8spd: Bike gear from yesteryear

Featuring the Giant ATX One, Troy Lee's first full-face helmet and more

In the same week that Campagnolo officially released its first 12-speed groupset (oh, and we've had a go on it too), we've turned back the clock and dropped back down to 8 cogs in order to celebrate bikes and bits from years gone by, and it's all been done as a retro nod to the return of the UK's biggest mountain bike festival — the Malverns Classic

After almost two decades out of the game, 2018 will see riders return to the iconic venue that is Eastnor Deer Park in Malvern, Herefordshire for what is tipped to be an event like no other.

Taking place on 15–17 June, the Malverns Classic is a family-friendly weekend for those who love mountain bikes. The weekend will be packed with exciting races, three full days of bike demos and live music and DJs to recapture the party atmosphere the Malverns was always known for.

BikeRadar has teamed up with the organisers of the Malverns Classic to offer our readers a special price on tickets, with 10 percent off weekend tickets, too.

Check out some of the memorable kit from years gone by that various BikeRadar staffers and a few of our friends have found and pulled out after a rummage through drawers, sheds and workshops.

’96 Giant ATX One

For its time, the ATX was truly a Giant (badum tish) leap forward
For its time, the ATX was truly a Giant (badum tish) leap forward

The late '90s brought an influx of dedicated downhill machines, but few had as much influence as Giant’s ATX.

The ATX One was a pin up for many of us here at the BikeRadar office who grew up watching the likes of Myles Rockwell and Rob Warner dominate on these bikes.

It's without a few parts and is certainly missing a bit of paint, but this particular ATX One really is not in bad shape
It's without a few parts and is certainly missing a bit of paint, but this particular ATX One really is not in bad shape

So ahead of its time was the ATX that it was still delivering wins at the highest level many years after its release. In fact, today’s downhill bikes are a refinement of the parameters that bikes such as the ATX determined.  There’s a particularly nice one on eBay right now, too.

For a real throwback on an ATX with unrivalled race heritage, head on over to James Huang's previous bike check on Myles Rockwell's 2000 Giant ATX One.

Suntour SVX derailleur

Suntour's SVX rear derailleur
Suntour's SVX rear derailleur

This derailleur represented something of the beginning of the end for Suntour.

Once a true titan of the drivetrain world, Suntour fell on hard times following the failure of its ‘Tech’ series derailleurs in the early '80s.

In response to this, Suntour essentially retooled its much loved and once revolutionary VX derailleur, added some Allen-head bolts and a natty ‘futuristic’ logo that was fitting of the era.

There’s no denying the derailleur looked good — the handsome grey finish is something of a precursor to the aesthetic moves Shimano would make with its mountain bike groupsets in years to come — but as derailleur encyclopaedia Disraeli Gears put it, “no amount of makeup could hide the fact that this was mutton dressed as lamb”.

You can read more about the SVX derailleur and more about the history of the Suntour VX lineup on Disraeli Gears.

MET Scattotech Helmet

We need help identifying this early MET helmet
We need help identifying this early MET helmet

Mountain Biking UK’s Jimmer gave over this classic MET helmet specifically for this article. In contrast to his own youthful image, the MET has not grown old particularly gracefully.

This helmet may well be older than Jack Luke himself
This helmet may well be older than Jack Luke himself

So old is this lid that Jimmer himself can’t even remember its model name. Calling our retrobike fans — can you name this lid? Here’s a chance to school us on period polystyrene. Answers in the comment section, please.

Update: The MET featured is actually a Scattotech, as pointed out by eagle–eyed reader 'Old guy' and confirmed by MET.

The Scattotech was an early aerodynamic helmet design produced between 1989 and 1996. It was available in two sizes and composed of two shells glued together. The EPS foam of the Scattotech was polished in an anthracite colour and its shell was one of the first to be fluoro yellow. 

Hope C2 hydraulic disc brake

Mountain bike disc brakes have now seen more than two decades of refinement
Mountain bike disc brakes have now seen more than two decades of refinement

The fit and forget nature of today’s hydraulic disc brakes is something that most of us take for granted, but we’ve sure come a long way.

