I am being 100% honest with you when I saw that I am not one of those ‘vintage was waaay better man!’ guys. I remember riding my Bridgestone a couple years ago, and thinking I’d try it on some of the root infested, technical trails we have all over the river valley here in Edmonton.
It was terrible. I could barely keep my hands on the bars. And I was worried the whole time about how this very lightweight steel frame – with a reputation for breaking – was handling the punishment of the trail, and the very not lightweight rider pounding it through the roots.
So, I would say unequivocally, that the general off road riding experience has been improved since 1990. V-brakes, and disc brakes, better forks, proper rear suspension – all of these have made mountain biking better.
But, I am convinced that there is something about vintage bikes that modern bikes don’t have. Some intangible factor that existed in the early days that you don’t see now. And this early 90’s GT Karakoram just might show us what that is.
I’m a traditionalist when it comes to forks. We’re going to look at a few attempts to improve upon the traditional “telescopic” fork design, but none of them hold any interest to me as a thing I’d actually want to ride. Fun to look it, but I’ll stick with a Judy or a Bomber thank you.
This is what was so great about mountain bikes in the late 80’s though – everyone came to the party. They brought some good ideas, and some very bad ideas, but ultimately none of them were able to overcome the telescopic fork that 99% of us ride today.
Let’s have a look at these weird forks.
It had been quite a while since I had bought any parts, or a bike, so when these popped up, I jumped on them – some beauty Canadian stuff right here.
Syncros and RaceFace
It’s a Syncros Cattle Head hinged stem, and a Race Face SYStem DH model. I think the Syncros will be nice on my Dekerf, but I don’t have a bike for the RF right now.
But don’t ever let a minor detail like that stop you from buying more stuff.
Haro was founded by Bob Haro in 1978, and is most well known for its BMX bikes. Haro was known as the “Father of Freestyle” and his company got in on the BMX boom’s ground floor in the 80’s.
In the late 80’s Haro started producing mountain bikes. And not just any plain old bike. They didn’t just throw some Shimano parts on a steel diamond frame. They were out there. They made a big splash and that helped make them a very popular bike in the vintage world.
They still sell BMX and mountain bikes, but we don’t care about that – let’s look at the old ones.