubt at GMBN and GMBN
tech you would have seen us at some point riding Nukeproof bikes. And of course you would
definitely have seen Sam Hill racing and winning on his bike, Nukeproof Mega, at the
Enduro World Series races. What you might not realize though is Nukeproof isn’t a new brand. They’ve actually been
around since the mid 90’s. 22 years in fact. They first started
producing carbon-shelled titanium axle hubs. Absolute masterpieces, they were. And then they later, in 1997,
released their first bike. Called the Reactor. And I’ve got one. Right here. (jazz music) So firstly, let’s take
a look at this things. They’re extremely rare. You don’t really see many of these around. And because they’re Nukeproof I’ve been trying to get
hold of one of these for the last two years and they’ve just managed to built it up. Now if I directly
compare this to my Scout, which is a modern day hardtail, you’d notice it looks very
very different to this. But of course back in the 90’s, it wasn’t really a genre for downhill, trail riding, or cross country, you just rode a mountain bike in whatever discipline you fancied. So let us just call this a
trail bike for argument sake. You’ll notice it’s got V-brakes on there, rather than the disc brakes,
that I have on my Scout. You might also notice
it has 26 inch wheels rather than than 27 and 1/2. And you’ll also notice,
it’s incredibly short, compared to my scout. And the final thing
you’re going to notice, is as well as that
monstrosity of a long stem, on the front there which
definitely has obscure handling compared to what we’re used to today. We’ll noticed it’s got a
linkage fork instead of a telescopic fork, which we’re
much more used to these days. Let’s have a little closer look. Now firstly let’s take
a look at the frame, which is made from oversized aluminum. Now these days we don’t really tend to refer bikes as oversized
because they mostly are. Now oversized was a term really
heavily used in the 90’s. And essentially, it help make
frames lighter and stiffer. So basically to make a
light weight aluminum frame, what you need to do is make the walls of the alloy itself quite thin. The only problem with that is
then it becomes quite flexible so to get around that,
we make the tubes bigger. So you’ve got thinner
walls and the bigger tubes. So they’re nice and stiff and strong, but they’re nice and light. So this is a classic oversized frame. And it’s used in a quite
traditional double-diamond layout. Out back you’ve got a 135 mil pretty standard quick
release rear end on the bike. And you got a short 420mm chainstay. Seat angle on here, you’re looking at about 73 degrees, which is quite modern to be fair. But up front, it’s got
a 71 degree head angle. So that is pretty steep
by today’s standards. If you consider that my current Scout, which chainstays on that are 435. It’s got a 73 degree seat angle, and it’s got a 65 degree head angle. Much more in keeping with
today’s sort of trail hardtails and trail full suspension bikes. Quite a lot more aggressive. But the really cool thing
about this is the reactor fork. Now this essentially is an
integrated frame and fork. You can’t fit this fork into another bike. Look at the size of
the head tube on there. And you can see this linkage. Now the reason for designing a bike like this back in the 90’s was that, telescopic forks weren’t up
to standard forks now-a-days. So two of the things that
telescopic forks do is A, they change the angle of
your bike as you compress. Of course any fork these
days does the same. And the other thing as well is the fact they’ve had a lot of stiction. So stiction is the friction you have to overcome for the fork to work. These days our forks are really buttery. They feel absolutely incredible. Forks on my Scout are just so
supple over the small bumps. However, that didn’t really, that wasn’t the case in the 90’s. So to get around that
they’ve got this linkage fork which has almost zero stiction on there. And it’s got a proper coil shock mounted inside the head tube there. A coil shock like you find on the back of a full suspension bikes today. Got an axle just on the
rebound, action on there. And I’ve got to say the action of it still feels really really good. It’s incredibly smooth
and incredibly plush. Which for a bike from
1997 is a very rare thing. I can tell you that for sure. So as a telescopic fork compresses, you’re effectively
shortening your wheel base. By having a linkage like this the wheel base isn’t
affected quite so much. In fact it’s barely anything compared to a regular telescopic fork. Cause the nature the fact the fork moves up and forward slightly. It’s quite a linear
action compared to some of the other linkage forks on the market. So it doesn’t affect it’s
geometry quite as much. The head angle doesn’t suffer quite as much as the telescopic fork. However, the fact that it only
works on this particular bike means it is, it wasn’t really something that’s going to carry through to today. But I absolutely love the fact that Nukeproof made this bike. I think it looks absolutely amazing. And the quality of the workmanship on the linkages are just fantastic. Now transmission wise on this bike complacency is gone XTR M950 transmission. So, this was the first of the grey XTR, which to me I think is the
best looking of that era. This was the one I sought after. In fact I had that rear
mech on one of my bikes. In fact I had and old giant
ATX 990 on one of these. So this was eight speed,
triple on the front there. XTL grade unique ring orientation, there. XTR front mech. I’m moving up to the bars. It’s got the lovely STI levers. Shimano total integration
so you’ve got the rapid fire shifter with the down shift
with your finger and the up shift with your thumb, and