One of the first hydraulic disc brake designs to enjoy real success was Hope’s C2. Hope wanted a disc brake that was totally drag-free and so chose to make the hydraulic system for the C2 a closed one.

Rub-free braking was only ever a twiddle of the knurled adjuster knob at the top of the lever, which brought the brake’s pads farther away from or closer to the disc rotor.

Today's open system hydraulic disc brakes don't require the adjuster that many of Hope's oldest brakes used
Today's open system hydraulic disc brakes don't require the adjuster that many of Hope's oldest brakes used

But unlike the open system brakes of today, the closed system C2 could not automatically compensate for the fluid expansion caused by heat build-up during braking efforts.

This expansion brought the caliper pistons and therefore the pads closer to the disc, meaning using the brake’s adjusters became a necessity for riding that was demanding on brakes.

This didn’t stop the Hope C2 becoming an incredibly popular brake that many pro riders simply had to have on their race bikes — regardless of their sometimes-conflicting sponsors.

Dainese Rudy Project pressure suit

BikeRadar's Jack Luke posing in Rudy Project armour from Dainese
BikeRadar's Jack Luke posing in Rudy Project armour from Dainese

Many of us would be sporting significantly more scars if it weren't for armour such as this early Dainese suit.

Made famous by pioneers such as Philippe Perakis, body armour quickly became as much about making a fashion statement as it did about safety. 

The articulating spine section went on to be copied by pretty much everyone
The articulating spine section went on to be copied by pretty much everyone

Troy Lee Designs Edge TL Comp helmet

Familiar curves, even now
Familiar curves, even now

This amazing looking helmet can trace its roots back to an unusual design from motorcycle helmet manufacturer Shoei. Troy Lee himself ended up purchasing the design and reworking it with an experimental fibreglass chin-bar and a new peak. 

When the Edge TL Comp and its add-on chin-bar  — the Race Face — made production it offered the protection the pros were looking for and became the helmet of choice for many of mountain biking's biggest names.

A 1997 Troy Lee Designs Edge Comp complete with Race Face chin guard
A 1997 Troy Lee Designs Edge Comp complete with Race Face chin guard

It's not hard to see how many of today's helmet designs still owe so much to the Edge. For an in-depth look at how this lid came to be, plus more TLD history, head across to this excellent article by Factory Jackson.

Claud Butler CB Tourer

This Claud Butler Tourer would have been one of the brand's entry level models
This Claud Butler Tourer would have been one of the brand's entry level models

This humble Claud Butler CB Tourer would have been one of the brand's entry level models back when it was first released.

I don't think anybody misses suicide levers
I don't think anybody misses suicide levers

The bike features all the tropes of cheap bikes of the day, with suicide levers, Reynolds 501 ‘gas pipe’ tubing and derailleur with an integrated hanger.

Goodness knows how many bikes were made of Reynold's entry-level tubing
Goodness knows how many bikes were made of Reynold's entry-level tubing

It’s fun to look back and see how much bikes have come along in the ensuing years — even the cheapest entry-level road bikes look like superbikes in comparison to those of only a short 30-ish years ago.

Deutsche Telekom/Pinarello Tour de France yellow jersey

This yellow jersey from Nalini pays homage to Ullrich's memorable 1997 TdF win
This yellow jersey from Nalini pays homage to Ullrich's memorable 1997 TdF win

Made by Nalini to celebrate Jan Ulrich’s victory in the 1997 Tour de France, this Italian-made polyester piece is a classy reproduction made to celebrate the iconic victory which saw Ulrich win with a margin of almost ten minutes. Is it just us, or did everything look better in the '90s?

Oli Woodman

Section Editor, UK
With more than 10 years of experience riding mountain bikes, Oli knows the good from the bad when it comes to gear. He's a total bike nerd and loves few things more than fettling with spangly riding bits. Also, he seems to have a talent for crashing hard but emerging unscathed.
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Loamy singletrack
  • Current Bikes: Marin Pine Mountain, Pinnacle Dolomite
  • Dream Bike: Honda RN01
  • Beer of Choice: Corona
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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