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Can You Ride A Retro Bike Fast? | GMBN Retro Week

Can You Ride A Retro Bike Fast? | GMBN Retro Week


(energetic pop music) – Okay, so we’re right in
the middle of Retro Week here on GMBN. Hopefully you’ve seen those
retro t-shirts, super cool. Not wearing one today,
’cause it’s really muddy. And I thought, it’s time to do a How To. How to ride your retro bike fast. And that actually got me thinking, is it possible to ride a retro bike fast? So, I’ve dug out my oldest bike. This is my very first mountain bike. It’s a 1990 Kona Lava Dome, and I’m going to take this off-road for the first time in a very long time, and try and ride it fast. Right, this is a Kona Lava Dome from 1990, or it might be 1989. I’m finding it quite hard to find all the details about it, to be honest. But I bought this bike in 1995, I think, for about 200 pounds. And this was my first
ever, proper mountain bike. Back in the day when a mountain bike basically did everything. There was not really downhill bikes or cross-country bikes at that time. Basically bought this
bike to ride off-road. I used it for my paper round,
and for racing downhill when I very first started out. Obviously now, it’s a real
dog’s dinner to look at. It’s got a mismatch of bits. I’m missing the original Project 2, which was in that splatter paint. I upgraded to a Marzocchi
XCR, I think it’s called, and blew it up. It really wasn’t up for the
type of riding I was doing. But still some original parts, still got some wheels that I upgraded to. Some Shimano XT hubs from the mid-90s, they’re still going strong,
never had new bearings in there. Snowflake front wheel,
if you’ve seen that. You don’t get those any more,
definitely not very strong. Also, these wheels aren’t very straight, and I’ve got V-brakes on
this bike, another upgrade. And actually, they do rub quite a lot. Because nowadays, obviously, pretty much all bikes
come with disc brakes. It doesn’t really matter if your rims are a little bit buckled. Okay, I have upgraded some parts, I’ve put some cheap V-brakes on there, ’cause I use this as my pub
bike and my commuter now. And it’s got a mismatch of bits I found in the back of my garage. So, got new Shimano cheap cranks, some old Crankbrothers pedals. I’ve got a brand new XT rear mech, ’cause the other one broke. I’ve got some new Trail
King Conti tires on there, because the old ones are
just basically threadbare. So, some stuff has been upgraded. Of course, it’s the same old geometry. So I want to see basically
how it rides today. (upbeat electronic music) Riding this bike cross-country
felt all right, actually. Yes, definitely rough,
definitely quite jittery. But, it all feels efficient. Obviously, it’s a fully-rigid bike. Pretty light, as well. And it feels like you really have to pedal to actually get somewhere. It’s hard to compare it to
a modern cross-country bike like those winning the XCO races now, mainly full-suspension with lock-outs and dropper posts and things. But, in sort of a nostalgic way, riding cross-country felt all right. Now it’s time for the downhill track and putting a timer on that. And it feels really sketchy already, just riding it up the
fire road to the top. I can’t believe I used to
race downhill on this bike. The bars on it feel really low. It feels like it’s going
to be just sketchy, like hardly any grip, because there’s just no
suspension of course. The tires are pretty thin. It’s all I could find online actually, is 2.2s on 26-inch wheels. So I’m definitely not
going to have much grip. As you can tell, it’s raining
and I’ve got rim brakes. Yes, they’re V-brakes, but already look at the state of that. It’s all gray muck you get on the rim. They’re going to take
a couple of revolutions to start working properly, so they’re not going to be very good. So I’m starting to feel
a little bit nervous about trying to ride this
bike fast down a hill. When I raced it, I used to have a suspension
fork on the front, which definitely helps. But also it jacks the
front end up just enough to make it feel all right. So, at the moment, it feels super low. I’m getting a bit worried. (upbeat electronic music) Wow, that was so sketchy. This is with the back brake fully on, hitting the bar… Please don’t make me do that again Jack. The Kona Lava Dome was
just like the other bikes at the time. This was before super-lightweight
cross-country bikes, or even full-suspension downhill bikes. So that was your all-around mountain bike. So I think it’s quite good to compare it to something like this. This is my Canyon Spectral,
a trail bike, mid-travel. You can buy a bike like this
down the budget end of things, for about a thousand pounds. Your entry-level mountain bikes. Or you can get a Canyon
Spectral like this. Yes, it’s got the 2020
Shimano XT on there, the luxuries of brand
new RockShox suspension, which is definitely going
to make a difference. But I think it is the
geometry, the suspension, the components, that make
these bikes so capable. So, how much faster are they? (laid-back electronic music) So, can you ride a retro bike fast? Well, somewhat. It definitely feels fast,
until you get some perspective, then you realize actually
how slow you’re going. It’s a really difficult thing to ride, especially in those conditions. And I know I’m going to get
called out, saying that some of these parts on the bike
aren’t completely original. To be honest, it didn’t really
matter, because the things that really let this bike down
are the old-school geometry, the fact that the brakes were terrible. By the end of the day, the rear
brake wasn’t working at all. So I can now pull it, hit
the bar, and it does nothing, even though it still rubs on the rim. So, on the cross-country, I was two minutes slower on this bike. 16 minutes on my new bike,
18 minutes on the old bike. And it felt really hard. I guess it was kind of new
XCO-style, where there’s roots, it’s kind of technical,
not a lot of smooth stuff. And even on the climbs, I was
bouncing over those roots. Especially on the downhills, I was pulling as hard as
I could on the brakes, and sometimes when my bike was bouncing, it was leaving the ground, and that was when the
front wheel was locking up. Because it went light, because
the bike was just moving around all over the place. So, it’s difficult to compare
it to a full-suspension bike, but it’s definitely a bone shaker. On the downhill track, again,
much slower as you’d expect. It felt really, really slow. And it really was down to the brakes, as much as anything. Two minutes twenty on my Canyon Spectral. Three minutes dead on this bike. So, you can’t ride them very
fast, but that’s not the point. It was good fun riding this
bike again, taking it off-road, getting it back into its natural habitat. I think you would have to
upgrade it quite a lot more, to make this bike work nearly as well as a modern hardtail. But, it’s fun to do it, and
it’s time to retire this bike back to its commuting status, I think. Stick my mud guards back on
it, stick my slicks back on it. And that’s what it shall be. Right, hope you’ve enjoyed Retro Week. There’s plenty more to come this week. Check out these t-shirts, don’t know if you can see it up there, but this is one I helped design. These are available in the shop now. And if you want to see some
more videos from Retro Week, click over there for those ones. Thumbs up if you liked watching me get bounced around on a very old bike.

