What is the greatest hardtail of all-time?
This is a hard question to answer, and I don’t think that even I can say for sure what I think it is. I can come up with a top five though, with the caveat that the five bikes are pretty interchangeable.
So, let’s get right to it shall we?
I’ve wanted to build a full suspension bike for a while now, and I recently found a frame that I just couldn’t pass on. I had wanted something older, running V-brakes, like a Santa Cruz Heckler or a Rocky Mountain Element, but i found something disk-only that will be a fine substitute. It scores very high on the “only kid on the block with one” scale, which is always a big draw for me, and I expect it to be a lot of fun.
The bike is an Astrix Solo. Astrix came along in the early ’00s with a few models sold as framesets only. I remember them because they were one of the first companies after Surly (and Fisher of course) to sell a 29er frame. But this Solo was a 26er with 4.5 inches of travel.
The 26er is dead.
Or is it?
TeamCow aims to find out. In an in-dpeth two-part expose, I will examine the current retail situation for 26ers, and the aftermarket opportunities for upgrading.
We’ll pick five companies and look at their lineup for 2018 and see what they still sell for 26ers. I expect there are some cheap ones, and maybe some DH options, but not much else. Then in part two, let’s see what’s left in the aftermarket; does Fox still sell a 26″ compatible fork? Are there still high-end 26″ wheels made by Mavic or ENVY?
Before we start, I’m going to make a couple exceptions. DH bikes don’t count in our search here. DH bikes are highly specialized bikes for one purpose – getting down the mountain fast. They’re not general purpose trail bikes at all.
Also fatbikes. There are still lots of fatbikes with 26″ wheels, but they’re not “normal” bikes. They have custom frames and custom wheels of course, and they’re much more specialized than a 26er mountain bike.
2001 Schwinn Homegrown Comp
Like this 2001 Schwinn Homegrown for instance. From about 1981 to about 2012, this was simply a “mountain bike.” But today, you probably can’t go into a store and buy a new bike with 26 x 2.0″ tires for general trail use.
Or can you?? Let’s find out!
There are tons of people I’m sure that buy one bike, ride it, and are perfectly happy doing so. There are also tons of people – like myself – that follow a formula for bicycle ownership, and it goes a little like this;
S = N + 1
Where S is the number of bikes you should own, and N is the number of bikes you currently own.
What I love about this formula, is coming up with reasons for another N + 1 in your life.