a two finger brake louvre. Absolutely beautiful design. They still look fantastic today. Also notice up front they’ve
got some of the early nukeproof carbon fiber handle bars, and
unlike the bars we see today using carbon fiber, you can see, or you can feel the weave
on the outside of the bar. Incredible looking things. I’m kind of amazed it’s still
on one piece to be honest, after all these years. The stem length as you
can see is extremely long. That’s just how it was back in the 90’s. We’ve seen this before in my
other retro vs. modern video, so this is a 135 mil stem
using an a headset design so it clamps onto the steerer,
just like the modern stems. And the bars on these
interestingly to see. So these are a 560. So, that’s a tiny bar. If you consider on my Scout,
I’m running a 35 mil stem. I’m running a full 800 mil bar. Of course the bike is a lot
longer so the cockpit length actually isn’t too dissimilar
to my regular scout. It’s just the wheel position and the whole stretched out look of the
bike is very very different. As for the wheels they’re sun CR 18 rims, laced up on those real
early bombshell hubs. Now you probably noticed
looking at the scout that the wheels look immense on them. They’re so much bigger
and burlier than these, quite as felt where
you see in the reactor, but in reality they’re
probably not that much heavier because they’re made from extremely light weight and very stiff carbon fiber. The FSA wheels on there and
I’m running the tires tubeless, where as on the earlier Reactor bike, that would be running inner tubes. Now the bombshell hubs look amazing. They’ve got the carbon
shell on the middle, it’s almost raw carbon looking at it. And it’s got titanium axle
so they’re extremely light. Now these hubs were so sort
after, back in the day. And I’m really pleased that
you see a set in the flesh cause I haven’t seen
these ever in the flesh. Really really cool to see them. Now although they’re not originals, I’m really pleased to see the reissues, or the remakes of the
Panaracer’s smoke and dart tires. Now these are iconic for back in the day. And their front and rear
specific tires so the smoke out back has got a heavy open paddle design. With quite abrupt shoulders on it. In fact they look quite modern,
actually by all accounts. That’s designed to give you
proportion to get you forward. And then for the control. I kind of got a paddle design, but it’s in the dart basis, so it’s the opposite way around. On the front tire they’ve
designed to help you cut through the stuff to help you aid your cornering. So then on top of that
XTR seat post, out back, a classic flite titanium saddle. Now if you rode in the 90’s you almost certainly you
either had one of those or you desired to have one. That was, and probably
still is by all accounts, one of the most comfortable saddles ever made for a mountain bike. Despite how minimal it looks. The titanium rails on it and the unique sort of profile of the body, once you’ve ridden it for a while, they would just sort of give
and have a really lovely sag. Fantastic for many hours in a saddle. That’s why you saw them
on so many pros bikes. And then the brakes, now this is where it’s
really different now. XTR are brakes absolutely fantastic. It’ some of the best rim cable according to brakes money could buy. Immense mass liveries. They’ve got lovely shoes on them. They use a parallelogram design. And you can change those brake pads in the shoes nice and easy. But really despite how good they work, how much power they gave, you still were subject to the
conditions changing things. When roads got wet and muddy, your brakes didn’t work as well the brake pads would wear our very fast. In muddy conditions. And they’re just not as consistent as the brakes we have today. The brakes on the Scout, phenomenal. Incredibly powerful, incredibly predictable in any situation. And the parts last far much longer by comparison to the earlier bikes. I absolutely love the old
stuff, but there’s no doubt that what we have today is miles better. It’s not even comparable. The stuff that I can do on the Scout, it’s stuff that you simply
couldn’t even fathom doing on the old Reactor. But at the same time, we
kind of have these old bikes to thank for where we are today. Personally, I’ll take a new
bike any day of the week, because the Scout is light enough. You can ride it all day long,
like a cross county bike. But it’s aggressive enough that when the going gets rowdy
it’s really good fun as well. But I just love looking at this old stuff, what do you think of it? I’d love to know what you think
of this crazy looking bike. Especially, that linkage fork, with the coil shock and head tube. I’m taking a guess that a lot of you might not have seen one of these before. I’ve not seen this bike
until, until today in fact. Let us know in the comments. (bike reel sound) well, there you go, that is
the 1997 Nukeproof Reactor. A very cool bike, I’m sure even
if it’s not your preference you’ll appreciate the fact that the amount of work that went into the
designing in this bike. I think it’s really cool. Let us know what you think
of it in the comments below. And if you’ve got a favorite retro bike, let’s hear what it is. Call it out in those comments below and we will feature it on
the next GMBN tech show. Don’t forget to keep an
eye out for all the retro content across GMBN and
GMBN tech over the week. And of course if you want to
see another retro bike’s video, click down here for my
modern vs. retro with the XTR looking at the original M900
all the way through to the M9100, on a couple of very cool bikes. As always, don’t forget to give us a huge thumbs up here at GMBN tech and click that subscribe button. Cheers guys! (retro music) (TV static)