100 comments on “Can You Ride A Retro Bike Fast? | GMBN Retro Week

  1. John Tomac could come out of retirement today on a drop bar rigid and smoke everybody watching/posting on this video.

    There is no replacement for rider skill.

  2. I was surprised how close it actually was, I was expecting much larger margins. Think that's more down to Niels gigantic balls though! 😅

  3. My first "mtn bike" was a Schwinn Marada. At least that's what I tried to use for. Cantilever brakes completely useless. I rode it as hard as I could , for what it was.

  4. what your little brother thinks.. it must fell like a shaky chair thing while riding. no i do not think so

  5. My bike is a 99 Kona Muni-mula with a frame a bit big for me. Is there anything I can do to upgrade the ergonomics and make it feel more modern?

    Btw the bike has held up extremely well for its age…

  6. I'm reading a lot of questions about the age of retro, please correct me but my understanding is that any old bike with modern components is retro? Anything over 20 years old is a collector item? Anything over 30 years old is a classic? And anything over 50 years old is a antique?

  7. Wow, and to imagine that THAT was all we had. Even worst in 1990, when I bought my first MTB. 😉 …Got to love technology and innovation, for sure!

  8. A bit harsh I thought. Some v-brakes are better than others. My xt ones work perfectly well on my Caldera. Disk brakes are crap too if not set up properly.

  9. Neil "I've dug out my oldest bike (on which I've changed everything but the frame and saddle)" Donaghue :¬/

  10. I’ve only ever ridden a ridged retro bike just because it was free from when my dad rode in the early 90’s. And I love every second of it.

  11. 5:58 Whoa, check out the super slo-mo of that flying insect at the bottom of the screen. You can see wings flapping!

  12. Loving the Retro Week intro!😀
    I like the fact that Neil upgraded and modernized his Lavadome. A new drivetrain, modern tires, fresh brakes, and a shorter stem and wider bars will always go a
    long way in making a retro bike ride better.
    Awesome vid and keep up the great work GMBN!😀😀👍🏻👊🏻

  13. Neil will not be winning any continuity awards for this one, with the mindbogglingly quick wardrobe changes and pedals that transform from flats into clips in a blink of an eye :¬P

  14. It's no surprise that a retro bike – especially rigid – is going to be competitive with any bike approaching modern geometry, brakes, and wheel size (pretty much everything else can be upgraded). The real question when it comes to older tech is, can you have fun on the modern trails. Neil said it felt fast and claimed to have "good fun". 25-30 years ago this is what we were riding so I have to think we can still have fun on them.

  15. Once upon a time there were no disc brakes and a lot of bikes didn’t even have front suspension. The glory days lol.

  16. I'm visiting my grandparents in the US and I'm riding an old trek steel bike fully rigid and 3×7 gearing.
    So sketchy and scary but a lot of fun.
    If anyone wants a challange take a bike like that or any bike and ride jungle habitat in new jersey.

  17. Looks like you still can have a bit of fun on the old dog. You have to remember the first trail bikes were just BMX cruisers that had huge tires. So with a retro, it's just more about the fun than it is competition.

  18. Everything is relative, like Neil says, it felt fast on the retro bike, but then you ride a modern bike and it's effortlessly quicker.

