The Longest Running Name in Bikes

Just in case you’re feeling some deja vu here, yes I have posted this before. I have a bad habit of changing blog platforms on a whim, so I have posts all over hell’s half-internet, on four different sites.

I’ve decided that this is going to be the home of TeamCow for the foreseeable future, so I’d like to get everything together. This is one of the many posts that I thought was quite good, or at very least, one that I spent a lot of time on.

I posted this nearly a year ago, so it’s still mostly relevant.

Nowadays for any product to last in the marketplace for more than five years without changing or being renamed is very unusual. People are always needing something new, so names and configurations change often.

In the automotive world, the Porsche 911 has existed for 51 years with a 6 cylinder boxer engine mounted behind the rear wheels. Purists would argue that it’s not air cooled anymore, but the fact that it lasted 51 years with such a screwball arrangement is nothing short of incredible.

Since 1953 the Chevrolet Corvette has been a sports car with a front mounted engine, two seats, and fiberglass bodywork. It’s had highs and lows for sure, but ever since it got a V8 engine in 1954, it has been the quintessential American sports car – for 60 years.

Earlier I wrote about the Rocky Mountain Blizzard fatbike, and that prior to it becoming a fatbike, it was the longest running, unchanged bike name ever.

But then I started to wonder if that was actually the case.

2005 Blizzard

2005 Rocky Mountain Blizzard

My ’05 Blizzard is the 20th Anniversary Edition, which would mean the first Blizzard was made in ’84.  There is a French wikipedia site that claims the Blizzard debuted in 1984, but that’s probably because someone did the same math I just did here.  The oldest Rocky catalog I can find is from 1987, but I don’t see much reason for them to lie about it, because it really doesn’t matter.

The Blizzard is now an aluminium fatbike, but as a steel hardtail, it lasted till 2012, which gives it 27 years.

1995 Specialized Stumpjumper

1995 Specialized Stumpjumper

Now, I’m sure someone out there is already racing to the comment box to correct me because the Specialized Stumpjumper debuted in 1982. And it’s still in Specialized’s lineup today, which would make it’s run 31 years.

Except that it doesn’t count.

Yes, there are – I hope you’re sitting down – 21 models of Stumpjumpers available in 2014. Everything from the Stumpjumper Expert Carbon World Cup, to the Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon Evo 650B. But not one of them are steel hardtails like the original.

My best research says the last year for a steel Stumpjumper was 1996, giving it only a 15 year run as a steel hardtail.

Sorry Specialized…

Our next contender is from a brand you might not know, but they’ve been making mountain bikes since 1983; Jamis. I don’t write about them much, mostly because you don’t see them around much. But if they’ve lasted this long, they must know what they’re doing.

1996 Jamis Dragon

1996 Jamis Dragon

In 1993, the Jamis Dragon debuted with a Tange Prestige steel frame. Go to their website and you’ll see the 2014 Dragon, in two models; a Reynolds 853 variant, and one made from Reynolds 520, both of which are steel.

That gives the Dragon a 21 year run as a continuous model, which is very impressive, especially considering that they’re a (somewhat) big company still making a steel mountain bike.

I am giving it a bit of a break though, because it’s changed from a 26″ wheel bike to a 650B bike.

1997 Moots YBB

1997 Moots YBB

That leaves just one more bike that I can think of. In 1987, Moots began building their YBB (Why be beat?) model in steel. This frame involved a spring at the seat stay/top tube junction, forming what’s known today as the softtail. A design copied by countless manufacturers.

By 1991, Moots had switched to titanium, the material that they’re so well known for today. And just like in 1991, you can get one with 26″ wheels. By my count, that gives the YBB 25 years of uninterrupted production.

By the way, if you ever come across a Moots, take the time to examine it up close – the welds especially – and it will make you wonder where the trained monkeys that welded your bike came from. Seriously – nothing out there (except for maybe an Independent Fabrications Ti) is welded better than a Moots.

So, after all that, the Blizzard still has the title.  In 2017 though, it will pass to the Moots YBB, I have no doubt of that.  Because for a lot of people, once you’ve experienced just how sexy a titanium is in person, no carbon frame can compare.

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