I like to try to educate when I can, especially since cycling can be difficult to get into.  I know this because the first couple mountain bike magazines I bought may as well have been written in Greek.

Until you learn all the names of the parts, you may have no idea what I’m talking about.

So let’s drop some knowledge – this is your glossary of terms;

VRC – Vintage, Retro, Classic.  I don’t know where this term came from, but it’s become the most commonly used term on internet forms.  Generally considered to be anything up to 1997 in the mountain bike world – and that’s because 1998 is when V-brakes took over from cantilever brakes as standard issue on mountain bikes.

BITD – “back in the day.”

U-brakes – A style of brake involving arms that are arc-shaped and cross over each other above the tire.  They use the same style of anchor and straddle cable as cantilevers.  The pivots for the brakes are further away from the hub than with cantilevers and V-brakes, which is important, because it means that cantilevers or v-brakes can’t be used without frame modifications.


Cantilever brakes – These typically have much shorter arms, and are operated by the cable from the lever first pulling on an anchor above the wheel.


V-brakes – A style of brake involving long arms, and the cable from the lever connecting through a “noodle” on one arm, then being fixed on the other arm.


TeamCow BikeSale – sometimes even I can’t make a useful bike out of a dumpster find.  When that happens, we’ll just leave the bike outside, sometimes with a note on it, sometimes not, for anyone that thinks they might need it.  I don’t think any bike we’ve done this to has lasted more than 36 hours, and once there was even a trade-in.

Elastomer – this is a type of rubber that was commonly used BITD (see above) for suspension bikes.  It has properties similar to a actual spring when compressed, but it much lighter, hence it’s popularity.

Damping – proper suspension has two components.  One being a spring, and the other being some method to slow it down.   You may have heard of “every action has an equal and opposite reaction?”  Well, when you jump your bike off a picnic table, and your spring takes up that shock of that impact, it’s going to bounce right back.  So, unless you slow down it’s ‘rebound’ somehow, you’re going to get thrown off your bike in a hurry.

Butting – This is the process of changing the thickness of the tube. Thanks to computers, designers found that at the middle of the tube, a thickness of 0.5mm was adequate, but, at the joints where welding occurred, the tubes needed to be 0.9mm. So, as technology allowed tubes to be drawn into varying thicknesses, the process was called butting. What you used to see then, was double-butted and triple-butted tubing, meaning that two or three thicknesses were used. A typical triple-butted top tube might 0.9mm at the head tube, 0.5mm in the middle, and 0.8mm at the seat tube.

Top tube, Chainstay, Bottom Bracket, etc – This is where it’s really confusing.  What the heck is all this stuff?  This image here is the best explanation I’ve seen.




One thought on “FAQ”

  1. Do you have any large vintage rocky mountain bikes for sale – blizzard, altitude, vertex, hammer for sale? Know best places I could find one please and thanks! I had beautiful 1990-1992 hammer and burgundy anniversary blizzard – both stolen out of my garage last year. New bikes just are not the same. Any help would be much appreciated. Love what you are doing!


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underachieving since 1996