  19. this guy has no mechanical ability at all …. just a dumb rider. adjust the bikes geometry yourself meathead. a man can true a rim on the trail in 2 minutes and rim brakes perfect when installed correctly… most on have half pad contact patch because clown like this can't wrench

  20. Why are you going full on super retro? What about early '00 full squish bikes?
    Are they too good and damaging to new-bike sales?

  21. I don’t know why everyone trashes old mountain bikes in this style because they’re super hard to ride. Even if it’s not smooth he could still control the bike fine. People did mountain bike before all these fancy parts and stuff and they enjoyed it. I understand when he said the old school geometry just because the different way people ride the bikes. But in the other than the brake issue which just takes some adjusting the bike worked fine. I think these bike deserve more credit in shaping the sport in to what it is today.

  22. I've got a 1994 Univega Alpine 504 racelite steel framed retro bike and i love it. But being based in Suffolk the trails near me are a lot tamer.

  23. Love it! My mate rode his completely stock 2001 vintage Trek 8000 at our first trip to 417 flyup. All was going well until he ended up on the floor on the last table top jump of Dubby Skipper! Still, it was a fun day out.

  24. Loving the retro week, but that's not really a retro bike, more of a shitheap thats been left to rust, used for pub trips and had random bits chucked on it over the years (don't get me started on those brakes, there not retro just cheap Halford rubbish). If you found a decent high end old bike in good condition then it would still be a lot of bone shaking fun to ride.

  25. Neil, convert it to a ghetto road/gravel as I do with my vintages. The geometry is close enough, and why not?

  26. It's definitely a 1989 model as I had a 1989 White Kona Cindercone that had the same splatter paint finish. My mate still owns it……I'm gonna have to try and get it back I think!!

  27. Great vid, loving retro week. I started mountain biking back on a splatter paint Kona Fire Mountain, so this brought back some good memories. As a question do you think there is any value in riding a retro bike? e.g forcing you to read the trail more, pick lines etc, that can then be used to improve your riding on a modern XC / DH bike?

  28. Doddy should" top mod" the three clunckers and then retro modified rematch. More fun than just fitting new tech.
    magura hs, new contis, wide bars and short stem maybe better shocks

  29. Our group did a retro ride two weeks ago.
    My Coventry Eagle Connect is still all original components inc the chain oil I suspect.
    Did me well on the Cornwall coast to coast trail inc a run through Poldice and Unity woods!! On Schwalbe Land Cruiser tyres that haven't seen air for a few years no less.

    Part of me wants to just fix up as is for a local path rider, part of me wants to see if a coil fork I have would fit which would give front disc at least and a shorter stem wider bar.
    The quill stem and rusted out handle bar are the only squeaky bits.

  30. Would u say that the continental trail king tires would be good for riding on gravel and dirt roads?

  31. How come the brakes on the retro bike dont work but you went slower on it ??
    I understand it has no suspension but🤷

  32. You seem to be missing a front mech and 2 chain-rings 😉

    And Panaracer Fire XC Pro's, 2.2 – or Smoke and Dart re-issues.

  33. Sorry if I missed this but what happened to the project 2 forks?
    Also, how about a retro MTB v modern Gravel bike video?

  34. He used that thing to race downhill and for trail riding, now motherfuckas would laugh at you for riding 100mm travel on trails. The level of pickiness of these bearded-techjobhaving-I-just-got-my-first-job-so-I-will-shit-on-anyone-who-ain't-got-money yuppies knows no boundaries. I like cycling and probably like most folks who ride but, saying you gotta have a particular travel in order to be able to do a particular task is just ridiculous. You can ride it if you want to. I have a Giant Anthem 3 full suspension which I would consider a trail bike, and I have come to the conclusion this bike is a do it all bike. It is mad fast on asphalt, it climbs like a goat, I have ridden all kinds of trails with it, it will take drops and gaps if I was that suicidal to go airborne. Fuck outta here.

  35. I still ride a '95 Schwinn Homegrown full suspension. Got it from a friend in '01. Love it. Before that I was riding a '92 or '93 Cannondale.

  36. Year 2050 dude: So can you ride a retro 2019 canyon spectral bike? well, somewhat it feels fast until you realize how slow you are going with it.

  37. That retro bike seems poorly maintained. My v-brakes don't fail like that in rainy conditions. So I think the lack of confidence on the equipment is probably the real cause for the big difference in times. I think in other conditions times wouldn't be THAT different. But the modern bike would still be faster.

  38. I still love riding my 20 year old Inbred with about 2.5 inches of front suspension. But it’s not as fast as my current Orange 5. Possibly just as exciting though 😉

  39. 4:11 That's Graphene on Neil's wheels, clearly! He's using some high tech upgrades on this pub bike ha ha ha ha
    On the other hand it makes me sad to think just how many bikes like this ended up in the trash for the only fault they had – being old. Sooo many could have been donated. Yeah I know donating "fish" to say africa or india is no good, but when I visualise just how many bikes have been trashed over the years…

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