100 thoughts on “Retro Vs. Modern | How Much Have Hardtail Mountain Bikes Changed? | GMBN Retro Week

  1. Any of the Trek Y bikes, I remember wanting one when I first started reading MTB mags.

    Or a Whyte prst, another bike that I really liked. I think I just liked bikes that weren't the usual double triangle and fork…

  2. How about an early 90’s Ritchey, vs a mid 90’s Fisher Supercaliber, vs that nuke proof in some light head to head

  3. I have a handsome dog frame from 1998 still in my shed. I used it for many years commuting and now it is gathering dust in my shed.

  4. I would love to be able to find/ build up my first mountain bike. A 1996 Univega Alpina 504. Then I bought a Rock Shox Judy XC.

  5. Cool bike. Interesting fork, and that DW just now doing linkage fork, similar but with links at wheel end.
    Saw a Cannondale headshok bike (f600 I think, in blue) from 90's on Saturday in Bath…dont tell Martyn!

  6. Never seen it before, but from what I remember from the 90's this bike has been like from the future. Very interesting fork suspension. If they made it compatible with any bike, it might have been really popular.

  7. a toll of this comment section i think would show an average d.o.b. of 1965 — 1975
    all old farts like me no doubt

  8. Gt RTS or LTS, make a review, i had these 2 legends … 1997, 1999… im geting old 🤦🏻‍♂️

  9. I have a 97 klein attitude comp xsmall mtb,hardtail.I bought it knew in 97.Only thing i have changed to it,was the fork,no one fixes them anymore,and i put flat pedals on and took the clips off.It still has the same tires brakes ext.LX andXT are the componets.I love the bike and get great compliaments on how it still looks good.For me being not a hard core rider it works great for me.Will not get rid of it.Some the Retro is just as good as the knew mtb.Ride Safe everyone.🚴✌

  10. I can imagine how my kids in the near future will laugh at my current bike because it's gonna be so "outdated"

  11. The panaracer Smoke tires where the Hoosier tire to us riders in the North America in the 90s, from the dirt racecars aspects.

  12. Bought a pair of NOS NukeProof hubs a couple of years back, and had 'em delivered to a colleagues workplace in the States. Got stolen from her desk by some dick there before I could pick 'em up 🙁

  13. Nuke Proof was originally in Ada, Michigan, East of Grand Rapids. I was partially sponsored by them back in the day, like 94ish. Those hubs were dope, but bad a bad rep of shearing the carbon hub shells from the flanges. THe first set of custom wheels that I ever hand built as a bike shop employee were Nuke Proof carbon hubs, WheelSmith spokes, Mavic 517 ceramic rims, and Salsa rasta color Flip-offs quick release levers. Dope!!. NP, made a Ti hardtail frame for just a year or two I believe. My buddy had it and it was cool, but the bottom bracket shell was flexy as hell. Cool vid!!

  14. That is amazing. Nuke proof was Ferrari level stuff far above my high school pay grade. I remember drooling over that bike and only saw one in the wild at a race in North Jersey. Dart was my go to front tire! I just retired my 95 Voodoo and cannot believe how amazing the bikes are right now. Just bought a full suspension carbon bike and switching back and fourth is a trip. I feel like I'm gonna die on my old bike!!!

  15. Nice bike. My 1st Mt. bike was a 1991 Schwinn Paramount 30, with Deore LX grouppo, paid $500.00 for it. I still have it.

