Faceoff: Retro vs modern cross country bikes

See what has (and hasn't) changed in two decades

Cross Country Video
How does a Klein hardtail from the 90s stack up to the latest XC bike from Canyon?

How does a Klein hardtail from the 1990s stack up to the latest XC race machine from Canyon? (click to enlarge)

Whenever Mtbr posts a review of a new bike or product there’s always some retro grouch ready to complain about the cost and perceived value of the latest and greatest. While we’ve all been burned in recent years by a string of new wheel sizes and standards, it really is impressive how far technology has evolved over the past 20 years. Just take a look at this video, where former World Cup downhill racer Neil Donoghue tries to keep up with a modern cross-country hardtail while riding a bike from the 1990s.


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  • Slohr says:

    One point left out of the conversation was “speed.” Yes, the 29er is faster. But for us who aren’t regular racers, isn’t the goal the amount of fun had in a set time period? Looks to me like he was having a lot of fun on that old bike. Haven’t been on my 26er in a while, but I feel like I do a whole lot more riding in the same distance than I do with my 29er.

    • Chaz says:

      Yep, it is all focused on speed, just like most of the mountain biking articles. Sometimes it’s fun to enjoy the ride and scenery rather than just be focused on how fast you can finish the trail. I read an article about some guys in a stage race who purposely road at the back of the pack, just barely making the cut-off times. At the end, they presented a slide show of all they had seen. The guy who came in second place said all he saw over the 3 days was the tire of the rider in front of him. Of course, it was a race though.

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