  16. Really enjoying these retro week episodes. That Nuke Proof Reactor is super cool. I have a Bridgestone MB4 that I bought new in 1992 that I still ride several times a week as my commuter bike. Some of the components are original, such as the Shimano LX cranks, hubs, and a Bontrager stem. Other parts have been upgraded over the years. for almost 20 years I had a Rock Shox Mag 21 on it. Sadly I was unable to find anyone who could still rebuild it on a reasonable budget. It now has the stock rigid fork reinstalled. The stock SRAM indexed thumb shifters and Avid brake levers were replaced with the same XTR kit as is on this Reactor, as were the brakes and derailleurs. Everything still works buttery smooth. I still take it out on my local trails a couple times a year as well though most of of my trail riding is now done on a much more modern Stumpjumper FSR.

  17. I loved my Mongoose IBOC with an Amp F1 fork – compared to the shocks of the era, it felt years ahead of its time.
    What about a more in depth look at the Amp B2 bike?

  18. Beautiful bike! Thanks for the walk-through. Regarding the saddle, after years of looking for lightly-used or NOS Flite Ti Gel saddles, I finally gave up when I found that the Flite 1990 saddles were still being produced/sold. I bought three of them…two for two of my bikes, and one to throw into storage for future use. I'm still using the Flite Ti Gel on my Big Fat Dummy cargo bike, and it's still as comfortable as it was on other bikes of mine almost 20 years ago. Oh, my daughter has one of those Nuke Proof hubs on the front of her townie bike (laced to Velocity Deep V rims).

  19. You know… that bike is not that different from modern bikes. Modern bikes are better, but not "miles better". This bike from '97 has an Aluminum frame, carbon fiber handles, threadless headset. quick release seat clamp, and while it's proprietary, a front fork that dampens bumps.

    Compare and contrast to the bikes on my channel. I just gave away two really retro 3 speed bikes. Retro enough that the Schwinn had a Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub.

  20. I've just wasted money trying my best to lamb up my mutton cube analog. Spent more than£800 on it. Given up on the frame now. It's not as good as it looks. A pretender aggressive hardtail.. may as well have been decorating a turd.

  21. Those xtr brakes worked great but the linkages always developed rattle so I used to tie them with an elastic band . Some great kit there though and I'm loving that fork reminds me of the Girvin and AMP forks back then but in way better by Integrating the shock into the headtube. Bit like a headshox and an amp combined.

  22. My Grisley- BH Mega have really oversize tubes, double that ones. But looks impresive and different. In the 90´s we had the Marzochis Bomber Z2 or Z3 that are quite shoft even today and feels modern. That Nuke looks really nice, very nice componentes but the hubs were a nihgtmare.

  23. 1997 or 98 Trek ZX8500. Bonded aluminum tubes, full Shimano XT group, etc. Very, very light. Hated the long stem since day 1. That was changed within a couple years. Bought it new and still have it. My Specialized Fuse Pro is infinitely better, but my vintage Trek is something I can never part with.

  24. I just picked up a Mongoose Pro NX 7.3 from ‘99 for $100 and I’ve been in love with it so far! Been riding it for the Great Cycle Challenge and looking forward to riding more. Really wanna try some trails soon rather than just roads

  25. I've had that rear Derailleur as a rapid rise version and those brakes and they work well in all conditions. It's all about the pads and levers that you use that make the difference

  26. I still use my Kona Kiluea 20" from I think 95-96 and i love it but i change within a year my handlebar to an World force downhill handlebar and a 70mm stem everyone laughing about how funny it looked. Only thing I am still looking for are one contemporary fork with 100- 120mm from marzocchi or rockshox but most of them are junk to short steeringtube or no parts too rebuild. Latest change was 2×10, derailleur and shifters some years ago because the old stuff was worn out but they are laughing but think it is cool because I still use it.

    I have tried "new" HT with all the new stuff what makes me most jealous is the disc brakes but I can't get everything.

  27. Every old MTB rides like hell ! I have a 1992 Alpinestars AlMega XTR and I only ride once a month ! My stem is also huge and the bike feels so flexy and springy ! but everywhere I go you can see someone looking over or asking questions 🙂

  28. Would love to see the mountain cycle san andreas, back in the way when I was still a young lad, still remember when this bike came in to the local shop, queues of people just to have a glimpse of it!

  29. I guess you have to consider, for what kind of terrain the bikes of that era were made for. If you look at the XC course of the 1996 Games in Atlanta, which was the first appearance of MTBs in the Olympics at all, this wasn't remotly as the m technical as today. And if you ride a modern bike like yours in it, I guess it might be even slower due to it's weight.
    Bikes I would love to get a review of:
    AMP B3
    Cannondale Raven
    Rocky Mountain Element TO
    Any Yeti
    Trek 9900
    GT Xizang or Zaskar LE
    Sunn DH Bikes

  30. That moment when more than half of the “classic” components featured are still on your main hardtail… 😭

  31. Doddy, I think to make this a truly complete retro bike review, a thorough shake down ride is absolutely necessary, perhaps over a number of days (at the GMBN Scientific Test Facilitates) – strictly for educational purposes of course! (And some modifications for Martyn to get in on the action – Nuke Proof Tandem)!

  32. Mono shock. I've always that they were better and technology that needed to be improved. I've always loved my Cannondale headshok with lockout. I don't care what anyone says. It was revolutionary and should have been improved rather than scrapped for a shock fork or lefty.

    Smoke on the rear and Dart the front was an incredible tire combination.

  33. This thing is awesome, especially with those Browning like forks. Absolutely gorgeous. Although the original XTR is still my favourite, lookswise at least

  34. i could go for the usual suspects as my fav retro bike but i will pick my first mtb (1988 dawes ascent ht mtb that i got for xmas er 1988). it was the first mountain bike i ever owned and i did my first 100 miles on it in 1990 when i was 15 (devizes to reading and back). i got back just in time to watch the tdf on channel 4 lol. good times 👍

  35. Love these videos. I prefer the XTR M960 in the anodised gun metal just looks so classy even today, I have just put this crank on my Klein attitude along with original Hope M4 brakes ( so yes mine is a 2003/7 Trek Made Klein, but it does come with disc mounts unlike the older models ). I would love to see you do a review on a HT like the Klein with a high end XTR groupset quality disc brakes modern rims/tyres and forks etc then compare with a modern HT around the 2k mark with the retro when cleaned serviced new/quality second hand parts costing 600 – 800.
    Same again on a full sus bike I have a K2 Proflex 4000 with carbon swingarm and that bike for me was a true all rounder I could keep up with XC uphill and keep up with DH bikes as well going back down,

    So please buy/loan some retro bikes do some good upgrades and then test them against modern 2K HT and 2.5k full sus bikes I think the only people who will not like the videos will be the bike manufacturers.

  36. Hi GMBN firstly love your work a true wonderful source of knowledge
    I wonder if you can help me
    I’m looking for a front mudguard but cannot find one anywhere ! I have an Öhlins RFX 36 on my Enduro coil, I love it , but eating less mud would be good !

  37. I'm still riding my hardtail Handsomedog (2001) which has a cheapo RST sus fork and 26" wheels. I originally set it up in 3×7 mode but it's now a road commuter and 1×1 with mudguards, Schwalbe City Jet slicks and drop bars (!) with special Tektro levers for V brakes. In the old MTB config I rode the Marin Trail (Llanrwst) on it 3 times and it was a decent off roader with WTB tyres.

  38. GMBN, love your shows and appreciate all the hard work into each, please please do a feature/video on the Mountain Cycle San Andreas, that will be really awesome… thank you guys in advance : )

  39. he picks this old bike to compare???  cmon dude nobody has or can get that bike.. what were you thinking??  get 2001 trek 8500 or something.. this is just dumb.

  40. A super cool bike from back in the day for sure but I remember having an AMP linkage fork and it was a nightmare. If the squeaky pivots didn't drive you nuts the linkage would blow up on the trail form time to time. I still loved it though as it was the lightest thing going back then. I kept spare c-clips and bushing in my bag just in case. Cool bike for it's time but I certainly prefer my Giant Trance 2. That Nukeproof fork does remind me of the old Pro Flex fork though..CB

  41. #askgmbntech What is the proper way to store your bike for winter? Where I live there will be snow till April or May. I won't ride a gain untill spring.

  42. Always lusred after the Nuke Proof brand back in the day, had a bull horn style handlebar thin aluminum inner bar wrapped in woven carbon fiber, first spill they were toast. Love the fork on this bike.

  43. I had a 98 aluminum frame specialized on the day, pretty much the same as what's around today with the exception everything had a 26 inch wheel, most bikes had Rim brakes. The forks were decent. You know RockShox Manito were around. There was no such thing as crappy Suntour Forks ( I still can't believe people pay money for those things) One thing I do miss though is an inexpensive set of cranks in 98 we're just as good if not better then expensive pair of cranks in 2019. Nowadays if you don't have good cranks they Flex, you never saw that back then. They may not have been the lightest but they were solid.

  44. The first time seeing the Girvin style fork in the configuration. I think you're comparing two different purpose bikes here. The old Nuke Proof is designed for twisty cross country were as the Scout is designed for downhill freeride were pedaling is minimal.

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